Best Tools for Studying the Bible: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Bible
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Reading and understanding God’s Word is the beginning of a vibrant relationship with God. It’s how he communicates with us.
The word of God is living and active. That means it is relevant today and has the power to change our lives. But sometimes, the Scriptures can be really hard to understand.
Here’s a list of the best tools for studying the Bible that I use that will help you get the most from your studies. Whether you’re just starting out or have been studying the Word for years, these tools will help you get the most out of your Scripture reading.
My favorite tools include a specialized dictionary, concordance, and commentaries. Saying that, I know others who really like maps and reading plans too, so if you’re a visual learner, you may like those maps too.
For each of these items, I will suggest at least one print option and one app option. My suggestion is that you pick one tool to add to your studies at a time and take it slow as you soak in the Word.
Just whatever you do, don’t overwhelm yourself trying to learn several different tools at once. Start with one or two, then add more as you feel comfortable.
Best Tools for Studying the Bible
A Bible Dictionary is a dictionary that is specific to words found in the Scriptures. It includes verse references and proper names. This tool allows users to analyze God’s word more carefully and look up those obscure terms you just aren’t sure about.
For print options, I recommend either The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary or Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
You can also find the KJV Bible Dictionary on Google Play, iOS, or Android devices.
Although, my absolute favorite dictionary is the 1828 Webster American Dictionary. I 100% believe that Mr. Webster was led by the hand of God as he lists scripture references!
The Best Biblical Concordances
A Biblical Concordance is a listing of all major words and phrases found in God’s Word with a listing of all the places where that word or phrase occurs. It’s a fairly complex index and is extremely useful.
For instance, if you wanted to find every single verse about God’s Faithfulness, you would use a concordance. I recommend The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible in the print version or the app version.
My husband has been using this concordance since his beginning evangelist days. Now, as pastor, he still uses it!
Using Biblical Commentaries
Bible Commentaries are systematic and thorough explanations and interpretations of passages based on the author’s opinion and study. These commentaries can be found for single books like Acts, or you can purchase a complete commentary that covers all the books.
These come in single volume or multiple volume sets. You can even find commentary sets where there is one volume for each book of the Old and New Testaments.
I recommend The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur for a one-volume option, and The Bible Exposition Commentary in 6 Volumes by Warren S. Wiersbe for a more comprehensive option.
You can also get the famous Matthew Henry Commentary on the App Store.
Here are a few other commentary tools for studying the Bible:
The Bible Knowledge Commentary – This is a great option if you’re looking for an in-depth, but easy to read commentary. It’s perfect for those who want to study on their own.
HarperCollins Study Bible – This commentary set includes extensive notes and introductions written by top scholars. It’s perfect for those who want to study in a group setting.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible – This commentary is geared towards academic and seminary students but is still accessible to the average reader. It includes extensive notes and cross-references.
Using a biblical commentary can be a great way to get a more in-depth understanding of everything you read and is one of the best tools for studying the bible you could use.
Using A Study Bible
There are three great study Bibles that I really enjoy, and they’re all created and written by different people and companies.
Personally, I like to use a KJV, but most of these also come in other versions as well.
Study Bibles are basically commentary plus Bible all-in-one, kind of like a two-for-one option. They do tend to be a little more on the heavy side because they are in-depth.
At the time that this was written, I am studying through the Chronological Life Application Study Bible by Tyndale and I’m really enjoying it!
My first “adult” Bible was the Dakes Annotated Reference Bible, and it will always have a special place in my heart. It is, by far, my favorite.
I’ve also heard amazing things about the Life in the Spirit Study Bible– a lot of my family uses the KJV version.
Using Biblical Maps
Much of God’s Word talks about the travels of God’s people and it is incredibly helpful to have appropriate biblical maps to understand the journeys, the miracles, and the lives of the people.
For a physical book I recommend Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Time Lines. If you’d like an app I recommend this iOS app simply called Bible Map.
Here are some other great biblical map tools for studying the Bible:
The Open Bible – This website has a variety of different types of maps, including interactive and printable versions.
Google Earth – If you’re looking for a more visual approach to your study, Google Earth is a great option. With this tool, you can “fly” over the landscapes and see exactly where biblical events took place.
Bible Odyssey – This website offers a variety of different maps, including interactive maps and high-resolution images. You can also download maps to use offline.
Using a map for your biblical studies can be a great way to get a better understanding of the geography and history of biblical events.
Reading Plans for Studying God’s Word
Reading Plans help you figure out what to read and study each day. You can grab our free Read the Bible in a Year Plan here.
You can also find various reading plans and paces within various apps. One of my other personal favorites is the 60 Day New Testament Journey, which you can find on several different apps for iOS or Android.
All-In-One Study Tools
The most comprehensive biblical tool I have found is the LOGOS Bible app. I used the computer version in college for several classes and this program has tons of functionality.
You can start with the free version of the app for your phone (available on iOS or Android or Google devices) and then slowly buy all of the different basic study tools mentioned below and much more within the app.
Read Your Bible in a Year Study
If you’ve decided to read through the Bible this year, I’ve got the perfect Bible Study companion for you! Reading through the Bible is important, but it’s not just about the reading- do you understand what you’re reading? Is it impacting your life? Or are you just taking note of the words and feeling accomplished when you finish?
This 834-page Read Your Bible in a Year Study is a great way to help you stay on track, study your daily readings effectively, and really hone in on specific verses and books! Read through your Bible in a new way- study through!
It’s incredibly handy to have your concordance, commentaries, dictionary, maps, and all other tools directly within the same app. If you really wanted to, you can purchase over 9,000 different resources to use within the LOGOS app!
You have access to all of the content you purchase from within the one app so it is all-in-one-place. You also have the ability to highlight text, take notes, and switch between study tools or translations to compare with a simple swipe.
If you are looking for an all-in-one solution LOGOS is what I’d recommend.
One of my favorite apps to get on your smartphone is the YouVersion App. Within the YouVersion you can find Reading Plans, various translations which you can compare side-by-side, and note-taking.
Many churches put their sermon notes and reading plans into the YouVersion App so that makes it super handy if your church participates.
While this app doesn’t have nearly the number of tools LOGOS has, it is free and that’s a huge benefit.
Best Tools for Studying the Bible: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Bible
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Get the most benefit possible from your personal study of God’s word by adding one or more of these tools to help with Bible study.
Add a little or a lot more depth to your studies by looking up words you don’t understand, studying and comparing passages on the same topic, reading what scholars have to say on a passage or finding the locations of a journey on a map.
You certainly don’t have to use all of these tools or add them all at once. Start with the one that intrigues you most, and see how it changes your understanding of God’s word.