Student of the Word: How understanding Bible themes can help you study Scripture 

Student of the Word: How understanding Bible themes can help you study Scripture 

by: Tiffany Dickerson

When I was in high school (or secondary school), I had a teacher who instructed us to look for the underlying theme in what we were reading. From books to short stories to poems, our class could always count on an exam question about the themes found in the various works we read. Some themes were easy to spot, while others required some thought and study. At first, I strongly disliked the process, but as the year progressed, I found myself unconsciously looking for themes in everything I read. I no longer disliked the process because it became second nature. And I quickly found that what I read, no matter the genre, was far more interesting because I took the time to truly study and understand it.

The same can be said for our approach to studying the Bible. So often, we want to open a passage, read it, find some sort of application, and walk away fifteen minutes later feeling enlightened and encouraged. But more often than not, that is not the case. Instead, we walk away confused over a difficult passage, take a verse out of context and apply it to our lives incorrectly, or we only read the passages that make us feel good, not convicted. This pattern eventually leads to frustration, and those daily fifteen minutes we allotted to God slowly disappear.

Using Bible Themes to Study Scripture

A growing and thriving relationship with the Lord requires us to be students of His Word. Studying the Bible is exciting because believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. This is the same Holy Spirit that guided the hands of each author that penned the books and letters of the Bible (2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit illuminates Scripture and guides us to a right understanding of the truths found within. We study the Bible because it is living and effective (Hebrews 4:12); it provides hope and encouragement while also instructing, correcting, and training in righteousness (Romans 15:4, 2 Timothy 3:16). We study Scripture because it is the very Word of God.

In order to study the Bible, we must consider, examine, and pour over every passage. This is not just a cursory read-through or a quick devotional. There is a time and place for those moments, but more often than not, we must slow down and give the Word our time and effort. In the twenty-first century, we are blessed with many tools to help us dig deeper. When we take the time to study Scripture, we know our Savior more and learn how to look increasingly like Him. One of these tools we can utilize is the process of finding Bible themes.

Themes found in the Bible

Just like my high school teacher trained me to look for themes in literature, students of the Bible can glean themes from Genesis to Revelation. These themes are timeless and worth every moment of study. The overarching theme of the Bible is the story of redemption, which points to Jesus across every page. In His wisdom, God also blessed us with many smaller themes that point to Jesus as well. There are prominent themes such as covenants, priesthood, atonement, and love, but also themes we might not have considered, like clothing, bread, and plants. Every theme in the Bible creates a beautiful masterpiece that declares the person and work of Jesus in all of Scripture.

How to use Bible themes to study God’s Word

As students of the Word, it takes time to learn how to look for these themes. Studying them means we also have to read all of Scripture and not just the portions we like the most. It requires contemplation and intentionality. And while it might be more difficult in the beginning, over time, the process will become second nature as you look for Jesus in all aspects of Scripture. A great place to start learning this process is by using The Bible Themes Handbook.

How to use The Bible Themes Handbook

The Bible Themes Handbook helps students of the Word begin noticing these threads of redemption from Genesis to Revelation. One example from the handbook is the theme of Tabernacle & Temple. This theme is a reminder of God’s presence with His people across history and Scripture. As you read about this theme, you begin in the garden of Eden (Genesis 1–3), travel in the wilderness with the Israelites as they build the tabernacle (Exodus 35–40), glimpse the building of the temple under Solomon (1 Kings 5–8), experience the Word become flesh through Jesus Christ (John 1:14), encounter the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), and anticipate the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21).

How Bible themes point us to Christ

Each stop on the timeline of this theme declares the promise of the Messiah, the arrival of the Messiah, and the hope of the Messiah’s return. God dwelt with His people in the garden, the tabernacle, the temple, through His Son, through the Holy Spirit, and one day He will dwell eternally with those who follow Christ. As you study the passages included with this theme, you will become more familiar with how to look for God’s presence in other places in Scripture. As a result you will see God in the burning bush when He spoke to Moses (Exodus 3), in the whirlwind when He appeared (Job 38), and at Jesus’s baptism when His voice was heard from heaven (Mark 1). From one passage to another, the thread of redemption weaves the grand narrative of Scripture together.

How to start studying Bible themes

To begin looking for these themes, grab a few supplies: your Bible, The Bible Themes Handbook, a journal, and a pen. I will be sure to link these items below. Then, take your time as you work through each theme, make notes, and read the other Scripture passages listed in the handbook. Think through other places in the Bible you see this theme. And remember, this is not an exercise to cross off your list, it is an exercise in knowing Jesus better. Jeremiah 29:13 says it best, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”

Additional Resources for studying Bible themes:

The Daily Grace Podcast

We want to invite women to join us in our conversation about our great God, and be encouraged to seek a deeper knowledge of God that leads them to live their lives for God’s glory as they grow in love and awe in response to who He is.