SWORD Method: Bible Study Made Easy

There's a lot of ways to study the Bible. They range in depth and difficulty. There's a lot of questions they let you ask about each passage. Different passages work better with different types of questions. We might try to juggle several methods. At some point, we feel like we're either not seeing anything more than the text itself or we're trying to do too much. It would be nice to have a simple, default method that almost always taught us something with reasonable effort. That's what the SWORD method is.

"For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account." (Heb. 4:12-13)

(Note: It's not an acronym. It gets it's name from its use in this verse. Just catchy I guess.)

SWORD Method: Three Questions

You ask three questions about any passage:

What does it say about God?

What does it say about man?

What must we do?

(Often subdivided into: Are there sins to avoid? Are there commands to obey?)

Simple enough! Any Scripture will usually have one or more answers to those questions in it. Two more you can add, though. One is from "SPEC." One from our church for evangelism.

Does God make any promises to remember in this?

How does this text show us how to share the Gospel?

SWORD Method: Double-Edged Version

As you read a passage, ask these questions about it:

1. What does it say about God?

2. What does it say about man?

3. Are there any sins to avoid?

4. Are there any commands to obey?

5. Extra: Does He make any promises to us in here?

6. Extra: How do we share the Gospel using this text?

Answering Each Question: Tips and Examples

1. What does it say about God?

Start with the attributes of God. They're worth meditating on individually to draw you closer to Him. You can learn here: free article; Pink's book (pdf) is short and packed with verses; Tozer's Vol 1 and Vol 2 has much depth.

Just look for any of God's attributes in a passage. They might be Him or in how He moves in the situation. Discussions can look especially to how they're praiseworthy, shape what He's created, draw us closer to Him, and help us live as He wants us to.

2. What does it say about man?

The human characters in the story teach lessons. They might be a type (eg of Christ), an example of human nature (often sinful), or just an illustration of how life works. Discussions might explore how people today relate to whatever it is. If it's a type of Christ, how we might emulate it.

3. Is there a sin to avoid?

Use lists like Rom. 1:28-32, Gal. 5:19-21, Prov. 6:16-19, and 2 Tim. 3:1-5. For better understanding, sermons on these passages or on the Ten Commandments will help. If you want to go deep, many enjoyed Mortification of Sin.

4. Is there a command to obey? (Or example to follow?)

If it's a command, it will be worded that way. If unsure about it, check a few translations and commentaries to make sure you understand it. BibleHub.com and Blue Letter Bible app both do that. If it's an example, it might be a good one if it (a) doesn't go against the Word somewhere, (b) can actually glorify God, and (c) fits with the fruit of His Spirit.

5. Does He make any promises to us?

These can come in several forms. One type is based on His character. He does certain things because it's who He is. Another is conditional: if you meet the condition, then He might offer you another grace. God blesses obedience to His Word. Some examples of both types.

6. How do we share the Gospel using this text?

The Gospel itself is who God is (holy), that we aren't (sin), how Jesus fixes that (the Cross), and surrendering to Him (faith). Notice these are similar to what you're already looking for in the SWORD method. In some cases, you can either use the passage to tell the Gospel or it might even illustrate how to share the Gospel. The Samaritan woman is a favorite example: opens with a benefit and promise (living water); gets to what's in her heart; uses her sin to convict her; shows God's power (evidence); explains Jesus is the Messiah; she tells other people (evangelism). There's pictures of the Gospel in many verses.

Then, the actual Gospels, Acts, and Epistles often show us how to share it by both Jesus and the Apostles' examples. You see Jesus using narratives, meeting people's needs, and establishing the truth of God's Word and Messiah using prophecy fulfillment. Paul is always honest about what he's doing (no sneaking the Gospel in), doesn't charge for it to increase it's spread, and uses apologetics to counter false teachings.

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