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

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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?

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