This is a very important way of studying the Scriptures, and its scope is quite wide. We have covered the method of studying specific subjects. Apparently, word-study is similar to the study of topics, but actually the two are quite different. The study of topics concentrates on subjects; the exact wordings of the Bible may not necessarily match the subjects exactly, but we can consider the content and the spiritual meaning of the texts, putting texts together that are similar in content and spiritual meaning. This is the meaning of studying by subjects. Word-study, however, means finding all the verses that contain a certain word and studying them together. In doing word-study, we can supplement the Bible with a concordance. The following is a suggested list of some words: 1) sin, 2) death, 3) repentance, 4) faith, 5) forgiveness, 6) reconciliation, 7) mercy, 8) grace, 9) righteousness, 10) the Law (i.e., the written ordinances), 11) laws (e.g. the law of the mind, the law of the spirit, etc.), 12) life, 13) work, 14) old, 15) new, 16) crucifixion, 17) blood, 18) salvation, 19) redemption, 20) substitution, 21) raised up, 22) son, 23) priest, 24) offering, 25) holiness, 26) love, 27) hope, 28) heart, 29) spirit, 30) light, 31) joy, 32) peace, 33) truth, 34) glory, 35) prayer, 36) blessing, 37) promise, 38) comfort, 39) food, 40) obedience, 41) suffering, 42) temptation, 43) world, 44) flesh, 45) fleshy, 46) wrath, 47) mind, 48) generation, 49) whosoever, and 50) mountain. If we wanted to add to the list, we could easily expand it three or four times. But the above list should suffice for beginners. This approach turns our attention to the meaning of the words and the frequency of their use. If we compile all the verses together and arrange them in order, we will find out what God has to say concerning these words.
For example, in studying the word rejoice, we can find all the verses that contain this word. We can write down various teachings related to rejoicing and group the verses accordingly. When should we rejoice? Where does our joy come from? What kind of people cannot rejoice? How can we rejoice? If we do this, we will know something about the subject of rejoicing.
Another word found in the Bible is food. Let us look at some of the verses where food is found. John 4:34 says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” Psalm 37:3 says, “Feed on His faithfulness.” When the twelve spies returned from Canaan, they said, “All the people that we saw in it are men of great size.…and we were in our own sight like grasshoppers.” But Joshua and Caleb said, “Do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our bread” (Num. 13:25—14:9). If we group these portions that speak of food together, we will see three kinds of food. First, there is the food of doing the Father’s will. The more we do the Father’s will, the stronger we become because we have food to eat. The Lord sent the disciples for bread because He was hungry. But after the disciples returned with the food, the Lord said, “I have food to eat.” The disciples asked one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” The Lord said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:32-34). This shows us that our works should not weaken us. Rather, they should strengthen us. Not only does prayer feed us, but work feeds us as well. If we serve God in His field as our Lord did, we spontaneously will be fed as we work because our food is to do the will of the Father. Second, God’s faithfulness is our food. God is a faithful God, and we can feed on His faithfulness. Every time God answers our prayer, our faith becomes stronger. Every time we trust in God’s leading, we are fed. The more we trust in God, the more we are satisfied and strengthened. God’s faithfulness is our food. Third, even the nephilim are our food. Each nephilim we eat makes us stronger. If we eat one today, we can eat two tomorrow, and four the next day. We will become stronger and more satisfied as we eat more of them. Many people are weak because they have never overcome the nephilim in Canaan. In other words, any difficulty is God’s food for us. If we do not eat it, we will become hungry. If we do eat it, we will become strong, and the trials will be behind us.
(How to Study the Bible, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)