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Friday, September 20, 2013

Why a Good Study Bible is Your Best Tool for Understanding Scripture

The single most effective tool you can acquire to help you to study and understand God’s word is a good study bible. This of course does not replace the need to submit to a church where the bible is treasured, believed, and faithfully taught. It also can’t replace the need for you to place yourself in a small group where you can talk openly about how the bible applies to your life, and to encourage and to pray for other people. There’s no substitute for this sort of life-on-life interaction. You are also called to do what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:2 (NLT) “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. You along with all believers are called to make disciples that make disciples.”

But outside of these opportunities, your spiritual well being and the well being of the world, (see next Sunday’s sermon at Bethany Place) depends on you and other believers drinking deeply from the word of God on your own, or to use another metaphor, to Eat this Book; chewing on scripture like a dog chews on a bone. A good study bible is an excellent tool to assist you in this. Study Bible’s have been around for a long time and there are many good ones from the past, but I believe that the newer ones are better.

I want to mention three. I use the ESV study bible partially because I use the ESV as my primary translation for preaching and teaching. I read their study notes for a good summary before I read other commentaries after I have done my own scripture work. The quality and thoroughness of their notes almost qualifies it as a one-volume commentary on the whole bible. You can read more about it here.

I’ve also been impressed with the Holman Study Bible, which is based on the Holman Christian Standard Bible. I don’t own a copy but I have flipped through it a handful of times and will eventually purchase one. It contains excellent study helps. You can read more about it here. They also have a good online site that provides much of what is in the paper copy. You can see that here and you can read about other online bible sites I recommend here.

For years Kat has used the NIV Study Bible. She swears by it and won’t change even when I suggest that my study bible is better than hers. J More people use this study bible than any of the others and it has been around the longest of the three. It has everything you would want in a good study bible and is a great option. You can read more about it here.

There are many more. You see a list of what’s available, including youth and children’s versions, here.

Sunday I’m going to be preaching what I think will be one of the most important messages I’ve ever given. It’s called, How to Change the World. You can see the outline here


  1. Hey Gene. I noticed the Kindle version of the HCSB on sale today for $2.99. In case anyone else was on the fence, this is a great price!

    1. Thanks Rick. I'd been holding out for getting a paper copy but I couldn't resist picking that up.