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 every printed it was monumental to Christianity since this meant individuals could purchase their own 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 prefer to read using the strict intepretation of the "NASB" or the phraphrasing of "The Message", the choice for study should be suited for that purpose.
Without the right tools, one might resort to forcing the scripture to fit the situation. This is both wrong and dangerous.If you approach the study of 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. You need 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 analyzation of individual books. There are several types of commentaries available: Expository, Exegetical, Devotional and Cultural. StudyLight.org offers over 100 commentaries with four type 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 allow for a more indepth study through the one or more verse references compiled for each word. Another function of a Bible concordance is to find a passage which you have read but cannot remember its reference. StudyLight.org offers 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 try to understand names, subjects, places, backgrounds and themes surrounding the word. StudyLight.org offers 27 different Bible dictionaries.
Imagine an encyclopedia as a dictionary on steroids. Articles, written by respected Christian leaders of their time, help to bring to life Bible characters, events or places so the reader or student can gain a greater knowledge when reading and studying the Bible. Typically there are cross-references and links to other topics to help. StudyLight.org offers 8 different Bible encyclopedias.
the Third Week after Epiphany