How to Do a Word Study

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings


Good evening.
For tonight’s sermon, we have a requested topic on how to do a Word Study in studying the Bible.
This is a good topic because it is very helpful to do word studies, particularly if you are wanting to study a particular topic such as baptism or repentance or God or persecution, and on and one you can go.
There really isn’t a right way or a wrong way, per se, to go about some of this, but the basic idea of doing a word study is the same regardless of exactly how you do it.
We’re going to go through some helpful steps and resources, and then we will do three example word studies for the rest of the lesson.
So, without further ado, “How Do You Do A Word Study?”
I have an article from brother Denny Petrillo who works with Bear Valley Bible Institute in Colorado (where we support Wayne Jones as an instructor)>
In that article, I’ll give you 4 steps that brother Petrillo recommends, and do my best to explain each step and add in a few thoughts of my own.
Step 1 - Conduct a thorough study of the word itself.
Ask the following question:
What is the basic meaning of the word?
Here, it can be helpful to look at the original languages (Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic) using Strong’s Concordance/Thayer’s Lexicon, etc.
You can then compare the meanings in the original languages and how they have been translated into English:
Is there any nuanced extra meaning that has been lost in translation?
Do different Greek words, for instance, translate into different English words, depending on these nuanced meanings?
You can also look at the etymology of the word (the history of it and how it was formed from two different words to make a new word with meaning X).
This will give you an idea of the full meaning of the word, including any different meanings depending on the context. ** (Which is extremely important to realize). **
Step 2 - Identify every occurrence of the word in the book you are studying (e.g. James).
Being sure to find every occurence, including when there are suffixes or prefixes added to the word, you can get a complete picture of how often the word is used, as well as the different meanings it can have depending on the context.
For example, the word “Gospel.”
Using these first two steps, I want to find the basic meaning of the word, as well as how many occurences of the word exist in the Bible:
So I type in “Gospel” in my search function on E-Sword (You could also use Logos, Accordance, Blue Letter Bible, etc., or you could use an old fashioned concordance in book form).
It says that in the KJV, the word Gospel appears 104x in 98 verses.
Now it will take me a while, but what I can do is go click through every occurence of the word, look at it and see what Greek Word it is, find the Greek meaning, and get a basic understanding of the word “Gospel.”
When I do that, I find that it is the Greek word “euangeliion,” which means “a good message.” (Good news)
I also find another form of the word — “euangelizo” — which has to do with the actual act announcing of the good news.
And I find another one — “proeuangelizomai” — and that “pro” on the front of the word adds the meaning of “preaching the gospel in advance,” (or “before”) as it is translated in Gal. 3:8.
Galatians 3:8 NKJV
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”
Those are the three Greek words translated as “Gospel,” and Strong’s assigns numbers to the Greek words so that we can easily find them — here, we have G2097, G2098, and the one occurence of G4283 from Gal. 3:8. (This helped me comb through the 104 x Gospel shows up, pretty quickly).
Step 3 - Study the way the writer uses this word in the book you are studying (or whole Bible).
Now, I’m going to look at the English words AROUND the Bible’s usage of Gospel and gain some insight there.
Just the first few, I find:
The Gospel of the Kingdom” — so the kingdom is important!
The Gospel is preached to them” and “The Gospel shall be preached in the whole world” — So it is something that must be preached/evangelism.
Gospel of Jesus Christ” — It belongs to Him and is ABOUT Him.
Believe the Gospel” — That’s something we must DO with the Gospel.
And “whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” — again, shows the seriousness of the Gospel.
So that’s seven important gleanings from the word “Gospel,” as used in different CONTEXTS, right there, and you can keep going!
Step 4 - After studying everything you previously studied, organize the major points or ideas the writer/the Bible has given.
There are usually at least 3 or 4 different ways a word is used, so …
Organize the different ways the word is used into different “buckets.”
For instance, I have a bucket for “Gospel of the kingdom,” and drop all the verses that deal with that in there, a bucket for “Gospel preached,” a bucket for “Gospel of Jesus Christ,” a bucket for “Believe the Gospel,” etc.
Now I can organize my thoughts as I plan to teach on different ways the word “Gospel” is used so we can understand all possible meanings!
That is a VERY basic idea of how to do a word study. Now, let’s do some!

A Word Study on “Faith”.

Brother Petrillo uses this as an example in the article I’ve looked at.
He did a word study on “Faith” as used in the book of Romans, and determined that …
The word occurs 62 times in some form in the book.
It sometimes refers to the idea of the system of the Gospel (the body of doctrine we hold to).
So you find all the verses that use the word “faith” that way and put them in “bucket 1.”
It sometimes refers to trust or confidence.
You put all verses that use the word “faith” this way and put them in “bucket 2.”
It sometimes refers to one’s personal opinion/viewpoint.
(Like in Romans chapter 14).
And you find all the verses that use the word “faith” this way and put them in “bucket 3.”
I find that faith is Strong’s Greek word 4102 - “pistis.”
You can look up the meaning — Has to do with “conviction, persuasion, reliance on God, the SYSTEM of Gospel truth, belief, faith, etc.”
Rom. 1:5 - This is “bucket 1” — the system of faith.
Romans 1:5 NKJV
Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,
Rom. 1:8
Romans 1:8 NKJV
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
Rom. 1:12
Romans 1:12 NKJV
that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
These are both “bucket 2” — because they bother refer to the individual TRUST that these Christians at Rome had in God and His plan of salvation.
Rom. 14:23
Romans 14:23 NKJV
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
If you study that verse carefully in its context, Paul is dealing with “personal faith/viewpoint,” that is personal beliefs that fall in the realm of opinion, and he tells us how to handle those situations.
This is your “bucket 3.”

A Word Study on “Hope”.

Let’s do a word study on the word “hope” as used in Hebrews.
You’ll find that it is used 5x in the book. (And if you look for the word “hoped,” past tense, you’ll find one more.
You’ll find the Greek Word — Strong’s G1680 - “Elpis” and its derivatives - meaning “to anticipate, usually with pleasure; expectation or confidence.”
As far as the different “buckets” go, you’ll find:
Bucket one - Hope unto the end:
Heb. 3:6
Hebrews 3:6 NKJV
but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
Heb. 6:11
Hebrews 6:11 NKJV
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,
So both of those verses go in the “bucket” that deals with MAINTAINING our hope by the way we live our lives, so we can be faithful unto death.
Bucket two — Lay hold upon the hope:
Nail it down, if you will — So this has to do with strengthening our faith and trust in God as we study more of His Word and learn more about His promise …
Heb. 6:18
Hebrews 6:18 NKJV
that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
I would say Heb. 11:1 goes in this bucket as well, because it talks about how FIRM our faith can be as we trust God.
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Bucket three - Hope is an anchor:
Heb. 6:19
Hebrews 6:19 NKJV
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,
Now, you will notice that “hope” is italicized in this verse - it was supplied by the translator to make the verse flow properly, but in context with the verse right before it talking about hope, we can be confident that this word was supplied by the translator accurately.
Finally, bucket four - a better hope:
This goes right along with the theme of the whole book of Hebrews.
Heb. 7:19
Hebrews 7:19 NKJV
for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Was there hope in the Old Testament? (Yes, just look up the word, and it is all throughout the O.T.).
But the hope we have now in the N.T. is even BETTER.
Finally …

A Word Study on “Love”.

Let’s begin a word study on the word “love” in the book of 1 John.
Now you’re going to find that this word appears 33x in the book of 1 John alone. (No wonder we call him the apostle of Love!)
So I’m not going to go through near about all of them …
But what you’re going to find is that every time John uses the word “love” in the book, he uses the Greek Word - Strong’s number G26 - “agape,” or G25 - “agapao.”
Both refer to the highest form of love - self-sacrificing love!
And you’ll learn in 1 John that this kind of self-sacrificing love was on full display by GOD, and it should be on full display by US as well!
You’re also going to find things like:
“The love of God.” - 1 John 2:5
1 John 2:5 NKJV
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
“Do not love the world.” - 1 John 2:15
1 John 2:15 NKJV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
“Love one another.” - 1 John 3:11
1 John 3:11 NKJV
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,
“Love the brethren.” - 1 John 3:14
1 John 3:14 NKJV
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.
God’s love can be perfected in us. - 1 John 4:12
1 John 4:12 NKJV
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
So that will help get you started on your different “buckets” using the word “love” in a study of 1 John.


Don’t forget that you can do a word study on a particular word used in a particular BOOK of the Bible like we’ve mostly looked at tonight, OR
You can do a word study of a word EVERY TIME it appears in the whole Bible as well.
Just be aware that that will obviously take a lot more time, and you’ll have to deal with the difficulty of both Greek AND Hebrew, as well as how the words translate into English.
So there’s a lot to it!
But … Doing a word study can be a very rewarding way to study the Bible, and it is definitely an important way to do so, along with other methods like reading it straight through, chronologically, etc.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more