Using Commentaries in Bible+

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One of the key components to any digital Bible study library is a commentary. Study Bibles are great for getting quick information about a passage but when you want to investigate a passage further you’ll turn to a commentary. Today I want to show you how most commentaries work in Bible+.

Using a Commentary

Like many resources in Bible+, the best way to get the most out of your library is by using the Resource Guide; commentaries are no exception. To illustrate, let’s use the Moody Bible Commentary & assume we’re starting to read Mark’s gospel.

Introductions

When beginning a study on a new book of the Bible, one of the first things you want to do is get some background information. Resource Guide makes this easy. Simply scroll down to the “Introductions” section, where we find a hit for our commentary.

Here we find information about the gospel, it’s author, date, audience, purpose, and other issues worth keeping in mind.

Outlines

Next, you’ll want to get a feel for how the book is laid out, so let’s find an outline. Again, the Resource Guide shows us that Moody Bible Commentary has an outline for our book, and we see that it is quite extensive. One thing worth noting is a commentary’s outline often serves as its layout. This helps you see how a handful of verses relate to their larger context. Personally, I refer to the outline often throughout the course of studying a book of the Bible, as it keeps the big picture in view.

Commentary Text

Finally, when it’s time to dive into the commentary text, the Resource Guide is again our friend. Instead of hunting down the commentary on your passage, let Resource Guide do the heavy lifting. Find the Moody Bible Commentary in the commentaries section, find your passage, and commence reading. This saves you both time and effort while studying, which is useful with our busy lives.

Alternatively, you can leave your commentary open in your split window and it’ll always be at the right location when you need it. This will save you even more time if you don’t plan on consulting other resources.

Finally, there are some people who like to read through commentaries like a book. This is possible in Bible+ as well. Just open the commentary in the main window and commence reading.

Upgrade Your Library Today

No matter who you are we have a commentary that will suit your needs. Check out the commentaries we currently have on sale and add some new titles to your library.

Get the Most out of your Strong’s Tagged Bible

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By Olive Tree Employee: David Mikucki

The great part about Strong’s Tagged Bibles is that anyone can use them. You don’t need to be seminary trained or have years of experience. You can just tap and read. The tool is powerful and practical enough to be useful even for personal study.

As with many powerful tools, these resources can do more if you know how to use them. They can also be somewhat dangerous if you don’t know how to use them. We don’t just want to provide you with the resource; we want to help you get the most out of it and avoid the dangers of misinterpretation. In this post, we’ll talk about the basic features of Strong’s Tagged Bibles and about how to get the most out of each of them.

Tap to See Greek/Hebrew Word

The first feature is the most obvious. As soon as you tap, you can see what Greek or Hebrew word is behind it. This is the first thing you’ll see when you tap on a word. It’s probably most helpful for people who know Greek or Hebrew.

Now, if you tap on a darker word and it doesn’t open to do anything, that means that the word isn’t explicitly in the Greek or Hebrew text. The word was added by the translators in order to help the sentence make sense. We do this all the time in English, leaving out words because they’re assumed. Of course, the words left out in Greek aren’t necessarily the words we can leave out in English. Different languages have different rules for what’s important and what can be left out.

The takeaway here is that, while a word might not be in the original Greek or Hebrew, that doesn’t mean the word isn’t implied by other words. Sometimes the Bible translators add those words so that we English readers won’t be left scratching our heads.

Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary

The Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary is what appears when you tap a word that does have a Greek or Hebrew word behind it. This is a really handy tool because it will show you all the ways that the word gets translated throughout the Bible and give you an idea of how common each translation is. This can give you a fuller idea of what the word meant in the original language.

The thing to keep in mind here is something that all languages share in common: just because a word can mean something in one place, doesn’t mean it means that thing everywhere else. How and where a word is used in a sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book is a critical part of understanding what the word means.

Many words in English have several diverse meanings. For example, the word “dodge” can mean to get out of the way of something. It can also mean to lighten part of an image or photo (like the “dodge brush” in image editing programs). If you were to simply look up the dictionary definition and pick the first one, you could find yourself very confused. Another example is the English word “love.” When someone says “I love ice cream,” he means something very different from when he says “I love my wife” (or at least he ought to).

The point here is that we want to let the dictionary help us get an idea of what the word can mean, then let the context of the passage determine what the word does mean. If we’re in a class on photography, “dodge” probably doesn’t mean “get out of the way.” It probably means “lighten.” But we wouldn’t want to make that assumption in gym class.

View All Occurrences

This is probably my favorite feature in The Bible Study App for word studies. It’s the button that says “Search for g5457” (or some other number). This feature allows you to search for everywhere in the Bible where that particular Greek or Hebrew word is used. Since a translation might translate one word twelve different ways, it’s hard to know when that word is being used. But this feature can help.

The best way to use this feature is to start with where the word is used closest to the verse you’re studying, then work outward from there. Look in the verse, then the chapter, then the book, then other books the author has written, then in the whole Bible.

In this way you can get a sense for how a certain author used a particular word in its context, in all his writings, and how the word gets used throughout the whole Bible. While this doesn’t necessarily result in the same mastery of the word that a scholar might have, it certainly does help us to better understand the word and the passage we found it in.

Generally speaking, this isn’t going to completely change the way you read a passage of Scripture. The translators know the languages a lot better than most of us, so most often we’ll end up agreeing. But doing a word study can help us discover a richness to the word that we otherwise might not have seen. It can also help us to connect things in Scripture that we otherwise might not have thought to connect.

Look Up Word in Dictionaries

The Look Up feature allows you to look up a word in any Greek/Hebrew dictionaries that you might have. There are a lot of really helpful dictionaries out there by scholars who have already done the work of a detailed word study. They may also include information about where the word came from and how it was used in books outside the Bible. These can be extremely helpful to supplement the word studies that you’re already doing with the ESV with Strong’s. Here are a few you might find helpful:

Conclusion

Tools like Strong’s Tagged Bibles and Bible dictionaries can be really helpful in understanding what God has to say. We should pray that, in our study, we will allow God to correct us with what we learn about the words of Scripture. This is very different from using the tools to bend God’s words to mean what we want them to. Humility and openness to correction are important here.

If we come to the Scriptures with our tools, ready to be taught by the Scriptures, then we will be in the right place to see God’s love for us in Christ and how we are to live in light of that love. We hope these tools prove helpful in your studies.

Psalm 119:130 (ESV)

The unfolding of your words gives light;

it imparts understanding to the simple

David is a front end web developer at Olive Tree. He also writes on his personal blog, And the Rest of It.

How to Use a Study Bible in Bible+

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Study Bibles are an essential part of any Bible study library. Study Bibles provide quick access to understanding passages and getting a general overview of the Bible. Today we want to highlight Study Bibles by showing you what kind of content you can expect to find and how to use them.

Screenshots are from an iPad Mini 4 and using the NIV Zondervan Study Bible for illustration.

Book and Section Introductions

Most Study Bibles offer section introductions to the Bible’s literary genres, such as the Pentateuch and the Historical Books. In the book introductions, you will find everything from the author’s purpose in writing, the book’s theme, a full outline, and relevant photos. They leave no stone unturned. These introductions cover the essentials of what you need to know before studying any book of the Bible.

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Verse-by-Verse Notes

After reading through the book and section introductions, you’re ready to dive into the study notes. The notes will help you understand each passage in its context and show you how it relates to the overall message of the Bible.

You can access the study notes in conjunction with your Bible by opening them in a split window or through the Commentaries section of the Resource Guide.

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Articles

One valuable feature of many modern Study Bibles is their library of theological articles. Scholars and leaders address theological topics aimed at helping you understand some of the bigger topics contained in the Bible. Some Study Bibles, like the Reformation Heritage Study Bible also include historic creeds and catechisms.

The simplest way to find the articles is by changing the Verse Chooser to list view and navigating the table of contents. This will display the articles for quick access. Depending on the passage you’re in, these articles may also appear in the Resource Guide under their respective topics.

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Photos, Maps, & Charts

Study Bibles also include photos, maps, and charts to help you understand the biblical narrative. You’ll find incredible photos of biblical artifacts and locations placed within the study notes. Maps near their relevant Scripture passages help you know where key Bible events happened. Charts summarize information and concepts encountered throughout the Bible. Many of these images will also appear in the Resource Guide under their respective sections.

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Add Them to Your Library Today

Check out our great Study Bibles and add them to your library today!

Read Bibles Side-by-Side in Bible+

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We all have our favorite Bible translation that we like to use and read from. Right now, for me, it’s the English Standard Version (ESV). When it comes to looking up a passage or doing my daily Bible reading it’s the Bible I go to by default. But when I’m studying or preparing a sermon I reference multiple Bible translations so that I can gain a fuller understanding of the passage. Today I want to show you why owning multiple Bible translations is a good idea and how to use them side by side in Bible+.

The screenshots below are from an iPad Mini 4, but the process works identically on Android devices. The methods described below require the split window to be open and assume a Bible is already open in the main window.

Method #1: Library View

The first way to create a parallel Bible is through the library view. If your split window is currently open to Resource Guide or Notes you can return to the library view by tapping the top left icon in the split window. This will open a list of your resources.

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If you have a large library, you may want to filter this view to only show your Bibles. Do this by selecting “Browse by Category” and tapping “Bibles.” Then choose the translation you want to read in parallel. In this screenshot we have chosen to open the New King James Version.

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With both Bibles now open, you can read the Bible in your main window while your secondary Bible follows along.

Method #2: Resource Guide

If you’re someone who frequently uses Resource Guide, this second method will work better for you. With Resource Guide open, scroll to your Bibles section. Here you are presented with a list of all the Bibles in your library that contain the passage you currently have open in the main window. Select the Bible you want to read and it opens to the same location as the main window. Like in the first method, this Bible will stay in sync as you scroll through the Bible in the main window.

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Bonus Method: Multiple Bibles on Desktop

Do you use our Windows desktop or Mac app? If so, we have a bonus method that allows you to open multiple parallel Bibles simultaneously. First, access your first parallel Bible by using one of the methods outlined above. Once you have your Bible open in the split window, you can then click the Popout Window button. This will open a copy of the Bible (or any resource) in a popout window that you can resize and move anywhere on the screen.

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Now go back to the split window and choose a different Bible. At this point you will have three different Bibles open to the same location that sync with the main window. Repeat these steps to open up as many translations as you would like. Below is a screenshot with four different translations open.

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Why Multiple Translations?

Now that you know how to create a parallel Bible in Bible+, why would you want to use one? Here are some ideas:

  • Read a more literal translation (KJV, ESV, NASB) alongside a more dynamic one (NLT, Message, TLB) to get a better idea of what the text says
  • Have an English translation open alongside the original language text
  • Compare commentaries or dictionaries by having those resources open instead of a Bible

A parallel Bible can also be used to check out newer Bible translations to see how they compare to your translation of choice. An example of this would be reading the newly released Modern English Version as a part of your daily reading or Bible study. This allows you to experience the Bible in a new way without giving up your preferred translation.

Our Bibles are currently on sale, so add a few to your library today and use them as a parallel Bible!

Look Inside: Life Application Bible Commentary

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While there are lots of commentary sets that have been published over the years, there are very few that everyone should own. Tyndale’s Life Application Bible Commentary is one of those few. It presents a unique blend of verse-by-verse commentary alongside riveting sermon & lesson applications and quotes from greats in Church history. It’s one of those rare commentaries that hits the sweet spot of explaining the Scripture without getting too deep, while not forgetting to apply it to the here & now. This great New Testament commentary set is now available in Bible+ from Olive Tree and we want to show you what you get when you add it to your library. (Screenshots are from an iPad Mini 4)

What You Get

The Life Application Bible Commentary provides verse-by-verse explanation, background, and application for every verse in the New Testament. In addition, it gives personal help, teaching notes, and sermon ideas for applying God’s Word. Each volume contains introduction and commentary.

The beautiful thing about using the Life Application Bible Commentary in Bible+ is using with Resource Guide. Instead of hunting for the right place in the commentary, it’ll always be in the right spot when you need it.

Introductions

The introduction includes an overview of the book, the book’s historical context, a timeline, cultural background information, major themes, an overview map, and an explanation about the author and audience. The information you’ll find in this section make it a one stop resource for getting the background on any New Testament book of the Bible. You’ll only need to turn elsewhere if you want to go significantly deeper in your studies.

With Resource Guide all you just need to go to the “Introductions” section and find the commentary and all the introductory material is right there for you to read.

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Commentary

The commentary section includes running commentary on the Bible text with reference to several modern translations, accompanied by life applications interspersed throughout. Inline with the commentary text, you will find charts, diagrams, maps, and illustrations. The commentary goes verse-by-verse through each book of the Bible, making it easy to follow. It also includes the text of each passage, along with a citation of the translation it comes from.

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There are also insightful quotes from church leaders and theologians such as John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wesley, A. W. Tozer, and C. S. Lewis. These features combine to help you quickly make sense of the biblical information and communicate it to others.

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Maps & Charts

Interspersed throughout the introduction and commentary are several charts and maps that further help you make sense of the biblical landscape. The maps make it easy to see where different biblical events occurred, whereas the charts help you visualize some of the data presented in the commentary in an easy to understand format.

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The Commentary for Everyone

The Life Application Bible Commentary is truly the Bible commentary for everyone. It’s a great resource for the layman looking to make sense of the Bible and how to apply it to their life. For the pastor it’ll help you gain fresh insight into the passage while giving you ample application for your congregation. It achieves the fine balance of being readable & practical while not compromising on depth of content. Add the Life Application Bible Commentary to your library today at its introductory price, and also check out the other titles we have on sale.

Introducing Olive Tree Cross References

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One of the first things I was taught when learning to study the Bible is that Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture. In my daily study and sermon preparation this is a truth I live by. Before turning to the notes in my study Bible or my vast assortment of commentaries I first turn to my cross reference resources. Even though these resources involve some manual curation of references, they point me back to the Bible and I can decide for myself if the verse is related to the passage I’m reading. With that in mind, I’m excited to introduce two brand new cross reference titles from Olive Tree: Olive Tree Cross References: Expanded Set and Olive Tree Cross References: Concise Set. Let’s take a look at these resources and see how they work in Bible+.

What Do You Get?

The Olive Tree Cross References: Expanded Set is a unique cross reference system derived from numerous traditional sources using computer-aided statistical analysis. The resulting cross reference set contains over 100,000 of the most pertinent references.

Using statistical analysis, verses are ranked according to importance and relevance. Highly relevant cross-references are printed in bold. Those of average importance and relevance are printed in normal text. More obscure references are printed in italics.

The Concise Set contains only the bolded references from the Expanded Set, which are the most important and relevant cross references. While abridged, the Concise Set still includes nearly 20,000 cross references.

How Do You Use It?

The Olive Tree Cross References Sets are not complicated resources. Out of all the resources you can have in your digital study library, these are two of the most straightforward titles to use. That being said, let me show you the two ways to use them. Screenshots are from the Expanded Set using an iPad Mini 4 (click images for a larger view).

The simplest and best way to use the Olive Tree Cross References is in a split window. In the main window you can have your favorite Bible translation open and the Olive Tree Cross References open in the split window.

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As you read and navigate through your Bible the cross references follow along, keeping them at your fingertips. After you read your Bible text you can then look over and quickly get to all the related passages, which are a tap away. Tap on the verse to read it without losing your place in your Bible. Unlike a physical Bible, you don’t need a second copy or risk losing your place. This saves you both time and effort in your studies.

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Alternatively, you can use the Olive Tree Cross Reference Sets in the Resource Guide via the Related Verses section. While we often say the Resource Guide is the most helpful way to use resources in the app, I’ll be honest and say that this isn’t the best way to make use of the Expanded Set. This is because you lose the visual distinction that differentiates between the different levels & types of references. On the other hand, the Concise Set is perfect for Resource Guide. The Resource Guide works in much the same way as the resource itself, presenting the verses, but in a different format. Either way, the references are only a tap away.

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Add Them to Your Library

Add the Olive Tree Cross Reference Sets to your digital library today and let them help you understand the Bible. Add both the Expanded and Concise Sets or just one of them. Get them today at their introductory price & check out our other titles currently on sale.

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