Have you ever nodded along to someone talking, even though you had no idea what they were saying? I often feel like I’m doing a mental head-nod when I’m scrolling through all the products Olive Tree offers. As an employee, you’d think I would understand all the different Bible study tools—but to be honest, there’s always something new that I’m learning. So, I thought I’d dedicate a blog post to the difference between a study Bible and a Bible commentary!
STUDY BIBLE VS. BIBLE COMMENTARY
A study Bible is Scripture paired with additional notes and resources that are meant to help you understand what you’re reading. A non-digital study Bible is often formatted with the study Bible notes below the Bible text, allowing for quick reference without having to leave the passage you’re reading. Depending on the study Bible, you may see historical and contextual background information, cross references to other verses, maps, charts, and more.
Study Bibles in the Olive Tree Bible App work much the same way. While you’re reading the Bible text, the resource guide will pull in the content from any study Bible you have in your library to give you quick access to helpful information. We have a video about how this works on our YouTube Channel.
BIBLE COMMENTARY VS. STUDY BIBLE
The first major difference between a Bible commentary and a study Bible is that a Bible commentary is its own book. In fact, it’s probably more than one book. Bible commentaries usually come in massive volumes—one for each book of the Bible! The print version of the 61 Vols. Word Biblical Commentary series would take up 7 feet on your bookshelf. This is probably one of the biggest reasons I’m in love with electronic Bible resources.
There are also single-volume commentaries, but don’t let that fool you. They still contain much more information than a typical study Bible.
Commentaries also come in three different types: devotional, homiletical, and exegetical.
Devotional commentaries focus on applying the Bible to daily life. These publications are much more relaxed, written by one person, and don’t cover the entire Bible verse-by-verse.
Homiletical (homilies = sermons) commentaries focus on interpreting the Bible and then applying it. Preachers wrote these commentary sets for other preachers. They are also great for preparing to teach the Bible in any capacity, not just from the pulpit.
Exegetical commentaries focus on the more academic processes of uncovering the author’s original meaning. Oftentimes, these publications will explain passages from the original Hebrew and Greek, go in-depth on cultural and historical references, and address scholarly disputes.
WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU?
First, it’s important to remember that study Bible notes and Bible commentaries are both interpretations of Scripture! Just as you would prayerfully evaluate a sermon, evaluate the contents of any resource you read. No human-made book is perfect in the way that God’s Word is!
If you are looking for quick, easy insights on Scripture, a study Bible or a one-volume commentary is a fantastic place to start. Right now, we have the Life Application Study Bible and the Zondervan Bible Commentary (1 Vol.) on sale.
If you’re wanting to go deeper, you may want to pick a commentary set like the Pillar New Testament Commentary (15 Vols) or something similar. These can be pretty pricey, but if you watch our sales carefully, you should be able to find what you’re looking for discounted at some point or another! Make sure you’re getting our emails.
So, still stuck?
Reach out to us: in the comments, on Facebook, or email our support team. If you have Bible study questions, we’ll try to point you in the right direction! And, if you’re looking for a resource recommendation, we’d love to help you out!