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: Matthew Jonas
I teach a weekly Bible study, and recently we were reading through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). This has always been one of my favorite passages in the Scriptures and I was especially excited to get to the section on prayer and specifically to discuss the Lord’s Prayer. I began by reading over the text of the passage itself. I generally prepare my notes working from the Greek and Hebrew, but I then read from a number of different English translations in the study itself. For this particular passage, I was reading from the ESV. As soon as I had finished reading, someone pointed out that there was a line “missing” from the ESV at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. She was using the NKJV, which adds the line “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” at the end of verse 13. This question led to a discussion about why that line is in some translations but not others.
Since I started working for Olive Tree, I’ve transitioned to using almost entirely electronic texts of the Bible. I had my notes and my Bibles there on my tablet, so I was able to quickly look up this addition in the NA28 critical apparatus.
The first thing that I noticed was a T-shaped symbol at the end of verse 13 in the main text. If you consult section three in the introduction (“THE CRITICAL APPARATUS”), it is explained that this symbol means that one or more words is inserted by the manuscripts listed. If you are unfamiliar with the apparatus, I would recommend that you simply memorize the list of symbols used. I believe that there are only eight of them, and they indicate what is going on. For example, a T-shaped symbol is used to indicate an addition, an O-shaped symbol is used to indicate an omission, an S-shaped symbol with a dot in it is used to indicate a transposition, and so on. It should be kept in mind as well that “additions” and “omissions” are relative to the main text of the NA28. An addition is material that the editors of the NA28 chose not to include in the main text, but that some manuscripts contain. An omission is material that the editors of the NA28 included, but that some manuscripts do not contain.
Clicking on the symbol in the text will open a popup. If you wish to open this in the split window, tap on the “tear out” icon in the top corner. The first addition listed is simply the word αμην, which is found only in a few manuscripts. As far as the abbreviations for manuscripts go, a Fraktur letter P followed by a superscript number is used to indicate papyri, uppercase Latin and Greek letters (and the Hebrew Alef) are used to indicate the different uncial manuscripts, and numbers are used for the miniscules. There are also additional special abbreviations for medieval cursive manuscripts, lectionaries, the different versions (e.g. the Vulgate, the Peshitta, etc.), and citations in the Church Fathers. These abbreviations are explained in the introduction, and more complete information about each of the manuscripts is given in Appendix I in the end matter. The star next to 288 indicates an original reading that was subsequently corrected. “Vg” stands for Vulgate and the abbreviation “cl” indicates that this reading is found specific in the Clementine Vulgate. The take away here is that there is not much manuscript evidence for adding just the word αμην to the end verse 13. (more…)
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.
Watch the video below to see how the Complete Word Study Bible works on The Bible Study App.
Reading and studying the Bible are important disciplines for all Christians, but the concept of Bible study can be more elusive. In Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods, Warren starts out by saying, “I have discovered that most Christians sincerely want to study their Bibles on their own, but they just don’t know how.”
There are many classes, books and seminars full of theories and methods to teach you how to study the Bible. I took a class in seminary called Principles of Inductive Bible Study, and to this day I can hear the professor’s voice in my head. Every day the professor would ask, “What’s the first step in inductive Bible study?” and as a class we had to respond in unison, “Observation!” Then he would ask, “What question do we ask in the first step of Inductive Bible Study” and in unison we would again respond, “What does the text say?!” Often he would repeat these questions over and over until he felt we responded enthusiastically enough. He drilled into us what he believed to be the right steps for inductive Bible study, but his was just one out of a multitude of Bible study methods.
I’d recommend taking a look at How to Read the Bible Book by Book and How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart as good introductory Bible study resources. Learn To Study The Bible by Andy Deane, and Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul are also helpful for picking up good Bible study tools and habits. Study Bibles, like the NIV Study Bible Notes can provide notes, cross references and other insights into the text to help you in your Bible study. I have several study Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries and other resources that I consult when studying a particular passage of Scripture. However, don’t get too bogged down with study books and miss out on the truths you can glean from digging into the text on your own.
Here are some things I do when studying the Bible (don’t worry; I won’t make you memorize these!):
Context, Context, Context
I start by looking for the historical context: the author, style of writing, time period, audience and the historical background that surrounds the text. I then focus on the biblical context. I read the previous and subsequent chapters to get a full picture of the passage. Finally, I look for how the passage is applicable to my life.
I like to read the passage through three times. I write down repeated words or phrases, metaphors, similes, exclamations or anything that stands out. If anything reminds me of another passage I’ll look it up and compare. I like to pick out a couple of the repeated words and phrases for a quick word study, looking for other places those words are used in Scripture using my Strong’s Bible.
I like to re-write the passage of Scripture in my own words, taking into account all of the work I’ve done up to this point. I then summarize my study in three sentences or less. I’m terrible at memorizing Scripture, but I’ve found that re-writing the passage in my own words helps me to recall the verse, even if it isn’t exact.
Do you have steps for Bible study that you follow? Is there a resource that you find especially helpful for your study? Let us know by leaving us a comment.
People sometimes ask me what I would suggest for their Bible study library. While this is a difficult question, many Bible teachers point to the same basic resources to make a well-rounded library.
Sorry to be Captain Obvious here, but you need a Bible. The most important component of a Bible Study library is a solid Bible text. I also suggest two or more translations to allow for a “Bible Translation Comparison” Bible Study method.
Here’s a short list of Bibles available for The Bible Study App:
- King James Version (KJV) FREE for The Bible Study App
- English Standard Version (ESV) FREE for The Bible Study App
- New International Version (NIV)
- New King James Version (NKJV)
- New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
- Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
- Other Bible Translations Available
2. Cross References
After you’ve thoroughly read the scriptures for yourself, read all of the related verses for that text. The Bible Study App has some great resources to help you find all of the cross references. These are helpful because they will save you tons of time and effort just looking up the references.
3. 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.
- King James Version – with Strong’s Numbers
- Other Bibles with Strong’s Numbers Available
- Olive Tree KJV Concordance
- Other Concordances Available
4. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words. They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.
- Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible
- Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
- Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE), 2nd ed.
- Other Bible Dictionaries Available
5. 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.)
- NIV Study Bible Notes
- NKJV Study Bible
- HarperCollins Study Bible Notes
- HCSB Study Bible Notes
- Other Study Bibles Available
6. Bible Maps & Atlases
We are far removed from Biblical times. Bible maps and atlases help us visualize locations, actions, and events in the Bible.
- Olive Tree Bible Maps
- Zondervan Atlas of the Bible
- Bible Maps – Then and Now
- Manna Bible Maps Study Set
- Other Maps & Atlases Available
7. Bible Handbooks & 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. These resources are also helpful to explain difficult passages or clarify the meaning behind Bible customs and events.
- The Essential Bible Companion
- Key Word Commentary
- IVP Bible Background Commentary
- Other Commentaries Available
Olive Tree’s Bible Study Collections
To make it easier, Olive Tree has bundled collections of resources to help you dig deeper into God’s word. These bundles give you the basic tools that you need like the study tools mentioned above. All of these wonderful resources are designed to be integrated into the Resource Guide within The Bible Study App for a seamless and easy-to-use Bible study experience.
- Choose from the following Bible Translations: NIV, NRSV, NKJV or HCSB
- A Study Bible that corresponds to your Preferred Bible Translation
- Bible Dictionary
- Everything in the Essentials bundle
- Strong’s Tagged Bible
- Essential Bible Companion
- Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
- Expanded Maps
- Everything in the Standard bundle
- Key Word Commentary
- Expository Dictionary
- Bible Concordance
- and even more Maps
- Everything in the Expanded bundle
- More Commentaries
- Bible Encyclopedia
- More Cross-references
- A Bible Atlas
Using these and tools will deepen your Bible study and further prepare you to present God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).
Easter is less than a week away. As we prepare our hearts and minds for remembering the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, here are a few resources that might help in your final preparations.
The bestselling Evidence for the Resurrection answers each question and addresses each theory with historical, archaeological, and cultural proofs. It presents evidence and logic that has convinced critics over the years and will equip you to with the right information when you talk to someone who questions the resurrection story.
Christ in the Passover looks at the origins and symbolism of the Passover and how the Old Testament Passover is relevant today through God’s Son, Jesus. Christ in the Passover shows six ways that the Passover in the Old Testament points to Jesus, who was called the “Lamb of God.”
Feasts of the Bible celebrates and explains the meaning behind the different feasts and why they are important to God. It contains an easy-to-read chart that provides the name and an explanation of each holiday, date of observance, and reveals how each holiday points to Jesus as the promised Messiah.
The Names of Jesus is a bestselling tool for learning the names, character and personal attributes of Jesus. The 50 names are featured in an easy-to-use format along with their Scripture references, the meanings of each name, related titles, and more. Interestingly, the names of Jesus come from both the Old and New Testaments.
Produced out of the conviction that the Bible is a unified message of God’s grace culminating in Jesus, it is a significant new tool to help readers see Christ in all the Bible, and grace for all of life. The Gospel Transformation Bible Notes features specially prepared material outlines passage-by-passage God’s redemptive purposes of grace that echo all through Scripture and culminate in Christ. The notes not only explain but also apply the text in a grace-centered way.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon discusses the seven words that Christ uttered from the Cross: Forgiveness, Salvation, Affection, Anguish, Suffering, Victory, and Contentment.
Preaching the Cross is an inspiring book containing the reflections of experienced pastors, and dedicated to “the next generation of preachers of the cross.” Collected and introduced by Mark Dever, each chapter of this book addresses a different issue in the lives and ministries of contemporary pastors.
Combining scripture, quotes, and brief but powerful meditations, readers will discover the greatest gift that Jesus Christ offers to us is found in eternal life, but there are so many more things He has done for us – and does for us – when we enter into relationship with Him.
Max Lucado examines the symbols surrounding Christ’s crucifixion, revealing the claims of the cross and asserting that if they are true, then Christianity itself is true. The supporting evidence either makes the cross the single biggest hoax of all time, or the hope of all humanity.
Death by Love is a unique book on the cross of Jesus Christ. While many books debate the finer points of the doctrine of the atonement, what is often lost are the real-life implications of Jesus’ death on the cross for those who have sinned and have been sinned against. Written in the form of pastoral letters, Death by Love outlines the twelve primary effects of Jesus’ death on the cross and connects each to the life of a different individual.
In Jesus: The Only Way to God–Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved? John Piper offers a timely plea for the evangelical church to consider what is at stake in surrendering the unique, universal place of Jesus in salvation. If you’re concerned about the current state of evangelism–and the church–this book is a must-read.
We hope that you find these titles not only helpful, but also inspiring and encouraging.
By Olive Tree Employee: David Mikucki
The great part about this resource is that anyone can use it. You don’t need to be seminary trained or have years of experience. You can just tap and read. The tool is powerful and practical enough to be useful even for personal study.
As with many powerful tools, this resource can do more if you know how to use it. It can also be somewhat dangerous if you don’t know how to use it. We don’t just want to provide you with the resource; we want to help you get the most out of it and avoid the dangers of misinterpretation. In this post, we’ll talk about the basic features of the ESV with Strong’s and about how to get the most out of each of them.
Tap to See Greek/Hebrew Word
The first feature is the most obvious. As soon as you tap, you can see what Greek or Hebrew word is behind it. This is the first thing you’ll see when you tap on a word. It’s probably most helpful for people who know Greek or Hebrew.
Now, if you tap on a darker word and it doesn’t open to do anything, that means that the word isn’t explicitly in the Greek or Hebrew text. The word was added by the translators in order to help the sentence make sense. We do this all the time in English, leaving out words because they’re assumed. Of course, the words left out in Greek aren’t necessarily the words we can leave out in English. Different languages have different rules for what’s important and what can be left out.
The takeaway here is that, while a word might not be in the original Greek or Hebrew, that doesn’t mean the word isn’t implied by other words. Sometimes the translators of the ESV add those words so that we English readers won’t be left scratching our heads.
Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary
The Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary is what appears when you tap a word that does have a Greek or Hebrew word behind it. This is a really handy tool because it will show you all the ways that the word gets translated throughout the Bible and give you an idea of how common each translation is. This can give you a fuller idea of what the word meant in the original language.
The thing to keep in mind here is something that all languages share in common: just because a word can mean something in one place, doesn’t mean it means that thing everywhere else. How and where a word is used in a sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book is a critical part of understanding what the word means.
Many words in English have several diverse meanings. For example, the word “dodge” can mean to get out of the way of something. It can also mean to lighten part of an image or photo (like the “dodge brush” in image editing programs). If you were to simply look up the dictionary definition and pick the first one, you could find yourself very confused. Another example is the English word “love.” When someone says “I love ice cream,” he means something very different from when he says “I love my wife” (or at least he ought to).
The point here is that we want to let the dictionary help us get an idea of what the word can mean, then let the context of the passage determine what the word does mean. If we’re in a class on photography, “dodge” probably doesn’t mean “get out of the way.” It probably means “lighten.” But we wouldn’t want to make that assumption in gym class.
View All Occurrences
This is probably my favorite feature in The Bible Study App for word studies. It’s the button that says “Search for g5457” (or some other number). This feature allows you to search for everywhere in the Bible where that particular Greek or Hebrew word is used. Since a translation might translate one word twelve different ways, it’s hard to know when that word is being used. But this feature can help.
The best way to use this feature is to start with where the word is used closest to the verse you’re studying, then work outward from there. Look in the verse, then the chapter, then the book, then other books the author has written, then in the whole Bible.
In this way you can get a sense for how a certain author used a particular word in its context, in all his writings, and how the word gets used throughout the whole Bible. While this doesn’t necessarily result in the same mastery of the word that a scholar might have, it certainly does help us to better understand the word and the passage we found it in.
Generally speaking, this isn’t going to completely change the way you read a passage of Scripture. The translators know the languages a lot better than most of us, so most often we’ll end up agreeing. But doing a word study can help us discover a richness to the word that we otherwise might not have seen. It can also help us to connect things in Scripture that we otherwise might not have thought to connect.
Look Up Word in Dictionaries
The Look Up feature allows you to look up a word in any Greek/Hebrew dictionaries that you might have. There are a lot of really helpful dictionaries out there by scholars who have already done the work of a detailed word study. They may also include information about where the word came from and how it was used in books outside the Bible. These can be extremely helpful to supplement the word studies that you’re already doing with the ESV with Strong’s. Here are a few you might find helpful:
- Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
- Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
- Easton’s Bible Dictionary
Tools like the ESV with Strong’s and Bible dictionaries can be really helpful in understanding what God has to say. We should pray that, in our study, we will allow God to correct us with what we learn about the words of Scripture. This is very different from using the tools to bend God’s words to mean what we want them to. Humility and openness to correction are important here.
If we come to the Scriptures with our tools, ready to be taught by the Scriptures, then we will be in the right place to see God’s love for us in Christ and how we are to live in light of that love. We hope these tools prove helpful in your studies.
Psalm 119:130 (ESV)
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple