Thursday, January 25, 2024

Three Tips for Choosing a Study Bible

Big Idea: Here are three tips to help you choose from the many Study Bibles available which help you understand the Bible better.

This series is about Bible study tools. There are many types of Bibles and helpful resources like a concordance or Bible dictionary. Information about their book and their electronic version are included. Cost and “how to use” will be addressed.

Three Tips for Choosing a Study Bible

A Study Bible may be the most important tool in your Bible tool box. It's a Bible, with notes and aids such as maps and charts to help you understand what you’re reading.

Here are three tips to help you choose one.

1. Choose a translation

Most study Bibles are offered in these versions. Read last week’s blog if you are unfamiliar with the differences and perspectives.

  • King James Version (KJV)
  • New American Standard Bible (NASB)
  • New International Version (NIV)
  • English Standard Version (ESV)
  • New Living Translation (NLT)
  • Christian Study Bible (CSB)

And many more.

2. Choose the features important to you

Study Bibles have most of these features in some way or another. Knowing this list will be helpful as you look over what is available to you.

Notes on important or difficult verses. The notes are usually following a line on the page, written at the bottom.

Introduction of each book of the Bible often including an outline.

Articles of people, places and topics important in the study of the Bible.

A concordance in the appendix. A concordance is an index of words used in the Bible, indicating where some key verses are found.

Timelines and contextual notes.

Charts such as the life of Moses, the reign of King David, the life of Christ.

Cross references to other verses related to other verses in the Bible.

Maps related to Bible times such as the Exodus, the 12 tribes of Israel, the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul.

Some Study Bibles have other resources such as key word studies, or a topical index.

3. Consider between a general or specific focus

Because there are so many study Bibles, it helps to have an idea if you would like a more general study Bible or a particular focus.

General Study Bible. Since most translations want to give you the best translation of the Word of God for your use, they have created a study Bible with notes they deem very helpful. A couple of them are excellent.

Audience focus. Study Bible for Men. Study Bible for Women. Study Bible for teens. New Believers Study Bible. It would include notes, devotionals and a focus specifically to that demographic.

Theological or Scholar’s Perspective. A number of well known preachers have had their teaching notes and other tools they find helpful inserted into their Study Bible. Here are a couple of examples.

  • The Jeremiah Study Bible (David Jeremiah)
  • Charles F Stanley’s Life Principles Bible
  • The CSB Tony Evans Study Bible
  • The Fire Study Bible for Pentecostals
  • The Ryrie Study Bible (Charles Ryrie)

Thematic Study Bible. There are a number of Study Bibles associated with a theme that goes through the whole Bible. Some examples:

  • Archeology Study Bible
  • Complete Jewish Study BIble
  • Celebrate Recovery Study Bible

Study approach focused Study Bible. Some examples of this:

  • Kay Arthur’s Inductive Study Bible
  • Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible
  • Thompson Chain Reference Bible
  • Life Application Study Bible
An excellent in depth video from Jeffery Kranz on choosing a Study Bible.  He also has a helpful in-depth article about this. 

Electronic Study Bibles

From an electronic point of view, there are a couple places you can find a Study Bible online.

1. You can buy the kindle or electronic version of a Study Bible.

2. You can buy it through an app/website.

a. My husband and I share Tecarta app now called Life Bible where we have gotten several study Bibles for as little as $2.99 when they have a sale. We like to compare what different Bibles offer when we are studying a passage.

b. Logos Bible Study also has an electronic platform. It is free but buying various books to use can become expensive. Their Faithlife Study Bible, free on the platform, is excellent. 
c. has study Bible type intros with their NIV edition.


Cost of Bibles

Many study Bibles start around $20-40.  If you get a leather edition, which lasts for years and has good lay flat binding, could run you about $60-80.  However there are always Clearance Bibles (which are great by the way) at places like Christian Book Distributers and Lifeway, two big Christian book sellers. In fact CBD is having a winter Bible sale right now. 

I sometimes see study Bibles at a Thrift shop or library sale. 

Electronic versions are not much cheaper than the hard book cover Bible, which is your cheapest version.  
Tecarta, now Life Bible, has a sale a couple times a year when these electronic study Bibles are a couple dollars.  

The Bible is our bread of life. Dig in today!


Previous: The Quest for the Right Bible Translation
Up next: The Classic Halley’s Bible Handbook



1. Have you have a study Bible? Do you make use of the tools in it?

2. What do you think is the most helpful aid in a study Bible?  How does it help you in your walk with God?

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Quest for the Right Bible Translation

Big Idea: Five useful questions to find the right Bible translation for your need.

This series is about Bible study tools including both by physical book and their electronic version, cost and how to use.

The Quest for the Right Bible Translation

There are hundreds of English Bible translations. Since the Bible was written over 2000 years ago in ancient languages, it has since been translated into many languages.

The English Bible has been translated over 100 times.

The challenge for Bible translators is to remain faithful to the original text, and make it easy to understand.


Is it faithful to what the original text said? This is called a word-for-word translation.


Is it easily readable and understood? This is called a thought-for-thought translation.

1. Why are there so many Bible translations?

Two hundred years ago there were few English translations, primarily the King James Bible written around Shakespearean times.

Updates emerged about 100 years ago, such as the Revised Standard *Version.

Bible translations come from different perspectives.  Catholic, Protestant, for children to understand, and so on. 

In the past 50 years translations and versions have grown exponentially. This is for several reasons.

  • To bring the wording into more modern phraseology.
  • To ensure the latest archaeological finds reflect the most accurate translation (i.e. Dead Sea Scrolls found in the 1940s).
  • New understanding of the ancient Bible culture and sometimes gives greater understanding to an idiom or rare word choice in the original languages.
  • To seek to create a more accurate translation (word-for-word type) or to create a more easy to understand version (thought-for-thought type).
  • To address the understanding of a specific population such as children.  

Different Bible publishing companies and groups have felt their team could accomplish a useful new Bible translation. It could be for the perspective of church use, personal study, or for someone brand new to the concept of God.

2. Who should use a word-for-word translation?

The word-for-word Bible translations can be very literal to the original language sounding awkward, but would be considered the most accurate.

Someone doing serious Bible study, such as a ministries student, or someone studying the Bible inductively will want to use this type of Bible in their studies.

Examples of this are the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the English Standard Version (ESV).

3. Who should use a thought-for-thought translation?

A thought-for-thought Bible translation is easy to read because it sounds like the way people talk. If you’re new to the Bible, it is helpful to have an easy-to-read Bible.

Anyone, even the serious Bible student, can find refreshing insight reading a thought-for-thought Bible translation. It is a valuable devotional tool.

Since it is in plain English, it can be useful for sharing with people totally unfamiliar to the Bible.

Examples are: The New Living Translation. The New International Version is closer to thought-for-thought than word-for-word. Both of these are reliable well used translations.

4. Should I pick just one Bible translation?

While every Bible translation wants you to understand what God is saying, there are many nuances in the original languages of the Bible and in our own English language.

There are idioms from the ancient languages and illustrations foreign to us.  Sometimes a Bible author has used a word that occurs only once in the Bible and we have very little information on what it meant in ancient days.  

If you read or compare more than one Bible translation you may get a better picture of the Biblical intent.

Parallel Bibles exist with 2-4 columns of side-by-side different translations. This is useful for serious Bible study to see how different Bibles translate a verse.

Understand doctrinal deviations should not occur with different Bible translations. Comparing usually gives greater understanding of a verse, not confusion.

5. How many Bibles does one need?

Honestly, it is good to have one Bible for personal study, marking it up with insights and notes to go back to. Long-term Christians may have collected several Bibles, but going out and buying many of them can be expensive.

Fortunately, today we have YOUVERSION and that provide many translations for free that you can peruse and study.

The most important thing is, just start reading the Bible! 

It is like bread for a starving soul!

*  The difference between a Bible translation and Bible version is that the translation comes in direct comparison to the original Hebrew and Greek. The words are at times interchangable. A version may still be a translation like the New International Version but less literal. Some versions take a previous translation and explain it, called a paraphrase.

Previous: Which Bible is Right for Me?
Up next: Three Tips for Choosing a Study Bible


1. What does a thought-for-thought Bible translation mean? How might that be helpful for you?

2. When might it be good for you to read a more accurate translation of the Bible?

3. How many Bibles do you have in your house?

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Which Bible is Right for Me?

Big Idea: Determine the Bible for you, whether it is your first Bible or by considering how you plan to use it.

This series is about Bible study tools. There are many types of Bibles and helpful resources like a concordance or Bible dictionary. Information about their book and their electronic version are included. Cost and “how to use” will be addressed.

Which Bible is right for me?

Bibles can be expensive. But YOUVERSION at has free access which is useful. It is not hard to find a cheap Bible. It is important to get one and get started!

There are many factors to consider in determining your next Bible.

How will you use your Bible?

  • Is this my first Bible or is it an additional one for further study?
  • Which translation/Bible version will help me?
  • Could I use a Study Bible or just do I need a basic Bible?
  • What type of cover and binding will serve me?
  • What size of Bible is useful and size print?
  • Do I want a physical Bible or an electronic one?

Choosing your first Bible

First Bible? If so, you want an easily readable translation (i.e. New Living Translation or the New International Version). Avoid one with tiny type and flimsy pages. You don’t want your introduction to Bible reading to be hard.

What are others using? Consider what your pastor refers to most in his sermons. If you are in a Bible study, consider what others are using. Ask them why they like one translation over another.

How much does it cost? Cheap or free Bibles can be found at places like Thrift shops, library sales, or from a friend with an extra one. Often the lobby of a church has free Bibles. 

If you are new to the Bible a Study Bible is useful as it has notes and introductions of each book of the Bible. 

But it is important to just get started! Do not delay!

Electronic Bible versus a physical book

The electronic Bible has great usefulness for accessibility. It is with you everywhere you go. YOUVERSION as an app or at for the phone or device has made the Bible of almost all versions and languages free.

You can make the print as large as you want. You can compare different versions. I think it is harder to make notes and underline. YOUVERSION does let you highlight and write notes.

Marking your Bible and learning how to find its references are important skills and useful to find passages quickly. That is an advantage for the physical book. 

Other considerations

  • Need large print? Some publishers like let you look at what letter counts per line look like.
  • Is it heavy? Do you need a small one to fit in a bag? Is a heavy one OK?
  • Need a daily Bible for study that lasts? You may want a leather cover with deluxe binding.
  • Is it for personal study? You want a study Bible with notes? A journal Bible to write questions and observations?
Is your study for personal application, thus devotional or for leading Bible studies or Bible College/Seminary training? If you need it for  deeper study you will want a reliable word-for-word Bible translation rather than a thought-for-thought translation. (More on that next week). 

God’s Word is important for your life!  

People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3 NLT


Previous: What’s in YOUR Bible Toolbox?
Up next: The Quest for the Right Bible Translation 


1. Why do you have or want to have a Bible?

2. How do you hope the Bible will help your life?

Thursday, January 4, 2024

What's in YOUR Toolbox?

Big Idea: There are many Bible tools available that can enhance your Bible study.

This series is about Bible study tools. There are many types of Bibles and helpful resources like a concordance or Bible dictionary. Information about their book and their electronic version are included. Cost and “how to use” will be addressed. 

What’s in YOUR Toolbox?

“What’s in your wallet?” ad campaign is one of the most recognizable in advertising today.

So, what’s in your Bible toolbox?

The most important tool we have for getting to know God better is the Bible which is ALWAYS your primary source.

Digging deeper, tools help our understanding of the period, the geography, themes, Biblical authors, and so on.

Tools that will be covered

  • The Bible of various translations
  • The Study Bible of various perspectives
  • Bible Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and Introductions
  • The Concordance and other Word related tools
  • Commentaries
  • Other helpful aids

The Bible

If you recently tried to buy a Bible, you may have been a little confused. One hundred years ago it was simpler. A black King James Bible. 

Today you have various translations to choose from. Do you want a soft or hard cover? In leather or fake leather? What color? Do you want Jesus’ words in red? Do you want gold gilded edges?

There are other variations. There is the Chronological Bible, Topical Bible and other specialties.

The Study Bible

This choice becomes more complex than the version choice. The biggest categories for a study Bible are: For men, for women, for children, for teens, large print edition.

There are all kinds of special focus areas.

A Study Bible usually has helpful notes, cross references, maps, outlines, a concordance, and sometimes devotional or technical articles.

Bible Dictionaries and Introductions

There are Bible Handbooks, Bible Dictionaries, Introductions, even a Bible Encyclopedia. They range from a one volume book with introductions and outlines, to a multi-volume set.

These provide great information to a book or passage you are studying, giving it context and also providing information for lesser known words, places or people.

The Concordance and Word Tools

A concordance can be short or lengthy. There are brief concordances and the thorough Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance which catalogues every word, including every instance of “the.”

Key words of the Bible look at words important to spiritual themes. They are usually examined in light of their original language (Hebrew for the Old Testament, Greek for the New Testament).

Bible Word helps are often divided into either the Old Testament or the New Testament because they refer to original languages.


Commentaries are helpful but can be a crutch, always seeking out what other people get out of the Bible.

Instead of going to other authors all the time for meaning, it is better to carefully, prayerfully study the Bible seeking the help of the Holy Spirit. Commentaries help when you are stuck or want another perspective.

There are two general categories of commentaries. Devotional commentaries and scholarly or technical commentaries. They can range from one volume of the whole Bible, to an individual book of the Bible, to a multi-volume set.

Commentaries also come from a human perspective such as Catholic or Protestant, Evangelical, Charismatic, more liberal theology and other perspectives.

Other Aids

I love Biblical background books to how people lived, ate and worked in Biblical times. Books tell of world powers during Bible times. There are helpful works categorized. All the women of the Bible. The 12 Disciples. Some of these tools are extremely useful.

To know God better

The Word of God is His word to us for this life. I love this verse that the Apostle Paul wrote to a young pastor, Timothy.  It reminds us that the serious study of the Bible can be hard work.

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NLT

Do you want to be on the weekly emailing as a link? with a preview of the topic of the week.  Email me, and you can be added to the emailing. You can opt out anytime.  

Previous: The Verse-by Verse Bible Study Method
Up next: Which Bible is right for me?


1. If you have a Study Bible what resource does it have that you use all the time, or appreciate most?

2. If you have never had a Study Bible, what do you wish it could do to help you?

3. Why do we call the Bible the primary source? What does that mean to you?