SOAP Method | Study the Word

I wasn't always a freestyler when it comes to studying the Word. In the begining it can be hard to figure out how to study the Word (or even what to study). There are a ton of mnemonic devices to help you study the Bible. I plan to do a video summarizing 5 of them, but I also wanted to show you examples of them in use. The five mnemonics I will be covering are:
  1. S.O.A.P.
  2. F.E.A.S.T.
  3. R.E.A.P.
  4. H.O.P.E.
  5. E.A.S.Y.

The S.O.A.P. Method

S.O.A.P. stands for scripture, observation, application, and prayer. I may be biased because this was the method I used as a newbie to Bible Study, but I think it's the most popular of all the methods. Although I have one nitpick about this method—I believe you should start with prayer (which I'll discuss later)—it's a great way to start out studying. Below, I'm going to take you through Exodus 36:1-7 using this method.


The first thing you want to do is read the scripture. If it's a shorter scripture, I like to write it out. For longer passages, I have a "special"[1] Bible I write in, which I may use to underline, circle and otherwise call attention to the parts that sick out to me. Neither of these are required, though. The more you study, the more you'll find what works for you.
1“Now Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with everything that the Lord has commanded.”

2Then Moses called Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it. 3They received from Moses every contribution which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. And they still continued bringing to him voluntary offerings every morning. 4And all the skillful people who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which they were performing, 5and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” 6So Moses issued a command, and circulated a proclamation throughout the camp, saying, “No man or woman is to perform work any longer for the contributions of the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing any more. 7For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it. Exodus 36:1-7


Observations can be made mentally or recorded, depending on your style. If you record them, you can write out sentences and paragraphs, map from the written out verse, or use a bulleted list—whatever works for you; don't be afraid to try out different methods. Below is a bulleted list of observations I made while reading this passage:
  • The Lord gave certain people specific talents for use in building the sanctuary.
    • Did He give them talents on the fly?
    • Or did people have the talent before, either something they picked up in Egypt, or had always possessed?
  • They had already taken up one collection/offering, but people still came back to give more.
  • Giving was voluntary.
  • They gave so much Moses had to stop them!
  • God gave to them in such a manner that they were able to give enough for the sanctuary and still have more left to give.


Applications take us from in the passage to our present day life. How does this passage speak to me, what does it say about our current society, etc. During this step we can come up with pracitcal ways to improve oursleves and our community based on what we have observed. For me, this usually starts with questions. Below is what my thought process looked like for Exodus 36 applications.
  • What are my God given talents and skills?
  • Am I using them for His kingdom? Is He calling me to use them for His Kingdom?
  • What does giving in abundance mean today?
    • Moses stopped the people from giving at some point, so there was a clear boundary at which point it became "excessive" giving
    • Moses stopped them when they had enough for what God needed
    • So, we should give freely with an open heart, but be mindful of God's voice or messenger telling us when we have given enough.


The final step is prayer. Personally, I believe this hsould be the first step in a Bible Study, and to be honest, I get annoyed when I attend Bible Studies that wait to pray until the end. There are four ways to incorporate prayer into a Bible study:
  1. Pray before the study
  2. Pray after the study
  3. Pray before and after the study
  4. Pray randomly throughout the study
While there is no Bible verse that instructs on this, I would strongly sugggest method #3. The reason I prefer this method is based on John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 2:14, and 1 John 2:27. The Holy Spirit interprets the Word for us and opens our spiritual eyes. To understand the Word we need to put away flesh and read in the Spirit, which for me means inviting the Holy Spirit in before I start studying. Then at the end of the study I ask the Spirit to help me implement what I've learned in my life and to continue working on me in the areas in which I struggle. Some people feel like diving in and then asking the Holy Spirit to sort out the wrestling between Spirit and flesh afterward. I concede that there's nothing inherently wrong with that method but if I had to only have one prayer during my study I would pray before the study. Nonetheless, as you study and grow your relationship with God you will find what works for you, and who knows, you might be a method #4 person and pray midway through the study. As long as you're studying and leaning on Him for understanding, I'm proud of you!

References and Footnotes

  1. I say special because it's the only one I write in; there isn't acutally anything special about it.

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