10 Tools for Studying the Bible
Bible Study Tool #1: A Good Bible Translation
If the word Bible study makes you feel overwhelmed, you might not have the right tools. The Bible is a thick book that can feel hard to understand sometimes. If you don’t have much experience studying it, it can feel easier to leave that to the experts. But the beauty of God’s Word is He gave it to everyday people like you and me. So, if you’re ready to start digging right in, these are our favorite tools for studying the Bible to help you feel like a pro.
Tool #2: Bible Dictionary
If you find yourself getting confused between places in the Bible or items in the temple, you might find a Bible dictionary helpful. They function like encyclopedias, with digestible information about written terms or ancient rituals so that you never get lost in the context again. The Bible is laden with ancient cultures we are so far removed from today that a resource like this is excellent to explain those details.
Tool #3: Concordance
One of the most exciting tools for studying the Bible is researching everything God says about a specific topic. This is where a concordance comes in handy. For example, if you want to understand angels better, a concordance will tell you every time the word “angel” appears in the text. You can compare passages and get a multifaceted understanding of everything the Bible teaches. A concordance can also identify the meaning of the original Hebrew or Greek words by showing how scholars translated that word throughout the English Scriptures.
Tool #4: Bible Atlas with charts and timelines
Because the Bible narrative spans hundreds of years, it’s easy to get lost. Getting this tool will help you determine where each story falls geographically and within history. A chart or timeline can make more sense for visual learners than reading text on the page. It’s also helpful to understand how far the Israelites were traveling around the promised land or how long it took Mary and Joseph to journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. A Bible atlas is one of the most useful tools for Bible study to help you grasp these concepts!
Tool #5: Bible Commentary
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we run into a Bible passage that’s tricky to understand. Don’t worry; even the most educated scholars struggle with these passages. But instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, you can rely on the research and study they’ve already done. A Bible commentary is a great resource to read expert opinions on what those tricky passages mean. There are dozens of different commentary options. Some are written in everyday language, and others in academic terminology. So, find one that makes sense to you, and put it on your bookshelf so those confusing passages won’t stump you anymore!
Tool #6: Bible Study Workbook
Many people like having Bible Study Workbooks at their disposal because a workbook can walk you through a study from start to finish. Many workbooks include notes, research, and opportunity for reflection and prayer all in one place which makes the study feel uncomplicated and inspirational. Our favorite Bible Study resource is The Last Champion Workbook. This workbook and movie combo engages readers with a triumphant on-screen story of victory and perseverance, and it provides Bible study topics on how God can redeem anyone. It’s got an easy-to-read format and is great to use when doing a Bible study with a small group or friend. You can purchase a copy here to get started!
Tool #7: Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Zondervan)
When reading through the Bible, one thing you’ll find is that the Biblical authors love using metaphors and imagery. While these literary devices help to paint a picture in our minds, some of the imagery utilized is foreign to us in 21st century America. The Zondervan Dictionary of Biblical Imagery is a great tool to bring old-time metaphors to life in a way that makes sense. If you’ve ever wondered why fig trees are such a big deal or what happened on Mount Sinai, this book will give you all the answers you need!
Tool #8: Interlinear Bible
Since the Bible was primarily written in Hebrew and Greek, our English words don’t always capture the nuance of the original languages. When translators worked on the English versions, they used different English phrases and word orders to help make the text readable. An Interlinear Bible is a good resource for those who want to understand the original languages without becoming fluent. In an interlinear Bible, the English translation is placed parallel to the original words and word order. This is helpful to do word studies and grasp all the subtleties of the original writings.
Tool #9: Thesaurus
Have you ever read the same sentence multiple times in a row and felt like you were missing something? Sometimes when we’ve heard a Bible story over and over, we can lose sight of its meaning. An English thesaurus can be helpful for this. For example, when you’ve heard a phrase like “abide in me” too many times, it can help to look up “abide” and see other words that mean the same thing to highlight why the phrase is significant.
Tool #10: Journals, Pens, Highlighters, etc.
While you could place most of the bible study tools we’ve mentioned so far on a bookshelf, we would be remiss not to mention writing utensils. Highlighters are great to mark a favorite verse or color-code a specific word that repeats itself in your favorite passage. Sometimes the best part of a Bible study is the notes you take about the things you learn. A journal and some fun pens are simple tools that achieve this purpose wonderfully.
Preparing your Mind, Heart, and Body for your Study
Although the word “study” is most frequently referencing school, the Bible instructs us to “study to show ourselves approved.” (2 Timothy 2:15) These tools mentioned can help us “rightly divide the word of truth,” but if we’re only relying on our human resources, we’re missing a key component. The Word of God is living and active! (Hebrews 4:12) It’s useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness because it’s God-breathed! So, to get the most out of your Bible study, there are a few things you should do.
First, ask God to speak through His Word. He can bring your attention to things you might have missed or convict you through His Word. Prayer is the best way to start your day talking to Him and begin your Bible Study with an attitude of humility and a posture of listening.
Seek the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is excellent at illuminating God’s Word and teaching us as we read. We don’t have to lean on our own understanding. When you get stuck or confused, ask the Holy Spirit to grow your knowledge and encourage you with the truth.
Listen to what others have to say
We were never meant to study the Bible alone. In fact, the ancient Israelites often told the Old Testament stories out loud to each other or studied together in synagogues. While those traditions might seem strange today, we can study the Word together through Church sermons, small groups, or podcasts. These resources help us hear what God is teaching other people and help us to learn in community.
Whether you’re completing homework or doing a Bible study, it’s a thousand times more difficult if you’re in an uncomfortable position. So, pick a spot in your house or bedroom where you feel comfortable and calm. This way, your body knows it’s time to settle in and spend time with God by reading His Word.
Warm Beverage of Choice
Speaking of comfort, a nice cup of coffee or tea never hurts anybody. So, prepare your favorite warm beverage and sip to your heart’s content while you talk to God about your day. Nothing feels cozier than snuggling up in your favorite corner with a steaming cup of tea on a rainy day!
If you’ve ever felt like a Bible study is a daunting task, you might just need the right tools. Understanding tricky Scripture passages can be simple with a few study resources. You don’t need to start with everything on this list all at once, either! Grab yourself a few highlighters and a Bible Study book like The Last Champion workbook, and you can go from there. Once you’ve got the basics, you can collect other resources as you go until one day, you’ll have a whole library of Bible study tools to help you study God’s Word with ease!