Bible 347 Return to Syllabus

How to Do a Word Study

  1. Survey the passage under study for important words: words which are theme words, words which are unusual or rare words, words which are theological words, and words on which problems determined earlier hinge.

  2. List how these words are translated in various translations.

  3. Look up the meaning of these words in
    1) Bible dictionaries,
    2) Vine's and Mounce's expository dictionaries, and
    3) Greek and Hebrew lexicons. Do not waste time looking up words in English dictionaries unless you do not know the meaning of English words found in the translations. Do not stop with Bible dictionaries. At least look up the meaning in Vine's. If you have ability in the original languages, also look up the meanings in lexicons. If you have trouble finding the form, use either an analytical lexicon which will give you the root, or an index to the lexicon (available for BAG and BDB). The best lexicon for New Testament studies is the one by Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-[Danker] (Danker from the 2nd revised edition on; BAG/BAGD). The best lexicons for Old Testament studies are Brown-Driver-Briggs (BDB) and Koehler & Baumgartner (KB). The BDB is also available keyed to the numbers in the small Strong's lexicons.

  4. Look up the words in question in a theological dictionary. The best for the New Testament is Theological Dictionary of the New Testament; the best for the Old Testament is Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (a large work still in progress).

  5. Use a concordance to study the word in question in its biblical contexts. Try to determine the range of meaning that the word has and its specific meaning in each passage.
    1. In English, use an analytical concordance such as Young's or a complete concordance with original language numbers such as Strong's.
    2. Next, use a cross language concordance. In the New Testament, use a Greek-English concordance such as the Englishman's Greek Concordance. In the Old Testament, use a Hebrew-English concordance such as the Englishman's Hebrew Concordance.
    3. If you can, use an original language concordance, such as Moulton-Gegen, Aland, or Friberg for the New Testament in Greek.
    4. If your passage is in the New Testament, use a concordance to the Septuagint to find out how the word was used in the Greek Old Testament.


  6. Write up your findings.

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