Bible Study Articles
Learn more about how to use Olive Tree’s Bible Study App and other products for Bible study.
By Olive Tree Staff: LaRosa Johnson
Christmas is right around the corner, so I decided to have us take a look at Matthew’s gospel to show how we can use the Life Application Study Bible (see previous post for an introduction to the Life Application Study Bible) to help us dive into a familiar passage of Scripture and draw some personal application from it. The passage that we’re taking a look at is Matthew 1:18-25.
In this passage we encounter the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. We all know the story; we hear & read it every year, so let’s not waste time going over the account. With the help of the LASB, let’s take a look at some of the specific details we might have overlooked because of our familiarity with these verses. In verse 19 we find Joseph ready to break off his engagement with Mary, which is a fact that we typically gloss over. This is what the LASB has to say:
Joseph was faced with a difficult choice after discovering that Mary was pregnant. Perhaps Joseph thought he had only two options:divorce Mary quietly or have her stoned. But God gave a third option—marry her (1:20- 23). In view of the circumstances, this had not occurred to Joseph. But God often shows us that there are more options available than we think. Although Joseph seemed to be doing the right thing by breaking the engagement, only God’s guidance helped him make the best decision. But that did not make it an easy decision. Consenting to marry Mary surely cast doubt on his own innocence regarding the pregnancy, as well as leaving them both with a social stigma they would carry for the rest of their lives. Yet Joseph chose to obey the angel’s command (1:24). When our decisions affect the lives of others, we must always seek God’s wisdom and then be willing to follow through no matter how difficult it may be.
After receiving the dream, we find that Joseph awoke and did as the angel told him. Again, let’s see what the LASB has to say:
Joseph changed his plans quickly after learning that Mary had not been unfaithful to him (1:19). He obeyed God and proceeded with the marriage plans. Although others may have disapproved of his decision, Joseph went ahead with what he knew was right. Sometimes we avoid doing what is right because of what others might think. Like Joseph, we must choose to obey God rather than seek the approval of others.
In looking at the notes from the LASB we find some important details that we otherwise would have glossed over. First, given that we’re dealing with Jewish culture, Joseph could easily have chosen to have Mary stoned for adultery, but his initial reaction was to take the more righteous approach and simply divorce her. Yet, once the Lord spoke to him in the dream and revealed the truth behind her pregnancy, Joseph chose the third option of marrying her, the one that he had not even considered. As the notes point out, we don’t realize that marrying a pregnant woman came at personal cost & ridicule to Joseph, with people now believing that he had sinned & was the one who had truly gotten Mary pregnant. All of this helps to paint a more vivid picture of the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth, which was not as calm and stress free as we often times make it out to be.
Now that we better understand the passage, we can look to find personal application, and probably more application than we had originally bargained for in a nativity narrative. The two immediate ones that are mentioned from the LASB notes are: 1) When our decisions affect the lives of others, we must always seek God’s wisdom and then be willing to follow through no matter how difficult it may be, and 2) Sometimes we avoid doing what is right because of what others might think. Like Joseph, we must choose to obey God rather than seek the approval of others. Those are the two obvious ones and there are plenty more to be had, especially when you look at Joseph’s personality profile and look at the notes and points of application to be had there.
Ultimately, what we see here is the value of the Life Application Study Bible. It doesn’t matter what passage of Scripture you’re studying, this study Bible will help you to understand what you’re reading and then help you to apply the truth of Scripture to your life. What more can you really ask of your study Bible? If you want to be able to make this kind of application while studying the Bible then add the Life Application Study Bible to your Olive Tree digital library today.
One of the hardest things about studying the Bible is figuring out how it applies to your life. How do I benefit from reading the genealogies in Chronicles? What do the Levitical laws have to do with me? How do I apply the words of Paul to my life? If you’ve ever asked a question like this, you’re not alone. We all ask these kinds of questions when we study the Bible, but how often do we get an answer to those questions?
There are lots of study Bibles on the market today, but the vast majority only seek to explain the text so that you can understand what you’ve just read. This is great, but it leaves out a critical part of Bible study: application. This is where the Life Application Study Bible is different and truly shines; not only does it help explain the Bible, it also helps you apply it to your life in a practical way. It’s for this reason alone that the LASB has consistently been one of the top selling study Bibles.
While the Life Application Study Bible functions just like any other study Bible, there is plenty that sets it apart and makes it an invaluable resource. Alongside thousands of study notes, the LASB includes over 300 charts and more than 150 personality profiles. The charts visually cement the truths of Scripture by arranging various topics in a form that is easy to understand while pointing you to other applicable places in Scripture. The Personality Profiles are a key piece to the LASB, as this is one of the places where you can clearly see the application side of this resource. At a glance the profiles help you to see who these biblical figures are while giving key lessons to learn from their lives, whether it be good or bad. Also, interspersed through the study notes are points of application to help you apply the truth of Scripture. All of this is only touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Life Application Study Bible.
Having consulted the print version of the LASB in times past, I’ve found just how useful it can be. Yet, its usefulness grows exponentially when you use it in The Bible Study App as a part of your Olive Tree digital library. As you read through the LASB, you constantly find yourself page flipping as you look up cross references, consulting charts & profiles, and checking the index for parallel passages. With Olive Tree all that flipping becomes only a tap or two away without ever losing your place. The beauty of the LASB in Olive Tree is that it appears as two separate resources in your library: the Bible text and the study notes. This allows you to use the study notes in conjunction with your preferred Bible, or you can use the accompanied Bible which includes cross references and inline links to all the relevant maps, profiles and charts found in the study notes. The study notes also contain a fully hyperlinked index so that you can browse the LASB by topic or look up specific items. Not to mention, this resource is fully integrated with the Olive Tree Resource Guide, making it that much easier to use.
The Life Application Study Bible is one of the most complete study Bibles on the market and it’s even better now that it’s available through Olive Tree. With this resource as a part of your library you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to both understand the text of the Bible and how you can apply it to your life. In another blog I’ll show you just how easy it is to use the LASB to understand a passage of Scripture and find several points of personal application.
Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (MED) is a word study dictionary covering the entire Bible.
Here are three tips for Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary in The Bible Study App to enrich your personal Bible Study. (screenshots are from an iPad 2, click for a larger view):
ONE: RESOURCE GUIDE
Open your favorite Bible translation in the main window. (I’ve got the NIV open in this example.) Then tap the split window handle and drag it to a width or height you like. As you scroll through the Bible text, the resource guide keeps up with you and searches through all the books in your library for content related to the Scripture passage in the Main Window. If you scroll down the resource guide results, you will see the section headings “People,” “Places,” and “Topics.”
Tap or click on the person/place/topic you want to learn more about. I chose the topic “Fellowship” in this example. The Bible Study App then brings you results from Mounce’s Expository Dictionary.
You’ll see that Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary has the words “Article to Fellowship” underneath the book cover. Tap/Click on the book cover and The Bible Study App will take you directly to the article. You can scroll down and read the entire article without having to leave your Bible text. If there are scripture references in the article, just tap the verse and it will appear in a pop-up window. You can also tap the top right hand corner of the pop-up window to bring up the option to open these hyperlinked references in the main window or the split window.
TWO: LOOKUP FEATURES
For iPhone/iPad open the Resource Guide in the split window of The Bible Study App, tap the double arrows, then tap the “lookup” option in iOS, type in “Fellowship” and then tap “search”. This will bring up Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary article on Fellowship as we’ve seen before.
If you like reading your Bible “full screen”, try the integrated look-up feature. Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up. From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup, and More..
If you tap the “Lookup” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific word. Like before, just tap the book cover and you can read the article in the pop-up window, or choose to open in the Main or Split window.
THREE: INTEGRATES WITH STRONG’S TAGGED BIBLES
If you have a Bible Tagged with Strong’s, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary is a great addition to your Bible Study library. This is also a great Bible study method to see how other versions of the Bible translate different scriptures. Since I have the English Standard Version (ESV) with Strong’s, I pulled it up in my main window and tapped “fellowship”. This brings up the Strong’s article and definition for κοινωνία (koinōnia).
From there I tapped “look up κοινωνία (koinōnia). This brought up Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary that I can tap then read the article on κοινωνία (koinōnia) in the pop-up window, or open the Main Window or Split Window.
This is how Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary has been enhanced for The Bible Study App to enrich your personal Bible Study. How do you use the Mounce Expository Dictionary in your personal Bible Study? What are some insights you have learned by using Mounce’s Expository Dictionary?
By Olive Tree Employee: Joe Carter
This one resource in print actually takes 4 volumes:
- The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament
- The Complete Word Study Old Testament
- The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament
- The Complete Word Study New Testament
This is a massive original language study in one resource!
I love that you can search by the English, Greek, Hebrew, or by Strong’s Numbers! Even though I personally have limited knowledge about the underlying original languages, the CWSB allows me to read through the text in English, and quickly get in-depth info on any word there just by tapping on it!
The CWSB will give you information on the parts of speech for a word (and give you links that explain what those parts of speech mean if you don’t know – with examples no less!) – the Strong’s Number for that word, a VERY robust dictionary / exegetical discussion about the word in question as well as a link to a concordance at the end of nearly every entry showing you every verse in the Bible where a word is used.
Compare this resource to a standard “Strong’s” Bible and the amount of information available with the CWSB is staggering.
For example – the entry on αγαπαω:
In a Strong’s Bible you get this:
g0025. αγαπαω agapao;
perhaps from αγαν agan (much) (or compare h5689); to love (in a social or moral sense):— (be-) love (- ed). Compare 5368.
AV (142)- love 135, beloved 7;
of persons to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly of things to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing
By comparison, in the CWSB, the entry on αγαπαω goes on for over 2 pages when pasted into my word processor – with various usages of the word compared and contrasted between different passages of scripture.
Here’s a very small taste of the article on αγαπαω from the CWSB (comparing the different words for love used in Peter’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus in John 21 – FYI: Greek words in the text are transliterated into English for ease of use):
The third question of Jesus to Peter was different, “Do you love me [phileo, Are you my friend]?” (a. t.). Are your interests, now that you have seen Me risen from the dead, different than before the resurrection? Peter became sorrowful because he understood the deeper meaning of Jesus ‘question (John 21:17). His answer utilized two similar, but distinct verbs, oida, to know intuitively, and ginosko (G1097), to know experientially:”Lord, thou knowest, [oidas, intuitively] all things. Thou knowest [ginoskeis, know experientially] that I love thee [philo, that I am now your friend].”
With this one resource you can get a backpack full of resources that you can carry around in your pocket – and instead of having to reference a number in one volume – then open another one and find that number, I can just tap on a word – then tap the links. Seamlessly moving between different ‘books’ in the collection.
As you can see, the Complete Word Study Bible (CWSB) is a great resource that helps you find original word meanings quickly and easily.
By Guest Blogger: Mitch Claborn
Just the other day, I completed a year long Bible reading plan, using the Bible Study App from Olive Tree. For this trip through the Bible, I used the M’Cheyne reading plan. Each day, there are 4 reading selections. Upon completion of the plan, one has read the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice. Here are some of my thoughts as I look back on my year-long journey through God’s Word.
God’s Word is Consistent
Some people don’t or won’t read the Bible because they claim that it is inconsistent. These are people who have never read through the Bible completely, or who take small passages completely out of context in order to support their claim.
The truth is that God’s Word, expressed in written form in the Bible, is wonderfully, marvelously consistent. From start to finish it is a story of God’s love for humanity. Throughout the story, mankind rejects God again and again yet His love for us never fades nor falters, never dwindles nor diminishes.
Again and again in the Old Testament, God sent prophets to try to talk some sense into His people. In most cases the prophets were ignored, or even persecuted and killed, but God never stopped trying to get Israel’s attention. (See 2 Chronicles 36:15 – 16.)
Finally, when the time was just right, God sent His son Jesus. The Law, with its system of ritual and sacrifice was inadequate for salvation, but Christ was the perfect substitute. Christ’s coming to earth, His death on the cross for us and subsequent resurrection from the dead remain the ultimate demonstration of God’s love. One simply cannot read through the Bible without seeing God’s love in action, demonstrated time and time again.
A Process, Not a Task
There was a point in this past year, about midway through the reading plan, where I started treating the reading as a task to be completed. For a while, I started reading two days’ assignments every morning, so that I could finish sooner. The Holy Spirit was quick to point out the error in my thinking.
Reading the Bible should be a process to experience, not a task to complete. It it the process of reading God’s Word that is valuable, not the completion of the book as if it were simply a novel or a historical piece. The value is in the journey, not the destination. I will never be finished reading the Bible. This is an especially difficult lesson for me to learn, as I am a very task oriented person, but I’m getting there.
Daily Reading is Crucial
In the middle of Job’s excruciating trials, he didn’t fail to place a high value on God’s word. Job 23:12b I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. For a Believer, God’s word is spiritual sustenance. It is absolutely crucial for Christians to feed every day on the wisdom found in the Bible, to absorb into our minds and our hearts the truths that await us there. Reading God’s Word should be as much of a part of our daily routines as eating breakfast (or whatever meal it is that you never do without).
Knowing That I Don’t Know
As I read God’s word, I constantly discover things that I’ve never noticed before, even in passages that I’ve read many times before. Grasping a previously unknown truth brings a joy like no other.
This in no way implies that I understood everything I read as I went through the Bible this past year. There are many places that I read through more than once trying to understand just what was going on, and some of them are still a mystery to me. This might seem like failure to some, but I consider it a blessing. The more I read and understand about God’s Word, the more I discover that I don’t know. I’m perfectly OK with this. On my next trip through the Bible I’ll understand more and find yet more that I don’t yet understand. Comprehension of God’s Word is a continual, ongoing process.
More Bible reading. And after that, still more reading and studying of God’s Word. I plan to go though some of Olive Tree’s shorter reading plans, starting with “14 Days on Love”, and then start up another long term plan, probably Prof. Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System.
Keep on reading!
I am an IT nerd by trade, a husband of one, father of four and grandfather of six. I drink decaf coffee and work in various ministries, in and outside of the church. You may find more of my writing on my blog: http://www.mitchclaborn.com/ or follow me on Twitter @MitchClaborn.
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary is a great resource for those who don’t have any background with Greek or Hebrew.
Here’s how I used it in a recent sermon. (screenshots are taken from an iPad 2. Click on the images for a larger view)
I read this verse in Genesis 39:2: “And Jehovah was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.” (ASV)
This passage got me thinking about the word “prosperous”, so I opened the Resource Guide in the split window of The Bible Study App, found the “lookup” option in iOS and typed in “prosper” and then tapped “search”.
From there I got two search results, and tapped the one for “prosper”.
This brought up Vine’s under the search menu for tsaleach צָלַח, along with an article about the word.
The article shows some of the different occurrences of tsaleach in the Bible. All I have to do is tap the reference and the biblical passage appears in a pop-up window. This gives me instant access to other places the word is used in the Bible and helps me keep my Bible study on track by not having to stop in the middle of my study to find the reference.
Another great thing about this resource is that Vine’s gives the Strong’s number (6743 in this case) and is tied into the Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary that is included in this resource. This allows me to tap on the Strong’s number and see the definition of the word and the words in both the original language and transliterated form.
If you have a Bible Tagged with Strong’s, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary is a great addition to your Bible Study library. This is also a great Bible study method to see how other versions of the Bible translate different words.
Since I have the English Standard Version (ESV) with Strong’s, I pulled it up found that the ESV translates “prosperous” as ”successful”. I verified this by tapping on the word “successful” and confirmed that it is the same word for “prosper/prosperous” that the ASV uses.
From there I tapped “look up tsaleach צָלַח”. This brought up the Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s dictionary and Vine’s. From there I also can tap Vine’s and read the article on tsaleach צָלַח.
Lastly, I find that the popup windows can be a little small sometimes, so the popup window gives me the option to open in the Main or the Split window. This way I never have to leave my Bible text to do a quick word study and study more in depth.
As you can see, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words is a fantastic, easy-to-use resource that gives anyone access to the original languages. With over 6,000 key biblical words that have reference to Strong’s numbers, it makes a great addition to any Bible study library. There is no end to how it can help you understand the Bible and keep your study on track.