Posts tagged Bible Study Tips

My Favorite Three Bible Study methods

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From Guest Blogger: Andy Deane, author of Learn to Study the Bible

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Studying the Scriptures is supposed to be exciting! That’s why King David tells us in Psalm 119:103: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Like me, I hope that you have found this verse to be true. Maybe, like me, you have also discovered that having plain honey multiple times a day can get repetitive. I’m not saying that God’s word becomes boring over time. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I love that God’s word is so diverse and continues to excite and bless the reader taste after taste. The Scriptures are not to blame if we lose our taste for them. The Bible is designed to be a continual blessing to the believer. But believers may sometimes need to mix up how they study the Scriptures to make sure to avoid the ruts that their method of extracting the honey can bring about. Sometimes when we use the same approach to studying each and every day, the approach can become repetitive. It’s not God’s word that needs new spice, it’s the method of study that needs variety. That is why I wrote Learn to Study the Bible. With forty different ways to study the Scriptures, you always have a fresh way to prepare and digest your daily manna from heaven.

I’d like to share briefly the three ways that I personally enjoy studying the Bible.

FAVORITE VERSE BIBLE STUDY METHOD:

To start, please consider buying a new Bible to use with this method, or at least a new color highlighter. Begin by reading one to four chapters of the Bible a day. Remember that reading one chapter a day will get you through the entire New Testament in a year with one hundred make up days for when you miss a day of reading. Four chapters a day will get you through the entire Bible in a year in less than 25 minutes of reading time. The key is that each day you underline only one favorite verse from each chapter you read. That’s easy when you are in Leviticus but extremely difficult when you are in Matthew! After you are finished reading the entire book, go back and circle one favorite verse from the verses you underlined in the whole book. Write a few sentences in your Bible about why that is your favorite verse for that book. After you’ve read the whole Bible, you’ll have 1,189 favorite verses underlined (one from each chapter) and 66 all-time favorite verses (one from each book). Think about how valuable that Bible will be to you because of this investment. As you turn to any page in Scripture you will remember which verse spoke to your heart the most. You might even consider putting the date next to the verses you choose to connect them to your daily journal to enhance the experience even more. These will become the verses you choose to memorize since they have meaning to you. It’s a simple but fruitful and personal way to study the Bible.

TRANSLATION COMPARISON BIBLE STUDY METHOD

Not every student of God’s word is going to have the blessing of learning the original biblical languages. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t stand on the shoulders of scholars who spend their lives steeped in these languages, and this is the beauty of the Translation Comparison Bible Study Method. Every translation of the Bible represents the understanding and choice of dozens of skilled language scholars. When you see a unique word in a verse, you can be sure an important decision was made to choose that word over another word. This method helps you notice the different word selections that scholars made when creating English translations of the Bible. You’ll also learn how to prayerfully meditate on why these words were chosen over other words and how that can impact your understanding of the text. Learn how to compare Bible translations for spiritual growth and profit by reading a chapter from the book for free by visiting this link:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/167983176/Translation-Comparison-Method.

DAILY BREAD BIBLE STUDY METHOD

Sometimes our biggest problem is rushing our reading of a passage of Scripture. If we simply slow down and chew on God’s word then we would be blessed by it. Slowing down is exactly what the Daily Bread Bible Study Method will force you to do. With this method, you’ll learn techniques that invite you to take the time to make sure you’re squeezing all the meaning you can out of the Scriptures. If you’ve struggled with understanding what your pastor means when he tells you to “meditate on God’s word,” then this method is for you. Read another free chapter from the book by visiting http://www.scribd.com/doc/16565590/The-Daily-Bread-Bible-Study-Method.

I hope these three Bible study methods that I use personally will bless you as you experiment with them. Remember that however you mix it up, keep it exciting—don’t let your Bible study time become dull or a duty. I hope you’ll enjoy and use one of these methods, but don’t forget that you should never become devoted to the method—only to the Savior to whom the methods lead!

Learn to Study the Bible by Andy Deane can be purchased for the Bible Study App on www.OliveTree.com here.

A Well-Rounded Bible Study Library

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Digital Library Tablet

People sometimes ask me what I would suggest for their Bible study library.  While this is a difficult question, many Bible teachers point to the same basic resources to make a well-rounded library.

1. Bibles

Sorry to be Captain Obvious here, but you need a Bible.  The most important component of a Bible Study library is a solid Bible text. I also suggest two or more translations to allow for a “Bible Translation Comparison” Bible Study method.

Here’s a short list of Bibles available for The Bible Study App:

2. Cross References

After you’ve thoroughly read the scriptures for yourself, read all of the related verses for that text.  The Bible Study App has some great resources to help you find all of the cross references.  These are helpful because they will save you tons of time and effort just looking up the references.

Recommendations:

3. Bible Concordances
Concordances are great tools that give you a list of verses that contain that root word in the Bible.  However, be careful that you do not JUST use a concordance in your preparation.  Concordances are a great place to BEGIN, but are never the END of your Bible Study.

With that “don’t try this at home” disclaimer, I do suggest using a digital Bible with Strong’s numbers integrated into the text for your Bible study.

Recommendations:

4. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words.  They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.

Recommendations:

5. Bible Study Notes
There are multiple Bibles that have study notes written by scholars and trusted authors that will assist you in better understanding the Bible.  I recommend choosing one that corresponds to your preferred translation (KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, etc.)

Recommendations:

6. Bible Maps & Atlases 

We are far removed from Biblical times.  Bible maps and atlases help us visualize locations, actions, and events in the Bible.

Recommendations:

7. Bible Handbooks & Bible Commentaries
After you’ve studied the Bible for yourself, it is often helpful to read trusted Bible scholars to see how they explain the text you are reading. These resources are also helpful to explain difficult passages or clarify the meaning behind Bible customs and events.

Recommendations:

Olive Tree’s Bible Study Collections

To make it easier, Olive Tree has bundled collections of resources to help you dig deeper into God’s word.  These bundles give you the basic tools that you need like the study tools mentioned above. All of these wonderful resources are designed to be integrated into the Resource Guide within The Bible Study App for a seamless and easy-to-use Bible study experience.

Bible Study Essentials 

  • Choose from the following Bible Translations: NIV, NRSV, NKJV or HCSB
  • A Study Bible that corresponds to your Preferred Bible Translation
  • Bible Dictionary
  • Cross-References
  • Maps

Bible Study Standard 

  • Everything in the Essentials bundle
  • Strong’s Tagged Bible
  • Essential Bible Companion
  • Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
  • Expanded Maps

Bible Study Expanded 

  • Everything in the Standard bundle
  • Key Word Commentary
  • Expository Dictionary
  • Bible Concordance
  • and even more Maps

Bible Study Premier

  • Everything in the Expanded bundle
  • More Commentaries
  • Bible Encyclopedia
  • More Cross-references
  • A Bible Atlas

Using these and tools will deepen your Bible study and further prepare you to present God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).

Get the Most out of your ESV with Strong’s

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By Olive Tree Employee: David Mikucki

If you haven’t already downloaded it, we’re giving away the ESV with Strong’s for free through April 21st! All you have to do is share the link and you’ll get a free download.

The great part about this resource is that anyone can use it. 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, this resource can do more if you know how to use it. It can also be somewhat dangerous if you don’t know how to use it. 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 the ESV with Strong’s 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.

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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 translators of the ESV 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.

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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.

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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

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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 the ESV with Strong’s 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

 

6 Reasons to use Commentaries in The Bible Study App

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Bible Commentaries are extremely valuable study tools. Many commentaries include historical and culture context, theological interpretation, and other resources like timelines and charts. Here are Six Reasons to use Commentaries in The Bible Study App.  (Screenshots are from an iPad 2.  Click on Images for a larger view)

1. 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” in the split window.

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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 commentary. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.

2. Search & Look Up Feature

Search the commentary for words or passages.  Take “Vine” as an example.  You can search the entire commentary  series for where “Vine” is mentioned in the commentary series.  You can also limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, biblical genre, or a specific book.

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When your search hits are displayed, you can tap on the result to go directly to that passage. You can also copy the text to add to an existing note or add a note right from the search results.

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3. Linked Reference Pop ups

verse popup

One of my greatest frustrations in the hard copy world of biblical commentaries are the other biblical references within the commentary.  For example, when I’m reading in John 15 where Jesus is talking about the Vine and the Branches. In the Preaching the Word Commentary there’s a reference to Isaiah 5:7. 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.

footnote popup

Related to this is footnotes/endnotes.  Commentaries normally have a lot of references to other materials.  In the past I would have to stop where I was in the reading, look at the footnote, then go back to where I was in the book.  This also was a huge time waster, and I would often lose my train of thought.  With The Bible Study App footnotes are linked.  Just tap on the footnote, read it, and go back to where you were without losing your place.

4. 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!

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5. 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.

define popup

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.

6. Resource Guide on One Verse (iOS Extra)

An additional iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse.  Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options to Tap and hold on a verse number and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, add a Note, Bookmark, Share, Guide, and More..

lookup feature

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.

lookup 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 commentaries within The Bible Study App give you the best content, while saving you valuable study time and tremendous effort.

Click here to see all commentaries available for The Bible Study App.

A Basic and Solid Bible Study Library

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basiclibraryIf you’re like me, your introduction to Bible study tools was a bit rocky.  I first began teaching and preaching in my local church at age 14.  Before my first sermon, my Dad handed me my first Strong’s Concordance and a brand new Bible. Not really knowing where else to start, I would read through a passage of Scripture and look up every word in the Strong’s Concordance that I didn’t understand or that caught my attention.

I quickly learned that I needed a more formalized approach to studying God’s Word. Since that time I’ve learned that I needed some basic tools to keep my Bible study on track.

A Basic and Solid Library

To help you get started, Olive Tree has bundled resources together to help you dig deeper into God’s word.  These bundles give you the basic tools to help you build a solid starter library. All of these wonderful resources are designed to be integrated into the Resource Guide within The Bible Study App for a seamless and easy-to-use Bible study experience.

What’s in The Study Bible Bundles?

Bible Study Essentials 

  • Choose from the following Bible Translations: NIV, HCSB, NKJV or NRSV
  • A Study Bible that corresponds to your Preferred Bible Translation
  • Bible Dictionary
  • Cross-References
  • Maps

Bible Study Standard 

  • Everything in the Essentials bundle
  • Strong’s Tagged Bible
  • Essential Bible Companion
  • Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
  • Expanded Maps

Bible Study Expanded 

  • Everything in the Standard bundle
  • Key Word Commentary
  • Expository Dictionary
  • Bible Concordance
  • and even more Maps

Bible Study Premier

  • Everything in the Expanded bundle
  • More Commentaries
  • Bible Encyclopedia
  • More Cross-references
  • A Bible Atlas

Bible Study Bundles are available in the following Bible translations: NIV, HCSB, NKJV, or NRSV.

Using these and tools will deepen your Bible study and further prepare you to present God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).

What are your favorite Bible Study resources?

My Favorite Features of The Bible Study App

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People often ask me “what sets Olive Tree’s Bible Study App apart?” Although it’s hard for me to narrow down, here are my favorite features of The Bible Study App (Screenshots are taken from an iPad 2.  Click for a larger view)

1. Split Window

The split window has many functions. While reading in the main window, I can open the Resource Guide (see below), another translation, a study Bible, or even take notes as I read the text. I love being able to take sermon notes while in church on Sunday. I can have my main window open to the passage and take notes in the split window. Before, I had to do a balancing act with my Bible in one hand and my notepad in another, trying to keep everything in place while flipping back and forth in the Bible along with the sermon. Now my Bible and notes are all easily managed in one hand.  As a bonus, any Scripture References become hyperlinks that I can tap to pop up that passage.

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2. The Resource Guide

By far my favorite and most updated feature in the Bible Study App is the Resource Guide. While I’m reading the Bible, I can open the Resource Guide in the split window to see cross references, study Bible notes, maps, topics and more that are all related to my current reading. As I continue to read, the Resource Guide tracks with me and updates the material to match the Scripture I’m reading.

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3. Search Feature

I’m not very good at remembering verse references and often find myself asking things like, “Where is that verse about the mustard seed?” Instead of flipping through the Bible or searching through an index, I can tap the search icon and type in “mustard seed” and find the verse I’m looking for. As an added bonus, I can view the verse in each of the gospel accounts and see other search results related to “mustard seed.”

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4. Lookup Feature

Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup, and More. If you tap the “Lookup” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific word.  Like before, just tap the book cover and you can read the article in the pop-up window, or choose to open in the Main or Split window.

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5. Automatic Background Sync

I do my daily Bible Reading in the App and Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync takes care of it.  This allows me to go into my other devices to access and keep up with my Reading Plan.  The Bible is able to sink into my daily life and I can refer back to that morning’s reading from wherever I am – on the go with my phone, on laptop at work, at coffee shops on my iPad, or at home on my desktop.  Because of the Bible Study App Sync function, all of my custom highlights, tags, and bookmarks are always readily available.  With Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync, I don’t have worry about whether or not my notes, highlights, bookmarks, and book ribbons are up to date.

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6. Cross Platform Access

Did you know that you can Download The Bible Study App all your devices?  I personally have an iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, Windows Laptop, and Windows desktop.  The advantage to having the App on your devices is that with an Olive Tree Account (have you created one yet?) you can access your entire library on up to 5 different devices from wherever you study the Bible.

That’s my favorite features, but The Bible Study App can do so much more!  What’s yours?

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