Posts tagged Study Bible

What’s in the Archaeological Study Bible?


When I first heard about the Archaeological Study Bible, I wasn’t sure what to think.  My initial thought was how could there be an entire Bible devoted to archaeological study?  And honestly, how could a study Bible devoted to archaeological study not be a snoozer?  So, I got a copy of the Archaeological Study Bible and began looking through it.  Wow, was I impressed (and wrong)!

The Archaeological Study Bible is a great resource.  There are 520 articles covering five main categories: Archaeological Sites, Cultural and Historical Notes, Ancient Peoples and Lands, the Reliability of the Bible, and Ancient Texts and Artifacts.  The Bible Study App enriches the Archaeological Study Bible. As you read through your Bible, the split screen and resource guide keep you synced with your reading.

Here’s an example of an article on the Zealots and Essenes (screenshots from an iPad Mini 4, click images to enlarge):

Also included are almost 500 full-color photographs throughout the text.  Here’s two examples:

Throughout the text there are detailed charts like this one:

At the end of the Archaeological Study Bible there are several maps that help you get an idea of the placement of biblical events:

The authors of the Archaeological Study Bible also included detailed book introductions for every book of the Bible. Other study tools include a glossary, extensive concordance and several indexes to help you find articles relevant to your study.

The Bible Study App enhances this resource when articles reference other articles within the Archaeological Study Bible.  By tapping or clicking on the hyperlink, you can go directly to the related article, view in the Split Window, or view it in a Popup screen.

As you can see, you can spend hours learning the historical background of the Bible and the settings in which biblical events took place.  The articles and pictures will give you insights into the Bible and make you feel like you could have been there.

You can get the Archaeological Study Bible for 50% off this week.

Building the Ultimate Study Bible



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 and pick the one you find most readable in each category.

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.

ESV Study Bible

ESV Study 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.

Moody Bible Commentary

Moody Bible Commentary

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.

New Bible Dictionary

New Bible Dictionary

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.

Zondervan Atlas of the Bible

Zondervan Atlas of the Bible

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.

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology & Exegesis

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology & Exegesis

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.

Explore the NIV Zondervan Study Bible

Zondervan has just released the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, featuring Dr. D.A. Carson as the general editor. Built from the ground up to reflect the most current 21st century scholarship, Dr. Carson and a team of over 60 contributors have crafted all-new study notes, book and section introductions, theological articles, and other study tools that specifically focus on biblical theology, which is the progressive unfolding of theological concepts through the Bible.

As you read and study with the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, you’ll learn more about the biblical writers, the times in which they wrote, and the larger purpose of their writings in God’s story.

Let’s walk through the features of this terrific new study Bible so you can see just how comprehensive it is.

Book and Section Introductions

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible offers section introductions to the Bible’s literary genres, such as the Pentateuch and the Historical Books. In the book introductions, you will find everything from the author’s purpose in writing, the book’s theme, a full outline, and relevant photos. This study Bible leaves no stone unturned. These introductions cover everything you need to know before studying any book of the Bible.

Romans Introduction

Romans Introduction

Verse-by-Verse Notes

After reading through the book and section introductions, you’re ready to dive into the study notes. The notes will help you zero in on the unique and essential voice of each biblical book and writer and the contribution each one makes to the overall plot of the Bible. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible has nearly 20,000 verse-by-verse notes offering insight on every passage of Scripture.

You can access the study notes in conjunction with your Bible by opening them in a split window or through the Commentaries section of the Resource Guide.

Study Notes

Study Notes


One particularly valuable feature of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible is its library of concise theological articles that unpack God’s story by tracking the development of biblical themes as they are progressively unfolded throughout the Scripture. Notable scholars and leaders such as Timothy Keller, Kevin DeYoung, and Douglas Moo address theological topics such as “sin,” “creation,” “shalom,” and many more. These short articles provide the perspective that the book-by-book notes cannot: an overarching view of the Bible’s message and teaching and how the gospel of Jesus Christ relates to each topic.

The simplest way to find the articles is by changing the Verse Chooser to list view and navigating to “Articles Table of Contents”. This will display a list of all the articles for quick access. Depending on the passage you’re in, these articles may also appear in the Resource Guide under their respective topics.

Article on the Glory of God

Article on the Glory of God

Photos, Maps, & Charts

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible includes hundreds of full-color photos, maps, and charts to help you understand the biblical narrative. You’ll find incredible photos of biblical artifacts and locations placed within the study notes. The study Bible includes over 90 maps with explanatory notes located near their relevant Scripture passages so you know where key Bible events happened. There are also over 60 charts that summarize information and concepts encountered throughout the Bible. Many of these images will also appear in the Resource Guide under their respective sections.

Illustration of the Tabernacle

Illustration of the Tabernacle

Chart of Moses' Life

Chart of Moses’ Life

Map of the Exodus and Wilderness Wandering

Map of the Exodus and Wilderness Wandering

Photo of Ephesus

Photo of Ephesus


Most Bibles include a concordance of some kind. The purpose of a concordance is to help you find passages that refer to a name, place, or word. You can already do this with the Search feature in the Bible Study App, but we took things further and included the NIV Zondervan Study Bible‘s concordance. Not only did we include it, but we tagged it in such a way that it works with the Lookup feature and also appears in the People, Places, and Topics sections of the Resource Guide.



Buy in Print, Get Digital for Free

We have partnered with Zondervan to do something special with the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. All print copies of the study Bible contain a redemption code that can be used to download a free copy of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible for the Bible Study App from Olive Tree. You can’t beat that 2-for-1 deal!

If you’re not interested in owning it in print, you can buy the NIV Zondervan Study Bible directly from us for use in the Bible Study App. Be sure to check out the other titles we have on sale this week.

3 Ways to Get More Out of Quiet Time with Study Bible Notes

Study Bible Notes are a great resource for those wanting to go deeper in their study of the Bible. Here’s 3 Ways to use them and get more out of your quiet time. (screenshots are taken from an iPad 2. Click for a larger view)

1. Resource Guide

In your Main Window, open the Bible translation of your choice. (I have the NIV translation open in this example).  Then tap, hold and pull the split window handle bar at the bottom of the screen. Tap Open > Resource Guide.


You’ll see relevant “hits” in the resource guide from all of the resources you have downloaded to your device.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 Bible notes sync to exactly where you are in your reading.  You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.

As I scroll through the Resource Guide I can see all of my enhanced resources that have an entry pertaining to the current text that I’m reading. I notice that my NIV First-Century Study Bible Notes has entries for commentaries, outlines, introductions, and maps. The numbers indicate how many entries are available for each enhanced resource.


The NIV First-Century Study Bible Notes in the resource guide shows two entries under the Commentary section for Romans 1:1-10. When you tap on the NIV First-Century Study Bible Notes it then shows me a preview of those entries and I can click again to read the full commentary. As you read on in the text, those entries will stay in sync with your passage no matter what translation I have open in the main window.


The NIV First-Century Study Bible Notes also include articles under the headings of People, Places, and Topics.  As with the commentary section of the Study Bible notes, I can tap to read the articles without having to lose your place in your Bible reading.


2. Split Window – Specific Resource

Go to the main Split Window, Tap Open and you will see the navigation menu again.  Here you can choose Recently Opened, Library Favorites, My Notes, My Highlights, and My Bookmarks. At the bottom of that screen tap Open Full Library. This will open your Library navigation. Scroll down the list and find the NIV First-Century Study Bible Notes (or the study notes of your choice). Tap to open it.


As with the resource guide, The Bible Study App’s sync scrolling will keep track of where you are in the Bible text regardless of what translation you have open.  This is a great way to study if you just want to focus on one resource in your library.

3. Resource Guide on a Verse

An additional iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse.  Tap a verse number in the Bible text 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 NIV First-Century Study Bible Notes in the main or split window.


This is helpful if you want to read through your Bible “full screen” and refer to the study notes when you want to see what it says about a specific verse.

As you can see, study Bibles notes in The Bible Study App can save you a lot of time and will help you get more of of your quiet time.

Check out the NIV First-Century Study Bible Notes and more study Bible notes here.


Family Devotions Made Easy

reformation heritage kjv study bible blog promo image

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:

  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?
  2. 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.

All of the Bible is About Jesus

By Olive Tree Employee: LaRosa Johnson

Growing up in church I was always taught that the most important thing to remember about the Bible was the gospel. If you didn’t remember anything else, you should know that Jesus Christ died for your sins. At the time that was great. It meant I only had to focus on four books of the Bible and could simply gloss over or ignore the other sixty-two.

Later on I began to spend more time with the other books of the Bible. As I did I saw how the history of Israel led up to Jesus via prophecy and how the rest of the New Testament taught us how to live the Christian life. It wasn’t until years later that a friend of mine challenged my cursory understanding of the Bible by telling me that all of the Bible was about Jesus. I thought my friend was blowing smoke. Sure, the Old Testament is about the history of Jesus’ family & lineage, but how is it about him? How do Proverbs and Song of Solomon relate to Jesus? Needless to say, as I thought about it and read the Bible more, my friend’s statement started to make sense. Jesus Christ is on every page of Scripture, whether we see it or not.

Gospel Transformation BibleIt’s because of my own experience in trying to understand the gospel throughout the entirety of the Bible that I’m excited about Crossway’s Gospel Transformation Bible. This study Bible is the first of its kind as it shows you how Jesus Christ and the gospel can be found in all sixty-six books of the Bible. Unlike many study Bibles that only help you understand the text based on its immediate context, the Gospel Transformation Bible notes focus on explaining passages as they relate to redemptive history and the gospel. This means that while you may have fewer notes overall, each note is composed in a way that points you to how the gospel message is communicated in light of the context. This study Bible also contains introductions for each book of the Bible that give you a window into how the gospel is found in that book as well as a thorough topical index.

Now, what if you already own the ESV Study Bible? Even if you already own it, you’ll still want to own the Gospel Transformation Bible. No matter the passage you’re studying, the two work together as perfect companions to give you the clearest understanding possible. Where the ESV Study Bible helps you to understand the passage in its immediate context, the Gospel Transformation Bible helps you relate that same passage to the gospel.

All of this puts the Gospel Transformation Bible in a unique position to help Christians everywhere understand the gospel from Genesis to Revelation, and not just in the four gospels. This has quickly become one of my favorite study Bibles and I’m using it every time I open the Bible. Don’t be like me in taking years to understand the fullness of the gospel. Pick up this resource and get there must faster than I did. In closing, I’d like to share a verse from Shai Linne, one of my favorite Christian rappers, as he explains the importance of the gospel in his song “Expository Preaching”:

Y’all should be mindful of this devout thesis//
All of the Bible is about Jesus//
The Old Testament- Jesus Christ concealed//
The New Testament- Jesus Christ revealed//
This truth of the Lord- Christ boldly proclaimed this//
In Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus//
The law, the prophets and the teachings of Apostles//
All of these point back to Jesus and the gospel//
So if the work of Christ is what the Word is about//
Ultimately, it should be what the sermon’s about//
Forget applause, you’ve got to let the cross rock ya//
All roads in the Bible lead to Golgotha//
Whatever the text, faithfulness demands//
That we should hear the echoes of nails hitting His hands//
Don’t try to be original- say the old story//
And watch your people changed as they behold glory//

Here’s a short video of how the Gospel Transformation Bible notes look and work in the Bible Study App:

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