Studying The Bible: The “Arcing” Method

It’s been awhile since I wrote an article on effective methods of studying the bible, and I thought it was time to (once again) advocate for the diligent study of scripture. I found a video of John Piper describing the “arc method” and thought it would benefit the body:

I know – it sounds a bit confusing, so watch the video a few more times (it’s short) to pick up on what Piper is saying. This method sort of reminds me of a method that my Hermeneutics instructor shared: when you see “therefore” in the bible, ask yourself “what is that there for?” – then read 5 or more of the verses that appear before and after the verse that contains the word “therefore”. It’s an oversimplified tool but worth noting.

The important thing to remember is that we are called to study the Word of God.

As a sidenote, take a look at Piper’s sermon notes from his address to The Gospel Coalition a few weeks ago, demonstrating his arcing technique (click on the image to zoom in):

Piper Arcing

Remember – Piper has been doing this for years, so don’t let this picture discourage you from trying 🙂

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15 Responses to “Studying The Bible: The “Arcing” Method”


  1. 1 Pastor Jim May 14, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Studying the Scripture with inductive methods is SO vital! Back in my one semester of Bible College I took a great class called ‘Analytical Bible Study Methods’ that set me up for a lifetime of study. Thankfully I got that class in before they kicked me out!

    I use that method every week for sermon prep. It turns up so much material and insight that I’d have to preach/teach for an hour to get it all out.

    There are SEVERAL much simpler methods that I advocate for starting out – I’ve even taught Jr Hi kids how to study the Bible!

    Okay, I’m sounding like a geek. Guilty.
    Study ON people!

  2. 3 Justin May 15, 2009 at 9:19 am

    This is cool. An area that i’ve really struggled to develop is a good way to study the Bible. Thanks alot.

  3. 4 Mercedes May 15, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I am a babe in Christ and I am trying more effective ways to read the bible. Thanks for this article. I will try to apply.

    • 5 speaking truth May 15, 2009 at 3:17 pm

      I pray that you find a bible study method that reveals the mystery of scripture to you, Mercedes. As a babe in Christ, you may want to try another method first, then again you may already have advanced study skills that could help you pick up arcing pretty quickly.

      • 6 Mercedes May 15, 2009 at 7:23 pm

        Right now all I am doing is reading the bible and asking God to reveal the scriptures to me. Maybe I have to be in deeper concentration, do I get a Greek dictionary or something to help me along the way? I am actually kind of confuse about the arcing. Can you suggest something a little bit more simpler?

        • 7 speaking truth May 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm

          Prayer prior to studying is always helpful Mercedes. A Greek dictionary may be a bit heavy at this point, but a great study bible with a detailed concordance is a good choice. I also recommend these 2 books that simply “break down” both the Old and New Testaments for even more background on the books contained in them. Lastly, I think you should try the topical or summary method (the links are at the bottom of the article above) and see how that works for you prior to attempting to “arc”.

          I’ll ceertainly post more methods as I uncover them…

          • 8 Mercedes May 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

            Thank you. I will check out the links. It looks like I will have to update my bible then, I have some much highlighted, its close to my heart lol.

  4. 9 miss-melly May 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Thanks IST this is awesome, have just downloaded a bible on my iphone and whilst I am walking my dogs I take time out to read my bible for half an hour in peace and quiet. Just two days ago I was asking the Lord, what does this passage really mean. Funnily enough it was 2 Timothy I was reading (as above)lol. When you first become a Christian (5 years ago) no one teaches you how to study the Bible, so I am grateful for this information and you were right you do have to watch the clip a couple of times to get it.

    • 10 speaking truth May 15, 2009 at 9:09 pm

      You do know that the iPhone is a tool of the devil, don’t you miss-melly? 😆

      A BlackBerry is far more godly 😆

      Seriously, I’ve considered downloading software to my BB as well but I hate trying to read on such a small screen. I am thankful to God that there are so many ways to access His Word…which makes me wonder why more Christians don’t know His truth with all of this access to endless information.

  5. 11 miss-melly May 16, 2009 at 12:39 am

    I have to admit IST I do love my iPhone. I heard a Blackberry ringing once and I yelled out “some one’s Blueberry is ringing”, I had everyone laughing but I wasn’t joking I honostly thought it was called a Blueberry, needless to say I am a bit of a joke now. Who thinks up these crazy names for technology anyway. LOL

  6. 12 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen May 17, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    WOW! That looks like one deep method. As ever, bro, you point out great resources!

  7. 13 John Goering April 3, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Hey, FWIW, I just released a free Android Bible arcing app on the Android Market called “Bible Arcer” for arcing “on the go”. Check it out if you happen to have an Android cell phone!

  8. 15 John Goering April 14, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Hey, after a week or so, would love to hear: do you have any feedback on Bible Arcer? How could I make it better?


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