How To Choose The Best Study Bible
A study Bible is the centerpiece of serious Bible study. For many Christians, this book is not only the tool where every Bible study session starts and ends, but its a key resource for prayer, reflection, teaching, and spiritual growth.
Youll use a study Bible to uncover truths about God. Its where youll record and preserve the spiritual lessons you learn. Its your launch point into deeper study, and its a friendly reminder of how far youve come.
Choosing a study Bible is no simple task. You have many, many optionsand its important that you choose one thats right for you.
The right study Bible at the right time can change your lifeor the life of whomever you give it to. My first study Bible remains one of the most thoughtful gifts Ive ever received, and its one of my most cherished possessions. In fact, my notes in that study Bible were the early framework for all of OverviewBible, my Bible literacy website and YouTube channel.
Fortunately, you dont have to sift through all the study Bibles out there. By answering a few questions, you can zero in on just a few options and choose the study Bible thats best for you.
Ill show you how!
Heres all the ground were going to cover:
The Bible Is Your Guide To Life
I know it’s hard to believe that a book over 2,000 years old is relevant to your life today but it is. I promise you, no matter what you are dealing with in your life at the moment there is scripture that will help you get through it!
Are you experiencing a tragedy and wondering why bad things happen? The Bible not only discusses this but how God will also bring good from the bad things that happen to us .
Wondering how to serve God in your youth? 1 Timothy 4:12 gives step by step instructions on how to do exactly that. Whatever you’re facing the Bible has the information you need to get through it.
Studying And Interpreting The Bible
A key foundation of Bible study is interpretation. Technically known as hermeneutics, biblical interpretation offers some basic principles to help understand the Bible. The most important principle is context. This means that when studying the Bible one must keep in mind not only the immediate context of the portion under study, but also other forms of context such as the cultural context, the literary context and more. Usually, however, its enough to have a basic understanding of the immediate context of what is being studied. Reading what comes before the passage being studied, what comes after and what the Bible says as a whole about the topic being studied, are all key concepts to keep in mind. More often than not, errors or difficulties of interpretation when studying the Bible come about as a result of not having a proper understanding of context.
Another important aspect of Bible interpretation is not to base an elaborate theological teaching on the basis of an apparently obscure or isolated passage. If a passage or teaching is important, there are often multiple instances throughout the Bible where the topic is discussed more clearly. In such cases, looking at many parallel passages to understand a topic better is more helpful than fixating on a more obscure or difficult passage, when the answer to the issue at hand can usually be resolved by turning to clearer passages.
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Choose An Editorial Team You Want To Learn From
Your Bible translation determines which philosophies are represented in the text of Scripture. But perhaps more important is the philosophies represented in the rest of the text. All the notes, articles, and book introductions come from editors who have particular perspectives. Its wise to choose a study Bible with an editorial team youre comfortable learning from. This way the study aids will actually aid in your study.
You dont have to 100% agree with them. But you also dont want to pay for a study Bible that you dont have confidence in.
Usually you can tell what sort of study notes a Bible will have by taking a look at the general editors. For example, D. A. Carson is the general editor of the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible and also a founding member of The Gospel Coalition. So, you can generally depend on noncritical notes from a Christocentric perspective. On the other hand, Drs. John Walton and Craig Keener edited The Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, so you can expect historically-informed notes that help you understand what a passage would have meant to its original readers.
Readers in the Arminian tradition might be confused by Carson-approved notes in the footers of Romans chapter 9. And readers who hold to a literal six-day creation narrative might be uncomfortable with Waltons notes in Genesis chapter 1.
POPULAR STUDY BIBLES BY EDITORIAL TEAM:
Choose A Study Bible With The Features You Want
This brings us full-circle. A study Bible is Scripture outfitted with tools to help you better study, understand, and apply it to your life. And while translation, editorial team, focus, and academic level are important, you want a study Bible to include the actual tools youll use in study.
This is where youll consider things like charts and media. Do you want a Bible with plenty of maps? Do you care about photography? Do you need a lot of margin space for notes? Do you want a great deal of notes and articles?
This is a rather easy thing to look intobecause most study Bibles will list these features on the back cover and on their online product pages.
STUDY BIBLES WITH OUTSTANDING FEATURES:
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The Sword Method Of Bible Study
The Sword Method of Bible Study is a simple, but powerful way to study the Bible. You simply ask 3 questions that cover the 3 most important points. It can be applied to a single verse or multiple verses .
The blade of the sword points upward toward heaven, so you ask what do I learn about God in this passage? Next, the handle of the sword points down toward man, so ask what do I learn about people in this passage? The 3rd question asks how we apply what we learned: What does God want me to do?
There are many variations of this type of devotional or observation Bible study. You might have seen different graphics or charts for Bible Study methods that emphasize different aspects of learning and applying the Bible.
The important thing is to not get distracted by the tools. Highlighters, charts, acronyms are helpful if they help you engage with the Bible and apply it to your life. Usually, its best to go with a simple, reproducible method like the Sword Method.
Its simple and reproducible, so it can be used and taught by adults and children. It can be used to lead a small group Bible Study or discussion.
Here are a few related questions you can branch off into. You can get an idea of how useful the 3 main questions are.
Write Out Verses From The Bible
Writing out a verse or several verses makes you slow down and think about the Scripture. It can give you a different perspective on the verse than just reading it alone.
Write it in your own handwriting. It can be on a lined sheet of paper. You can also get creative and write it in a different pattern. You can get colorful if you want to. You can doodle a little bit and draw small pictures if it helps you process the verse.
As you write the verse, ask yourself:
Read the passage out loud several times. Try reading it slowly. Try reading it quickly to get a sense of the structure. Read it again as many times as youd like.
I didnt include journaling as a separate way to study the Bible because that can apply to any of these different ways to study the Bible. But, a journal would be a great place to keep these.
Take the journal or paper you wrote the Scripture on and look at it throughout the day. You can take a photo with your phone and set a reminder during your lunch break to look at it. Think about the verse and how you can apply it to your life.
To take it a step further, you can paraphrase or summarize the verse or passage in your own words. This makes you process and ask what the verse means even further.
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Learning How To Read The Bible Can Be Fun And Enjoyable
PinPinBy the way, if youre truly interested in learning how to study the Bible for beginners, Id love to invite you to check out my brand new book: Fall in Love with Gods Word: Practical Strategies for Busy Women!
Practical, encouraging, and full of biblical truth, Fall in Love with Gods Word has everything you need to learn how to:
- Overcome 7 common obstacles preventing you from spending time in Scripture
- Discover the personalized Bible-reading routine that works for YOU
- Learn 15 easy ways to make studying the bible for beginners more meaningful and enjoyable
- Use Scripture to conquer sin, false beliefs, and negative thought patterns
- Experience fresh spiritual growth and passion for Gods Word.
Please visit Amazon.com or your local bookstore to learn more and grab your copy of Fall in Love with Gods Word today!
Sample Of Inductive Bible Study Application Of Psalm 46
How does the truth revealed here affect my relationship with God and others?
Although life can be full of chaos and hardships, we can rest in knowing that we can safe and secure because God is in us like a peaceful river in the heart of Jerusalem. He might not calm the situation, but we can experience true peace even in the midst of disorder.
Our role is to trust Him and respond to the sound of His voice.
Verse 10 is in present tense meaning that today, God tells us to be still and know that He is God. The term be still actually means to cease striving which as I mentioned in my Scroll post is a great mental picture of how I often struggle to solve my own problems instead of allowing the very Creator of the Universe to deliver me.
One thing the commentary mentioned was that it took Jerusalem a couple years to rebuild but afterward they experienced a magnificent harvest. It made me think about how Gods trials might require a waiting period but we can be sure that HE WILL deliver and preserve His people.
This is a fabulous Psalm to read where your world seems to be falling apart.
I will apply this passage to my daily life by: realizing that although my life might seem like it is full of chaos, I can be still in the midst of it because God resides in me like the calm river among Jerusalem. There may be a wait involved but God WILL deliver me from whatever comes my way. I can remember this too shall pass and He will have victory, restoring me as only He can.
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The Bible In Basic English
Suitable for Upper-intermediate and Advanced Students
If youre looking for a way to better understand Bible verses without having to look up outdated Bible terms like thou shalt, then The Bible in Basic English is the perfect resource for you.
The Bible in Basic English is perfect for any English language learner whos interested in learning the history and context of each Bible story. The online Bible has all of the verses from the Old and New Testaments, and is written in present-day English, making it easier to understand.
In addition to Bible verses, The Bible in Basic English also comes with summaries, background information and educational videos on various books of the Bible. This makes it great for anyone looking to study the Bible as part of their education.
Study A Book Of The Bible
Have you tried other ways to study the Bible and want to go deeper? Do you like to be challenged? Studying a book of the Bible, or doing a book-by-book study, is a great way to go.
Studying a book of the Bible is one of the more challenging ways to study the Bible because it involves a little bit of every method of Bible Study. It can involve studying themes, topics, characters, individual words, and cross-references.
A book study takes time and commitment, but it can also be the most rewarding! Its my favorite way to study the Bible because it takes me deeper and helps me wrestle with the text over an extended period of time.
You might see many Bible verses in a whole new light when you read them in their context. You might even find that some of your favorite verses mean something different than what you might have heard in the past.
If you take a verse out of its context, it can seem to mean something different than what the author intended. The advantage of a book study is that it helps you keep Bible verses in their context. You want to know what God is saying and not change its meaning.
What I love about doing a book study of the Bible is that I usually end up where I didnt expect. I start out with a general idea of what I think the book means. Then I end up in a surprisingly different place at the end. Also, whatever book I studied last becomes my new favorite!
Here are the 5 steps from that article:
How to Study Books of the Bible
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Other Bible Study Methods
My technique is not the only one out there. There are so many others. In fact, I would encourage you to draw from the various methods to create your own. Your most effective bible study will be the one personalized to you. I wont go into detail but here are a few of the other types of Bible study methods out there.
- Bible Verse Mapping
How To Read The Bible: Pray Before You Begin
Pause before you open your Bible and ask God to speak to you. Remember, the Bible is Gods Word it is Gods love letter written to His people, which includes you.
Ask God to help you understand His Word. Ask God use His Word to teach you, to direct you and even to re-direct you, when necessary. Ask Him to use His Word to help you know Him and love Him.
Jeremiah 29:13 says, You will seek me and find Me, if you seek Me with all your heart. God loves to reveal himself to those who seek Him.
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Why The Bible Is Hard To Understand
âHe writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destructionâ .
When you introduce difference, you introduce confusion. We have a hard enough time making sense of our own intentions. Understanding those of others can be even more difficult.
The distance between the Bible and our 21st century experience is enormous. There are many obstacles to understanding these ancient texts correctly. We are historically, personally, theologically, chronologically, culturally, and geographically removed from the Bibleâs authors.
Can I Ever Understand The Bible
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12
First Corinthians chapter two shows us that we are not capable of understanding spiritual things outside of the work of the Holy Spirit. As we seek to understand the Bible better, we must diligently pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truth, beauty, and power contained within the Scriptures. This, however, does not mean that we are not required to do any work. A disciplined faith is one that is dedicated to reading and growing in the knowledge of the things of God. If you are seeking how to understand the Bible as a beginner, you must pray and then actually read it!
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Studying The Bible Is A Community Project
We make progress in studying the Bible when we do it together, working through questions and sharing insights. And this includes not just face-to-face conversations, but also reading the reflections of others. Bible study guides assist us with insights and questions to provoke deeper reflection.
What about commentaries? If I was studying the book of Romans, and John Stott was also sitting at the table with me, I would unhesitatingly ask him for his take on the text. I cannot do that but Im grateful he wrote down his own reflections in his commentary. If we believe that the Spirit leads us to make progress in our study, then we should also assume hes helping others along as well. A proper reliance on the Holy Spirit in study, then, doesnt lead us into isolation. It leads us to learn from others.
Word Study By Bible Books
Certain words have special significance in certain Bible books. For example, after studying the Gospel of John as a book and by chapters, youll find it instructive and inspiring to trace the words believe and belief. They occur almost 100 times. By reading the book hurriedly and underlining each passage where the words believe and belief occur, youll understand why Bible scholars contend that the purpose of the Gospel of John is expressed by the author in John 20:31.
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