Many resources, written and digital, are available to help us understand the Bible. Here are a few resources I use:
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. This book gives us the meanings of the Greek text. Like English words, Greek words will have different shades of meaning based on how they are used. This book gives the various rendering of the words and where they are used in Scripture, and gives the contextual meaning in those places.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. If you are familiar with your version of the Bible, such as the King James Version, then get the concordance for your version. This book is good if you can’t remember a verse, but you know a word or two of the verse. You look up the word (like in a dictionary) and following the word is a list of every verse in the Bible containing that word. You could also do a word study with the list – just look up each verse to see how the word is used. This will often deepen your understanding of the doctrinal term. This book also cross-references with a Greek and Hebrew dictionary at the back so you can learn the original definition of the word.
The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament and The Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament. These books give you the actual Greek (or Hebrew) words with the English translation right above the word. You can see the word order chosen by the writers. You’ll also be able to tell which Greek or Hebrew word was used, and from there look it up in Vine’s or Strong’s.
New Bible Almanac. This book gives you the historical and cultural setting of the Bible, such as the money, marriage customs, government structure, weapons, agriculture, and so on. A very important book that helps us understand why the Bible characters did what they did, and illuminates some of obscure passages in the Bible.
Bible Dictionary. The Bible is full of words we don’t use in regular life. It’s important to understand them and not guess at their meaning when we come across them in the Bible.
The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. This book outlines the many proofs that validate what the Bible says. It builds up a solid case as to why we know the resurrection of Jesus is true, for example.
Bible Handbook. This book gives a summary of every book of the Bible, including charts, maps, and timelines, outlines, keywords, key verses, and special considerations. If you are new to the Bible, this is a handy book to have at your side.
Commentary. A commentary is an author’s comments on almost every verse in the Bible. Many commentaries exist, from concise one-volume works to 30-volume sets. Some commentaries cover only a single book while others cover all sixty-six books. The Bible Knowledge Commentary (2-book set) is a good place to start for your first full-Bible commentary.
Parallel Bible. This resource contains two or more versions of the Bible in one volume so you can see how the translators have interpreted each passage. This book can give you a deeper or broader perspective of each passage than one version alone could do.
These are just a few helps I’ve used over the years. Many other books will cover apologetics (how to defend your faith), marriage and family, prayer, worship, prophecy and the end times, and many other topics. Visit your Christian bookstore or go online to find these and many others.
What Do You Think?
a. If you’ve never used a Bible study help before, which one of the above would you pick first, and why?