Memorize Scripture - Topically

Scripture memory is something we often neglect, yet it can prove an amazingly rich opportunity to focus, ponder, and meditate upon God’s Word. It allows us to have an arsenal of truth when we are hit with temptations, lies, or confusion. The more I memorize Scripture the more essential I think it is in the life of a believer.

Over the last several weeks we have looked at:

Today we want to look at the importance of memorizing Scripture topically.


Why Memorize Scripture Topically?

Unlike memorizing longer passages of Scripture (which I think you should also do), knowing a wide range of Scriptures centered around themes, concepts, and topics fills your mind with truth and allows the Word to be quickly appropriated in a moment’s notice.

For example, lets say there is an opportunity at work to be dishonest. I’m struggling with what to do, so where do I turn? Where do I look for answers? Think how powerful at that same moment, the Holy Spirit brought to mind several verses you memorized about honesty:

  • Leviticus 19:11 – You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.
  • Acts 24:16 – This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

We know that the “Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Imagine facing life with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

In John 16 we discover that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth” who wants to guide us into all truth. Though the Spirit of God obviously can reveal truth, give wisdom, and direct our lives at any moment, He will always do it in accordance with the Word of God. When I memorize His Word, I not only am able to understand and discern truth easier but I also build up a weaponry of truth that is available at a moment’s notice when I’m under spiritual attack, need encouragement, or am ministering to a person.


How do I Start Memorizing the Bible Topically?

1. Choose a good translation

There are a host of Bible translations available today. Some are better than others, but it is important to pick one that is not a paraphrase and rather more word-for-word (for example: KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, HCSB, etc). It is far easier to choose a good translation now and keep it for life (or several years) rather than bouncing between different translations for memorization.


2. Decide which topics/themes you should start with

Obviously you can’t start with memorizing the entire Bible tomorrow. You need a plan. Think through some topics that would be most helpful for where you are right now and continue to expand the themes as you continue forward.


3. Have a plan

The key to good Scripture memory is to have a plan. Most people are easily able to memorize two to three verses each week. Though that may seem overwhelming at the moment, you’ll find that the more you memorize, the easier it becomes (note: memory is like a muscle and it must be exercised to grow stronger).

Don’t skip a week. If you skip a week, you’ll find it easier to skip another one.

Repetition, finding quick moments throughout the day where you can review the verse is helpful for longterm retention. As I mentioned in the post 6 Quick Tips to Help You Memorize Scripture (which will give you other helpful memorization tips), saying a verse 50 times in one day isn’t as helpful as saying the verse once for 50 days. As you get one verse memorized, don’t forget to keep reviewing it in the days ahead or there is a good chance you’ll lose it.

Some other suggestions:

  • God is the author of Scripture and His Spirit lives within you. Before you start, pray and ask Him to enable you to memorize and hide His Word in your heart
  • Don’t just learn the words of the verse, learn what the verse actually means
  • When you memorize topically, it is helpful to memorize the topic, reference, and verse together. Knowing what topic goes with what verse will help you quickly bring a verse to mind when you are pondering certain themes.
  • Saying the verse out loud (even in a whisper) is better than memorizing it in your head


4. Memorize around themes

Once you decide what themes you want to start with, choose verses that center on that theme. Each week pick a new theme and memorize two or three (or more!) verses that correspond to that theme. As you continue adding themes, consider going back and adding more verses to previous themes.

In doing so, by the end of a year, you can have well over 100 verses memorized focused on dozens of specific themes!

Remember, review is important. Just because you have the verse memorized in a few minutes today, doesn’t mean it has stuck in your longterm memory. Purposely spend time each week reviewing themes and verses from the past so that you constantly focus upon and engrain them deeper in your memory.


Topics to Start With

You are obviously welcome to start with whatever topics you desire, but here are some suggestions to get you going.

  • New Life in Christ – 2 Corinthians 5:17 | Galatians 2:20
  • Obedience to Christ – Romans 12:1 | John 14:21
  • God’s Word – 2 Timothy 3:16 | Joshua 1:8 | Hebrews 4:12
  • Prayer – John 15:7 | Philippians 4:6-7
  • Witnessing – Matthew 4:19 | Romans 1:16
  • All Have Sinned – Romans 3:23 | Isaiah 53:6
  • Sin’s Penalty – Romans 6:23 | Hebrews 9:27
  • Christ Paid the Penalty – Romans 5:8 | 1 Peter 3:18
  • Salvation is Not By Works – Ephesians 2:8-9 | Titus 3:5
  • God’s Faithfulness – Lamentations 3:22-23 | Numbers 23:19
  • Peace – Isaiah 26:3 | 1 Peter 5:7
  • God’s Provision – Romans 8:32 | Philippians 4:19
  • Help in Temptation – Hebrews 2:18 | Psalm 119:9, 11 | 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • Serve Others – Mark 10:45 | 2 Corinthians 4:5
  • Give Generously – Proverbs 3:9-10 | 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
  • Love – John 13:34-35 | 1 John 3:18
  • Humility – Philippians 2:3-4 | 1 Peter 5:5-6 | Ephesians 4:1-3
  • Purity – Ephesians 5:3 | 1 Peter 2:11
  • Honesty – Leviticus 19:11 | Acts 24:16
  • Faith – Hebrews 11:6 | Romans 4:20-21
  • Good Works – Galatians 6:9-10 | Matthew 5:16
  • Fruits of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23 | Ephesians 5:9


Blessings upon your journey to know God’s Word! May He give you wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Himself (Ephesians 1:17). Know I am cheering you ever deeper into Jesus!


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