Studying the Bible can be both daunting and richly rewarding. Thankfully, an abundance of excellent Bible study resources is available to assist our efforts. If Bible reading and study interest you, please check out The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible. In addition, several free and helpful resources are highlighted below.
Below is an excellent diagram to assist in choosing a Bible translation. The versions on the left end of the spectrum are generally more accurate to the original meaning, while those on the right end tend to emphasize readability. The numbers in parentheses represent the estimated grade reading level. The NET Bible, for example, is written for a seventh-grade level and provides a nice balance between accuracy and readability. I recommend finding the translation farthest to the left that you are comfortable reading. You can use an online site such as Bible Gateway to quickly compare a wide variety of translations.
Some people have an unrealistic tendency to think that they need only the Bible and nothing more. Without question, the Holy Spirit is the one who opens our eyes and illuminates God’s Word for us. However, to protect us from wrong beliefs, our subjective understanding of the Scriptures must be built on an understanding of objective truth.
The languages and cultures of the Biblical times differ radically from what most of us know and experience today. Thus, a fuller understanding of truth for us as individuals should be built upon the foundation of the original intent. A few helpful print resources are listed below:
Interlinear Bible – A literal word for word translation of the Bible, often in conjunction with one or more contemporary translations.
Parallel Bible – Contains a number of translations side by side for comparison.
Study Bible – A specific edition of the Bible accompanied by scholarly notes and information provided to benefit the reader. It is important to note that study Bibles often reflect the theological views of their editors. Choose wisely!
Bible Concordance – An alphabetical index of the words used in the Bible, usually numbered, and often compiled for specific translations. An exhaustive concordance will contain all of the words used in the Bible along with links to their original language definitions.
Bible Atlas – Contains the maps and geography of the Bible during various time periods.
Bible Dictionary – Contains a variety of entries concerning people, places, customs, archaeology, and more that are all pertinent to Bible study.
Bible Expository Dictionary – These resources explore the meanings of particular words used in the Scriptures and often their origins.
Bible Encyclopedia – Very similar to a Bible dictionary, with perhaps more information and detail.
Bible Handbook – Provides extensive information about the Bible and its specific books of the Bible.
Bible Commentary – The published form of someone’s (usually a scholar’s) efforts to interpret the Bible. A Bible commentary can cover the entire Bible or just one book. Just as with most study Bibles, commentaries are strongly influenced by personal opinions. Still, they can serve as helpful references to weigh the things we believe God is teaching us.
Online Resources and Apps
The internet has its drawbacks, but it also provides opportunities like never before. For centuries, those who were serious about studying the Bible had to purchase an expensive library. Also, many of the resources were difficult to understand due to their scholarly language. Below is a list of online sites that are free and generally user-friendly. The inclusion of a site or program on this list does not provide an endorsement of all of its content. We are simply trying to steer you in the direction of online resources that you may find helpful for Bible study.
Bible.org – This site features the NET Bible—a copyright-friendly version of the Scriptures. The site also contains the NET Bible study tool.
Bible Gateway – Bible Gateway contains many online Bible versions (in various languages) as well as reading plans and a few additional resources.
Bibles.net – This site contains a wealth of Bible study resources, including reading plans.
BibleStudyTools.com – This extensive website has an abundance Bible translations as well as many other Bible study resource materials.
Bible Hub – An array of Bible study tools and language resources, including the ability to compare verses from multiple translations.
PRECEPT AUSTIN – A nice variety of online Bible study resources put together in a user-friendly manner.
YouVersion – In addition to various translations and a vast array of Bible reading plans, this website provides the opportunity to create online community groups.
Bible study apps can be downloaded to a phone or computer. They come in a wide range of prices (some are free) and with a variety of features. Below you will find just a sampling of all that’s available:
And Bible: Bible Study – An open source app with an abundance of resources.
Bible Study Pro – Free downloadable software for a variety of electronic devices.
E-sword – E-Sword is a free, well-developed downloadable Bible study program that has been around since 2000.
Logos Bible Software – Bible study software and resources for the “hard-core” user.
Olive Tree Bible Software – Lots of resources, including many free ones.
PC Study Bible – Bible study software for various levels.