It’s a New Year. You’ve started your reading plan and are off to a great start studying the Bible this year. My early attempts at Bible study were sporadic and didn’t go that smoothly. I soon learned that I needed a more formalized approach to my Bible study. Here are a few tips & resources that I’ve found that will help you keep your Bible Study on track.
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)
I would also suggest checking BestCommentaries.com. It’s a great site with recommendations for commentaries on each book of the Bible.
Lastly, here are some useful resources to further your Bible Study methods:
- 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 titles and tools?
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.
With 60 volumes and 26,000+ pages of content, the Word Biblical Commentary is a hefty commentary series. With this much content, how do you navigate it all?
With the Bible Study App, you can easily read and study the WBC anywhere. Here’s 5 benefits of Using the WBC in The Bible Study App (Screenshots are from the Windows Desktop version of The Bible Study App. Click on Images for a larger view)
1. Resource Guide & Split Window
Open your preferred Bible Translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window. You’ll see relevant Word Biblical Commentary “hits” in the split window.
If you prefer to just read one resource at a time, you can open the WBC 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 WBC 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 these first two features alone.
2. Easily Navigate to Commentary Sections
Each section of commentary in WBC (covering a range of verses) is further divided into a number of sub-sections which each approach the entire set of verses from different perspectives like “Bibliography”, “Translation” and more. Each of the sub-sections has been individually tagged based on content, meaning that if you have a particular Bible passage open in the main window, the Resource Guide will display the commentary notes for that passage in the WBC for each of the subsections.
Using it with the Resource Guide like this makes it easy to drill down to one sub-section, then jump back up quickly and then back down to another
3. Search & Look Up Features
Search the Word Biblical Commentary for words or passages. Take “elder” as an example. You can search the entire series for where “love” 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 section in the WBC. You can also choose to open the search in a pop out window making this search accessible for further study.
4. 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 Genesis 12 about Abram, there are multiple other Scripture references in the WBC that help me with this passage. 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.
5. Highlight, add a Note, Bookmark or Copy & Paste
Make the Word Biblical Commentary your own with The Bible Study App. Without having to leave your current study, you can:
Add a Note, Copy & Paste
Or Bookmark and save under your own custom category.
Bonus: Cross Platform
The Bible Study App is available for your iPhone, iPad, Android Phone or Tablet, PC or Mac. With our our background sync technology, you can access all of your notes, highlights, and bookmarks on all of your devices with a free Olive Tree Account.
The Word Biblical Commentary set serves as an exceptional resource for the professional theologian and instructor, the seminary or university student, the working minister, and everyone concerned with building theological understanding from a solid base of biblical scholarship.
Dr. Bill Mounce explains the benefits of learning Greek.
Greetings in the Lord from Spokane! It has been an exciting few weeks here at Olive Tree. The release of version 5.9 for our Bible study apps for iOS is a HUGE step forward in providing you the best in digital Bible study tools. We acknowledge that the update does not come without some inconvenience and even frustration for you. Because of this, we wanted to explain why we decided to make such a big change, and to ask for your patience and grace as we respond to your concerns and address issues.
The reason this update is so important is that we have completely re-engineered our core book technology. Our previous core platform was extremely limited in what it could do, which meant that we couldn’t provide you with the best experience for reading and studying the Bible. We knew it was time for our book technology to make some serious advances, and with this update, we are now able to provide you with text flow around images, book-specific fonts, drop-cap Bible chapter numbers, right-aligned text, and much more! Furthermore, we chose to utilize technologies that enable optimized experiences on the mobile devices you love to use to read and study the Bible. This technology is a fresh and firm foundation upon which we can continue to build amazing new Bible study features. You should look forward to great things coming over the next months and years.
Because we completely replaced our book technology, we need to replace your old book files with the new book file format. We also need to update all your notes, highlights, and bookmarks for the new format. We understand that re-downloading all your content can take time. When you just want to get into our app to read and study the Bible, these delays can get in your way! We apologize for this inconvenience. Please bear with us through this initial hurdle, and let us help you get back to running seamlessly again.
Our support staff is an amazing group of people who will gladly assist you with any problems you run into with the update. However, due to the number of people who have written in about this release, it may take a while for us to get back to you. If you write into our support team, please have patience with us! Your needs are very important to us, and we will help you as soon as we can.
In the meantime, if you are having problems downloading your books, notes, highlights, and bookmarks, or are not seeing books that should be in your account, please check here first for information about these issues: http://www.olivetree.com/help/ios-updating-to-5-9/
It is our desire and passion to help you read and study the Bible. It’s the reason we come eagerly to work every day. I hope and trust that we will continue to serve and delight you with amazing apps, books, and support. We are excited to be used by God to further His kingdom by providing you with tools and resources to read and study His Word.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Vice President of Operations
We are excited to release this latest update (iOS 6 &7) after over two years of hard work! You may say, “but I don’t see anything new,” which for many of you means we did our job right! We have completely rewritten our core software that displays the text you see on screen. This means you will need to re-download all your titles. Why? Besides having a cleaner text layout we want to bring you brand new tools for studying the Bible. Many of these were not possible with our older technology, but are now a very near reality!
Here are a few things of note:
- The first time you use the app, it may feel a little sluggish. This is because we are updating all of your notes, bookmarks, and highlights in the background to the new format. If you have a lot of them this may take a few minutes. (Remember, patience is a virtue)
- Users with lots of annotations may see a slow initial start up
- Re-download all of your titles. Because of the new text display layout, we’ve re-designed the text layout of several favorite Bible study resources.
Watch short preview of the version 5.9 Bible Study App for iOS devices.
New text display:
- Text wraps around images, charts, and tables eliminating all the blank space around them
- Beautiful new layout for your Bible study tools such as: Study Bibles, illustrated Bible handbooks and atlases
Here’s one example from Archaeological Study Bible Notes
What it means for the future:
- We’ll be able to support more language fonts like Korean, Japanese, Russian, and more!
- Greek Interlinears!
- Enables us to do things like dynamic timelines and flashcards (memorization aids)
- Enables multi-media like video and audio resources
What’s this mean for Android and our desktop apps?
We are hard at work to bring the same update to our other platforms that we have done with iPhone & iPad. We hope to see this technology on Android, PC, and Mac very soon!