Studying the Bible can be overwhelming, especially when you encounter difficult passages. Luckily, we do not have to tackle these difficult passages on our own. The Lord has called hundreds of scholars to serve the church through their writings and academic work. Here is a list of a few resources that can help you study the Bible.
Study Bibles are useful if you are looking for a quick answer. Good study Bibles include the CSB Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible, and the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. For application, the NLT Life Application Study Bible can help connect the Bible to every-day life. While study Bibles are great, you may sometimes feel like they are skipping over the most difficult question you have with a text.
I once heard it said, “Through commentaries, scholars serve the church.” A good place to start would be single-volume commentaries like the New Bible Commentary or the Baker Commentary on the Bible. Matthew Henry’s commentary is free online, but it has some disadvantages: it was published more than three-hundred years ago, it can be a bit ‘long-winded,’ and it was published before important archaeological findings such as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
If you would like a more in-depth resource but don’t want to spend too much, the Tyndale Commentary Series can be a good place to start. Other more expensive and technical commentaries include NICOT/NICNT, and the Baker New Testament Commentaries.
Bible dictionaries provide an easy reference to look-up names or places in the Bible. They also help place a book of the Bible in its historical and cultural setting. Great Bible dictionaries include the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary, and The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. While much of the information can be found in commentaries, the specific information you find in a dictionary is more accessible and requires less digging than if you had used a commentary.
Our God is a God who works and acts in history. Understanding history is difficult if you don’t have a grasp of geography. What trade routes ran through Israel during the divided monarchy? How far is Babylon from Israel? What does the landscape of Israel look like? Much of the Old and New Testament comes alive when you begin to understand where these events took place. Two reliable atlases are the Holman Bible Atlas and The New Moody Atlas of the Bible.
Computer Software and Phone Apps
Study Bibles, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and atlases can take up a lot of space. Today’s software can put all of these resources in the palm of your hand. Sometimes, the prices are comparable to the physical copy of the book, other times it can be a few dollars more. Great online resources include the Blue Letter Bible, which is completely free and allows you to do some digging into the original languages. Another free, yet easier to navigate app, is the Literal Word NASB app. Lastly, Logos Bible Software is one of the most powerful Bible software packages available. While it can be pricey, they offer a free “basic” package that allows you test whether or not you would want to invest in the product.
Dr. Jim Wilson’s new book, Illustrating Well, provides preachers with a resource to learn what makes an effective sermon illustration. You can find an excerpt of his new publication here.