Having the right tools is essential to productive Bible study. They can really help bring the Scriptures to light, and keep you from groping in the dark. And in this day of plentiful resources free online, it’s easier than ever!
7 Basic Bible Study Tools
1. Good, reliable translations of the Bible
I think you’ll find E-sword an indispensible tool, enabling you to check the passage in multiple versons. But the main thing is to use good versions as close to the original as possible, while still making the text easy to understand. One of my favorites is the ESV.
Bible Gateway is the one of the most popular online reading tools, offering 219 translations in 72 languages. And over 150 of them searchable online!
2. Good study Bibles
There are numerous excellent study Bibles available in many translations. The Thomson Study Bible with its Chain Reference Concordance is a great one, with its chains of topical references that can be followed all the way through the Bible. And it contains other useful tools like: Bible harmonies, Bible book outlines, Biblical figures, historical charts, maps, and more. Possibly you already knew of this Bible, but did you know that you can also search the chain references online at Study Light.org for free?
3. Bible Commentaries
Bible commentaries offer explanations and interpretations which analyze or expound on Scripture, book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse. Many are complete commentaries covering the whole Bible.
I’m not sure just how many Bible commentaries there are, but they’re too numerous to list here! But once again at Study Light, you can read 107 of them for free! I especially like Matthew Henry’s, which provies an exhaustive look at every Bible verse.
4. Concordances and Dictionaries
These reference works provide useful information on dates, customs, everyday life, and more. They can offer great insight into the people, places, and events of the Bible and life in Bible times!
Strong’s is the most complete concordance for studying the text in the original languages. It’s easy-to-use, understandable, and you can now search it online at Bible Study Tools!
5. Bible Encyclopedias
Bible encylopedias offer valuable information on dates, customs, religious environment, family life, language, and literature. They can really bring Biblical characters, events, and places to life!
6. Historical Writings
Many people don’t realize how many historical writings exist and what a great aid they can be to Bible study. You can download and use many reference book modules on e-sword. And StudyLight.org contains many excellent works divided into the following categories: Before Christ (BC), Anno Domini (AD), and Church & Denominational History. Two of my favorite historians are Alfred Edersheim and Flavius Josephus.
7. Bible Maps
An often overlooked Bible study tool, maps provide much useful information. By providing distances, we begin to undestand the time required for travel on foot or by donkey. They can provide a clearer picture of the typography of places. Was it a city on a hill, or by the seaside? Or by studying the overall region, we see whether a nation was surrounded by friends or foes, and things like that.
As you can see, there is no lack of great study tools. All we need is the want and the will to get to it!
So make that a matter of prayer, and get at it!
Which of these tools do you find most useful? (Other than the Bible, for that goes without saying.) And how has it helped you in understanding God’s Word?