Just like with any task we are going to do, whether it is rebuilding an engine, baking cookies, or studying the Bible, there are certain tools we need. Some of those tools are absolutely necessary, like a Bible. Others, while not necessary, will make the job much easier and make us more efficient. In this post we will look at several of those tools.
An Exhaustive Concordance
Most Bibles have a concordance in the back of them. However, because of limited space there are a limited number of references included in them. An exhaustive concordance lists every time every word is used in the English Bible and tells you what verse it is located in.
This can be especially helpful if you can’t remember a particular verse reverence. If you can remember at least one word from the verse you can look it up and find its reference. For example, lets say I can’t remember where in the Bible it says that we should “mortify our members.” I could easily look up the word “mortify” in an exhaustive concordance and find the reference.
Most English translations have an exhaustive concordance that you can buy separately. It is important that you use the exhaustive concordance that matches the version you are using to study from. For example, if you are using the KJV to study from you need to use the KJV exhaustive concordance.
An exhaustive concordance is also helpful in word studies since it links every English word to the word it is translated from in the original language with a corresponding number (Strong’s Number) and a brief definition.
The ability to search for specific words in the Bible is also available with any basic Bible study software, phone app and on many websites.
The Englishmen’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament
The Englishmen’s Greek Concordance of the Greek New Testament takes concordance work to the next level. Just like an English concordance which lists every English word in the English Bible, this concordance lists every Greek word used in the Greek New Testament and gives the references where it is found. This can be helpful in word studies because it will show you how a particular Greek word is translated differently in different verses.
A Bible Handbook is a companion to Bible reading. It is arranged in the order of the Bible and is designed to be read along with the Bible. It will provide you with an overview of the book you are reading, along with valuable background information, photos, illustrations, charts and tables.
A Topical Index groups scripture references together according to general topics (i.e. Baptism, Capital Punishment, Salvation, Witchcraft, etc). A Topical Index can be very helpful when doing a topical study. You should be aware that the verses selected to be included for a particular topic may be influenced by the compilers theological bias. So, be aware and make sure the verses listed actually apply to that topic.
The Topical Indexes I recommend are available in print and on basic Bible Study Software or online.
- Nave’s Topical Bible
- R. A. Torrey’s New Topical Textbook
- Thompson Chain Topics
Bible Dictionaries will help you more fully understand biblical words than a modern dictionary will. This is because many words used in the Bible are not in common use today and some may have changed meaning over the centuries. Some of these words might include; repentance, phylacteries, cubit, cherubim and dropsy. Remember a Bible Dictionary can be very helpful, but again, definitions can be influenced by the theological bias of the authors. So, be aware and make sure to check the context.
- Easton’s Bible Dictionary
- Smith’s Bible Dictionary
- New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition
- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
- Harper’s Bible Dictionary
- Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible
Bible Encyclopedias are similar to a dictionary but have much more in depth explanations for each entry. They will often include the historical and cultural background as well. They are usually multiple volumes.
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (4 volumes)
- Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (4 Volumes)
- Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (5 volumes)
Lexicon is just a fancy word for foreign language dictionary. These dictionaries are designed for people who either don’t know or know very little of the original language of the Bible but still want to go a little deeper in their word studies. They are usually keyed to Strong’s Numbers. Many of these recourses are available in print, in basic bible software or online.
- Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, With Greek and Hebrew Dictionary
- Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Coded with Strong’s Concordance Numbers
- A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition
- Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words: With Topical Index
- Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon
Commentaries give the authors thoughts and interpretations on biblical text. They usually have helpful background information, some word studies and insightful applications. Again, as always, but even more so here, you must be cautious of the authors theological bias. It would be wise to stick with brotherhood commentaries as much as possible, at least at first until you have a better handle on interpreting Scripture. Commentaries are the last resource you should look at in your study. Your best work will be done through original investigation. Going straight to a commentary is kind of like cheating. (*) indicates that to the best of my knowledge this is a brotherhood commentary
- The College Press NIV Commentary Series: New Testament (19 Volumes)*
- The College Press NIV Commentary Series: Old Testament (16 Volumes)*
- The Old Testament Survey Series (5 Volumes)*
- Coffman’s Commentary Series (37 Volumes)*
- The Fourfold Gospel and Commentary on Acts of Apostles*
- The Truth for Today Commentary Series*
- Gospel Advocate New Testament Commentaries*
- Barnes’ New Testament Notes
- Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
- C. H. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David
- Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Bible Study Software
Every resource listed and hundreds more are all available in print form or on computer software for Mac, PC, IOS and Android. Some of this software is free while others aren’t.
The free computer software is usually made up of old public domain resources. These resources, while being old, still have much value to you as a student of the Bible.
There is also premium Bible software available but it can be quite expensive. However, with premium Bible software you will be receiving the latest recourses and Biblical scholarship available. Plus, it will contain many advanced features that the free software is lacking.
Buying a bundled package of the premium software will be hundreds if not thousands of dollars less expensive than it would be to buy each book included in that package individually in its printed form.
Logos is the worlds best Bible study software and it also has a price tag to match its quality. They truly believe in the saying you get what you pay for. I have been using it for years and love it!
Question: What are some of your favorite tools in your Bible study toolkit? You can leave a comment by clicking here.