Bible Study Tools
Why Study the Bible?
In 1 Peter 3:15, we read,
But how can we defend our faith unless we know what and why we believe?
In 1455, Johann Gutenberg printed the first Bible in Mainz, Germany. While this was not the first book ever published, it was monumental to Christianity since this meant individuals could purchase their copy of the Bible if they could afford it. Copies of Guttenberg's Bibles sold for upwards of 30 Florians - an enormous sum at the time ($6,000 in today's price).
Today there are dozens of translations from which to choose. Whether one prefers to read using the strict interpretation of the "NASB" or the paraphrasing of "The Message," the choice should fit for that purpose.
Without the right tools, one might resort to forcing the scripture to fit the situation. This attitude is both wrong and dangerous. If you approach studying the Bible like the man with just a hammer, you will never discover what God is saying to you through the scriptures or how to apply it to your life. It would help if you had the right tools for the right job.
Hopefully, everyone has someone they can consult for answers to tough questions. That is what a good commentary can do. Typically a Bible commentary is a systematic explanation and interpretation of Scripture. Often they give a chapter by chapter or verse by verse exposition and analysis of individual books. There are several kinds of commentaries available: Expository, Exegetical, Devotional, and Cultural. StudyLight.org offers over 100 commentaries with four types of theological stances: Arminianism (25), Calvinism (58), Dispensationalism (17), and Catholic (4).
Your first two questions might be, "What is a concordance?" and "Why do I need it?". A Bible concordance allows for a more in-depth study through the one or more verse references compiled for each word. Another function of a Bible concordance is to find a passage that you have read but cannot remember where it's found. StudyLight.org offers six (6) different Bible concordances, each uniquely developed.
Nearly everyone knows how to use a dictionary. However, a Bible dictionary can provide much more information than the standard Webster's Dictionary. To fully understand a word, one should consult several dictionaries and understand the names, subjects, places, backgrounds, and themes. StudyLight.org offers 25 different Bible dictionaries.
Imagine an encyclopedia as a dictionary on steroids. Articles wrote by respected Christian leaders of their time help bring to life Bible characters, events, or places so the reader or student can gain more excellent knowledge when reading and studying the Bible. Typically there are cross-references and links to other topics to help. StudyLight.org offers eight (8) different Bible encyclopedias.