Create Your Own Parallel Bibles

Posted by on 10/02/2017 in:

Parallel Bibles are a useful way to compare two different Bible translations. In print, you can often find parallel Bibles that have English on one side and another language on the other side or a more literal translation next to a dynamic translation or paraphrase. With the Olive Tree Bible App, you can easily set up your own customized parallel Bible and in video below we’ll show you how.

WHY MULTIPLE TRANSLATIONS?

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

  • Read a more literal translation (KJVESVNASB) alongside a more dynamic one (NLTMessageTLB) to get a better idea of what the text says
  • Have an English translation open alongside the different language text
  • Compare commentaries or dictionaries by having those resources open instead of a Bible

SEE AVAILABLE BIBLES FOR THE OLIVE TREE BIBLE APP HERE!

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A SOAP Study on Matthew 12

Posted by on 10/02/2017 in: ,

What’s a SOAP study? SOAP is an acronym, meaning: Scripture, observation, application, and prayer. This is one, very helpful way to get more out of your Bible study time. Join us in this short study of Matthew 12:1-14!

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 12:1-14, NIV

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

OBSERVATION

Taken from the Gospel Transformation Bible Notes

Matthew gives two examples of how Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden light (11:30). In both examples, Jesus opposes the Pharisees’ imposition on others of their burdensome way of observing the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8–11; Deut. 5:12–15). The purpose of the Sabbath law was to show mercy to human beings and their farm animals by mandating regular rest from the hard labor of agrarian life (Matt. 12:8; Ex. 23:12). If its “observance” somehow made hungry people more miserable by forbidding them from obtaining food, or required a disabled person to remain disabled longer than necessary, then the purpose of the law itself had been violated (Matt. 12:7, 12; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6–8).

APPLICATION

Taken from the Gospel Transformation Bible Notes

Christians of every age and culture have formulated ideas about how the moral teaching of Scripture should be obeyed in their own time and place. Often these ideas become translated into rules for avoiding temptation in basic areas where Christians must interact with a non-Christian culture, whether over clothing, food, speech, or entertainment. Matthew 12:1–14 cautions believers as they engage in such rule-making to understand what they are doing: they are not formulating authoritative Scripture but giving fallible human advice, however prudent (5:29–30; 18:8–9), on how best to obey Scripture in particular circumstances. Whenever the tendency of these rules hinders the basic concern of Scripture for mercy, justice, and kindness, the rules have themselves become a hindrance to obeying God and need to be set aside.

PRAYER

Have you ever struggled with this, putting rules before mercy, justice, and kindness? Take some time today to think and pray about this. Ask Jesus how he would like you to respond.

LEARN MORE

This content was taken directly out of the Gospel Transformation Bible Notes. You, too, can do quick, easy, and formative Bible studies with these notes—and they are currently only $15 (normally $50!). Visit our website to find out more.

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A Little Research on the Hermeneia Commentary Series

Posted by on 09/27/2017 in: ,

Hermeneia is a Greek word, referring to a detailed, systematic exposition of scriptural work—a word entirely fitting for the title of a commentary series.

But what makes the Hermeneia Commentary Series different than any other commentary series? It might be difficult to discern. A quick search for the resource on the internet reveals a publisher-created description that might leave you with more questions than answers.

So, what’s the first step in deciding whether a commentary may be right for you? Check out the authors.

WHO WROTE HERMENEIA

This series has two main editors, one over-seeing the Old Testament contributions and the other over-seeing the New Testament.

Peter Machinist – Head of the Old Testament Editorial Board

Peter completed his undergraduate program at Harvard and then went to Yale, where he finished an MPhil and PhD. He then taught at several universities—Arizona, Michigan, and Munich to name a few. Then, in 1991, he returned to Harvard to teach in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on the Study of Religions, and the Harvard Divinity School.

He recently retired at the beginning of 2017, and is now the Hancock Research Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages. However, he continues to be vastly interested in the cultural, intellectual, and social history of the ancient Near East—the primary reason he led the Old Testament Editorial Board for the Hermeneia Commentary.

Helmut Koester – Head of the New Testament Editorial Board

Helmut was a German-born, American scholar who sadly passed away at the beginning of 2016. He received several large degrees from the University of Marburg, University of Geneva, and Humboldt University of Berlin. Additionally, he was an ordained minister of the Lutheran Church.

Helmut spent his life fascinated by New Testament interpretation, the history of early Christianity, and archaeology. This led him to his final career as the John H. Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard.

WHY READ HERMENEIA

Based on the bios of the two authors, it’s evident that these men are fascinated with history. This commentary series isn’t going to be application-heavy or relying on tradition. Instead, these men most likely come to the Biblical text like an ancient artifact that needs de-coding. That’s why, in the publisher’s description, there is this caveat:

“The editors of Hermeneia impose no systematic-theological perspective upon the series (directly, or indirectly by selection of authors). Its authors lay bare the ancient meaning of a biblical work or pericope.”

Instead of coming to the text with tradition and theology in mind, Hermeneia looks to the historical context first, and rather strictly. Additionally, the scholars invited to write for this publication come from a variety of cultural and theological backgrounds. That’s a very purposeful decision. Hermenia doesn’t want to portray a certain theological or cultural bent.

This is typical of a more liberal and post-modern approach to hermeneutics, fitting for these authors because Harvard Divinity School holds to a more liberal school of thought.

LEARN MORE

If you’d like to learn more about the individuals who put together this commentary, head on over to their publisher’s website. That’s how I gathered research for this blog! You can really Google anyone these days.

Then, if you’re interested in seeing all the Hermeneia commentaries that we offer, check out this page of our website.

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God’s Will: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Posted by on 09/25/2017 in: ,

Every time I read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, I’m deeply encouraged. Here, Paul gives his final instructions to the Church at Thessaloniki, calling them to love, act justly, and do the will of God. Not only that, but he tells them how they can accomplish all this. He says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

How will we become the kind of people that Paul depicts in this passage? God will work it out. He is faithful in sanctifying us completely.

THE WILL OF GOD

As I was looking to learn more about this passage, I was drawn to delve deeper into verses 16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Ever wondered what God’s will is!? It’s this! That we rejoice, that we pray, and that we give thanks—and that we do all of these things all the time. Even though I was just reminded that God will complete this work in me, I felt overwhelmed. I’m certainly not doing those three things continuously! So, I looked to a resource for some help and encouragement.

This is from the New Bible Commentary:

“A series of brief, staccato commands indicates the basis for Christian living. They are quite general and would apply to any group of believers. Christians have grounds for joy in both their experience of salvation and their hope of what God will do in the future, but they need to express that joy; there is a right and proper place for the expression of joyful emotion.

Christians must also pray—here probably in the sense of making requests to God, since the next command is about the need to be thankful. Common to the three commands is the stress on fulfilling them all the time and in all circumstances; this does not mean, for example, that one prays uninterruptedly but that one prays regularly and frequently. Such a life is made possible, Paul adds, because God intends it to be so; he wants his people to be joyful, prayerful and thankful, and he makes it possible for them to be so.”

{Insert sigh of relief here} I think D.A. Carson probably has the right idea. God doesn’t expect us to rejoice, pray, and express gratitude uninterruptedly, but often. I can picture myself living a life where I rejoice often and a life where I’m thankful often. But I wonder, what exactly did a life of frequent prayer look like for Paul?

The New Bible Dictionary (which comes bundled with the New Bible Commentary) has a lot of content around prayer. It explains what prayer looked like in the Old Testament (and it’s different periods: patristic, pre-exile, exile, post exile… ect.), the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles. There’s a TON of information on Paul alone, but I took away this one tidbit:

“Prayer was thanksgiving, intercession, the realization of God’s presence (cf. 1 Thes. 1:2f.; Eph. 1:16ff.). He found that the Holy Spirit assisted him in prayer as he sought to know and do God’s will (Rom. 8:14, 26).”

To Paul, prayer was even the realization of God’s presence! Not that this is something I am perfect at, but it seems much more attainable than needing to always sit down and have a very deep conversation with God. Don’t get me wrong—that’s important, too! But prayer in the believer’s life is more than confession, thanksgiving, and intercession. It’s seeing God, recognizing Him in our circumstances, and acknowledging Him. All in all, when we realize God’s presence, it’ll be nearly impossible for us to act outside of God’s will. That should be a comfort.

LEARN MORE

Did you find this information just as helpful as I did? We offer the New Bible Commentary and New Bible Dictionary as a bundled product, usually for $79.98. But this week, we are able to drop the price to only $29.99. So, if you’re interested in learning more about these great resources, visit our website!

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Important! Dropping Support for Old Devices

Posted by on 09/25/2017 in: ,

As time advances, so does technology. We’d love to be able to support everyone’s device, giving access to God’s Word on every phone, tablet, and computer out there. But the truth is, managing that type of wide-spread usage would hinder us from enhancing our app in deeper ways.

So, in order to keep growing, we are dropping support for the following devices:

  • Kindle Fire, 2011 (1st Gen)
  • Kindle Fire, 2012 (2nd Gen)
  • Kindle Fire HD, 2012 (2nd Gen)
  • Kindle Fire HD 8.9, 2012 (2.5th Gen)
  • Android devices using Ice Cream Sandwich or older (Android OS 4.0.4 or earlier)

If you are using one of the previously listed devices, we apologize. Starting on October 15, 2017, we will be phasing out these devices, and thus, the following functionalities:

  • Sync
  • Downloading titles
  • Logging-in to your Olive Tree Account
  • Viewing the In-App Store

Once again, we want to thank all of our users for your support and dedication to our app! If you have any questions about this information, please email us at support@olivetree.com. We hope to continue to provide you with the best resources at the best price, inspiring you in your pursuit of knowing God more.

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NEW: Use Emojis in Your Notes 🎉

Posted by on 09/22/2017 in: ,

The day has finally arrived—YOU CAN INSERT EMOJIS INTO YOUR NOTES!
Some of you may have tried this before and it worked. But as soon as you went to look at the note on another device… emojis were gone! It wasn’t until now that we have been able to provided emoji that will sync across devices.

So, go on! Get carried away! Insert emojis wherever you please! Here’s how I used this new feature last week. Tap to enlarge the images!

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Poetry in the Bible: Parallelism

Posted by on 09/21/2017 in:

This content is from the Believer’s Bible Commentary, currently on sale.

WHAT IS PARALLELISM?

Bible poetry’s greatest technique is not to rhyme sounds, as in much English poetry, but to “rhyme” ideas—that is, to put two or more lines together that somehow match each other. We should be grateful to God that this is the mainstay of biblical poetry because it translates nicely into nearly all languages and not too much beauty is lost in the translation process. Our Lord Himself also frequently spoke in parallelism. (Carefully reread, e.g., Matthew 5–7 and John 13–17 after studying the following notes.)

We would like to present some examples of the main types of Hebrew parallelism so that you can look for similar structures, not only while studying the OT with the help of the Believer’s Bible Commentary, but also while having daily devotions and listening to sermons.

1. SYNONYMOUS PARALLELISM

As the name implies, this type has the second or parallel line saying about the same thing as the first—for emphasis. Proverbs is especially full of these:

In the way of righteousness is life,
And in its pathway there is no death (Prov. 12:28).

I am the rose of Sharon,
And the lily of the valleys (Song 2:1).

2. ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM

This type puts two lines “against” each other that form a contrast:

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish (Ps. 1:6).

Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all sins (Prov. 10:12).

3. FORMAL PARALLELISM

This type is parallel in form only; the two (or more) lines don’t contrast, expand, or emphasize. It is just two lines of poetry put together to express a thought or theme:

Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion (Ps. 2:6).

4. SYNTHETIC PARALLELISM

The second line of poetry builds up (synthesis is Greek for “putting together”) the thought in the first line:

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want (Ps. 23:1).

Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life (Prov. 4:23).

5. EMBLEMATIC PARALLELISM

A figure of speech in the first line of poetry illustrates the content of the second line:

 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God (Ps. 42:1).

     As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout,
  So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion (Prov. 11:22).

LEARN MORE!

Want to learn more about poetry in the Bible (or really, anything in the Bible). This content is from the Believer’s Bible Commentary, currently on sale.

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Psalm 51: Repenting Like David

Posted by on 09/20/2017 in: ,

Psalm 51 has long been one of my favorite passages of Scripture, and I came to love it because of Jon Foreman’s song White as Snow. Funny thing is, this psalm is entirely about sin. It’s pretty humbling to read (and even more humbling to sing and confess to God yourself!).

This week, we have the MacArthur Study Bible with ESV on sale, so I was looking through it. I came across MacArthur’s notes on this passage, and they were so helpful in reminding me of the power of this psalm.

BACKGROUND

If you didn’t know already, here’s the background of Psalm 51:

“This is the classic passage in the OT on man’s repentance and God’s forgiveness of sin. Along with Ps. 32, it was written by David after his affair with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, her husband (2 Sam. 11–12). It is one of seven poems called penitential psalms (Ps. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143). To David’s credit, he recognized fully how horrendous his sin was against God, blamed no one but himself, and begged for divine forgiveness.

OUTLINE: Plea for Forgiveness (51:1–2); Proffer of Confession (51:3–6); Prayer for Moral Cleanness (51:7–12); Promise of Renewed Service (51:13–17); Petition for National Restoration (51:18–19).”

TAKEAWAYS

Ps. 51:1 steadfast love. “Even though he had sinned horribly, David knew that forgiveness was available, based on God’s covenant love.”

Have you ever been overwhelmed by your own sin, to the point of believing that God would abandon you? Or perhaps, you are so frustrated by what you have done, you become severely depressed and don’t know how you can keep on going? Sin can make us feel as if we are entirely unloveable.

But MacArthur points out here in his notes that David, before apologizing for his sin, calls on God’s unconditional love. Remember, David just MURDERED someone. Murder! I can’t image the weight of the shame and guilt he must have been carrying. I’m so thankful that the Bible doesn’t cover up the mistakes God’s people. Instead, we can read this and be encouraged.

Ps. 51:4 Against you, you only. “David realized what every believer seeking forgiveness must, that even though he had tragically wronged Bathsheba and Uriah, his ultimate crime was against God and his holy law (cf. 2 Sam. 11:27). Romans 3:4 quotes Ps. 51:4.”

When we sin, it is so important to remember that our mistakes are ultimately against God. I can think of two good reasons for meditating on this idea. The first is that we don’t want to act as if our sin only has to do with other people—it affects our relationship with God and we need reconciliation with Him. We need to ask for forgiveness! But also, we know that God is faithful and just to forgive us, and it is His forgiveness that matters. We are able to move past our sin and pursue holiness, even when the people we have sinned against won’t accept our apology.

Ps. 51:6 you will not delight in sacrifice. “Ritual without genuine repentance is useless. However, with a right heart attitude, sacrifices were acceptable (see v. 19).”

What kind of rituals surrounding repentance have we created? Maybe at your church, you recite a prayer of repentance each week. Or, it may be that you have a habit of asking God for forgiveness, but it’s become numb to you. God cares less about the action and more about the heart. Make sure to take the time you need to truly repent of your wrongdoing. Your relationship with God (and own struggle with sin, guilt, and shame) will be better for it.

LEARN MORE

These insights were inspired by the MacArthur Study Bible with ESV. Not only are there notes about Psalm 51 that I didn’t cover, but there are thousands of other notes, giving insight to all the passages of the Bible! This title is currently a part of our Fall Sale, so head on over to our website to learn more about it.

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Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines: Learning for a Lifetime

Posted by on 09/18/2017 in:

There are lots of ways to learn the Bible, but one of the better ways is to start is by getting an overview of the Bible’s big picture. Warren Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old and New Testament is a fantastic tool for achieving this.

HISTORY

The content in this book grew out of Bible studies Wiersbe prepared during his time at Calvary Baptist Church in Covington, Kentucky. Taking the course his predecessor, Dr. D. B. Easter, had devised, Wiersbe taught it to his congregation and distributed lessons week by week to his students. Eventually other churches heard about it and wanted to do the same, so the material was compiled into a notebook and published by the church. Now, in a more permanent form, an updated and revised version is available for all to partake.

The structure of Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines is straightforward. Each book of the Bible gives you three things: 1) a simple suggested outline for each book of the Bible, 2) some essential introductory material, and 3) summaries for key passages & chapters.

Let’s look at how these work in the Olive Tree Bible Study app, using James as our launching point.

OUTLINES

When you start studying a new book of the Bible, you want to first get a feel for its layout. Wiersbe makes this easy by putting it front and center. It’s the first thing you see when you open the book to James. But, instead of finding it ourselves, we’ll use the Resource Guide to make our job easier. Scroll down to Outlines and tap on Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines to drill down to the outline for James.

With this outline we get a good feel for the structure of James’ epistle. We quickly find that this letter has five chapters that can be broken down into four main sections, with each having two or three major sub-points.

INTRODUCTIONS

We can follow the same steps to access the introductory material for James’ letter. This time, we drill down into the Introductions section of the Resource Guide to find our information. In the introduction for each book, Wiersbe covers key material such as: the author, the basic theme, an overview, and any other pertinent details. The introductions give you just enough to get you familiar with the book without giving you anything you don’t need.

SUMMARIES

Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines is functionally a mini commentary on the Bible. The commentary comes in the form of short summaries for both chapters and key passages. Again, we can access this information through the Resource Guide by navigating to the Commentaries section and tapping into it. Once inside, you are presented with a compact summary of the entire chapter. If you’re looking to get a broad overview of the entire Bible, I’d stop here the first time through. Then, you can read the section summaries on your next time around to get more depth. Or, dive in and soak it all up!

PERFECT FOR EVERYONE

The great thing about Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines is that it’s truly for everyone. The title is a bit deceiving because you get a lot more than just outlines. If you add this resource to your Olive Tree library you’ll walk away with a solid overview of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Warren Wiersbe taught this to his students over the course of 7 years, but you get to glean from it for a lifetime! Add it to your Olive Tree library today!

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Why Does God Allow Trials?

Posted by on 09/16/2017 in: ,

JAMES 1:2-3

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Have you ever wondered why God allows us to experience trials? Here are eight purposes for trials in the life of the Christian:

1. TO TEST THE STRENGTH OF OUR FAITH

Trials help us take inventory of our faith and see how strong or weak it truly is. God tested the children of Israel (Ex. 16:4), Hezekiah (2 Chron. 32:31), and many others in Scripture.

2. TO HUMBLE US

As we grow spiritually, sometimes we can become proud and puffed up because of what we know. Thus, trials are meant to humble us and prevent such spiritual pride. Paul was humbled because of the things God had shown him (2 Cor. 12:7).

3. TO WEAN US FROM OUR DEPENDENCE ON WORLDLY THINGS

Too often we trust in ourselves and our own means. Trials remind us that we need to depend on God alone for spiritual strength and satisfaction. This is why Jesus challenged the disciples when it came time to feed five thousand followers (John 6:5-6).

4. TO CALL US TO ETERNAL AND HEAVENLY HOPE

The more we experience trials and the longer they become, they cause us to yearn for heaven. Paul understood this truth well in his own life & ministry (Rom. 8:18-25; Phil. 1:23-24).

5. TO REVEAL WHAT WE REALLY LOVE

God commands us to love him first and foremost. Trials come to both prove and reveal whether this is true. Abraham was tested when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22). Jesus uses hyperbole to express the devotion we’re to have for God (Luke 14:26).

6. TO TEACH US TO VALUE GOD’S BLESSINGS

Trials are difficult and often result in loss. These losses help us see the blessings that God does provide for his children. Truly our greatest blessings are spiritual. The heroes in Hebrews 11 knew this well as they looked to the goodness of God’s gifts.

7. TO DEVELOP ENDURING STRENGTH FOR GREATER USEFULNESS

Faith is like a muscle, unless it is put to use and exercised, it will not get stronger. Trials strengthen our faith so that it is strong at the times when we need it most. By faith God’s children have endured trials & done great deeds (Heb. 11:33-34). Paul also understood that trials are what made his faith strong (2 Cor. 12:10).

8. TO ENABLE US TO BETTER HELP OTHERS IN THEIR TRIALS

Sometimes the trials we experience are not for us, but for others. God allows trials to happen to us so we can help others through their own trials and seasons of difficulty. Peter experienced trials, which he later used to encourage other believers (Luke 22:31-32). Even Jesus suffered so that he could intercede on our behalf (Heb. 2:18).

LEARN MORE

This content is adapted from the MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Learn more by visiting our website, where this entire set is discounted 50%.

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