When I was in elementary school I remember on several occasions having to construct a family tree. It usually didn’t go much further than my great grandparents because keeping track of all my aunts, uncles, and cousins was enough work for a young mind. I have fond memories of those exercises because they created opportunities to learn about my extended family that I probably would not have sought out on my own. Now that I’m a parent this has been important information to have so that I can pass it on to my children, so that our family’s history and story can be carried on to the next generation.
I think about the Church in the same light. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:19 that when we place our faith in Christ we become members of the “household of God.” In a very real sense we are adopted into God’s family and all Christians are siblings, hence why we call each other brother and sister. And just like blood relatives have a family history and story to tell, so does the Church. Our family story begins with the opening pages of the Bible with God’s creation of the world and the first humans (Adam and Eve). The story continues throughout the entirety of the Bible, even culminating with our family’s glorious end dwelling with God forever in the new heaven and earth. While the Bible gives us a lot of details about the history of Israel and the early church, the story stops before we get to 100 AD. Since that time our family story has continued for over 1900 years, and there are lots of important people and events that are worth remembering from that time. With such a broad history the question becomes: where do I start? Thankfully we have Church family members who have dedicated themselves to studying our history and putting it in a form that the rest of us can easily pick up and read.
It doesn’t matter if you’re heading into Bible college or seminary or just looking to brush up on your church history, Olive Tree has some great resources that’ll meet your needs.
Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes
A Study Bible probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about church history, and rightfully so. The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible is different from other study Bibles. Yes, it gives you all the notes, introductions, maps, and outlines you get with a traditional study Bible, but it also offers quite a bit more. If you’re looking for a high level overview of Church history this is the resource for you. In the Study Bible’s back matter is a section called “Twenty Centuries of Church History;” this section offers one page summaries of each century, from the first to the twentieth. If you’re new to the subject this is a great way to get your feet wet and get the bare bones of where the Church has been over the last 2000 years. There is also the full text of several creeds and confessions that have shaped the Church and its beliefs over the centuries.
Church History, Volumes One and Two
If you’re looking for more than one page century summaries, you’ll want to turn to a duo of books published by Zondervan aptly titled Church History. The first volume is over 500 pages in print and covers our history from the time of Christ to the time just before the Reformation in the 1500′s. Filled with maps, charts, and illustrations, it offers overviews of the Roman, Greek, and Jewish worlds; insights into the church’s relationship to the Roman Empire, with glimpses into pagan attitudes toward Christians; the place of art and architecture, literature and philosophy, both sacred and secular; and much more, spanning the time from the first through the thirteenth centuries.
At over 800 pages, Volume Two is an account of the ups and downs, the triumphs and struggles, of the Christian movement. It offers a unique contextual view of how the Christian church spread and developed from the just prior to the Reformation and through the next five-hundred-plus years into the present-day. This book looks closely at the integral link between the history of the world and that of the church, detailing the times, cultures, and events that both influenced and were influenced by the church. Also filled with maps, charts, and illustrations, this volume helps to shape your understanding of how Christianity has grown and spread throughout the globe.
Learning about our history doesn’t end with learning about the people involved. As you read through some of the texts that discuss our history you will inevitably learn a lot of our history centers around how we understand and interpret Scripture. If theology and its history are of interest to you Historical Theology is the title for you. Most historical theology texts follow Christian beliefs chronologically, discussing notable doctrinal developments for all areas of theology according to their historical appearance. And while this may be good history, it can make for confusing theology. In Historical Theology you are given the opportunity to study the historical development of theology according to a topical-chronological arrangement, setting out the history of Christian doctrine one theological element at a time. Such an approach allows readers to concentrate on one tenet of Christianity and its formulation in the early church, through the Middle Ages, Reformation, and post-Reformation era, and into the modern period.
Lastly, if you’re a student studying Church history, we have a resource specifically for you titled Church History: An Introduction to Research, Reference Works, and Methods. This work lays out the guidelines, methods, and basic reference tools needed for the successful researching and writing of papers in the discipline of church history and theology. Organized with the needs of research students in mind, this book helps students find a topic, locate the relevant source materials, and write quality papers.
Church history is our history, let’s not neglect it. In the same way that it’s important to know who your relatives are and what makes your family special, we need to know the history of the Church. Add one or all of these resources to your Olive Tree library today and start learning about some of the family you’ll meet and worship alongside in heaven. Be sure to check out all the other titles available in our Back to School sale.
One of the advantages of using Olive Tree’s Bible+ app is it’s built for mobility. You can read and study the Bible anywhere. Yet, there are times when you need more screen than your phone or tablet can give you. Lesson and sermon preparation are a couple times that come to mind when having additional screen real estate is of benefit. This is why we made Bible+ 6.0 for Windows Desktop.
Just like there are different types of study that benefit from using a desktop or laptop computer, there are resources that work particularly well on these platforms. Two resources that take advantage of a computer’s additional screen size are our Greek-English Interlinear Bibles and Harmony of the Gospels. Today we’re going to show you how to maximize your use of these resources on Windows Desktop.
Harmony of the Gospels
Gospel harmonies are a great tool to manage the sometimes confusing chronology of the first four books of the New Testament. Did this event happen in just Matthew, or was it in Mark too? How does John’s gospel fit in with the other three? A gospel harmony can help make sense of those questions. That advantage alone is worth its weight in gold, but Olive Tree makes it possible for you to view these passages side-by-side without the need to jump back & forth. This functionality exists on our mobile platforms, but screen size certainly limits what you can see. For example, if you’re on a phone, you only get a single column of text, at most two if your phone is big enough & you put it in landscape mode. On a tablet you might get all the columns to display side-by-side, but the minute you open Resource Guide you’re left scrolling text again. Is there a better way? Yes! Read it in our Windows Desktop app!
If your computer has a high enough resolution, you can easily view all the columns in the Gospel Harmony while still having the Resource Guide open. This means you can easily read the text, pull up your commentaries, maps, and notes without sacrificing any of the text you’re studying. In the screenshots below we have the same passage loaded on a 10″ Android tablet and our Windows Desktop app, both with the Resource Guide open. Not only can you see all the columns on Windows Desktop, but you can read the full passage and then some. You’re not forced to scroll up & down to read & compare the passages because everything is in view. This also means you don’t have to worry about the Resource Guide constantly updating because of your scrolling to view the entirety of the text, they both stay put. That will save you time and effort.
Greek-English Interlinear Bibles
The feature that makes our Greek-English Interlinear Bibles great is the same thing that can make them frustrating to use for some users. Our Interlinear Bibles display multiple lines of information for each verse. You get the Greek text, English glosses, Strong’s numbers, and then the corresponding English translation. That’s a lot of information! On a tablet or phone this means you’ll likely only see a verse or two at a time, unless you make the text extremely small. If you’re studying a longer passage, this of course means lots of scrolling. This is where Windows Desktop again comes to the rescue!
Our Greek-English Interlinear Bibles don’t operate any differently on Windows Desktop than they do on mobile, but you can see and read more of the Bible without scrolling. Again, comparing screenshots between platforms, Windows Desktop allows you to see nearly 3 times the number of verses than you can see on the Android tablet. Like with the Harmony of the Gospels, you save time and effort by not having to scroll through one or two verses at a time. From there, you can open multiple dictionaries and commentaries, which further maximizes your use of the Interlinear.
Get Them Now
Now that you see how these resources can help maximize your study time, click here to add them to your Olive Tree digital library today.
Commentaries are an essential part of any Christian’s library. Yet how do you decide which ones to buy? A lot of people gravitate toward commentaries that focus on explaining the meaning of the text. Personally, those are the kind I prefer and what I lean on most when studying the Bible. But a good part of Bible study also involves applying the text to your life. For many, myself included, this isn’t always the easiest thing to do. This is where resources like Courson’s Application Commentary are useful. It is a commentary whose primary focus is explaining the text devotionally and how it applies to our lives.
Let’s take a look inside Jon Courson’s commentary and see how it works in the Bible Study App. Screenshots are from a Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
Like any enhanced resource you purchase for the Bible Study App, Courson’s Application Commentary is built to work hand-in-hand with the Resource Guide. As you’re reading the Bible the Resource Guide follows along and gives an overview of resources in your library that have content related to your passage. In the screenshot below you can see we have a hit in our commentary section for Courson’s commentary. After reading other commentaries or Study Bibles that explain the text, I can then turn to this commentary to help with applying God’s Word to my life.
One thing I like about this commentary is it doesn’t try to do too much. Courson doesn’t attempt to explain the nuances of a Greek or Hebrew word or bore you with information only a scholar would appreciate. Instead, he takes a devotional approach to explaining the text so that it comes alive and is easily applicable to life in the here & now. He gets right to the point. This means you don’t have to waste time skimming through pages of endless commentary trying to find an author’s one or two sentences of practical application. You come to this commentary looking for application & he gives it to you.
Scattered throughout the commentary are what Courson likes to call “Topical Articles.” The best way to summarize these articles is to call them sermonettes. Here Courson takes a passage and deals with it topically, incorporating other passages as needed, to completely bring the big idea of a passage to life. A perfect example is the article titled “He Didn’t Say That!,” a study on Genesis 3:3. Here Courson does a wonderful job explaining Adam’s sin and how easy it would’ve been for us to commit the same sin by using illustrations that anyone can relate to.
The easiest way to access these articles is through the table of contents. If you change your Verse Chooser from grid to list view, you’ll see a section called “Topical Table of Contents” for each of the three volumes. Here you will find a list of all the topical articles in that volume organized by topic. Use this to easily find out what the Bible says on anxiety or how you can improve your Christian walk or any other topic.
Courson’s Application Commentary is a perfect companion to your daily Bible reading. It is even useful to the Bible teacher or pastor looking for the perfect way to relate the passage to their students or congregation.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon is a popular figure in Christianity. Most Christians have encountered his works at some point in their spiritual walk, even if it’s just his Morning and Evening devotional. His works have impacted millions of lives, so it’s no wonder we often commemorate his birthday when it comes around. Today, instead of giving you details about why Spurgeon was such a great preacher and writer, I want to share this morning’s entry from his beloved Morning and Evening devotional. I read it this morning as part of my quiet time and I felt it was an encouraging word to share that speaks perfectly to the heart that Spurgeon had for those he ministered to.
“He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory.” Zechariah 6:13
Christ Himself is the builder of His spiritual temple, and He has built it on the mountains of His unchangeable affection, His omnipotent grace, and His infallible truthfulness. But as it was in Solomon’s temple, so in this; the materials need making ready. There are the “Cedars of Lebanon,” but they are not framed for the building; they are not cut down, and shaped, and made into those planks of cedar, whose odoriferous beauty shall make glad the courts of the Lord’s house in Paradise. There are also the rough stones still in the quarry, they must be hewn thence, and squared. All this is Christ’s own work. Each individual believer is being prepared, and polished, and made ready for his place in the temple; but Christ’s own hand performs the preparation-work. Afflictions cannot sanctify, excepting as they are used by Him to this end. Our prayers and efforts cannot make us ready for heaven, apart from the hand of Jesus, who fashioneth our hearts aright.
As in the building of Solomon’s temple, “there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house,” because all was brought perfectly ready for the exact spot it was to occupy- so is it with the temple which Jesus builds; the making ready is all done on earth. When we reach heaven, there will be no sanctifying us there, no squaring us with affliction, no planing us with suffering. No, we must be made meet here- all that Christ will do beforehand; and when He has done it, we shall be ferried by a loving hand across the stream of death, and brought to the heavenly Jerusalem, to abide as eternal pillars in the temple of our Lord.
Beneath His eye and care,
The edifice shall rise,
Majestic, strong, and fair,
And shine above the skies.
For me, this devotion forced me to remember that my life as a Christian is all about being molded into the image of Christ. This means God brings difficulties and trials our way for our good, which leads to our sanctification. With this as our perspective it should motivate us to praise God because he uses all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
To Celebrate Spurgeon’s birthday we have the 37 Volume Olive Tree Charles Haddon Spurgeon Collection discounted this week. This collection includes his Sermons, Autobiography, and several Devotionals and eBooks written by C.H. Spurgeon. There are also several more titles discounted to celebrate Charles Spurgeon and John Wesley’s birthdays this week. You can find them here.
Lastly, since I didn’t bore you with a biography, let me leave you with this song from Shai Linne that eloquently sums up this great preacher’s life.
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.
Commentaries are a dime a dozen these days. Bible students have no shortage of commentaries to choose from, especially when it comes to commentary sets. Yet, finding a good single volume Bible commentary can still prove difficult. Outside of the few titles that everyone knows, you have to look hard for one. So when a respected name in scholarship throws their hat in the ring it’s worth taking notice. This is exactly what Moody Publishers and Moody Bible Institute have done in releasing The Moody Bible Commentary. We are excited to partner with Moody to release this great resource for the Bible Study App.
Seven years in the making, the Moody Bible Commentary is a one-volume commentary on the whole Bible written by the faculty of Moody Bible Institute. More than anything, the fact that this commentary is entirely written by MBI staff is its biggest selling point. Similar commentaries are written by multiple authors who span the range of evangelicalism, hoping to provide a balanced view. The advantage here is that you are provided a consistent theological approach to the Bible that is still conservative and evangelical in its perspective. With that, this resource seeks to help both laypeople and pastors grow in their knowledge of the Bible and understand how it applies to life today. Moody accomplishes this goal by offering a simple approach and commenting on the text in a clear and insightful way.
Here’s a brief look inside the Moody Bible Commentary and how it works in the Bible Study App.
In the screenshot below (taken from a Nexus 10) I have my Bible open to Ephesians 1 in the main window. With the Resource Guide open on the right I can scroll through all the enhanced resources in my library that pertain to the Bible text I’m studying. As I scan through the list I can immediately see I have entries for the Moody Bible Commentary in commentaries, outlines, and introductions.
The Moody Bible Commentary offers introductions on each book of the Bible, giving you information about the authors, audience, and historical background. This resource keeps in mind the logic behind the biblical books, not neglecting their literary context or structure. The introductions offer strategies for how to read and understand each book based on its genre and inherent structure. In addition, key details regarding theme and purpose are discussed to provide a well rounded overview of each Bible book.
At a glance, the Moody Bible Commentary shows the organization and structure of all the book you’re studying. Use the outline to quickly get an overview of the key themes and subjects before diving into the Bible text and commentary. An added advantage to having this commentary in the Bible Study App is that you can tap on any section of the outline and immediately go to its corresponding commentary.
With the Moody Bible Commentary being written for laypeople and pastors alike, the commentary text is where this resource truly shines.
First, the commentary is understandable. The authors worked meticulously to explain the Scriptures simply and clearly. Theological terms are defined and difficult biblical words are explained to keep the text approachable. Comments on the text are concise but remain insightful.
Unlike some single volume commentaries, the authors and editors did not shy away from dealing with difficult Bible passages. Instead, they offer clear interpretations of these passages, while also making the reader aware of alternative views without over complicating the matter. Moody realizes that those studying the Bible come to commentaries because they want answers, particularly for those harder passages, so their aim is to give those answers. They also provide in-text citations directing readers to resources for deeper study.
The Moody Bible Commentary is based on the original languages of the Bible. The authors relied on the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts for their research and study. For the English translation used in the commentary Moody has chosen the New American Standard Bible (NASB), which they find to be among the more literal and readable translations available. When you see bold text in the commentary you can know that it is a quotation from the NASB. When other translations or wordings are preferable the author will note it in the commentary with an explanation.
Most importantly, you are getting an entire commentary on the Bible with this resource. This can easily be your go to resource to help you understand the Bible.
Maps and Charts
The Moody Bible Commentary includes several maps and charts. The maps can be helpful in orienting you geographically to the biblical landscape. What were the possible routes for the Exodus? Where were the cities Paul traveled to during his missionary journeys? The maps can help you visually answer these questions. Charts do much the same, such as providing a quick glance of all of Israel & Judah’s kings and whether they were good or bad. All of these features provide you with the tools you need to understand what you’re reading in the Bible.
For generations Moody Publishers has been a name you could trust in biblical scholarship. The Moody Bible Commentary proves that this continues to be true. Check out these endorsements from some big names in evangelicalism.
I’m thrilled that The Moody Bible Commentary is available. What a tremendous resource for everyone who loves studying the Bible and values teaching the “whole counsel of God.” This remarkable work provides verse by verse exposition of both the Old and New Testaments by solid, trusted evangelical scholars who believe deeply in the inerrancy of the Scriptures and power of the Word to transform lives. It is quickly becoming an invaluable part of my reference library. I highly recommend that you add it to yours.
Joel C. Rosenberg
New York Times best-selling author and Bible teacher
The Moody Bible Commentary is a very readable resource, helpful to the layman, Bible study teacher, and serious student alike. The introductory material to each book provides excellent information, and the actual commentary offers a verse-by-verse explanation of the text and deals with the important words. The Moody Bible Commentary enables the reader to come to a clear understanding of Scripture that will be helpful for personal knowledge, spiritual growth, and ministry.
Paul Enns, ThD
Professor and Director, Tampa Extension
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Once again, Moody Publishers, the name you can trust, has provided Bible students and teachers alike a comprehensive biblical resource that will help them to understand and communicate biblical truths effectively. It is a must-read tool for every Christian’s library.
President, The Urban Alternative
Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas