It sometimes takes assistance from outside sources and scholars to fully understand a Bible passage because we are removed from the cultural, socio-political, and historical references that biblical writers assumed their readers would know. For those interested in taking their study of the Bible to a new and exciting level, here are some fresh resources to draw upon.
One of the first ways to start going deeper is with a study Bible. I would recommend the ESV Study Bible because of all it offers. It is a translation that is readable and loyal to original languages, and one that has involved the expertise of many scholars. There are articles about doctrine, biblical ethics, and background about each book of the Bible. The extensive concordance (an index of the words appearing in Scripture) can also be helpful for cross referencing and topical study.
There are many free online options as well.
The Bible Project contains short videos explaining different biblical topics and tips on studying the Bible. Particularly useful are the videos about individual books of the Bible, giving big picture ideas of scope and purpose.
Blue Letter Bible is a great site if you are wanting more information on a certain verse or passage. If you search for the verse of interest, it offers the original language and definitions, parallel translations of that verse, additional verses where similar concepts or words are used in the Bible, commentaries about that verse, and a dictionary of related concepts for further reading.
Bible Gateway is similar to Blue Letter Bible. Under the study tab, you can look up passages, parallel passages for comparison, do a key word search, and access a topical index for more information regarding certain topics. The site also offers reading plans and additional resources.
Soniclight is a great resource that provides study notes over each book of the Bible from Dr. Constable, Th.D., who was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. The notes can be found under the “study notes” tab on the website.
Logos Bible Software has a free version for download that is compatible with PC or Mac. There are a plethora of articles and resources to explore! You can find preset or customized reading plans, use the media files for desktop backgrounds, and explore the Bible topically or study passages in depth with all the information Logos provides at your fingertips.
For those of you who actually prefer a book in hand (like myself), here are some I would recommend.
For books on how to study the Bible, here are some recommendations:
- Living by the Book by Hendricks
- Grasping God’s Word by Duvall and Hays
- How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Fee and Stuart
These books are great for understanding the different genres of biblical books and developing an approach and strategy for personal Bible study.
Commentaries: The Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoord and Zuck (for both the Old Testament and New Testament) and The Wiersbe Bible Commentaries of the Old Testament and New Testament by Wiersbe are good places to start. The commentaries are easy to read and true to the text.
Dictionaries: For those serious about Bible study, the IVP Bible Dictionary Series is hard to beat in reliability and research. For scholars to students to lay people, the dictionaries are teeming with entries and information that will greatly enrich your understanding of the Bible. The series includes the dictionaries of: Jesus and the Gospels, New Testament Background, Paul and His Letters, Later New Testament and Its Developments, Old Testament: Historical Books, Old Testament: Pentateuch, Old Testament: Prophets, Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry, and Writings. Each book can stand alone or be used in conjunction with the others in the series.
Start somewhere and get going! God will surely reward your faithfulness and diligence in spending time in His Word.