Bible Study Articles
Learn more about how to use Olive Tree’s Bible Study App and other products for Bible study.
How large is the Word Biblical Commentary? One department worked out the calculation for how tall the stack of physical books would stand if we stacked them on top of each other. Eight feet. Almost as tall as Goliath.
To make our point, we thought we’d take these photos to show you what you’re not carting around in your backpack by buying the Word Biblical Commentary through The Bible Study App by Olive Tree! We also did a sneaky little calculation for you. If you bought each volume of the commentary set individually for $49.99, you’d spend $2949.41!
To top it off, this is a widely-acclaimed commentary set written by leading scholars. Each individual volume offers detailed analysis of the text in the framework of biblical theology. This is an exceptional resource for pastors, professors, students, and everyone who loves studying God’s Word.
Right now, the entire 59 Volume set is on sale for $299.99. The sale price for the Word Biblical Commentary set is available now through the end of the day Monday, April 15. Grab this awesome commentary set while you can!
Following his lead, I would read through a passage of Scripture and look up every word in the Strong’s Concordance that I didn’t understand or that caught my attention. I soon learned that I needed a more formalized approach to my Bible study. Here are a few kick starting steps that helps me focus on Bible Study and get me back on track to studying God’s Word.
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
- Observe – What does the text say?
- Interpret – What does the text mean?
- 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.
- Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK) – cross references
- Holman Concise Topical Concordance
- Other Concordances Available
3. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words. They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.
- Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Free Olive Tree Resource)
- Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary (Free Olive Tree Resource)
- Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
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.
- Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary (Free Olive Tree Resource)
- Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible (Free Olive Tree Resource)
- The Bible Knowledge Commentary
- Word Biblical Commentary (WBC)
Lastly, here are some useful resources to further your Bible Study methods:
- The New How to Study Your Bible by David Arthur, Kay Arthur and Pete De Lacy
- How to Study the Bible by Rose Publishing
- Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods by Rick Warren
- How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart
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 resources?
By Olive Tree employee: Genny Gager
With the New Year so recent, our thoughts drift to all the things that we have resolved to do faithfully and consistently. Among the list of such items as eating better, exercising, and completing whatever unfinished tasks lurk around our house, (or person) many of us will commit yet again to our daily Bible reading and devotions.
While we might start with the best of intentions, our commitment loses momentum as time goes on and our lives get busy. What we need are some great strategies to make that daily devotional time easy, fun, and life-changing. The Olive Tree Bible Study App has a great system of tools to help you understand and grow through your daily time in God’s Word. Let’s take a look at some strategies you can immediately apply, in whole or in part, in your devotional time.
If you have struggled with getting your daily devotionals done, the secret to success might be to not overwhelm yourself. Although discipline is an important factor in daily commitment, sometimes variety can make things easier. In the Bible Study App we now offer numerous reading plans to choose from, of varying length and with varying topics. If your goal is to read the entire Bible in a year, but you’ve tried to read straight from beginning to end and failed, maybe one of the plans that breaks up the readings into different sections of the Bible would be a good strategy. But if the important thing right now in your life is to establish a daily habit, maybe a smaller reading plan could get you started and prepare you for a more comprehensive reading plan later on.
Once you’ve decided on the right length and strategy, create your plan and get started. The Bible Study App makes this easy and fun. Just tap the briefcase icon, select the reading plan option, then choose your plan and create it. Now the app will do all the work of keeping track of your progress and even showing you where to begin and end your reading, taking you from one day’s reading to the next.
One of the best ways to apply what you have read is to write out what a particular verse means to you. This isn’t an academic paper, just a few words about how you see that verse applying to your life. Pick one verse and one thought to write about, even if your reading covered a number of good topics. Most of us aren’t going to have enough time to write about everything, but as time goes on and you circle back in your reading you will be able to tackle other good topics.
Commit that thought to writing both to help you remember what you learned and for help in the future when you face a similar struggle.
Journaling is a great way to record those thoughts, both as a tool to help you remember and as a record of God’s dealings with you at a specific time. There is a way to use the notes system in the Bible Study App to maintain an accessible log of these thoughts and how they change over time. The app notes system also gives you the flexibility to access these thoughts later.
First, create a note in which to record your thoughts. Tap the verse number to bring up the in-context menu, then tap “note.” This will enable you to put your thoughts right there in the popup on the page.*
Now that your note is open and ready, tap the file folder icon and create a category called “Journal” and then tap it to put your note in it. If you want to change the note icon, tap it on the bottom of the note popup/window and pick a different one, for instance the spiral-bound notebook might be a good one to designate that the note is a journal entry. Pull the note down to reveal the Change Title button and give the note a title that will help you remember about the context of the note. The title comes in pre-filled with the scripture reference; just add your title after that. Now record those thoughts!
We all need God and the Holy Spirit’s help in teaching us to apply and live out God’s Word. Once you have recorded your thoughts about the verse, ask the Lord to help you learn His truth and apply it to your life. Record any further insights this might give you.
Reading the Word and having it speak into your life will change you. Your journal is a record of how the Lord spoke to you over time. Making those thoughts easily accessible later can help you when facing a trial or trying to remember what the Lord revealed in your quiet time with him. Tap the tag icon at the bottom of the note and create a one-word description of the topic (or use one that already exists). You can put as many tags as you want on it. As you create other journal entries, re-use or create new tags as needed.
Now if you want to access those journal entries via a certain tag, tap the briefcase icon, select tags, and select the topic to see a list of everything that you have associated with that topic. Utilize the search bar to hone in even further, finding specific entries that might help you remember those lessons or relive those victories.
You can also view your journal entries via their chronological or verse order by tapping the open button on the second window, and selecting my notes. Select the Journal category then sort them using one of the three buttons (by date, title or verse).
The Bible Study App can help you stick to your New Year’s resolution to do daily devotions. Not only can it make the process easy and fun, but it can help your devotions have a lasting impact on your life by being able to access your journal entries later and easily share your verses with friends and family.
*Or, alternatively, tap the verse number, select “more,” then tap “Start page at:” to put your verse at the top of the page. Open the second window if it isn’t already in view by tapping the gripper bar, and if the resource guide isn’t visible tap the “open” button and select it. There is a section of the resource guide called “My Notes,” you may have to scroll a bit to get to it. Once there, you can tap “add note on…” to open up your new note in the second window. (If this is your preferred method of opening your note up, you can use the resource guide settings to move it higher in the list.)
By Olive Tree employee: Harold Coleman
For Christmas, the Android team at Olive Tree gave us a wonderful gift: reading plans that sync between devices! My wife has been using a reading plan on her iPad for the past year and now I have the opportunity to use reading plans on my Android tablet and phone.
I can find the reading plan by choosing the My Stuff and scrolling to the bottom of the list. On my Tablet, My Stuff is the briefcase at the top of the screen. On my phone, you can find My Stuff through the menu button near the bottom of the phone. For my S3 phone, I have to touch the bottom area to see the menu icon display. I chose the Life Journal reading plan because I get both Old and New Testament and can read through the New Testament twice in the year. I named the plan 2013 and then set it as the default reading plan. Now it is available at the top of the list as ‘Reading Plans in Progress’. Though one plan is enough for now, I see how I can add another plan, such as the Advent plan next Christmas season.
The reading plan is easy to use by selecting it out of My Stuff, tapping my plan named 2013 and touching the Start/Continue Reading button. I’m taken to the reading for the day in the Old Testament. When I finish reading this section, I see a button below this portion of reading that takes me to the next section, which is in the New Testament for the first few days, but will be in Psalms later and in the New Testament by the seventh day. At the end of the New Testament reading the “Done” button finishes the reading, and I will be ready to start the next day.
What is nice is that I can just finish the Old Testament reading and touch the button to continue, then I stop reading for the morning. If I sync my tablet Bible+ app from the My Stuff list, I can continue the reading on my phone during a break at work by syncing my phone Bible+ app and choosing Continue Reading from the Reading Plan screen. It is so easy I might keep this New Year’s resolution to read through the Bible, or extend it slightly into 2014. The benefits are obvious in getting to know God’s Word, drawing closer to Him, and find His direction and plan for each day, month, and year.
Thanks to Olive Tree’s Android team for giving me a great start to the New Year!
Using technology to study the Bible is not a new idea to me. As a part time techy and full time pastor I’ve been using various Bible resources on my laptop for years now. Just recently though I’ve begun to use Olive Tree’s Bible+ on my laptop and iPad and while I’m still learning all it has to offer I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve really loved about it.
It’s free and not internet dependent. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal but there are tons of free Bible reading programs and apps out there that almost all depend on an internet connection to work properly. I don’t know about you but sometimes my favorite place to read and study doesn’t have a wifi connection. Because Olive Tree’s Bible Study App actually lives on my device it works everywhere.
Notes and highlights! I have a distinct memory of looking at my Dad’s Bible as a kid and thinking it looked like a coloring book. There were these crazy colorful highlights and long underlines throughout his Bible. For me one of the major tensions in the transition to all things digital, especially as it relates to the Bible, is the familiarity of the worn book in my hands with my own notes and observations from past years. The BibleReader allows for this and more. I can easily color code verses and record far longer notes and observations than I ever could before. Over time The Bible Study App will contain years of valuable notes and study thoughts.
It’s multi-platform and it syncs with my other devices. I’ve been a PC guy since my family got our first computer over 20 years ago but earlier this year I was given an ipad and I love it. Because of the sync feature I’m able to take notes or highlight things on my iPad and later, if I’m preparing for a sermon or other study on my laptop, I can use the sync option and the notes I took on my iPad will be on my laptop also. So no matter what device I use my highlights, notes, and even the last place I left off reading goes with me and that saves me a lot of time and also gives me the security of knowing they won’t be lost.
Double pane is the way to go. Whether it’s for sermon prep, a small group bible study, or just my own reading I love the double pane. It allows me to compare Bible versions, easily make notes, or pull up helpful commentaries. The ability to do this easily and again without an internet connection even is a huge reason I think Olive Tree’s Bible Study App is the way to go. The Bible Study App can be as simple or as deep as you want it to be and I’m finding it to be the best resource for studying God’s word yet.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says,” James 1:22 (NIV).
James wrote these words long ago but his challenge still resonates strongly today. The words echo what Jesus himself taught in John 14 that whoever loves him will obey his teachings.
We live in an amazing time where – thanks to technology – we have access to dozens of Bible translations, libraries of biblical wisdom, and can listen to thousands of sermons from preachers around the world. The challenge for us in the Western world isn’t getting access to this information, it’s what we actually do with the information we have. How do we apply it? Let me offer a few simple ideas to you that have the potential to breathe new life into your Bible reading.
After Jesus’ resurrection and before he ascended into heaven, Jesus promises that the church won’t be left alone, that the Holy Spirit will come and be the one to guide the believers into all truth (John 16:13). As believers, that same Holy Spirit lives within us, so while you read God’s Word, ask the Holy Spirit to guide, reveal, and help you apply his word in your life. It’s a prayer that he wants to answer.
The word ‘meditate’ may generate a specific response or picture in your head – either good or bad. Many religions use meditation in one form or another. One of my favorite pictures of what it means to meditate is the idea of ‘chewing.’ Many of us approach reading God’s word with the goal of getting through it in a set time. In contrast, the idea of meditating is to slow down, imagine, consider…or chew. If you’re a ‘get it done’ type of person by nature, try a different approach to reading God’s word. Use your imagination as you think about the setting of Jesus’ teachings or the surroundings of the desert that the Israelites lived in for 40 years. Chew on the implications of Paul’s teachings for the people living in pagan Ephesus – both for them in the first century and for you today. As you meditate, you’ll find that God’s word sticks with you throughout the day.
Sometimes the simple questions you ask every time you read through the Bible can help get the wheels turning on how to apply God’s word. Here are a few easy ones:
- Who was the original audience of this passage?
- What are the timeless truths in this passage?
- What does this passage show me about who God is?
- What do I need to study further in this passage so I can understand it fully?
You may not be able to answer all of these questions easily, depending on the passage you’re reading but these questions will help ensure that your daily reading is applied to your life and can challenge you to go deeper.
As someone once said, “Proclamation, without application, can lead to stagnation.” I trust that these simple ideas for application can become a normal part of your study and that for all of us, the long distance from our head to our heart will become shorter and shorter as the truth of God’s word bears fruit in our lives.