The difficulties of maintaining a daily Bible study routine are many. Where do you start? How do you make adequate time for more than a cursory reading of the Text? How do you find the right balance of study and devotion? And the list goes on. The truth is there are no easy answers to any of these questions. But we shouldn’t throw in the towel and give up. Every Christian struggles with their Bible reading at some point in their life. Today I want to share a new Olive Tree resource whose aim is to help your daily Bible study. Let me introduce you to the Open Your Bible Commentary.
The Open Your Bible Commentary was written to encourage daily Bible study. The content of this two volume commentary began as a series of Bible Study books originally published by Scripture Union. The series’ intent was to create a resource that encouraged a greater depth of Bible study in a way that wasn’t possible with study notes alone. This format allowed the authors to give fuller discussions on introductory, textual, and background material that might otherwise be overlooked in something like a study Bible. The principal aim of the studies was to stimulate daily Bible reading as a means of personal devotion and life application.
These sensitively edited studies have been reworked into what we now have as the Open Your Bible Commentary. With this commentary you get short readings rich in content. Each passage is carefully explained, devotionally warm, and practically relevant. In its introduction, the commentary boasts four great strengths that set it apart from others:
- Accessible: The studies address the average, thoughtful Christian without assuming they have a prior background with the text.
- Digestible: No section is overly long. It is designed so that you can read one or two sections each day without feeling overwhelmed.
- Dependable: The commentary is authored by renowned theologians, scholars, and experienced pastors including: F.F. Bruce, Leon Morris, William L. Lane, and others
- Practical: The studies offer a diversity of everyday application. Sometimes you are given clear application, while other times you are left to ponder the truths for yourself.
All in all, the Open Your Bible Commentary is built for Christians who desire to engage with the Bible daily. After each section you are sure to walk away with a greater understanding of the Bible and application to apply.
Open Your Bible in the Bible Study App
There are a few ways you can use the Open Your Bible Commentary in the Bible Study App, but let me show you my favorite way to use it.
Since the commentary is conveniently broken into manageable sections for study, I prefer to use it as my daily reading plan. In the morning I read a section from the New Testament volume along with its accompanying Bible passage. For my evening reading I do the same, but with the Old Testament volume.
Unlike most times when I read the Bible, this time I have the commentary open in the main window. I then use the Book Ribbon to mark my current location so I can easily pick up where I left off next time.
Next, I tap the verse reference and open it in the split window. Now I can read the passage and the commentary text. I can also tap on any of the cross references and read them in a pop-up.
Even with the Bible open in the split window I can still take notes on what I’m studying. And, if by chance I want to do further study, I can quickly switch to the Resource Guide to explore my other resources.
What I love about this setup is it allows me to have a different kind of reading plan that still lets me easily study the Bible. I recommend giving it a try!
We at Olive Tree are excited to share a new study Bible with you!
Next week Zondervan will release the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, featuring Dr. D.A. Carson as general editor. Built from the ground up to reflect the most current 21st century scholarship Dr. Carson, along with a team of over 60 contributors, crafted all-new study notes, book and section introductions, a library of articles, and other study tools that specifically focus on biblical theology, or the progressive unfolding of theological concepts through the Bible.
As you read and study with the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the biblical writers, the times in which they wrote, and the larger purpose of their writing in God’s story.
What Makes It Different?
When a new study Bible hits the market, everyone immediately wants to know how it’s different from the study Bibles that are currently available. Here’s a quick list of some of the features that set the NIV Zondervan Study Bible apart from the rest.
- Nearly 20,000 Verse-by-Verse Notes by today’s leading biblical scholars offer insight on every passage of scripture.
- Section Introductions to the Bible’s literary genres such as the Pentateuch and the Historical Books and Comprehensive Book Introductions including purpose, theme, outlines, and photos.
- 28 Articles by biblical experts on theological topics such as, “The Covenant,” “The Glory of God,” and “Love and Grace.”
- Hundreds of Color Photos such as biblical artifacts are placed within the study notes.
- Over 90 Color Maps with explanatory notes are placed near relevant passages.
- Over 60 Color Charts help summarize information and concepts.
- Thousands of Cross-References and an NIV Concordance with over 35,000 Scripture references help you see the connectedness of Scripture.
- Content from respected names like: D.A. Carson, Douglas Moo, Richard Hess, Kevin DeYoung, Tremper Longman III, Bruce Waltke, and Tim Keller, to name only a few.
Olive Tree has also optimized the NIV Zondervan Study Bible for use in the Bible Study App, which makes this great resource even better! Use the study Bible in conjunction with the Resource Guide and look up cross references that are only a tap away.
Preview the Olive Tree Version
Here are a few screenshots of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible running on our new Windows Desktop app.
Buy in Print, Get Digital for Free
Yes, you read that right. We have partnered with Zondervan to do something special with the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. All print copies of the study Bible contain a redemption code that can be used to download a free copy of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible for the Bible Study App from Olive Tree. You can’t really beat that 2-for-1 deal!
If you’re not the kind of person who buys print, that’s fine too. We’ll have the NIV Zondervan Study Bible on sale next week at special introductory pricing.
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.
Let’s face it, studying the Old Testament can be hard work. This is doubly true once you dive into the original languages, and Hebrew in particular. There are a plethora of useful resources to choose from when studying Biblical Greek, such as BDAG, EDNT, TDNT, NIDNTTE, Louw & Nida, to name a few. Yet when it comes to studying Hebrew the pickings are slim. In Olive Tree, outside of the Strong’s Dictionary, you’re limited to a few titles including: NIDOTTE, HALOT, and TWOT. Even though there’s not a lot to choose from when it comes to studying Hebrew, the available resources are extremely useful.
Today I will show you how to use the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) in the Bible Study App.
Studying with TWOT
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament is essentially a Hebrew lexicon and can be used like any other Hebrew lexicon. However, it has certain special features which are designed to facilitate its use, especially for those less at home in the Hebrew language. It is primarily intended to be a ready tool for the pastor and the serious student, who want to study carefully and understand more fully the sacred text.
I recommend using the TWOT in conjunction with a Strong’s Bible, such as the ESV, to get the most out of it. To illustrate how TWOT works, we will take a look at 1 Samuel 16, a passage I recently read in my Olive Tree daily reading plan. In this passage we find Samuel anointing David as the new king of Israel, since Saul, the current king, had chosen to stop obeying the Lord.
With the emphasis of anointing in this passage, I wanted to find out more about the Hebrew word behind it, since I knew it is used in several contexts in Scripture. To do this, I tap on the word “anoint” in 1 Samuel 16:3 to bring up a Strong’s popup.
The definition from the Strong’s dictionary is rather sparse, so I want to find out more. This is where the TWOT comes into play. I tap the “Lookup” button and then select the TWOT article.
The TWOT is now in view and I can read more about the Hebrew root word. If I want to keep the window open or have more space to read, I can then open it in the split window.
As I read I can see there is some theological significance to this word, including the divine enablement that accompanied someone being anointed king over Israel. This is information I wouldn’t have gotten from Bible reading alone or from my Study Bible notes. Thanks to TWOT I have a richer understanding of the importance of Samuel anointing David as king.
Because the TWOT is an enhanced Olive Tree product, it is extremely easy to use. Anywhere you find a tagged Hebrew word you’ll be able to quickly get to its TWOT entry. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading your Hebrew and Strong’s Bibles or looking at another Hebrew lexicon. TWOT is always right at your fingertips to expand your understanding of the Hebrew text.
Add TWOT to Your Library
Any Bible study library worth its weight must contain good Bible dictionaries. Inevitably you will come across something you don’t completely understand and you’ll want more information than your study Bible or commentary has to offer. Bible dictionaries fill this void with their wealth of knowledge on a myriad of biblical subjects. Today I’d like to introduce you to the IVP Dictionary Series, a new top notch set that you’ll want to own as a part of your Olive Tree library.
The IVP Dictionary Series, known to many as the “Black Dictionaries” because of their covers, is a unique set of reference works that bridges the gap between scholars and those pastors, teachers, students and lay people desiring in-depth treatment of select topics in an accessible format.
When you look at many Bible dictionaries published today, they are typically a single volume and may or may not contain information on your desired topic of study. Given their single volume nature, publishers have to decide what to cover and what gets trimmed down or eliminated for the sake of page count. This is not the case with the IVP Dictionary Series. Instead, you get eight (8) individual dictionaries that target specific areas of Scripture, whether it be the Old Testament prophets or Paul and his epistles. The articles cover traditional and contemporary topics, including cross-sectional themes, methods of interpretation, significant historical or cultural background, and each Old and New Testament book as a whole.
The great thing about having individual volumes that focus on specific areas of Scripture is it allows you to get an in-depth look at the subject as it pertains to the passage you’re studying. As opposed to getting a broad overview that covers the subject over the entirety of the Bible, you can narrow down your study to only see how it relates to your passage. Allow me to illustrate, while showing you how to use them in the Bible Study app.
Let’s say I’m in the gospels studying one of Jesus’ miracles, such as his cleansing of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. As I study this passage, I’m going to want to do more study on the subject of miracles and faith, since it is clearly an emphasis in this passage. The Resource Guide makes it easy to study these topics and suggests them to me. So, I click on faith.
As I peruse my list of hits I find many dictionaries in my library that discuss the subject of faith. Notice that the IVP Dictionary Series is in my list, and, of the 8 volumes, 6 have entries for faith. Since I’m currently in the gospels I will take a look at the entry in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels.
Looking through the article, I immediately find out just how important faith is in the gospels, and the New Testament in general. I can then see a quick outline of the entry, before drilling down into the subject. When I’m done, I walk away with a greater understanding of how faith relates to the gospels and Jesus’ ministry. Now, if I want to expand my study beyond the gospels, I can read the other IVP dictionaries and see how it is understood in other areas of Scripture, such as the Pentateuch or the later New Testament writings.
There are many ways you can utilize these dictionaries in your studies. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, just open up the dictionary and navigate to your subject. Alternatively, if you’re reading the Bible and find a word you want to study, tap it and use the Lookup feature to find hits in these dictionaries. How you use them is really up to you.
Purchase the IVP Dictionary Series today at it’s introductory sale price and start using these dictionaries in your own studies. This is one set of dictionaries you will not regret owning!
Pastors have a hard job. They get in front of their congregations every week and preach a word from the Lord with the intent of impacting their lives and souls. To accomplish this goal the preacher must do two things: 1) explain the text, and 2) relate the text. Many of the Puritans believed a preacher had to saturate himself with Scripture and apply it to himself before he could preach it with power to others. With such sound advice, what can a preacher do to aide in the application of Scripture both to himself and others? This is where a resource like the Preacher’s Commentary Series is handy; it helps preachers and teachers understand their passage while providing applicable truths & illustrations.
Let’s look inside The Preacher’s Commentary Series and see how it works in the Bible Study App.
Like any enhanced resource you purchase for the Bible Study App, the Preacher’s Commentary Series is built to work hand-in-hand with the Resource Guide. As you read 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 the commentary section for the Preacher’s Commentary Series. Since I’m currently studying the armor of God in Ephesians 6, I can quickly see what this commentary says without having to go find the commentary in my library and manually open it to my desired location. Not only do I save time, but I get the information I need with minimal effort.
One thing I appreciate about the Preacher’s Commentary is it reads like a devotional. Instead of getting caught in the nuances of the text that may not help you teach a passage, the commentary keeps an eye on explaining the things that matter. This means you don’t waste time skimming through pages of endless commentary to find the nuggets you came for. For example, in the commentary on Ephesians 6:10-20 the text is explained while intertwining a great illustration that bring immediate application. You then get descriptions for each piece of armor and their relevance to the Christian life.
Use it Today
The Preacher’s Commentary Series is a perfect companion for the teacher or pastor looking to relate the passage to their students or congregation.