Posts tagged Bible Study
It’s a New Year. You’ve started your reading plan and are off to a great start studying the Bible this year. My early attempts at Bible study were sporadic and didn’t go that smoothly. I soon learned that I needed a more formalized approach to my Bible study. Here are a few tips & resources that I’ve found that will help you keep your Bible Study on track.
Prepare yourself through Prayer
“All our study is futile without the work of God overcoming our blindness and hardheartedness.” – John Piper, Martin Luther Lessons from His Life and Labor p. 33
There is no substitute for prayer when reading and studying the Bible. Prayer takes the attention off of what we can do and puts the attention instead on what God can do in and through us. Bible study is a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1) in which we present our best to God. We have to remember that this is not just a book we’re reading. We need prepare our hearts and minds for Bible study.
Read the Scripture for yourself
Read and re-read the passage you’re studying. Get familiar with the flow of the passage. If there are terms that you don’t know, look them up in a simple dictionary.
Ask yourself these Questions
- Observe – What does the text say?
- Interpret – What does the text mean?
- Apply – How does it apply to me today?
Asking these questions will keep you focused on the study at hand. These questions are also helpful when preparing, guiding, and leading discussions for small group and Sunday school Bible studies.
Read and Research
1.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.)
2. 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.
- Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK) – cross references
- Holman Concise Topical Concordance
- Other Concordances Available
3. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words. They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.
- Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Free Olive Tree Resource)
- Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary (Free Olive Tree Resource)
- Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
4. 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.
- Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary (Free Olive Tree Resource)
- Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible (Free Olive Tree Resource)
- The Bible Knowledge Commentary
- Word Biblical Commentary (WBC)
I would also suggest checking BestCommentaries.com. It’s a great site with recommendations for commentaries on each book of the Bible.
Lastly, here are some useful resources to further your Bible Study methods:
- How to Study the Bible by Rose Publishing
- Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods by Rick Warren
- How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart
Using these simple methods 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 titles and tools?
In yesterday’s post I showed you why the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible is the perfect resource for family and personal devotions. Much of what we looked at centered around reading and understanding the Bible, using M’Cheyne’s reading plan in conjunction with the study notes & thoughts for family worship. Today, I want to build on that and share a few more reasons why this is such a great resource for personal and family study.
While reading the Bible is vital for spiritual growth, I’m also learning that it’s worthwhile to teach my children a bit of church history and show them that our faith has a long & rich heritage. One of the great things about this study Bible is that it contains summaries of each century of Church history, from the 1st Century all the way to today. Not only will these articles familiarize you with the major events and issues that the Church faced throughout the years, but you’ll also become acquainted with many of the more important historical Church figures. This may seem like a minor addition, but it’s helpful because I’ve already seen a lot that I didn’t know.
Creeds and Confessions
When looking at Church history, some of the more valuable relics would be the creeds and confessions that have been established through the Church’s wrestling with to establish orthodoxy and reject heresy. Several of these are included in the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible including: the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, and the Westminster Confession of Faith. You’re given a bit of information as to its importance to Christendom and then given the text of the document. The beauty of having these available in one place is that you can see how the Church battled to stand for the truth of the Bible.
Furthermore, when it comes to learning and teaching systematic categories of doctrine, particularly from a Reformed tradition, you can make use of the catechisms that are also provided (Heidelberg and both the shorter & larger Westminster catechisms). Personally, I have found the catechisms to be a great tool for teaching my children about the Bible’s great truths because they are easy to memorize and provide several related passages. It’s simple enough to take a question or two a week and incorporate it as a part of your time of family or personal devotion. Not only will you get to know more about the Bible, but you’ll be better equipped to defend what you believe and to do so from the Bible.
Whether you’re a new believer or a seasoned veteran, you’ll find the “How to Live as a Christian” collection of articles to be extremely helpful. Each of these roughly page-long articles cover various topics that relate to Christian living, such as: living by the Ten Commandments, fellowship with other Christians, why & how to pray, handling criticism, enduring affliction, and being a godly spouse, to name a few. These articles are wonderful for showing how the Bible practically applies to everyday life and teaching children how they ought to live.
Standing Tall on Their Shoulders
It may be easy for us to gravitate to modern writings and resources, but we should not neglect or forget those who have walked this path before us. Those who walked before us have a wealth of wisdom that we’d be foolish to not glean from. That is why I find the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible to be immensely beneficial to the Church today. The rich history of our faith has been brought forward in such a way that Christians can learn from these great theologians without having to step into a time machine or head to a seminary library. I plan on making this study Bible a part of my daily studies for years to come. Just as it’s a resource in line with the heritage of the Reformation, I hope that this Bible becomes a heritage in my family.
Note: To access these features of the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes within the Bible Study App, set your table of contents view to “List View”
Can I be honest? When I first heard about the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible I had mixed emotions. The entire concept of this particular Study Bible was intriguing, but not enough for me to spend money on yet another print Bible to have among a plethora of other specialty Bibles. Those mixed emotions quickly turned to ecstatic joy when I found out that Olive Tree was going to make this title available in the Bible Study app because it’s a perfect accompaniment to my digital library. So, I added the title to my list of projects and worked to get it done so that I could start using it ASAP (and of course make it available for everyone else). Now, I may be on the edge of my seat about this resource, but why should you? Let me tell you why by explaining its benefit for use in personal and family devotions.
Aside from working at a Bible software company and being an all around theology geek, my greatest responsibilities in life are spiritually leading my household and parenting my three children. For the longest time I wasn’t the best at leading my family in devotions, and I struggled to get material together to make it easy and manageable. With time, I’m gradually getting better; but, a resource like the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible goes a long way in making family devotions simple and doable for all. It provides all the tools I need to ground my family in the Word of God on a daily basis.
The reading plan is the ground floor and what makes family worship/devotion happen with this study Bible. Instead of trying to figure out which passage your family is going to read each day, you can use Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s wonderful reading plan, which has been thoughtfully separated into both family worship & private readings. For example, the original M’Cheyne plan will have you read the first chapter of Genesis, Ezra, Matthew, and Acts on January 1; but, as laid out in this study Bible, you’d read Genesis & Matthew during your family devotion, while reading Ezra & Acts in your private devotion time. Over the course of the year, you will have taken your family through roughly half of the Old Testament (Genesis thru 2 Chronicles, along with Psalms) and the entire New Testament. The added benefit of using this in the Bible Study app is that you can use the built in M’Cheyne reading plan to keep track of your devotions so that you can start no matter the time of year without figuring out how it matches with the calendar they provide. Personally, it’s nice having a ready made plan that I know will take my family through the Scriptures in a systematic way. It’s much easier to prepare when you already have a plan in place!
Now, as you’re reading through these passages with your family and in your own time, you’re no doubt going to run across difficult passages. The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible excels in this area. It is truly a study Bible. Each book of the Bible includes an introduction that discusses its background and purpose, even including discussions on the difficult questions that may be faced in that book. There are also thousands of study notes that explain the meaning of individual words and phrases in their context so that you can make sense of the passage. Cross references to relevant passages are also integrated into the study notes allowing you to investigate more deeply and compare Scripture with Scripture. And even though this study Bible is based on the KJV translation, the Bible Study app allows you to use it alongside your preferred translation (such as the ESV or NIV).
One of the most important things about spending time in the Bible, whether it be in a family or private setting, is to make application of the text that you’re reading. In my opinion, this is where this study Bible is worth its weight in gold. At the end of every chapter of study notes is a section called “Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship” that assists you in preparing thoughts for your time of worship and how to use the text to grow in godliness. So, even if you’re not someone who has been to seminary or Bible college, you’ll be more than equipped to lead your family in a time of devotion. To give you an idea of what this section looks like, here are the thoughts from Genesis 1:
- Consider the power of God in creation. If a computer were observing 10 million stars per second, it would still take 63 million years to count all the stars! Such is the power of the Almighty. Remarkably, the stars are the work of His fingers (Ps. 8:3) but salvation is the work of His right hand (Ps. 98:1). In a wonderful way God’s work in making believers new creations in Christ Jesus demonstrates a power greater than commanding the world into existence. Let us be amazed at the wonder of creation; let us be overwhelmed with the wonder of grace. How does saving grace display even greater glory than creation?
- Stand in awe of the power of God’s word. God’s word is the agency of creation. God said, “Let there be . . .” Christ demonstrated this power in the miracles both with people such as raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11) and with the inanimate creation such as calming the storm (Mark 4:35-40). God’s word still is powerful today through the Scriptures. It is by the word of His power as well that He bears His created world along according to His purpose of providence (Heb. 1:3). The fact that God created gives Him the right to govern and to use His creation as He sees fit (Ps. 24:1-2; 95:5). Since creation, including man, belongs to God, all of creation, including man, is dependent on Him and accountable to Him. The theological implications of creation are far-reaching.
As you can see, these items alone provide more than enough information for someone to lead a time of devotion, whether it be in a family, small group, or personal setting. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of what this study Bible has to offer. Tomorrow I’ll share some of the other things that make this study Bible unique and worth adding to your library. I hope that my excitement for the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible resonates and makes you want to own & use it just as much as I do.
The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture does what very few of today’s students of the Bible could do for themselves. With the aid of computer technology, the vast array of writings from the church fathers—including much that is available only in the ancient languages—have been combed for their comment on Scripture. From these results, scholars with a deep knowledge of the fathers and a heart for the church have hand-selected material for each volume, shaping, annotating and introducing it to today’s readers. Each portion of commentary has been chosen for its salient insight, its rhetorical power and its faithful representation of the consensual exegesis of the early church.
Several features have been incorporated into the design of this commentary and we wanted to show you just a few. (Screenshots are from an iPad 2. Click on Images for a larger view)
Pericopes of Scripture
The scriptural text has been divided into pericopes, or passages, usually several verses in length. Each of these pericopes is given a heading, which appears at the beginning of the pericope. For example, the first pericope in the commentary on Genesis is “1:1 The Beginning of Creation.” To see the Scripture passage, click on the highlighted reference, in this case “1:1.” A pop-up window will open the Scripture passage to your default Bible Translation.
Following each pericope of text is an overview of the patristic comments on that pericope. The format of this overview varies within the volumes of this series, depending on the requirements of the specific book of Scripture.
An abundance of varied patristic comment is available for each pericope of these letters. For this reason we have broken the pericopes into two levels. First is the verse with its topical heading. The patristic comments are then focused on aspects of each verse, with topical headings summarizing the essence of the patristic comment by evoking a key phrase, metaphor or idea. This feature provides a bridge by which modern readers can enter into the heart of the patristic comment.
Identifying the Patristic Texts
Following the topical heading of each section of comment, the name of the patristic commentator is given. An English translation of the patristic comment is then provided. This is immediately followed by the title of the patristic work and the textual reference—either by book, section and subsection or by bookandverse references. Tap on the name to read a brief biographical sketch of the pastristic commentator.
Readers who wish to pursue a deeper investigation of the patristic works cited in this commentary will find the footnotes especially valuable. Taping on a footnote number will cause a box to pop up on the screen, where in addition to other notations (clarifications or biblical cross references) one will find information on English translations (where available) and standard original language editions of the work cited.
The Bible Study App makes the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture even more powerful!
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” from the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture 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 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 Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.
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. 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.
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!
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
Here’s a brief video to help introduce you the translation philosophy behind GOD’S WORD Translation
You can get GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) for $4.99 now through August 4th.
What People Are Saying about GOD’S WORD Translation
“An easy-to-understand Bible. . . . It is a wonderful version.”—Rev. Billy Graham
“Readable, faithful, accurate—what more could you ask for in a modern translation of the Bible? GOD’S WORD Translation is a great version for enhancing your love for God’s Word. I recommend it.” —Ann Spangler, General Editor of The Names of God Bible
“A remarkably fresh, accurate, and readable translation that communicates well the original text for modern readers. An outstanding achievement.”—Dr. David Dockery
“The Bible is the means God has chosen to reach out in human language, reveal the essence of his relational heart, and relate the Good News of his redemptive plan. GOD’S WORD Translation presents that message in a way that makes sense to readers of all ages. It is an accurate translation using modern English language and phraseology which makes it easier to understand.”—Josh McDowell
Experience GOD’S WORD with these Sample Texts
(Screenshots are taken from an iPad 2. Click on the Image for a Larger View)
The Voice Bible is a faithful dynamic equivalent translation that reads like a story with all the truth and wisdom of God’s Word. Through a collaboration of more than 120 biblical scholars, pastors, writers, musicians, poets, and artists, The Voice recaptures the passion, grit, humor, and beauty that is often lost in the translation process. The result is a retelling of the story of the Bible in a form as fluid as modern literary works, yet remaining painstakingly true to the original manuscripts.
Information added to help contemporary readers understand what the original readers would have known intuitively
Commentary notes include cultural, historical, theological, or devotional thoughts
Screenplay format, ideal for public readings and group studies
Here’s a video from publisher Thomas Nelson to give an example of The Voice in Luke 11: