Posts tagged Bible Study Tips
As a Bible teacher and technologist, people often ask me what they should buy to start building their Bible study library. I love answering this question and many are shocked by my response. The conversation begins by describing the massive library I’ve built over the years in several Bible software platforms. Then I tell them they don’t need all that & start listing the handful of resources that I find essential to Bible study. The end result is a concise but robust set of tools that anyone can use to study the Bible and grow in the things of God. Today, I will show you how you can build your ultimate Bible study library.
Step 0: Use the Bible Study App
If you’re at all technologically inclined, and I assume you are if you’re reading this, the initial step is downloading Bible software. For as much as I love print, it is easier and faster to study the Bible digitally. You can search resources in a matter of seconds, quickly look up cross references, and study anywhere. You don’t have to worry about flipping pages or having a large desk so that you can open all your books at once. Instead, carry your entire library on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
I always recommend the Bible Study App to people because it is feature rich and easy to use, and I say this not just as an Olive Tree employee. There is no steep learning curve required to use the app and all the features are intuitive. Plus, it’s free to download and try! So, download the app & let’s move to Step 1.
Step 1: Add a Bible Translation
A lot of people don’t think about Bible translations and how they can help their Bible study. For many, they use whatever Bible translation they were given when they became a Christian and never give it a second thought. Yes, the thee’s and thou’s of the KJV may be quite poetic, but what good is it if you cannot understand what you’re reading? In many respects, the Bible is already a difficult book to study, so why make it harder with a difficult to read translation? There is nothing wrong with owning a Bible written in a modern translation.
When choosing a Bible translation, you should find one that works for you. I also believe you should own at least two Bible translations. The first should be more word-for-word in its translation of the original languages, while the second should be more thought-for-thought or a balance between the two. I recommend checking out some of the translations listed below at Biblegateway.com and pick the one you find most readable in each category.
- Word-for-word: English Standard Version (ESV), King James Version (KJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), Modern English Version (MEV)
- Thought-for-thought/Balanced: New International Version (NIV), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), New Living Translation (NLT)
Once you have your Bible translations, you’re ready to build the rest of your ultimate study Bible library.
Step 2: Add Study Notes
Next to the Bible, if you had to spend money on one resource, hands down it would have to be a study Bible. These are great tools because they are an all-in-one resource. You get commentary, introductions, and a wealth of other useful features. With so many study Bibles on the market, wisdom is needed when making a purchase. You want to make sure you’re buying something that will help you understand what you’re reading and keep things in their proper context.
A good study Bible should contain: thorough study notes, book introductions, maps, charts & illustrations, and Bible chronologies. A few worth checking out include: the ESV Study Bible, NLT Study Bible, NKJV Study Bible, Life Application Study Bible, and the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible.
Step 3: Add Key Reference Tools
As you expand your library beyond Bibles and study Bibles, you should start by adding key reference tools. This is a broad category that ranges from single volume commentaries to Bible dictionaries and atlases.
Bible commentaries come in many flavors and vary in their target audience, which is often reflected in the price. Because of their depth, commentaries can quickly become the most expensive tool in your library. I recommend starting with single volume commentaries since they cover the entire Bible. While single volume commentaries may not be as thorough as their single-book counterparts, they do take time to cover all passages in general and are sure to explain the more difficult ones, making them useful additions to your library.
While study Bibles and commentaries are good at explaining the text of the Bible, they don’t always give enough detail about some of the Bible’s concepts and words. This is where a good Bible dictionary comes into play, which is, in effect, an encyclopedia for the Bible. To illustrate it’s usefulness, let’s say you’re reading the gospels and you encounter the Pharisees and Sadducees. Who are these guys and where did they get their authority? A Bible dictionary will explain who they are so you’re not left clueless about their role and purpose in the Bible.
Atlases are a fantastic tool to have in your library. If we’re honest, most of us aren’t familiar with the geography of the lands from Bible times. Not to mention, you’ll have no luck finding many places mentioned in the Bible on a modern map. Atlases provide you with extensive maps that help you get a lay of the land so that you can make better sense of the Bible’s narrative. Many atlases also provide relevant commentary on the Bible that corresponds to the map or picture.
Many of these tools you can add to your Olive Tree library at minimal cost and they will go a long way in helping you study the Bible.
Step 4: Add Advanced Reference Tools
Most people could stop at Step 3, but if you’re the person who wants to dive deeper into God’s Word you can buy more advanced reference tools. Resources that fall into this category would include: single book commentary sets, Greek & Hebrew lexicons, and more extensive versions of the tools found in Step 3. These are the tools used by pastors, seminary students, and those, like myself, who don’t mind treading through the original languages and academic level terminology. This is an area where you can spend a lot of money, but each resource is well worth the cost.
Build Your Ultimate Study Bible Today
By following the above steps, you will have built your own Ultimate Study Bible and have all the essential tools needed to study the Bible. Start building yours today with our Build Your Ultimate Study Bible sale!
Next week we’ll show you various ways of using these resources to study the Bible.
With 62 volumes and 26,000+ pages of content, the Word Biblical Commentary is a hefty commentary series. With this much content, how do you navigate it all?
With the Bible Study App, you can easily read and study the WBC anywhere. Here are 5 benefits of using the WBC in the Bible Study App (Screenshots are from the Windows Desktop version of The Bible Study App. Click on Images for a larger view)
1. Resource Guide & Split Window
Open your preferred Bible translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window. You’ll see relevant Word Biblical Commentary “hits” in the split window.
If you prefer to just read one resource at a time, you can open the WBC in the split window. The Bible Study App also keeps up with the scripture passage you’re reading in the main window with sync scrolling.
This means that as you move along in the Bible text, the WBC 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 these first two features alone.
2. Easily Navigate to Commentary Sections
Each section of commentary in WBC (covering a range of verses) is further divided into a number of sub-sections which each approach the entire set of verses from different perspectives like “Bibliography”, “Translation” and more. Each of the sub-sections has been individually tagged based on content, meaning that if you have a particular Bible passage open in the main window, the Resource Guide will display the commentary notes for that passage in the WBC for each of the subsections.
Using it with the Resource Guide like this makes it easy to drill down to one sub-section, then jump back up quickly and then back down to another
3. Search & Look Up Features
Search the Word Biblical Commentary for words or passages. Take “elder” as an example. You can search the entire series for where “love” is mentioned in the commentary series. You can also limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, biblical genre, or a specific book.
When your search hits are displayed, you can tap on the result to go directly to that section in the WBC. You can also choose to open the search in a pop out window making this search accessible for further study.
4. Linked Reference Pop ups
One of my greatest frustrations in the hard copy world of biblical commentaries are the other biblical references within the commentary. For example, when I’m reading in Genesis 12 about Abram, there are multiple Scripture references in the WBC that help me with this passage. 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.
5. Highlight, Add a Note, Bookmark or Copy & Paste
Make the Word Biblical Commentary your own with the Bible Study App. Without having to leave your current study, you can:
Add a Note, Copy & Paste
Or Bookmark and save under your own custom category
Bonus: Cross Platform
The Bible Study App is available for your iPhone, iPad, Android Phone or Tablet, PC or Mac. With our our background sync technology, you can access all of your notes, highlights, and bookmarks on all of your devices with a free Olive Tree Account.
The Word Biblical Commentary set serves as an exceptional resource for the professional theologian and instructor, the seminary or university student, the working minister, and everyone concerned with building theological understanding from a solid base of biblical scholarship.
WBC On Sale
The WBC is currently on sale. All volumes are currently priced at $9.99. The full set is also discounted, along with new OT & NT sets. Be sure to buy these before the price permanently goes up after this month.
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!
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
Who doesn’t love a good Top 5 list? I know I do! Here are the top reasons why you should use our new Windows Desktop app alongside your mobile. Ready. Set. Go!
1. Multiple Windows
One limitation of working with the Bible Study app on mobile is that you can only have two resources open at a single time, or three if you count pop-ups. This limitation exists for various reasons, ranging from screen size to processing power. You don’t have this problem with Windows Desktop. Open multiple windows to your heart’s content and resize them however you’d like. The possibilities are endless.
2. Universal Search
Have you ever wanted to search your entire library for a topic or word? The Resource Guide helps with this to an extent, but it only works with enhanced resources. With the Windows Desktop app you can type anything you want in the search field and you’ll get hits from your entire library. This alone is a time saver or reason to get lost in rabbit trails, you decide.
Do you like using Microsoft Word or Google Docs to write your sermons or notes? That’s easy with the Bible Study app on Windows Desktop. If you have multiple monitors, have the app open on one screen and Word open in the other. Don’t have two monitors? Resize your windows and you can still do the same. Try doing that on your phone!
4. More Text on the Screen
My phone has a higher resolution (1440 x 2560) than my computer (1920 x 1080). But given the fact my phone is 5.7″ versus the 15″ screen of my laptop, I can still fit a lot more text on my laptop’s screen than I can on my phone. This means I can study a lot easier than I can on my phone. I can read more with less scrolling, which saves time and effort.
Look how much more text you can fit on a desktop computer versus a tablet (Nexus 10).
5. Distraction Free Studying
The refreshed user interface of Bible+ 6.0 for Windows Desktop was designed to get out of the way so you could focus on studying. How often have you tried reading the Bible on your phone only to get distracted by a call, text message, or notification? Happens to me all the time, and sometimes I don’t have the luxury of turning on Airplane mode to keep it from happening. The simple gesture of sitting at a computer often implies that it’s time for serious work, which can make it easier to focus and get your studying done distraction free. Plus, it’s easier to “unplug” your computer from the Internet without feeling like you’re cut off from the world.
What Are Yours?
What are some of your favorite features and tips when using the Windows Desktop app? Leave a comment and share them with us and other Olive Tree users.
With the Bible Study App we make it easy for you to read & study the Bible wherever you are. This is especially true with original language study. Instead of hunting down the dictionaries and lexicons that possess the information you’re looking for, we put it at your fingertips. Today we’re going to show you how to use the lookup feature in the Bible Study app to access HALOT and TDNT entries in the BHS Parsed and ESV Greek-English Interlinear Bible. We’ll show you how to do this on a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, but the steps are exactly the same on iOS.
BHS & HALOT
Step 1: Find a word that you want to study in-depth. Tap on that word to get a basic definition and parsing information. Then tap on “Lookup” to begin searching your installed dictionaries for your currently selected word.
Step 2: Find your dictionary, in this case HALOT, and tap on it.
Step 3: Read the entry for your word in the resource you selected.
Greek-English Interlinear & TDNT
These steps work exactly the same way for Greek resources. We’ll perform the same steps to lookup a Greek word in our ESV Greek-English Interlinear Bible.
Step 1: Find a word you want to study and tap on it. Then tap the “Lookup” button in the popup.
Step 2: Find the dictionary/lexicon that you want to read, here the TDNT.
Step 3: Read your entry in the TDNT.
This lookup feature isn’t just limited to HALOT and TDNT. Use it to lookup words in any of your lexicons or dictionaries. Tap on a Strong’s tagged word and do the same. Want to find entries on Moses? Select his name in your English Bible and perform a lookup on his name. Try it for yourself and see just how indispensable the lookup feature can be to your own studies!