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How to Study the Bible This Year

study the bible this yearIt’s a New Year. You’ve started your reading plan and are off to a great start studying the Bible this year.  My early attempts at Bible study were sporadic and didn’t go that smoothly.  I soon learned that I needed a more formalized approach to my Bible study.  Here are a few tips & resources that I’ve found that will help you keep your Bible Study on track.

Prepare yourself through Prayer
“All our study is futile without the work of God overcoming our blindness and hardheartedness.” – John Piper, Martin Luther Lessons from His Life and Labor p. 33

There is no substitute for prayer when reading and studying the Bible.  Prayer takes the attention off of what we can do and puts the attention instead on what God can do in and through us.  Bible study is a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1) in which we present our best to God.  We have to remember that this is not just a book we’re reading.  We need prepare our hearts and minds for Bible study.

Read the Scripture for yourself
Read and re-read the passage you’re studying.  Get familiar with the flow of the passage.  If there are terms that you don’t know, look them up in a simple dictionary.

Ask yourself these Questions

  1. Observe – What does the text say?
  2. Interpret – What does the text mean?
  3. Apply – How does it apply to me today?

Asking these questions will keep you focused on the study at hand.  These questions are also helpful when preparing, guiding, and leading discussions for small group and Sunday school Bible studies.

Read and Research

1.Bible Study Notes
There are multiple Bibles that have study notes written by scholars and trusted authors that will assist you in better understanding the Bible.  I recommend choosing one that corresponds to your preferred translation (KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, etc.)

2. Bible Concordances
Concordances are great tools that give you a list of verses that contain that root word in the Bible.  However, be careful that you do not JUST use a concordance in your preparation.  Concordances are a great place to BEGIN, but are never the END of your Bible Study.

With that “don’t try this at home” disclaimer, I do suggest using a digital Bible with Strong’s numbers integrated into the text for your Bible study.


3. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words.  They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.

4. Bible Commentaries
After you’ve studied the Bible for yourself, it is often helpful to read trusted Bible scholars to see how they explain the text you are reading.


I would also suggest checking  It’s a great site with recommendations for commentaries on each book of the Bible.

Other Resources
Lastly, here are some useful resources to further your Bible Study methods:

Using these simple methods and tools will deepen your Bible Study and further prepare you to present God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).

What are your favorite Bible Study titles and tools?

Be sure to check out this week’s highlighted offers on titles that will help your Bible Study this year.

Bearded Theologians 2014!

Congrats to Ross M. our 2014 Bearded Theologian winner of The Olive Tree Charles Haddon Spurgeon Collection!

This year’s runners up are James A., Christopher S., and Davd G. They received Spurgeon’s Sermons bundle!

Didn’t win?  Both of these titles and more are on sale now!

Watch the video below of all the beard photo submissions!

Thanks to all that participated!

5 Benefits of Using the WBC in The Bible Study App

With 60 volumes and 26,000+ pages of content, the Word Biblical Commentary is a hefty commentary series.  With this much content, how do you navigate it all?

With the Bible Study App, you can easily read and study the WBC anywhere.  Here’s 5 benefits of Using the WBC in The Bible Study App (Screenshots are from the Windows Desktop version of The Bible Study App.  Click on Images for a larger view)

1. Resource Guide & Split Window

Open your preferred Bible Translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window.  You’ll see relevant Word Biblical Commentary “hits” in the split window.


If you prefer to just read one resource at a time, you can open the WBC in the split window. The Bible Study App also keeps up with the scripture passage you’re reading in the main window with sync scrolling.


This means that as you move along in the Bible text, the WBC syncs to exactly where you are in your study.  No more flipping pages back and forth.  No more holding the commentary text open on your desk in one spot, reading through your Bible text, and having to go back and find your place in the commentary. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with these first two features alone.

2. Easily Navigate to Commentary Sections

Each section of commentary in WBC (covering a range of verses) is further divided into a number of sub-sections which each approach the entire set of verses from different perspectives like “Bibliography”, “Translation” and more. Each of the sub-sections has been individually tagged based on content, meaning that if you have a particular Bible passage open in the main window, the Resource Guide will display the commentary notes for that passage in the WBC for each of the subsections.


Using it with the Resource Guide like this makes it easy to drill down to one sub-section, then jump back up quickly and then back down to another

3. Search & Look Up Features

Search the Word Biblical Commentary for words or passages.  Take “elder” as an example.  You can search the entire series for where “love” is mentioned in the commentary series.  You can also limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, biblical genre, or a specific book.


When your search hits are displayed, you can tap on the result to go directly to that section in the WBC.  You can also choose to open the search in a pop out window making this search accessible for further study.

4. Linked Reference Pop ups


One of my greatest frustrations in the hard copy world of biblical commentaries are the other biblical references within the commentary.  For example, when I’m reading in Genesis 12 about Abram, there are multiple other Scripture references in the WBC that help me with this passage. With a hard copy, I have to open a different Bible and find each and every reference to read how the verse relates to what I am currently studying.  This is time consuming, slows down my study momentum, and requires me to keep all of my study materials out and open, spread out over a large desk space. With The Bible Study App, the scripture references are hyperlinked within the commentary text.  All I have to do is tap the scripture reference to read it instantly.

5. Highlight, add a Note, Bookmark or Copy & Paste

Make the Word Biblical Commentary your own with The Bible Study App. Without having to leave your current study, you can:



Add a Note, Copy & Paste



Or Bookmark and save under your own custom category.


Bonus: Cross Platform

The Bible Study App is available for your iPhone, iPad, Android Phone or Tablet, PC or Mac.  With our our background sync technology, you can access all of your notes, highlights, and bookmarks on all of your devices with a free Olive Tree Account.

The Word Biblical Commentary set serves as an exceptional resource for the professional theologian and instructor, the seminary or university student, the working minister, and everyone concerned with building theological understanding from a solid base of biblical scholarship.

Watch a short video to See the Word Biblical Commentary in Action!

How to use the NIDNTTE in The Bible Study App

NIDNTTE picA standard and widely-used reference work for nearly 40 years, the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE) has been thoroughly revised and updated to aid today’s pastors, students, scholars, and teachers in their study of the New Testament.

The NIDNTTE offers a wealth of background and information on the meaning of Greek words in the New Testament—as well as related usage in classical Greek sources, the Septuagint, Jewish literature, and more

Here are Five ways to use the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE) in The Bible Study App (screenshots are from an iPad 2 – click for a larger view).

ONE – Traditional Dictionary

Open the NIDNTTE in the main window. Tap the GO TO button. From here you can search for the word you are looking for as you would another other dictionary through the Table of Contents.

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TWO – Traditional Dictionary Search

Similarly, with the NIDNTTE in the main window. Tap GO TO > Browse Dictionary > Enter the Greek Word you are looking for.  The Bible Study App search the NIDNTTE for the Greek word. Tap the word and read the article.


These first two options require a working knowledge of Biblical Greek.  I’m sorry to say that my Greek is a bit rusty. Okay, it’s a LOT rusty. (Apologies to Dr. Walls, my Greek professor)  This is where the Bible Study App’s functionality and integration with original language resources really shines.

THREE – Strong’s Tagged Bible Integration

If you have a Strong’s Tagged Bible, using the NIDNTTE is a snap.  Open your Strong’s Tagged Bible in the Main Window (I’m using the ESV Strong’s Tagged Bible in this example). Tap the word you want to learn more about.  I’ve chosen the word “worship” from Romans 12:1 latreia. From the Strong’s Popup, tap “Lookup latreia”.


There you will find an article in the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis.  Tap the NIDNTTE book cover and you can read the article on the Greek word in the popup window.

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You even have the option to open the article in the Main Window or Split Window.


FOUR - Original Language Integration 

Along the same lines is the integration with Greek Parsed texts like the NA28 with Parsings.

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FIVE – Greek New Testament Interlinear Integration

Lastly, the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis integrates well with our Greek New Testament Interlinear titles.


The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis is a great resource for going further in your understanding of biblical Greek.  Thanks to our partners at Zondervan, we’re able to offer a special introductory price for the fully updated and revised 5 volume set, and the 10 volume bundle that includes it’s sister title the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDOTTE).  Hurry, because this is a limited time offer and we don’t know when we’ll be able to offer these discounts on these resources again.

Enhanced Maps: ESV Bible Atlas

Capitalizing on recent advances in satellite imaging and geographic information systems, the Crossway ESV Bible Atlas offers Bible readers a comprehensive, up-to-date resource that blends technical sophistication with readability, visual appeal, and historical and biblical accuracy.

All the key methods of presenting Bible geography and history are here, including more than 175 full-color maps, 70 photographs, 3-D re-creations of biblical objects and sites, indexes, timelines, and 65,000 words of narrative description.  With The Bible Study App, all Scripture references become hyperlinks that you can tap and read the Bible text without having to leave the ESV Bible Atlas.


Here are a two examples: (screenshots are taken from an iPad 2, click for a larger view)

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Using The Bible Study App’s powerful resource guide, the ESV Bible Atlas detects where you are in the text that you’re reading and pull up maps pertaining to that particular passage. You can then tap on a map for a bigger view and even zoom in and out on the map for more details.

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You can then tap the “Go” button and read the content applicable to the map you are viewing.


Or, you can view the map full screen on your mobile device.


Enhance your Bible study with the ESV Bible Atlas!  See all Maps & Atlases available for The Bible Study App!

How are Commentaries Enhanced for the Resource Guide?

Bible Commentaries can be an extremely valuable study tools. Many commentaries include historical and culture context, theological interpretation, and other resources like timelines and charts. The resource guide of The Bible Study App makes using commentaries a seamless part of your study.

Watch the video below to see how commentaries work within The Bible Study App’s Resource Guide.

Browse this week’s sale including enhanced commentaries and more!
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