Category: Educational

My Favorite Three Bible Study methods

Posted by on 09/14/2015 in: , ,

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.


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.


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:


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

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!

Learn to Study the Bible by Andy Deane can be purchased for the Bible Study App on here.

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How to Use God’s Commentary on Scripture

Posted by on 04/10/2015 in: , ,

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

frustrationIt 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.

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What is the Resource Guide?

Posted by on 03/03/2015 in: , ,

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.

Resource Guide 1

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.

Resource Guide2

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
  • Commentaries
  • Outlines
  • Dictionaries
  • Introductions to books of the Bible
  • Cross references
  • Maps

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Advanced Bible Study with The Bible Study App

Posted by on 02/09/2015 in: ,

Have you ever thought about preaching or leading a Bible study from your iPad or mobile device? What about preparing a study on that same device? If the answer is yes, then this is a video you’ll want to watch.

In this video Olive Tree employee LaRosa Johnson shows you how to use the Olive Tree Bible Study app to do, what he likes to call, advanced Bible study. LaRosa will walk you through the steps of studying the Bible and taking notes using the same steps that he uses when he is getting ready to preach a sermon. After watching this video you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to do in-depth Bible study using the Bible Study app, whether you’re preaching or doing it for personal study.

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Free Resource Friday

Posted by on 02/06/2015 in: ,

One of the most powerful tools in The Bible Study App is the resource guide found in the right reading pane. A great free addition to your resource guide and your study is Easton’s Bible Dictionary.

 Easton’s Bible Dictionary contains almost 4,000 Bible words with a complete explanation of its Biblical meaning. It is the work of M.G. Easton, and was published in 1897. Its definitions have stood the test of time for their solid Biblical basis, clarity and conciseness. This dictionary is an invaluable addition to your Olive Tree library.

Find  this great resource in the Bible Study in-app store or go HERE for install instructions.

Please note than a Free Olive Tree account is required to access this Free Download.

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How to Study the Bible This Year

Posted by on 01/12/2015 in:

study the bible this yearIt’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

  1. Observe – What does the text say?
  2. Interpret – What does the text mean?
  3. 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.


3. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words.  They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.

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.


I would also suggest checking  It’s a great site with recommendations for commentaries on each book of the Bible.

Other Resources
Lastly, here are some useful resources to further your Bible Study methods:

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?

Be sure to check out this week’s highlighted offers on titles that will help your Bible Study this year.

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5 Benefits of Using the WBC in The Bible Study App

Posted by on 11/19/2014 in: , , ,

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.

Watch a short video to See the Word Biblical Commentary in Action!

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A Letter from our Vice President

Posted by on 07/21/2014 in:

Open LetterDear Friends,

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

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!
Steven Cummings
Vice President of Operations


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