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When Paul and Silas went to the town of Berea to teach, the book of Acts records their response to the teaching : “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. “Acts 17:11 (ESV)
We live in an exciting time where access to God’s word is advancing faster than ever yet Biblical illiteracy in America is actually on the rise. We should look at the Bereans response and make it our own, being eager to receive God’s word and diligent to study it. The mission statement of Olive Tree is to “inspire people to connect with God and the Bible” and the Bible Study App is a result of that mission. So how can the Bible Study App help you as you study God’s word and grow in your faith?
As a new user to the Bible Study App there are many unique tools in it that help me study God’s word but if I had to pick one that has the most potential it would be the Resource Guide. The Resource Guide is found in the right pane of the Bible Study App. Depending on the platform you’re running it may require a free download. The Resource Guide allows you to easily access commentaries, maps, topics, cross reference verses, and a whole lot more. There are also many great resources available on the Olive Tree bookstore that can be easily added to enhance your study. Whether you’re preparing a sermon, bible study, or just for your own personal growth, you can literally have a library’s worth of content at your fingertips to aid your study and understanding of God’s word.
With all of these resources available, the Bible Study App then allows you to highlight and take note of those things that God is teaching you through his Word. By clicking on a verse or highlighting it with your cursor you can take notes and organize them into custom categories or color highlight for future reference. Because of the ability to sync devices you can not only share notes between platforms but also have the confidence they won’t ever be lost.
As I continue to use the Bible Study App I’m finding that the tools it provides me with allow me to really dig deep into God’s word in a different way than I ever have – as scripture, note taking, and resources are all combined into one experience. Being a 21st century Berean is great!
Using technology to study the Bible is not a new idea to me. As a part time techy and full time pastor I’ve been using various Bible resources on my laptop for years now. Just recently though I’ve begun to use Olive Tree’s Bible+ on my laptop and iPad and while I’m still learning all it has to offer I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve really loved about it.
It’s free and not internet dependent. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal but there are tons of free Bible reading programs and apps out there that almost all depend on an internet connection to work properly. I don’t know about you but sometimes my favorite place to read and study doesn’t have a wifi connection. Because Olive Tree’s Bible Study App actually lives on my device it works everywhere.
Notes and highlights! I have a distinct memory of looking at my Dad’s Bible as a kid and thinking it looked like a coloring book. There were these crazy colorful highlights and long underlines throughout his Bible. For me one of the major tensions in the transition to all things digital, especially as it relates to the Bible, is the familiarity of the worn book in my hands with my own notes and observations from past years. The BibleReader allows for this and more. I can easily color code verses and record far longer notes and observations than I ever could before. Over time The Bible Study App will contain years of valuable notes and study thoughts.
It’s multi-platform and it syncs with my other devices. I’ve been a PC guy since my family got our first computer over 20 years ago but earlier this year I was given an ipad and I love it. Because of the sync feature I’m able to take notes or highlight things on my iPad and later, if I’m preparing for a sermon or other study on my laptop, I can use the sync option and the notes I took on my iPad will be on my laptop also. So no matter what device I use my highlights, notes, and even the last place I left off reading goes with me and that saves me a lot of time and also gives me the security of knowing they won’t be lost.
Double pane is the way to go. Whether it’s for sermon prep, a small group bible study, or just my own reading I love the double pane. It allows me to compare Bible versions, easily make notes, or pull up helpful commentaries. The ability to do this easily and again without an internet connection even is a huge reason I think Olive Tree’s Bible Study App is the way to go. The Bible Study App can be as simple or as deep as you want it to be and I’m finding it to be the best resource for studying God’s word yet.
The Word Biblical Commentary (WBC) is now available in the Bible Study app. We couldn’t be more excited to offer this outstanding commentary set to our users. I spoke with the content craftsman who formatted the WBC, Matthew Jonas, and asked him to talk a little about WBC and how it can best be used in the Bible Study App. He gave me a lot of great information, and I thought I’d pass it along to you here.
A Long History of Excellence
WBC currently contains 59 volumes and has been in progress since 1977. Written from an evangelical perspective, WBC strives to uphold the ideas of the Scripture as divine and revelation, and the truth and power of the Gospel message. All of the volumes were originally written in English, but are based on the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic texts of the books they cover. Each author was required to provide his own English translation for each passage, which always forms the first sub-section in each section of the commentary.
Using the WBC in the Bible Study App
If you saw our last article on WBC you will know that this is a hefty commentary series. Because of the vast information included in WBC, it presents some challenges for usage in a mobile platform. 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. As I mentioned before, each of these sub-sections covers the entire range of verses for the section. If we were to attach a Bible verse location to all of them, there would be no way to distinguish in the verse chooser between the sub-sections and you’d be given multiple results for every location.
To avoid this problem, only the translation section is tied to a Bible verse location. This means that if you select a verse in the verse chooser, you will be taken to that verse in the translation sub-section of the appropriate section in the commentary.
Why the Resource Guide Makes WBC Even More Awesome
The best way to use WBC in the Bible Study app is with the Resource Guide. 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 like this 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 sub-section on the same passage.
More Tips for Using WBC
When using WBC in your main window, you have the option to switch the Go To menu from grid view to list view. The list view will give you access to the full table of contents as outlined in the table of contents at the beginning of each printed volume. This is the recommended method of navigating from point to point in our version of WBC.
One more note on the WBC, if you have your main window and split window set up to track along with each other, moving the text in the other window will take you back to beginning of that section in the commentary. You can turn off the setting that sets windows to follow one another, which is recommended when using the WBC alongside another text.
Thanks Matt! If you missed out on the great savings we offered on WBC a couple of weeks ago (it was only $299.99 for this incredible set!), keep your eyes out. We are going to be running some great promotions during Christmas and a little birdy told me that WBC might just go on sale again.
When I started working at Olive Tree over a year ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long!), I worked on the content craftsmen team. For my first project, I was given an eBook, more specifically, Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, and asked to format it for the Olive Tree apps.
I was lucky to get an eBook because the formatting is simple, but this eBook presented me with the special challenge to stay on task. I often found myself stalled on a particular section, not because it had complicated formatting, but because the writing had pulled me in and distracted me from my work. I have since moved to the marketing department (which might be for the best considering how long it took me to format this book) and decided I should read the whole of Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer. Here are my thoughts on the book:
It is Well Written
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is well known for his writings like The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together and many have even heard of his anti-Naziism. Metaxas goes beyond the Bonhoeffer that we’ve heard of, covering a lot of ground while still taking time on the little details that leave you feeling like you know Bonhoeffer personally. The passion and excitement Metaxas brings to this biography is evident. His writing is engaging and moves quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the biography and found myself getting lost in Metaxas’ captivating prose.
“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
History was likely a subject you studied in school and either loved or hated. In high school, I had an awesome U.S. History teacher who had the class make up what kind of cars America’s Founding Fathers would have driven based on personality. Though history might be an obligatory study in school, there’s no doubt that history is important, even working its way into popular culture. When I asked my co-workers to think of movies based on history, I got a list a mile long, everything from Titanic to Braveheart. Even Hollywood recognizes the power and importance of history.
The question is: Do Christians recognize the value of our own history? John Piper, a longtime pastor, speaker, and author, gave 15 short lectures at multiple Desiring God pastors’ conferences about Christians whose lives exemplified the two Great Commandments.
I would encourage you to download this free resource, called the John Piper Biographies Collection, to read the fascinating histories of fifteen Christian men, from St. Augustine to John Newton, who served Jesus Christ in the midst of persecution, prosperity, widespread heresy, and shifting world powers.
My favorite character in John Piper’s collection is Charles Simeon, the pastor of a Cambridge, England church for 54 years in the late 1700 and early 1800s. Simeon was a vibrant evangelical pastor when Cambridge had little evangelical Christian influence and even some persecution.
Students and professors at Cambridge were hostile to Simeon for his vibrant Christian faith. They continuously disrupted church services and spread rumors about him. A professor at Cambridge even scheduled a Greek class on Sunday night specifically to prevent students from attending Simeon’s Sunday evening worship services. Even Simeon’s congregation was hostile to him at various intervals in his long ministry.
But this is where the true benefit of history comes to play. Simeon’s writings give us clues to how he endured a life of persecution and hostility and how we might follow his example. Simeon writes:
“Repentance is in every view so desirable, so necessary, so suited to honor God, that I seek that above all…Here I cannot err. . . . I am sure that whatever God may despise . . . He will not despise the broken and contrite heart.”
Simeon’s story is only the tip of the iceberg in Piper’s Biographies Collection and in the 2,000 years of Christian history in which countless men and women have followed Jesus boldly and loved people fearlessly. Don’t miss out on the wisdom and encouragement that history provides.
We’re a week into the Olive Tree Summer Bible Reading Plan, and we’ve been reading the stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and the striking account of the power of God in the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
These stories remind us that our individual stories fit into God’s overarching plan of redemption. Our intention with the Reading Plan is to throw you headlong into the full biblical narrative. The authors of the Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook also want to bring your story in line with God’s story.
An excellent companion to the Olive Tree Bible Reading Plan, the Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook is split into three sections:
- The first section explores the Bible’s organization, explains the basics of each book of the Bible, and gives a cultural and historical framework for the Old and New Testaments.
- The second section deals with the inspiration of Scripture and the steps taken to bring Scripture into the form we know it today. Topics explored in this section include the New Testament canon, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Bible translation, and more.
- The third section of the Handbook addresses how we use and understand the Bible, including information about literary features in the Bible, archeology in the Bible, and issues of authorship.
There is something new for every student of Scripture. This invaluable resource will give you a broader and deeper understanding of the historical and cultural roots of God’s Word. At the same time, the Word of God transcends time and space in its message. Yesterday, today and forever, the Good News is that God in Christ “proclaim(s) good news to the poor…, liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
Download the Olive Tree Summer Bible Reading Plan today for free here by logging into your Olive Tree account. After today, the Reading Plan will be sold for 99 cents.