App Tips

Here’s how to get the most out of The Bible Study App by learning about its powerful features and how they can work for you.

How to Use God’s Commentary on Scripture

By Olive Tree Employee: David Mikucki

Olive Tree has a lot of commentaries and study Bibles available, and I love using them. I find myself using one almost every day, even if it’s only to get background information on a verse as I read each day. The Resource Guide makes it easy to do just that. I can’t even imagine trying to carry Calvin’s 22-volume commentary set or even the hefty ESV Study Bible with me everywhere.

But as I’m sure you’re aware, commentaries and study Bibles can get things wrong. Theologians and scholars make mistakes and misinterpret things, but God is perfect and doesn’t make any mistakes. Wouldn’t it be great if God had written a commentary on Scripture? Well, in a way He did, and His commentary comes free with The Bible Study App. Let me explain what I mean…

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture

frustrationIt has been said that Scripture is its own best interpreter, and that’s absolutely true. It has also been said that when we’re having trouble interpreting a text that seems unclear, the best place we can go is to clearer texts that talk about the same subject. So when Jesus speaks in a parable, it can be very helpful to see what Paul had to say about the subject. That can help to guard us from error as we seek to understand the meaning of difficult passages. In this sense, God gives us commentary on Scripture through other Scripture.

Before I used The Bible Study App, I would do this by looking at the tiny cross-references in my Bible text, then I would try to keep my finger where I started as I used my other hand to look up the cross-references—leaving a finger at each cross reference. That got pretty crazy pretty quick since I only have ten fingers. Besides that, what about keeping my place in commentaries?

Thankfully, Olive Tree offers a few features that make this a lot easier.

Cross Reference Popups

Several of the translations Olive Tree offers (like the ESV and the NIV) have cross-references built right into the Bible text. Cross-references are references to verses that the translators thought were related to the verse you’re reading. They look like little superscripted letters. When you tap them, you see popup that shows you the cross references related to that verse:


The list of cross-references, of course, isn’t inspired. But Scripture is inspired and the cross references are designed to take you to places in Scripture that are related to the passage you’re reading. In the example below, I was reading the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, and I found a cross-reference where Hebrews gives us some extra insight into this story:


Two Passages Side-by-Side

If you want to dig into God’s commentary even more, you might find popups don’t show enough context and they can get in your way of reading the original passage. With split window, you can easily pull up two whole passages of Scripture side-by-side. First open split window by tapping on the arrow at the edge of your screen:


This will probably bring up the Resource Guide, so tap Open at the top of the Resource Guide, then tap Recently Opened and select one your preferred Bible translations:


By default, the split window is set to show the same passage that you have open in the main window so that you can compare translations, but if you disable window syncing, you can use the two screens as if they’re two separate Bibles. To do this, tap the [>>] icon at the top right of the split window, then tap Sync Settings and turn off Sync Windows:


Now, you can open a passage that’s related to the one you’re currently reading. I’m in Jeremiah 31:31, reading about the New Covenant. Hebrews has a lot to say about this passage in chapters 8 and 10, so I’ll take my split window to Hebrews 8 by using the Go To button:


Now I have both passages opened. I can read Scripture and God’s commentary on Scripture—more Scripture—right next to each other!



I don’t consider my study of a passage complete until I’ve looked to see what God says about that passage elsewhere in His Word. These features make it a lot easier to do that. Another tool I often use is the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, which is a collection of cross-references that’s a bit larger than what you’ll find in a Bible translation. It’s quite useful and we’ve even written a blog post about how to use it.

The steps I showed you here were for iPad, but these things can be done on all of our platforms. You can learn about how to use split window and lots of other features for all our supported platforms on our help website.

David is a front end web developer at Olive Tree. He also writes on his personal blog, And the Rest of It.

Look Inside: Reformation Study Bible Notes (2015)

Just released for Olive Tree’s Bible Study App is the new edition of the Reformation Study Bible Notes. We are excited to be able to partner with Ligonier Ministries to be one of the first to offer this outstanding Bible study resource. The Reformation Study Bible Notes (2015) have been thoroughly revised and carefully crafted under the editorial leadership of R.C. Sproul. Over 1.1 million words of new, expanded, or revised commentary from 75 distinguished theologians, pastors, and scholars from around the world contribute to make this an unparalleled discipleship resource. Includes new award-winning maps, topical articles, concordance, and historical creeds, confessions, and catechisms, and more.  It is a fantastic resource and we want to give you a look inside this new edition of the Reformation Study Bible Notes.

In the screenshot below (taken from an iPad 2) I have my Bible text open in the main window to Acts 19. As I scroll through the Resource Guide in the Split Window I can see all of my enhanced resources that have an entry pertaining to the current text that I’m reading. I notice that the Reformation Study Bible Notes has entries for commentaries, maps, outlines, and introductions. The numbers indicate how many entries are available for each enhanced resource.


The Reformation Study Bible Notes - in the resource guide – shows six entries under the Commentary section for Acts 19:1-10. When I click on the the Reformation Study Bible Notes it then shows me a preview of those six entries.


I can then click on any of those previews to read the full commentary. As I read on in the text, those entries will stay in sync with my passage no matter what translation I have open in the main window.  Any Scripture reference I see becomes a hyperlink that I can tap and read without having to leave my current Bible passage.


The Reformation Study Bible Notes includes a concordance that can be found under People, Places, Topics in The Bible Study App’s Resource Guide when relevant content from your Bible text is in the Main Window.  In this case, “Apollos” shows up in the passage I’m reading.  when I tap “Apollos” under the People section, I see the concordance reference for “Apollos” and read that reference.

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Since the concordance from the Reformation Study Bible Notes is linked, I can also use The Bible Study App’s Lookup feature in the Main Window for easy and quick access. Tap and hold a word, then tap “Lookup”. The reference will show up and you can tap then read the article like you would in the Resource Guide option above.

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Maps in the The Reformation Study Bible Notes can be found in two places in the Resource Guide.  First, under “Place” tap a location you are interested in.  I chose Ephesus in this case. After tapping Ephesus, all of the maps in the The Reformation Study Bible Notes tagged with that location will appear. You can then pinch and zoom the map for a larger view.

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The second place is under the “Maps” Section.  Tap the one you want, Tap the “two arrows” button, pinch and zoom for a larger view.

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The Reformation Study Bible Notes also includes many theological articles also linked to the Bible text you are reading.  Under Topics, tap a subject you want to learn more about. I choose “Baptism” in this case.

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The Reformation Study Bible Notes also gives you book outlines, and book introductions. These are easy to access from the Resource Guide which pulls in entries based on where you’re reading in the main window.

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The Reformation Study Bible Notes also includes 10 historical creeds, confessions, and catechisms.  To access them, open The Reformation Study Bible Notes in the Main Window > Tap Go To > Tap the “3 dots/3 lines” icon to Change from Grid View to List View > Tap Back Matter > Tap Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms > Tap the Creed or Confession you want to read.

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You can also access all of enhanced content by navigating to the “end matter” in this way.

As you can see, the Reformation Study Bible Notes contain a ton of content that will help you go deeper in your Bible study.


Three Ways to use the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity

encylopedia of ancientWe are thrilled to announce that Olive Tree is the first to release the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity in digital format!

This three-volume encyclopedia offers unparalleled, comprehensive coverage of the people, places and ideas of ancient Christianity. With Olive Tree’s Bible Study App you can access eight Centuries of the Christian church in just three taps!

Here’s three ways to use the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity in Olive Tree’s Bible Study App! (Screenshots are taken from an iPad 2 – click for a larger view)

The first way is through the Split Window and Resource Guide.  Open your favorite Bible translation in the main window and the Resource Guide in the Split Window.  As you read through your Bible text, the Resource Guide searches through all the downloaded resources in your library to find related Bible study content.

You’ll notice that the Resource Guide pulls related content from all of your downloaded resources.  If you scroll down the Resource Guide results, you will see the section headings “People,” “Places,” and “Topics.”  These headings give you the results of articles based on your downloaded resources.

Tap or click on the person/place/topic you want to learn more about. I chose “Anointing” in this example.  The Bible Study App then brings you results from within the resources you have on your device.  This is where you will find the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity within the Resource Guide.


You’ll notice that the resource has the words “Article on Anointing” underneath the book cover.  Tap/Click on the book cover and The Bible Study App will take you directly to the article within the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity. As you are reading the article, any Scripture references become hyperlinks that you can tap/click to view as a pop-out window:


The second way you can utilize the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity is as a traditional dictionary in The Bible Study App.  Open the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity in the main window, and then just tap the “Go-To” button and scroll through this awesome resource as you would a hard-copy dictionary.  For faster results, tap “Browse Dictionary” and enter the term you are looking for in the search bar.


The third way is to use the Bible Study App’s Lookup Feature. Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  If you tap the “Lookup” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific word. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.

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If you’re on an iOS device, you can also tap the verse number and a menu bar will appear.  Tap “Guide” and you will get hits from your resources on that specific verse.  Then just follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option.


The Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity covers eight centuries of the Christian church and comprises 3,220 entries by a team of 266 scholars.  Using the Bible Study App’s lookup feature makes the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity great companion tool for many other resources.

Use the lookup feature when you’ve got the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture in the split window:


Taking a Church History course and want to learn more about the Council of Nicaea?


Reading a biography of St. Augustine and want to know more about the city of Carthage?


Any resource you have in The Bible Study can utilize the content in the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity! As you can see, the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity is an extremely helpful resource for studying the Bible and ancient Christianity.  Right now you can get this amazing resource for only $149.99.  That’s $150 off the regular price!  Hurry because this is a limited time offer!

What is the Resource Guide?

What is the Resource Guide? As you read along in your Bible in the main window of The Bible Study App, the Resource Guide in the split window follows along, looking in your library for any Bible study information that is relevant to your reading. As you scroll or change scripture references the Resource Guide will stay in sync looking to all of your study resources making for a powerful and easy to use study tool.

Your Very Own Research Assistant Think of the Resource Guide as your own personal research assistant. If you were reading about Paul’s first missionary journey in Acts 13, your research assistant has a map of Paul’s journey, cross references to passages in Paul’s letters written to the churches he founded, charts that give an overview of Paul’s life, and all sorts of other resources. You didn’t have to do anything, in fact, you didn’t even have to ask. All of the work was already done by your personal research assistant, the Resource Guide.

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Completely Customizable The configuration of the Resource Guide is also customizable. To access the options for customizing the Resource Guide tap on the double arrow button (double gear for Android) in the upper right corner. You will then see the various options for customizing the different sections in the Resource Guide.

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Here’s a short video on the basics of the Resource Guide:

What types of resources work with the Resource Guide? The Resource Guide is ‘verse driven’ which means that the Bible passage that is open in the main window directs what references appear in the Resource Guide. Not every resource is verse driven but some examples of verse driven resources are:

  • Articles on people, places, and other topics
  • Study Bible notes
  • Commentaries
  • Outlines
  • Dictionaries
  • Introductions to books of the Bible
  • Cross references
  • Maps

Free Resource Friday!

Throughout the book of Psalms, believers are admonished to lift their voices and offer praises to God. For centuries now, the faithful have composed “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” to express their trust in God and their love for Jesus Christ. Included in Hymns of Praise are a short introduction and the complete words to ten best-loved hymns, to offer inspiration and encouragement in your daily walk with God.

Find this great resource in the Bible Study in-app store or go HERE for install instructions.

Please note that a Free Olive Tree account is required to access this Free Download.

New Lent Reading Plan Available

Lent begins this with Ash Wednesday—February 18 this year—and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. To many people, it is a 40-day period—not including the six Sundays—devoted to reflection, repentance, fasting, and preparation prior to Easter.

Unlike Christmas, Easter is not a fixed date on the calendar; it is sometimes described as a “moveable feast.” The Western church decided long ago to set Easter as the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (the first day of spring). Since the date of Easter varies widely (from March 22 to April 25), the dates of every other holiday related to Easter vary as well. The week before Easter is referred to as Holy Week. It begins on Palm Sunday, which recalls Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Thursday of that week is known in some traditions as Maundy Thursday because it memorializes Jesus’ final instructions and last meal with His disciples. The term “Maundy” is related to the Latin word mandatum, meaning “commandment,” which is the first word in the Latin version of John 13:34 that records Jesus’ new commandment to His disciples that they love one another. Since Jesus washed his disciples’ feet that fateful evening, Christians often do as Jesus did and wash one another’s feet. Good Friday follows. It is the day that commemorates the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Calling the day “good” seems ironic since Jesus died such a horrid death that day. However, what Jesus’ death accomplished for the redemption of the world is the greatest good the world has ever seen. The Sunday following Good Friday ends the season of Lent and is designated Easter. It may be the most celebrated day on the Christian calendar, for it commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the beginning of the new Kingdom. - Adapted from The Voice Bible.


Lent is a great time to think about starting a new reading plan. To help you get started, we’ve added a new reading plan especially for Lent! Adapted from The Voice Bible, this plan starts on Ash Wednesday, February 18 and continues until Easter Sunday. This is a great way to prepare your heart for Easter.

Tap the ‘My Stuff’ icon in your app and select Reading Plans. At the bottom of the list of reading plans, tap the ‘Get More Reading Plan’ button. You’ll see a list of reading plans that are available to download here.

Once you tap the install button, the reading plan will be available to start.

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