Wednesday, October 27, 2021

IBS-20 Books with Pictures! Maps, timelines and charts


The Big Idea: Bible maps, timelines and charts reveal temporal and cultural information to aid interpretation of the Bible.

I like books with pictures!

I like books with pictures! I am a visual learner. Visual guides to the Bible have maps, timelines, charts and photos about Bible times. Understanding the land and era helps the interpretation process. Here are some resources available and how they can help.


1. Rivers, lakes, mountains. Shows why they went a certain route, why towns were in a certain location (water, trade route, etc). Ex. Route of the Exodus. Jesus’ ministry around the Sea of Galilee.

2. Country borders and territories in a given period. Illustrates shifting of territories in war, allocations to tribes of Israel, countries hostile to Israel, etc. Ex. The allocation of land to the twelve tribes. The Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Herod’s territories in Jesus’ day.

3. Common highways, trade routes on land and sea. Reveal nomadic routes, travel to the temple, how the Gospel spread after persecution of early Christians, etc. Ex. Abraham’s journey from Ur to Canaan. Paul’s three missionary journeys.

4. Topographical maps show elevations with terrain. Numerous Bible references say Jesus went “up to Jerusalem” because Jerusalem is a high elevation (Mt 20:18, Mk 10:33, Luke 2:22, John 5:1, etc.)

Where to find: Study Bibles, back or throughout (maps index). Online at Bible Hub. Blue Letter Bible. NET Bible. Bible Handbooks and Atlases. Search engine images.


1. See the whole story. The Bible story covers nearly 2000 years. Get the big picture and break it down from there.

2. Identify major players. Who came first? Abraham or Moses? Isaiah or Elijah? How did Israel’s twelve tribes happen? Ex. Line of Abraham. Period of the Prophets. The book of Acts.

3. Chronology. Some of the Bible overlaps (the kings of the Old Testament, the Gospels, etc). Note the events in chronological order. Ex. Life of David. Life of Christ.

4. Context. Context is key. Who was king then? What country was in power? Was an event early in Jesus’ ministry or right before the cross?

Where to find: Blue Letter Bible. Hendrickson RosePublishing. Amazing Facts has a useful online timeline.


Concisely organize information.

1. Lists. Ex. Books of the Bible. Plagues of Egypt. Major and Minor prophets. Miracles of Jesus. Twelve Disciples. Prophecies of Jesus.

2. Comparisons and contrasts. Ex. Feasts of Israel. The four Gospels. Levitical High Priests vs. Jesus the High Priest.

3. Relationships. Ex. Days of Creation. Sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. List of OT Kings and Prophets. Paul’s ministry partners. Names of God.

4. Spatial perspective. The tabernacle layout. Herod’s temple. Via Dolorosa.

Where to find online: Blue Letter Bible, Search Engine Images

An excellent publisher for maps, charts and timelines is Hendrickson Rose Publishing. Also Baker Books and Zondervan Books.


This is the twentieth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.
Table of Contents

Up next: Age to Age
Previous post: Scripture Interprets Scripture



1. Check your Bible and find lists of maps, timelines and charts. Is it in the front or back of the Bible in an index or appendix? Does one catch your eye as interesting? Check it out!

2. How might a map or timeline give insight to God at work?

3. Use your search engine. Put in Names of God. Look for images. Look over all the names and meditate on it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

IBS-19 In Sync: Scripture interprets Scripture


The Big Idea: Practical ideas suggested so you can explore how to use Scripture to interpret Scripture.

In Sync

Acapella bands blend voices together with precision. Likewise Biblical themes harmonize together remarkably. The Bible, written over 1200+ years by diverse writers retains solidarity and cohesiveness. The Holy Spirit is the true author, moving the writers (2 Peter 1:21). No wonder common themes emerge in other parts of the Bible that agree.

These concepts for the interpretation phase of Bible study should sound familiar:

Context is key.

  • Examine different genres (literary styles) of writing.
  • Historical background and culture of the Bible aid interpretation.
  • Always check the Bible first, then check exterior resources and commentaries.
  • Scripture interprets Scripture

What “Scripture Interprets Scripture” Means

Because all the Bible is in sync with the rest of Scripture, other Biblical passages shed new light on a passage. This is the most reliable way to verify Biblical truths.


Topical Bible
– These resources list Bible references by topic. Naves Topical Bible online has its own webpage and app. It is also available at The Blue Letter Bible uses Hitchcock Topical Bible and others.

Concordance – A concordance is useful to look up where a key word occurs. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance has its own app. and help and and other electronic Bibles contain a powerful search engine.

Google and many search engines are useful to see what the Bible says about a subject. You can write, for instance, “Hope in the Bible.” Remember the references you seek are scripture only, not external sources. always presents top verses in a given category.

Cross-reference – Many Bibles have little letters next to key words in a verse, with parallel passages listed. Look each of them up for insight. Thompson Chain Bible and online resources are invaluable.

Practical Suggestions

1. Look up key words in a topical resource, a concordance, or online (see above). Examples of a key word: Hope. Redemption. Faithful. Godly.

2. Use online resources to look up a phrase in the Bible. Examples: Fruit of the Spirit. Fear of the Lord. Passover lamb.

3. Character search. Use a topical Bible, a concordance and online resources to look up passages and verses that mention a character in the Bible. Many main characters are mentioned in several places, many mentioned by Jesus or Paul. Trace what other Biblical references say about this person.

4. Make lists. What do these various verses tell you about a key word, a subject, a person? Do you have some questions? Write those down. Pray about it. Consider synonyms to explore in the Bible or words used in other translations, especially if little is found on your quest. Example – Redemption/deliverance/rescue.

Always pray over your study asking the Author (the Holy Spirit) to help you connect the dots! God’s Word is powerful!

For a little more explanation and ideas see a longer previous post of mine about how Scripture Interprets Scripture.


This is nineteenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.
Table of Contents 

Up next: Maps,Timelines and Charts
Previous post: Word Study Using the Blue Letter Bible

1. Have you connected the Holy Spirit as the inspired common denominator throughout the entire Bible? Reflect on that and meditate with gratitude to God for His communication through the whole Bible.

2. Is there a subject of the Bible you have always wanted to explore? Try it today!

3. If you struggle with doubts about the cohesiveness in the Bible, take time to tell God, asking for His Holy Spirit to help you.

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26 NLT

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. 1 Corinthians 2: 10-13 NLT

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

IBS-18 Word Study Using the Blue Letter Bible


The Big Idea: How to use the Blue Letter Bible online for a Word Study 

There are several Bible Resources online. Some are free and some become expensive as you add features. For the average Christian, Blue Letter Bible is a free powerful tool that you can use both on and offline. It is also available as an app through Apple and Google Play.

Review what a Word Study is and how to do it in the previous post, IBS-16. Understand that the goal is not to review every word in your passage, but choose repetitive words and significant words in the passage.

Blue Letter Bible

1. From the opening page of the Blue Letter Bible online, put in the Bible reference. It is important to note these guidelines do not apply to the app.  Hit the Green search. If you are studying in the NASB or ESV choose that in the dropdown menu.

2. The verse opens. Hover over the tools icon and a menu will give you options. Choose interlinear;  it will give you each word with Strong’s Numbers.

3. Words and phrases of the verse go line by line with the Strong’s number. You can see the tense or grammatical position of it, and even find a sound icon for pronunciation.  Click now on the Strong’s number.

 4. There are a few useful things on this new view. You have the number of times it is used in the Bible, an outline how it is used, the Strong’s Definition and other Biblical resources that help define and understand it. 

5. Jump down on this page to the section called Concordance Results. There you will see each occurrence of this Hebrew or Greek Word with entire verses listed.

6. Here you have the opportunity to see how many times your word occurs in the book or chapter you are studying. You can see how it may be translated into another English word in some passages. All of these clues areuseful to understanding the word used here. 

If the author of the book has written more books, such as the Apostle Paul, you can compare how Paul uses the word in his other writings. The same goes for the Apostle John, Moses of the Old Testament, etc.

 Sometimes a word occurs in only one place in the Bible. One can check their use outside the Bible which can prove useful. Understand this unique word cannot be the key to a new theology or doctrinal understanding. Always go back to the context and where this concept occurs in other parts of Scripture. 


This is eighteenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.
Table of Contents 

Up next: Scripture Interprets Scripture
Previous post: How to Use the Strong’s ExhaustiveConcordance



1. Do you prefer to use online tools or hard copy books? What is the advantage/disadvantage of each?

2. Practice with a word to use for a word study, such as 2 Peter 3:9, looking for the word patient. What do you learn about the patience of God through this? 


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

IBS-17 How to Use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance

The Big Idea: How to use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, a hardbound massive book and also an online resource. 

Around 130 years ago Theologian James Strong created a massive resource to find any Bible Verse in the King James Bible. It was indexed according to every word in a verse. 

Why it is useful for Christians:

  • Find the reference for any verse using a word in the alphabetical index.
  • Check the root word in original Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) languages.
  • Each word indexed by number. This index number is still used today in original language tools and in online references. 
  • Find basic information about that word.

Let’s illustrate

We can examine the word “beginning” from the Old and the New Testament.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen 1:1

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

Strong’s index of English words is alphabetical. In the “Bs” look under “beginnings.” We can sample the verse in both Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1.

Notice the highlighted number at the end of the reference line. This is the Strong’s index number for Hebrew in the Old Testament, and Greek for John’s reference in the New Testament. 

The appendix of Strong’s Concordance lists all the Hebrew words and Greek words by number. See number 7225 used in the Hebrew for Genesis 1:1. 

Following the Hebrew dictionary is a Greek dictionary with word number 746 from the root used in John 1:1

Occasionally an old Strong’s Concordance is at a Thrift Shop or on a give-away book table.  Even the oldest versions are useful, though some are quite musty and threadbare! Grab it! Several modern versions have an identical model (NIV, NASB, and the ESV). 

Additionally electronic Bible resources use Strong’s.

Apple and Google Play have a Strong’s Concordance App.

The Blue Letter Bible

From the opening page of the Blue Letter Bible, put in the Bible Reference. Hit the Green search.

The verse opens. Hover over the tools icon and a menu will give you options. Choose interlinear;  it will give you each word with Strong’s Numbers.

Bible Hub

The opening page of Bible Hub top line allows you to enter the Bible Reference.  Notice one of the lower listed resources is Strong’s (highlighted in orange by me). That will guide you to the root words of Genesis 1:1.

These are basic examples for online use. Choose one as a favorite and learn how to use it. There are great tutorials on YouTube and blogs on how to use them to full advantage. 

Deeper Christian Blog: A Simple Guide for How to do a Word Study 

Video: How to do a Blue Letter Bible Word Study by Pam Gillaspie

For pastors and theologians, these tools are only a starting point, and some argue they are less than accurate, with the Dead Sea Scroll findings more recently.  Still for a starting point, for a serious student of the Bible, this is very useful.


This is the seventeenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: Using Blue Letter Bible for a Word Study
Previous post: What is a Word Study?

Table of Contents


1. Have you ever quoted a verse and wondered where it is found in the Bible? What does this tool do for you now?

2. If you notice a word used many times in a book of the Bible, such as light or money, what might that tell you about the book or the passage?