While many have lamented the thought of having to learn the original languages in Bible college or seminary, I relished the idea. I saw it as an opportunity to unlock a new world of Bible study that would give me greater insight for Bible interpretation. After several years of study I learned something very important: my English Bible was often enough. Yes, there were times when knowing Greek and Hebrew proved useful; but, for the most part, I found Bible translators had done a great job in conveying the thoughts of the Bible’s authors. If true, that begs the question. How do I use the original languages in my Bible study? Usually I’m doing word studies, which I want to show you how to do in Bible+.
Find a Word to Study
A few years ago I was teaching through 1 Thessalonians at my church. As I was reading through the second chapter I encountered a phrase in verse 4 that made me pause, “we have been approved by God.” The word “approved” felt a bit awkward to me, so I decided to investigate. To get started, I switched from my standard ESV Bible to the ESV with Strong’s tagging.
I then tapped on “approved” in 1 Thessalonians 2:4, which gave me some quick information from the Strong’s dictionary. I see that I’m dealing with the Greek word δοκιμάζω (dokimazō), which is Strong’s number G1381. The glosses are helpful in showing me how the word is translated, but that doesn’t satisfy my curiosity.
Finding All Occurrences
The next step in the process is to check all the occurrences of this word in the New Testament. This provides a wider grasp for how dokimazō is translated and its meaning(s). Bible+ makes this step really easy. All I have to do is tap the “Search for g1381″ button and it’ll search my ESV Strong’s Bible for every occurrence of dokimazō based on its Strong’s number.
What I found is that dokimazō has a lot to do with the idea of examining or testing something. The majority of the usage comes from Paul and refers to examining one’s self. That’s an interesting observation. And, in the case of 1 Thessalonians 2:4 it’s interesting to see how God is the one approving or examining Paul and his co-laborers for the work of ministry.
It’s also worth noting that dokimazō occurs twice in this verse, which I wouldn’t have noticed from the English alone, since the second instance is translated as “tests.” This data further improves my understanding of the original phrase in question.
Digging Deeper with Lexicons and Dictionaries
At this point, I have a good grasp on the lexical range of dokimazō, at least how it’s used in the New Testament. But, I don’t want to leave my study at that because I may be missing something. What can I do to go further? Simple, I’ll go back and tap the “Lookup δοκιμάζω” button from my Strong’s popup & search my dictionaries. Of the ones where I have hits, of particular interest to me is the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. There are two things I like about this dictionary: 1) the entry provides a list of related words that I may want to study further, and 2) it looks at the word’s usage and how it is theologically relevant, instead of just giving me a list of ways it can be translated into English.
After some reading, I find my understanding of dokimazō to be on par with what the dictionaries say. As it relates to our verse, not only does God test, like on the day of judgment (1 Cor. 3:13), but he is currently testing our hearts, specifically as it relates to our usefulness in ministry.
Get the Resources You Need
While it takes some time to read through all the material, a word study is really that easy with Bible+. Everything you need to do a word study is at your fingertips! Many of the resources you need to perform a word study are currently discounted in our How to Study the Bible sale! Pick them up today while they’re at these low prices!
From Guest Blogger: Andy Deane, author of Learn to Study the Bible
Studying the Scriptures is supposed to be exciting! That’s why King David tells us in Psalm 119:103: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Like me, I hope that you have found this verse to be true. Maybe, like me, you have also discovered that having plain honey multiple times a day can get repetitive. I’m not saying that God’s word becomes boring over time. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I love that God’s word is so diverse and continues to excite and bless the reader taste after taste. The Scriptures are not to blame if we lose our taste for them. The Bible is designed to be a continual blessing to the believer. But believers may sometimes need to mix up how they study the Scriptures to make sure to avoid the ruts that their method of extracting the honey can bring about. Sometimes when we use the same approach to studying each and every day, the approach can become repetitive. It’s not God’s word that needs new spice, it’s the method of study that needs variety. That is why I wrote Learn to Study the Bible. With forty different ways to study the Scriptures, you always have a fresh way to prepare and digest your daily manna from heaven.
I’d like to share briefly the three ways that I personally enjoy studying the Bible.
FAVORITE VERSE BIBLE STUDY METHOD:
To start, please consider buying a new Bible to use with this method, or at least a new color highlighter. Begin by reading one to four chapters of the Bible a day. Remember that reading one chapter a day will get you through the entire New Testament in a year with one hundred make up days for when you miss a day of reading. Four chapters a day will get you through the entire Bible in a year in less than 25 minutes of reading time. The key is that each day you underline only one favorite verse from each chapter you read. That’s easy when you are in Leviticus but extremely difficult when you are in Matthew! After you are finished reading the entire book, go back and circle one favorite verse from the verses you underlined in the whole book. Write a few sentences in your Bible about why that is your favorite verse for that book. After you’ve read the whole Bible, you’ll have 1,189 favorite verses underlined (one from each chapter) and 66 all-time favorite verses (one from each book). Think about how valuable that Bible will be to you because of this investment. As you turn to any page in Scripture you will remember which verse spoke to your heart the most. You might even consider putting the date next to the verses you choose to connect them to your daily journal to enhance the experience even more. These will become the verses you choose to memorize since they have meaning to you. It’s a simple but fruitful and personal way to study the Bible.
TRANSLATION COMPARISON BIBLE STUDY METHOD
Not every student of God’s word is going to have the blessing of learning the original biblical languages. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t stand on the shoulders of scholars who spend their lives steeped in these languages, and this is the beauty of the Translation Comparison Bible Study Method. Every translation of the Bible represents the understanding and choice of dozens of skilled language scholars. When you see a unique word in a verse, you can be sure an important decision was made to choose that word over another word. This method helps you notice the different word selections that scholars made when creating English translations of the Bible. You’ll also learn how to prayerfully meditate on why these words were chosen over other words and how that can impact your understanding of the text. Learn how to compare Bible translations for spiritual growth and profit by reading a chapter from the book for free by visiting this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/167983176/Translation-Comparison-Method.
DAILY BREAD BIBLE STUDY METHOD
Sometimes our biggest problem is rushing our reading of a passage of Scripture. If we simply slow down and chew on God’s word then we would be blessed by it. Slowing down is exactly what the Daily Bread Bible Study Method will force you to do. With this method, you’ll learn techniques that invite you to take the time to make sure you’re squeezing all the meaning you can out of the Scriptures. If you’ve struggled with understanding what your pastor means when he tells you to “meditate on God’s word,” then this method is for you. Read another free chapter from the book by visiting http://www.scribd.com/doc/16565590/The-Daily-Bread-Bible-Study-Method.
I hope these three Bible study methods that I use personally will bless you as you experiment with them. Remember that however you mix it up, keep it exciting—don’t let your Bible study time become dull or a duty. I hope you’ll enjoy and use one of these methods, but don’t forget that you should never become devoted to the method—only to the Savior to whom the methods lead!
The Preaching the Word Commentary Series offers unique insights into Biblical texts from the heart of a pastor. It is noted for its unqualified commitment to biblical authority and clear exposition of Scripture. Its emphasis on application and shepherding makes it a valuable asset for sermon and class preparation, as well as personal study.
1. Resource Guide
Open your preferred Bible Translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window. You’ll see relevant “hits” from Preaching the Word 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 commentary 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 this feature alone.
2. Search & Look Up Feature
Search The Preaching the Word Commentary Series for words or passages. Take “Vine” as an example. You can search the entire commentary series for where “Vine” 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 passage. You can also copy the text to add to an existing note or add a note right from the search results.
3. 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 John 15 where Jesus is talking about the Vine and the Branches. In the Preaching the Word Commentary there’s a reference to Isaiah 5:7. 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.
Related to this is footnotes/endnotes. The Preaching the Word Commentary Series has a lot of references to other materials. In the past I would have to stop where I was in the reading, look at the footnote, then go back to where I was in the book. This also was a huge time waster, and I would often lose my train of thought. With The Bible Study App footnotes are linked. Just tap on the footnote, read it, and go back to where you were without losing your place.
4. Copy/Paste into Notes
The Preaching the Word Commentaries are full of great content. I often find myself reading a passage, going deeper with the commentary and finding that “perfect quote” that sums up what I was thinking but didn’t know how to express it in written form. However, in the world of hard copy commentaries, I have to re-type it into my personal study notes. With The Bible Study App, all I have to do is highlight the text that i want, copy it and paste it into my notes. This feature saves me a ton of time, not to mention the wear and tear on my typing fingers!
5. Integrated Dictionary (iOS Extra)
In iPhone/iPad app, you also have an additional option. Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up. From here you get the options to Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup and More.
If you tap “Define” you will get the integrated iOS dictionary pop-up. This is extremely helpful when you run across a word in the commentaries or even the Bible text that you do not know.
6. Resource Guide on One Verse (iOS Extra)
An additional iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse. Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up. From here you get the options to Tap and hold on a verse number and an option menu bar will pop up. From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, add a Note, Bookmark, Share, Guide, and More..
If you tap the “Guide” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific verse. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above. You can even choose to open the The Preaching the Word Commentary in the main or split window.
This is helpful if you want to read through your Bible “full screen” and refer to the commentary when you want to see what it says about a particular verse.
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
It 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.
He didn’t drive out snakes, drink green beer, or pinch people. In fact, he wasn’t even Irish! For the truth about St. Patrick watch the video below from our friends at Rose Publishing.
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.
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.
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
- Introductions to books of the Bible
- Cross references