Thursday, March 28, 2024

Jesus in Real Life: Resources about everyday life in Bible times

 stack of books

Big Idea: Resource books about everyday life in Bible times helps us better determine the timeless truths of the Bible so we can apply them to our own daily life.

Jesus in Real Life

“I like to make God and the Bible real to people,” I told a twenty-something woman servicing our house. My Easter village in our basement (from our nativity set) depicted Jerusalem at the time of Jesus' crucifixion.

As a former missionary in West Africa where village culture was similar to Bible times I’ve become driven to understand the everyday life of Bible characters. It provides fresh insight to the Scriptures.

Understanding the culture of the Bible helps interpret what it means for us today. We can better determine the timeless truths of the Bible.

Jesus was willing to be human  

Jesus was a real person who had parents and siblings, bled when he got a cut and loved his friends. He was equally God and equally man. (One of the best blogs on this subject from Desiring God here)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!   Philippians 2:5-8 NIV

Jesus’ willingness to take on human form is especially important to us during Passion week. We see His human pain and suffering.

However, it was our sicknesses that He Himself bore, And our pains that He carried; Yet we ourselves assumed that He had been afflicted, struck down by God, and humiliated. But He was pierced for our offenses, He was crushed for our wrongdoings; The punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him, And by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5 NASB

What Jesus experienced tells us He understands us in our pain. But He overcame death and we are amazed and grateful!

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:56-57 NLT

Books about Everyday Life in Bible Times

I have quite a few books on this subject because it interests me immensely.

These books often have lots of pictures. The table of content covers categories of things like family, household, work, society, government and religious life. They talk about food, clothing, buildings, death customs, money units, industry, and so on.

The illustrations of the Bible such as the stories and the parables use these kinds of things.

Some of my books on the subject:

Everyday Life in Bible Times (A.W. Klinck, E.H. Kiehl) Amazon currently  $11.49

Handbook of Life in Bible Times (J.A. Thompson) Amazon currently $6.42 Hardcover used

The Baker Illustrated Guide to Every Life in Bible Times (J.A. Beck) Amazon currently $12.82

The Essential Companion to Life in Bible Times (M. Silva) Amazon currently $19.99

A Visual Guide to Gospel Events (J.C. Martin, J.A. Beck and D.G. Hansen) Amazon currently used ~$12.  Printed in 2010.  Updated version A Visual Guide to Bible Events printed 2020. Currently $37.99 

Two amazing teachers on the culture of the Bible

I have learned so much from videos taught by these two people. They know the Holy Land of Israel well and are true scholars of the land and the Bible. They have Bible studies with videos available. Some of their teachings are also available on YouTube.

1. Ray Vander Laan   Website: That the World May Know   YouTube sample (Gethsemene)

2. Rabbi Jason Sobel  Website: Fusion Global     YouTube sample (Passover)

The Word of God always comes first!

There are many great Bible tools around! Just be sure studying them does not replace the primary importance of the Bible! The Word of God always comes first!


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.


Previous: Hebrew and Greek Resources for Ordinary People
Up next: What the Bible is all about: by the amazing Henrietta Mears


1. Do you recall something about a Bible story regarding the times or culture that really made an impact on you? Why do you think it stuck with you? Has it given you insight about God and/or your walk with God?

2. From the list of regular stuff in Bible times, what interests you the most? The homelife? The coins and weights? Carpentry tools? Foods of the Bible? Why are you drawn to that?

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Hebrew and Greek Resources for Ordinary People

Big Idea: Helpful resources for Christians to explore what Biblical key words mean in their original language.

We can learn a lot about God and His desire for our life by reading and studying the Bible.

The Bible was originally written in the ancient languages of Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). 

The Holy Spirit helps us understand the Bible no matter what language it is in. God's Word is living, active and relevant!

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

The Pastor’s Prerogative

Your pastor may sometimes explain how a word n the original language of the Bible has powerful relevance to our understanding of a certain passage.

On Easter, the pastor of my church coached the whole congregation to say the Greek word “tetelestai” (tet-less-tie) which means “It is finished!”

It was used in ancient Greek and Roman days when someone paid a bill. It meant “Paid-in-Full.” This was Jesus’ last word on the cross. He paid the debt for our sin completely, on the cross in our place.

Many pastors have had classes on Hebrew and Greek languages and have language resources in their library or computer.

What about you?

Woman with hands on hips

Can YOU do that? 

Is that allowed? 

Isn’t that dangerous?

If you want to dig deeper into Bible study on your own it is valuable to examine words of the original languages of the Bible. You can get insights without learning to speak the language.

Resources are available online for free. 

Four Cautions

1. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you as you study. Always. Studying a word in the original language is not just an academic exercise. The purpose is for heart knowledge of God that is relevant to your life.

2. Avoid confusion. If you don’t understand the Bible at all in English, looking at the original words may only confuse you. You need to let God’s words speak to you in your native language first. Find a Bible study or a Christian friend to talk and pray with together about the Bible.

3. Don’t overdo it. Don't take each word in a verse. That is frustrating and confusing. Your study should be more designed to look at a key word in a passage.

4. Don’t act arrogant. When teaching, I try to avoid saying, “In the Hebrew (or Greek) it means this.”

Throwing around this knowledge can be confusing especially to those who don’t know about the original languages. Saying it like this just comes across like a know-it-all.

Instead I say, “I believe this word has deeper insight when looking at it in its original language of the Bible.”

The easiest way

1. Use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Every word of the Bible in Strong’s identifies the original
word with a number corresponding to a dictionary of those original words at the back. That dictionary entry is a good start.  

Here's my previous blog on using Strong's.

2. Read a book with key words researched for you. Here are a couple of books written for any Christian.



A Greek Word for a Day: Key Words in the New Testament

Deeper into the Word: New Testament: Reflections on 100 Words of the New Testament

Greek Word Study: 90 Ancient Words that Unlock Scripture

Learning to Go Deeper

There are a lot of resources for Hebrew and Greek Bible texts. Most of these listed on this chart are stand alone books you can buy from Amazon or Christian Book Distributors. Most of the books on these Bible sites are freeware because they have been around a long time. Don't dismiss them. They have much to offer.

Most of the resources make use of the Strong’s word numbers. Therefore it is useful to have a Strong's Exhaustive Concordance or know how to find their number.

There are many, many books out there on Biblical Hebrew and Greek.

Here are four online Bible sites that are free to anyone online. They use different hard copy books that have been digitalized. Some have permission for newer resources. You can compare these resources and see which program may best fit your need.

I will review and talk about using each site at another time. Each one takes some practice.  There are how-to YouTube videos available for all of them. 

Blue Letter Bible Excellent resource for researching Bible words and a lot more.

Bible Hub Outstanding resourse of Bible version comparisons, original languages, commentaries side by side, atlases, topical Bibles, etc.

Logos Free  More resources are available to by in packages but they are expensive, especially when you consider just how much is available online for free.

E-Sword  I like to use this version best on my ipad for quick reference, but prefer the PC version for detailed study.


The Word of God always comes first!

There are many great Bible tools around! Just be sure studying them does not replace the primary importance of the Bible! The Word of God always comes first!

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.


Previous: How Can a Bible Concordance Help Me?
Up next: Jesus in Real Life: Resources about everyday life in Bible Times


1. Can you think of a  Hebrew or Greek word a pastor or Bible study leader revealed? What was it? Does the illustration or idea of it stick with you today? How might it help you as a Christian?

2. If you could understand one word better in the Bible (in English) what might that word be? Why does it interest you?

Thursday, March 14, 2024

How Can a Bible Concordance Help Me?

Title with Strong's Exhaustive Concordance

Big Idea: A Bible Concordance is valuable to find the location of a specific verse, trace Bible characters , do a topical study or a word study.

How Can a Bible Concordance Help Me?

“Where’s that verse that says ‘Turn the other cheek?’”

When it comes to the Bible, fortunately, we can easily look this up. The best tool for that is a concordance. Think of it like a Bible contact list.

Four things a Bible Concordance can do

1. Locate where a specific verse is found in the Bible.

When you want to look up the “Turn the other cheek” verse, look it up by one word, rather than the phrase. But it gets you there. See from the photo below that it is found in Matthew 5:39.

2. Trace people in the Bible.

You might already know Moses was a key figure from Exodus to Deuteronomy. But he is also mentioned a number of times in the New Testament. You can search for the name Moses in the New Testament. Or Moses in the Psalms. That will tell you how others talked about him.

Or you might want to do a character study of a woman of the Bible such as Rahab You can look up all the verses using her name. It will get you to the important passages.

3. Start a topical study. 

If you want to see what Jesus said about peace, looking at a concordance is a good way to begin. You would search first for every verse that contains the word peace in the gospels (Matthew- John) and then look up each of those verses to identify those Jesus said.

4. Do a word study. 

As you will see under types of concordances, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance allows you to find which Hebrew or Greek word used in a specific verse.

You can then observe other places the same original word is used. Then you can go to the dictionary at the back and see the root word, basic use, basic grammar, and so on. It starts to shed a lot more light on a Biblical word.

Scripture Spy has a previous blogpost on how to do a word study.   

Three kinds of concordances

  • The one at the back of your Study Bible
  • An exhaustive concordance 
  • An electronic or online Bible or tool

1. The one at the back of your Study Bible

This concordance is not meant to have every verse in the Bible or your Bible would be twice as heavy. It is designed to help you find some key verses. It generally follows key words like faith, salvation, peace, joy and so on.

2. An exhaustive concordance

Concordances follow a specific Bible Version. For the exhaustive type you will find mostly the King James Version, especially when you find the older reference books at a thrift shop,  yard sale or in your Grandpa's study. 

The pattern has been followed for some other versions as well (ESV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NKJV).

In 1890 James Strong, an exegetical theology professor at Drew Theological Seminary, published the first Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

It takes every single word in the Bible and categorizes it; even every existence of the word, ‘the.’ Yes, really. It is hard to imagine how Dr. Strong compiled all this information before the electronic age. 

Another advantage of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is because it identifies the Greek or Hebrew word corresponding with a verse.

The number in the back coincides with either the Hebrew or Greek Dictionary with more information about the word. For the pastor or serious student of the Bible wishing to do word studies, this is extremely valuable. 

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible Amazon is currently at $26 for a new book.  Used ones are available for less.  CBD  Currently $14.99 for the same book on sale. 

Electronically it is available as a free app on Apple and Google Play. Look up Strong’s Concordance.

Also Blue Letter Bible uses Strong’s as their basis. Just put a word in the search.

Scripture Spy has a previous blog on how to use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

There are a couple kinds of concordances that are less voluminous than Strong’s, but they are also helpful.

3. An electronic or online Bible or tool

Most online Bibles have a search feature. You can type a word there and it will show you the instances where that word occurs.  YouVersion at  

1. The verses show up on a list with the entire verses written out and the key word in bold.

2. Clicking on the verse usually takes you to the passage where it is located.

3. It may tell you how many times it occurs in each book of the Bible. You can then see where that topic may be more widely covered, or not talked about at all.

4. You can usually search it in several versions, which can be helpful. More times than one realizes a phrase or verse is quoted from the King James Version and it is the easiest place to find it first.

Example from YouVersion on the phone

Example from

The Word of God always comes first!

There are many great Bible tools around! Just be sure studying them does not replace the primary importance of the Bible! The Word of God always comes first!

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.


Previous: Where in the world is Ur of the Chaldees? The Bible Atlas
Up next: Hebrew and Greek Resources for Ordinary People


1. Go to the Blue Letter Bible and look up the word Peace. Note that the verses are listed on the left.  Also see that you can look the word up in various translations from the pull down menu or on the right. See that on the right you can also see how many times it occurs in each book of the Bible and you can click on that. 

Explore and see what might touch your heart.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Where in the World is Ur of the Chaldees? The Bible Atlas

Big Idea: Use a Bible Atlas to understand better the history and culture of the Bible and the realities people faced then in order to better interpret and apply the Bible today. 

Where in the World is Ur of the Chaldees?

This is not a trivia quiz.

This is not a geography game.

This is about where Abraham of the Bible, the Patriarch, was born.

Now Terah took his son Abram, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they departed together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran and settled there. Genesis 11:31 NASB20

How would you go about finding it? I tried modern day Google Maps. It says Ur of the Chaldees is “permanently closed.” It is a historic site in modern day Iraq.

To learn about Abraham, it is seriously helpful to find where he came from, moved and traveled to. He got around!

God kept prodding him till He got Abraham to the land destined for him and his descendents. You will find all this in a Bible Atlas!

Why consult a Bible Atlas?

My Holman Bible Atlas

1. See real people in real places

The Bible is not a made up book. It is the story of God revealing Himself to real people in ancient times.

They lived in real places that you can find today on the map. Looking at the topography, their travel on foot or by ship or their life in arid desert tells us a lot about their life.

2. Understand the geographic challenges

a. Getting the layout for battles and war; the Exodus and Exile

b. Seeing the distance people travelled or the proximity to a neighboring town or country.

c. The arid lands show survival in a desert and the importance of wells. The voyages of Paul by ship and shipwreck help us understand his commitment to the gospel.

TOC from my Holman Atlas

3. Gain Historical and Cultural Context

The Bible covers about 1500 years of history.

You can observe how lands and borders change over time. You can see both the allies and enemies of Israel and world powers that had an effect on their land.

An atlas often has a section on people in a given place such as the Egyptians in the time of the Exodus and the Romans in Jesus’ time.

Many atlases provide timelines and charts.

Highly recommended Bible Atlases

I recently bought John Beck’s book, The Basic Bible Atlas. He’s a professor at Trinity who has led many trips to Israel and taught about the land. He calls himself a Bible Geographer!This book is so much more than maps. He tells the story of the Bible from a geography point of view. It is compelling.

The Basic Bible Atlas      Amazon Currently $16.99     CBD Currently $12.99

Free Bible Atlases online

Bible Atlas (from Bible Hub)

The Rand McNally Bible Atlas, by Jesse Lyman Hurburt 1928 (From Gutenberg Press) Though printed almost 100 years ago it remains an excellent source of information. And it is free! Use online or download.

Your Study Bible

Many study Bibles have maps throughout the Bible. After the table of content, there is often a list of maps by page or link. Also the online study Bible at Logos and Logos free basic platform includes maps, images and timelines.

Secular world atlas and online maps

These secular tools can also be helpful to you. Geography does not change a lot over the centuries.

I have used Google Maps to map out the distance to walk from one place to another, such as Nazarath to Jerusalem Temple Mount, which is what Mary and Joseph did when Jesus was 12.

Understanding Biblical context is key to interpretation and application

It is helpful to picture God’s people in the Bible in their non-western world. It is important to see how they coped and how God helped them as father, mother, leader and outcast.

We must realize that God spoke in another culture and setting. But God does not change and His love and His mission does not change.

So understanding the context then and applying the timeless truth to our life is an important Biblical skill.

The Word of God always comes first!

There are many great Bible tools around! Just be sure studying them does not replace the primary importance of the Bible! The Word of God always comes first!

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.


Previous: My Favorite Bible Tools Come From Rose Publishing
Up next: How can a Bible Concordance Help Me?


1. Look at this map of the second missionary journey of the Apostle Paul. Compare it to the Google map of today. Think about what it must have been like to cross the waters and how long it would have have taken to go from one place to the next in an old boat?

2. What does this tell you about the Apostle Paul and his drive to share about Christ? How does this touch you?

Taken from

Taken from