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What’s the Difference? Study Bible vs. Bible Commentary

Posted by on 07/17/2017 in:

Have you ever nodded along to someone talking, even though you had no idea what they were saying? I often feel like I’m doing a mental head-nod when I’m scrolling through all the products Olive Tree offers. As an employee, you’d think I would understand all the different Bible study tools—but to be honest, there’s always something new that I’m learning. So, I thought I’d dedicate a blog post to the difference between a study Bible and a Bible commentary!


A study Bible is Scripture paired with additional notes and resources that are meant to help you understand what you’re reading. A non-digital study Bible is often formatted with the study Bible notes below the Bible text, allowing for quick reference without having to leave the passage you’re reading. Depending on the study Bible, you may see historical and contextual background information, cross references to other verses, maps, charts, and more.

Study Bibles in the Olive Tree Bible App work much the same way. While you’re reading the Bible text, the resource guide will pull in the content from any study Bible you have in your library to give you quick access to helpful information. We have a video about how this works on our YouTube Channel.


The first major difference between a Bible commentary and a study Bible is that a Bible commentary is its own book. In fact, it’s probably more than one book. Bible commentaries usually come in massive volumes—one for each book of the Bible! The print version of the 61 Vols. Word Biblical Commentary series would take up 7 feet on your bookshelf. This is probably one of the biggest reasons I’m in love with electronic Bible resources.

There are also single-volume commentaries, but don’t let that fool you. They still contain much more information than a typical study Bible.

Commentaries also come in three different types: devotional, homiletical, and exegetical.

Devotional commentaries focus on applying the Bible to daily life. These publications are much more relaxed, written by one person, and don’t cover the entire Bible verse-by-verse.

Homiletical (homilies = sermons) commentaries focus on interpreting the Bible and then applying it. These commentary sets are written by preachers for preachers. They are also great for preparing to teach the Bible in any capacity, not just from the pulpit.

Exegetical commentaries focus on the more academic processes of uncovering the author’s original meaning. Oftentimes, these publications will explain passages from the original Hebrew and Greek, go in-depth on cultural and historical references, and address scholarly disputes.


First, it’s important to remember that study Bible notes and Bible commentaries are both interpretations of Scripture! Just as you would prayerfully evaluate a sermon, evaluate the contents of any resource you read. No human-made book is perfect in the way that God’s Word is!

If you are looking for quick, easy insights on Scripture, a study Bible or a one-volume commentary is a fantastic place to start. Right now, we have the First Century Study Bible and the Zondervan Bible Commentary (1 Vol.) on sale.

If you’re wanting to go deeper, you may want to pick a commentary set like the Everyman’s Bible Commentary or something similar. I’m really excited about this particular set because, up until now, it’s never been sold as a set digitally—anywhere!

I hope this post was helpful to you! As always, if you ever have a question, feel free to reach out to us in a comment, email, or on our social channels.

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What is a Bible Dictionary and How do I use it?

Posted by on 04/03/2017 in:

The term Bible Dictionary probably makes you think of a fairly boring and dry reference book.  However, a Bible Dictionary is truly invaluable in helping you unpack God’s word. Unlike a normal word dictionary a good Bible dictionary will not only give you the definition of a word,  person or a place but you can often read a short article, access verse cross references, or see things like images and maps. The insight it gives can help you explore the world of the Bible like never before! Watch this short video to see how they work in The Olive Tree Bible App.

Click HERE to view all dictionaries available for The Olive Tree Bible App.

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Olive Tree Bible App Year in Review

Posted by on 01/20/2017 in:

2016 was a great year as people just like you used the Olive Tree Bible App for reading and studying God’s word!

All around the world and from all walks of life people continued to use the app for personal devotions, sermon preparation, small group gatherings, church worship services and more. As the new calendar has turned over we wanted to share with you a few stats from 2016.

Whether it was iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet, Kindle Fire, PC, or Mac, you opened the app millions of times to engage with God’s word! 213 million app opens means that on average 6 people open the app per second. Someone somewhere is always reading at the same time as you.

21 Million hours is the equivalent of 2,397 years in the app! Of all the apps you own, anytime spent in the Olive Tree Bible App is time well spent because it means you were feeding your soul.

If you have a decent sized collection of resources in your library the ability to ‘favorite’ the ones you use the most is a great app feature.

With reading plans as short as week to as long as two years the app makes keeping track of daily Bible reading easy.

It comes as no surprise that in a Bible app the most used (opened) titles are Bibles. Matthew Henry’s Concise commentary continues to be a trusted (and free) Bible study resource.

Notes, highlights, tags, reading plans, resources…you can access them all on any device that the Olive Tree Bible App is installed on. All you need is a free account!

People all around the world continue to use the Olive Tree Bible App, ensuring that they can read and study God’s word anywhere they go!

Make sure and check out some of the best titles from 2016!

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Gift a Resource

Posted by on 12/07/2016 in:

Did you know that you can buy an eBook or Bible study resource for someone? It’s easy to do and makes a great giving option, especially if someone you know has an Olive Tree wishlist.

First, go to the specific product page of the title you want to give. Under the Add to Cart button you’ll see the option to Give As Gift.


Once you click/tap the Give As Gift button you’ll see various options to fill out and then you’ll click Add to Cart to to pay for the title.
Similar to Gift Cards, at checkout you will have the option to have the redemption code sent directly to the recipient or sent to your email so you can deliver it later.


Have a question about how to gift a resource to a friend or loved one? Ask in the comments section below.

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Accidental Test Push Notification

Posted by on 08/11/2016 in:

You may have received a test push notification titled “Olive Tree Notification Test: Please Ignore this.” This test push notification was part of our going QA process in our efforts to make the Olive Tree Bible App faster and more reliable. We are constantly testing our apps and functionality to better serve our Olive Tree community. This involves testing and checking our features and functionality like our push notification system, to make sure they are performing smoothly and how we can make them better. Sometimes we make mistakes in that process and things don’t go as planned.

We sincerely apologize for this error and any confusion it may have caused. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by emailing us at

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Important Notice Regarding the Bible+ Windows Store App

Posted by on 04/04/2016 in:

The mission of Olive Tree Bible Software is to inspire people to connect with God and the Bible via technology. Since our beginning as a company we’ve been blessed to carry out this mission and see God’s word being read and studied all around the world. While technology has changed our mission has remained the same and by God’s grace we’ll continue to carry out this mission for many years to come.

We love to hear from people around the globe who have been with us through the many iterations of our App and advances in technology. Many of you found us while looking for a Bible for your very first handheld mobile device and as you moved from device to device your Olive Tree notes, highlights, and Bible study resources have moved with you.

In order for us to continue to fulfill our mission we sometimes have to adapt to the changing market of technology to best focus our software development resources to serve the widest range of people.

It’s with this in mind that we wanted to let you know we will no longer be supporting the Windows Store App (different than our Windows Desktop App).


What does this mean?

  • As of today there will be no further updates to the Windows Store App
  • Starting May 2 it will no longer be available to download from the Windows Store

What can I do?

-> Make sure that you have an account with us. This ensures that your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and all of your purchased resources can be used on our other platforms such as PC, Mac, Android, iOS, and Kindle.

-> If you have a PC, Mac, Android, iOS or Kindle Fire device, download our App and with an account you can still use the same great tools you’ve been accustomed to on the Windows App version. Simply download it (HERE) and login with your account.

Our Windows Desktop App runs on any Microsoft Surface Pro and if you are logged in with your account you’ll be able to access all of your books and custom annotations. Click HERE to download the Windows Desktop App now.

While we understand this may be a painful transition we appreciate your understanding and hope to continue to provide a great Bible study experience for many more years to come! If you have any further questions or need assistance in this transition please contact our support team.

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We’ve updated our blog!

Posted by on 02/26/2016 in:

Take a look around and let us know what you think!

You can subscribe to receive the latest blogs by email by clicking the link in the sidebar. –>

If you aren’t already, make sure and follow us on your favorite social network. Also, we love comments. Feel free to interact with us on any of the posts and start a conversation.

Thanks for visiting and come back again soon!

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What’s in the 500 Million Synced Items?

Posted by on 01/13/2016 in:

If you haven’t already heard, our sync server recently reached the milestone of syncing 500 million items. Today, we wanted to give you an idea of what this data looks like in terms of numbers and types of items that are synced.

With over 6 million users of our software, over one million have created an account so they can sync their annotations. Of those million users, here’s some interesting data based on what they’ve synced.


Whether you have a physical or digital Bible, one of the things that people like to do in their Bibles is highlight their favorite passages. This is no different in Bible+ and our users love to highlight. Our users have created and synced over 87 million highlights to our servers!


Of those highlights that have been made, here are their favorite colors: 1) yellow, 2) green, and 3) pink. But, did you know you can also create your own highlighter colors & styles? The highlighting possibilities are endless & you can truly make your Bible+ experience unique.


Although you can highlight more than Bible text in Bible+, the Bible verse that has been highlighted the most is Romans 12:2, which is certainly a verse we should all live by.



Another thing Olive Tree users like to do is make notes. These are an excellent way to use our app. When synced you can access them on any device and easily share them with others via email or your favorite social network. You can create notes on a single word, an entire Bible verse or chapter, or anywhere you can highlight & select text. Notes are a versatile way to remember what you’ve learned as you study the Bible or for preparing a lesson. How you use notes is completely up to you.

When it comes to making notes, our users have synced over 13 million notes. If you were to put each note on a single piece of paper, it would create a stack of paper over a mile high!



The beauty of owning a digital Bible is that it makes it easy to share things with others. With Bible+ sharing verses or favorite quotes is only a few taps away. Again, if you can select the text you can probably share it from the app. Of the users that sync their data, over 1.5 million verses & quotes have been shared outside the app, whether it be to a social network or email. That’s a lot of sharing of God’s Word!


Other Interesting Stats

Here are a few other stats that may impress you about the 500 million synced items:

  • Almost 600,000 titles have been marked as a favorite in users’ libraries
  • Over 470,000 reading plans have been started
  • More than 4.3 million user tags have been created

Finally, a few more general stats that may interest you:

  • We’ve received over 38,000 5 Star reviews on iTunes
  • The Book formatting department released over 2,000 new titles in 2015
  • Customer support answered over 47,000 support tickets in 2015
  • Our developers released major updates to 3 platforms in 2015 (Mac is still in the works)

If you haven’t taken advantage of the free sync service in Bible+, register for a free account today!

In celebration of these 500 million synced items and taking a look back at an incredible 2015 we have put last year’s best selling Bible study tools on sale. Add them to your library today!

Note: No user identifiable information was used when gathering these statistics from our servers.

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Look Inside: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture

Posted by on 11/09/2015 in: , ,

The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture does what very few of today’s students of the Bible could do for themselves. With the aid of computer technology, the vast array of writings from the church fathers—including much that is available only in the ancient languages—have been combed for their comment on Scripture. From these results, scholars with a deep knowledge of the fathers and a heart for the church have hand-selected material for each volume, shaping, annotating and introducing it to today’s readers. Each portion of commentary has been chosen for its salient insight, its rhetorical power and its faithful representation of the consensual exegesis of the early church.

Several features have been incorporated into the design of this commentary and we wanted to show you just a few.  (Screenshots are from an iPad Mini 4.  Click on Images for a larger view)

Pericopes of Scripture

The scriptural text has been divided into pericopes, or passages, usually several verses in length. Each of these pericopes is given a heading, which appears at the beginning of the pericope. For example, the first pericope in the commentary on Genesis is “1:1 The Beginning of Creation.” To see the Scripture passage, click on the highlighted reference, in this case “1:1.” A pop-up window will open the Scripture passage to your default Bible Translation.


Following each pericope of text is an overview of the patristic comments on that pericope. The format of this overview varies within the volumes of this series, depending on the requirements of the specific book of Scripture.

Topical Headings

An abundance of varied patristic comment is available for each pericope of these letters. For this reason we have broken the pericopes into two levels. First is the verse with its topical heading. The patristic comments are then focused on aspects of each verse, with topical headings summarizing the essence of the patristic comment by evoking a key phrase, metaphor or idea. This feature provides a bridge by which modern readers can enter into the heart of the patristic comment.

Identifying the Patristic Texts

Following the topical heading of each section of comment, the name of the patristic commentator is given. An English translation of the patristic comment is then provided. This is immediately followed by the title of the patristic work and the textual reference—either by book, section and subsection or by book and verse references. Tap on the name to read a brief biographical sketch of the pastristic commentator.

The Footnotes

Readers who wish to pursue a deeper investigation of the patristic works cited in this commentary will find the footnotes especially valuable. Taping on a footnote number will cause a box to pop up on the screen, where in addition to other notations (clarifications or biblical cross references) one will find information on English translations (where available) and standard original language editions of the work cited.

The Bible Study App makes the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture even more powerful!

Here’s how.

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 commentary “hits” from the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture  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 Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.

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. 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.

Copy/Paste into Notes

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!

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.

Resource Guide on One Verse (iOS Extra)

An additional iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse.  Tap on a verse number and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, add a Note, Save, 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 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.

As you can see, the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture within The Bible Study App give you the best content, while saving you valuable study time and tremendous effort.

Click here to learn more about The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture.

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Designing Bible+ 6 for iOS: Menus and Navigation

Posted by on 10/30/2015 in:

Our goal in designing Bible+ 6 for iOS was to provide you with an experience that delights you, makes studying easier, and stays out of the way so you can focus on God’s Word. Last time, we talked a bit about how we structured text layout so that you can read faster, understand easier, and remember better. In this post, we want to talk about how you move around in the app and access all of the various features.

The Menu

iphone-menu-blogSmartphones and tablets are rapidly changing. Screens are getting bigger and nicer. While it used to make sense to separate “My Stuff” and “Advanced Settings” into two completely different menus to save space, we find now that the added space for longer menus (among other factors) has made it a better practice to have one longer menu with headers than to have multiple menus.

One effect this has is that of simplifying the reading interface. When you tap to see the menu bar, you now see fewer icons and buttons to tap on. This means that you don’t have to think as much about what it is you that want to access.

We’ve also discovered that this change—at the same time as making the app feel less complicated—also makes features like highlights and notes easier to find. The briefcase icon worked well when we implemented it, but it wasn’t as discoverable for new users as we wanted.

The new menu serves as a central hub for doing virtually anything in the app. If you tap the menu button, you can do anything from access your highlights to opening a new book. This means that even if you tap the menu button accidentally when meant to open the navigation menu, you can still get to what you’re looking for from the main menu.

All in all, we think that this layout helps users get to what they’re looking for more quickly and without having to think as much or as hard about what they want to do and how to do it.

The Navigation Menu

Another important part of the app is the Navigation Menu (formerly the Verse Chooser). If the app were a car, I suppose the navigation menu might be the steering wheel; you can’t get where you want to go without it. In this update, we’ve done a lot to simplify and clarify the Navigation Menu, but we’ve been careful to maintain the same functionality and basic experience.


The first thing you’ll notice is that there isn’t a dedicated button that says, “Go To” like there was before. To save space, we’ve taken the entire area in which we display your current location and we’ve turned it into a big button. This again simplifies the reading interface and makes the app work a bit more like most other reading apps you’re already used to using.

The second thing you’ll notice is that the layout feels like it has more room to breathe. Removing and reducing the heavy colors and borders makes the menu feel a lot feel a lot less cluttered. We also cleaned things up a bit; while you can still access all the verse chooser’s features, they’re now consolidated into a single menu.

We know that many of our users like the visual grouping of books into the Pentateuch, the wisdom literature, etc. You can still turn this on. Instead of shading the cells, we’ve designed a color scheme for the letters. We feel that this makes the distinction between books even clearer, while not sacrificing the open feel that keeps things from seeming cluttered.


It has been said that you can’t make something better without making it different. While Bible+ 6.0 might look a little different from what you’re used to, we’re convinced that it’s easier and more enjoyable to use. We hope you’ll think so too. Bible+ is always a work in progress; we’re always looking to make it better. Please continue to tell us what you like, as well as what you don’t like. We’re committed to crafting every detail of the app to give you the best experience possible.

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