Showing posts with label Bible tools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible tools. Show all posts

Thursday, February 8, 2024

"A" is for Aaron: Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Big Idea: Navigate your way through the Bible making use of Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias which define and explain what’s in the Bible.

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.

"A" is for Aaron

My mom taught me the ABC song. I remember a book of mine that began, “A is for apple, B is for bear…”

Then I learned to use a dictionary for word definitions. My father sold World Book Encyclopedias for a time when he was on strike so I became familiar with encyclopedias too.

There are dictionaries for the Bible too

A Bible Dictionary defines the words used in the Bible. It tells you how it is used and often Bible references where you find it. Some write more details than others. Some include color photos and maps.

A Bible Encyclopedia has longer articles about a word or topic. Bible Encyclopedias can be multi-volumes long.

Bible words are less common

The Bible uses specific words from ancient cultures and Bible times like shekel or cubit. There are also theological words that are not used every day.

It helps to look up these words in a trusted source.

There are specific dictionaries for Bible names and places, and other special topics.

Some are specific to theological words. Some relate to Old or New Testament words and examine the original languages. 

Bible Dictionary recommendations

Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary 1586 pages  (between $40-$50) – considered one of the best.
  Amazon (currently $38.20) CBD (currently $43.99)

Zondervan’s Compact Bible Dictionary  600 pages  (much cheaper ~$12) Used version even less. 
 Amazon (currently $12.99) CBD (currently $13.99)

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary – a little less $ than Zondervan. Excellent also 
Amazon (currently $26.99)    CBD (currently $28.99)

The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary - we have an older well used version that we got while in seminary. 
Amazon (currently $37.72)    CBD. (Currently $30.99 with a new slightly imperfect one for $24.79) Touted as a bestseller for 50 years.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary and Smith’s Bible Dictionary are two classic ones that have been around a long time. They still have a lot to offer especially the revised editions. Used ones are found quite cheaply. They can also be found free for online use. 

Excellent Bible Encyclopedias

The one I have is a 5 volume set and have cherished it since seminary days. Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible. The books are out of print. Both Amazon and CBD sell them as e-books one volume at a time, about $44 each volume. Reviews indicate it is not worth the price because to formatting is so awful. However the original version is free to use while online at Bible Gateway. See below. 

Two excellent choices are free online. The ISBE (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) and the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible.

Available for FREE online!

A Bible tools site that has many older reputable Bible references available for free. It deserves a future blog of its own. 

Bible Dictionary Multi-Source Bible Dictionary: Easton's, Smith's, SAA, ATS, Webster

Bible Encyclopedia Primarily the ISBE (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).

A basic Bible software tool available free for anyone.

There are packets of theological books that you can add on that can get quite expensive. But the free edition includes a number of excellent tools. It too deserves a future blog of its own.

The free edition includes the Lexham Bible Dictionary which is quite robust and worthwhile.

 Bible Gateway is the main resource I use on my computer for looking up and copying Bible references. I did not know till today that there are a number of free resources available.

There is also Bible Gateway Plus that for a monthly fee includes many more resources. I do not subscribe. 

Of incredible note is the online availability of a Bible Encyclopedia 5 volume set that I bought in seminary that we have in our home. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5 Volume Set can be used online at the Bible Gateway Free Resources page.

It is really exciting that there are so many tools available online now!

If you are one who prefers the written page, there are Bible dictionaries of great value and smaller informational books you can buy to gather information on the Bible

The Word of God is ALWAYS primary!

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 is ALWAYS primary !


Previous: The Classic Halley’s Bible Handbook
Up next: Soup to Nuts: Topical Bible Dictionaries


1. If you could look up anything you’re interested in in a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia what would It be?

2. Now take that and practice it with either Bible Hub or Bible, looking that up.


Thursday, February 1, 2024

The Classic Halley's Bible Handbook

Big Idea: The Classic Halley’s Bible Handbook is a powerful tool to help you navigate the Bible.

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.

The Classic Halley’s Bible Handbook

On our bookshelf rests a classic that is dog-eared from use. This 5”x7” book is amazing. Over 5 million copies have been sold, and it has been translated into many languages.

I was given one when I was a teen and it went to Africa with me. My husband got his copy in high school. He says his copy was invaluable to him as a young pastor. It is missing the table of contents!

What’s the big deal?

It’s in black and white. This book has summaries, charts and maps about every book of the Bible. It explains why we should trust the Bible and backs it up with archeological evidence.

It explains the overarching story of the Bible, why Christ is central, and tells all about the Bible lands and world powers in Biblical times.

The Old and New Testament are laid out with how many there are, their categories, how they compare in length, important dates, themes and storylines and more.

There are sections on how the Bible came to be and a great summary of church history. It challenges why you should read the Bible, has Bible reading plans, and why the church should be centered on the Bible.

How old is this book?

Henry Hampton Halley (1874-1965), ordained in 1898, loved the Bible so he started memorizing it. He loved its history, its lands and its cultural background.

In 1920, climbing into the pulpit to speak at a visiting church realized he forgot all his meticulous notes at home. He started quoting Bible passages, correlating them to other passages.

It was a hit! People loved hearing how the Bible dovetails together and can be studied and understood.

In 1924 he made a sixteen page pamphlet to help people about how the Bible works. He kept revising it and adding more helpful information to it till it had over 800 pages.

After his death his family ensured his book and its revisions would continue published under Zondervan Publishing.

Being an old useful book it is easy to find old copies for a reasonable price. There are very new revisions too, and an electronic version. A free PDF of the classic book is found online.  From  That does not follow exact pages to the book we have but the content is there.

The Bible Handbook idea lives on

Today numerous Bible Handbooks are available that follow a similar format of overviews of Books of the Bible, maps, etc.

Here are a couple of good ones including Halley's. Also note Halleys is available in the classic version or an updated one which is much larger and more expensive. The Deluxe Edition is almost $50!

Halley’s Bible Handbook      Amazon       CBD

Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook      Amazon    CBD

Willmington’s Bible Handbook        Amazon    CBD

Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook     Amazon    CBD

Ultimate Bible Guide (cheapest one available)        Amazon    CBD  Sale on day of posting $6,.99

Previous: Three Tips for Choosing a Study Bible
Up next: “A” is for Aaron:  Bible Dictionaries and Enclyclopedias



1. Have you ever seen Halley’s Bible Handbook? Love it or bored by it? If bored give it another chance by looking through the table of content. Ask the Lord what He has for you in it.

2. Reflect on this verse:

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

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?

Thursday, October 19, 2023

3 - Character Quality Bible Study Method

Big Idea: Introduction to a Bible study method that teaches you to examine both good and bad qualities portrayed in the Bible to guide us to shed bad qualities and embrace qualities that make us more like Christ.

Series note: We are taking 12 weeks to feature summaries of the 12 Bible Study Methods featured in the book by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life.

Learning From Bible Characters

Jezebel? How could I possibly be like Jezebel?

The “Bad Girls of the Bible” Bible study by Liz Curtis Higgs says we all can see ourselves in these bad girls! Really? Jezebel?

The author explained that Jezebel portrays huge control issues that many women relate to. Yup. I struggle with that too. It is not a becoming trait and not at all like Jesus.

Character Qualities

The character quality Bible study method is valuable because it guides you how to examine qualities, both good and bad ones, portrayed by the people in the Bible.

We need to develop the good qualities that make us more like Jesus. And curtail the bad qualities that detract and even sabotage our witness and living life pleasing to the Holy Spirit.

Tools needed:

A good study Bible     (Scripture Spy blogpost Why use a study Bible)
An exhaustive concordance    (Scripture Spy blogpost How to use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
A Bible dictionary or a word study book
A topical Bible
An English dictionary

Tips from Rick Warren:

1. Only focus on one quality at a time.
2. Don’t rush it! Character development takes time.
3. Stay with that quality and give it time to get a good handle on it in your life.
4. Be aware that a negative quality may be a positive one misused. They can be transformed.
5. Trust the Holy Spirit to build these qualities into your life.

9 Steps to do a character quality study

Rick Warren’s lists for this method. His book fleshes it out more. In fact you can find a form to use at this website, as well as some additional information on each step. 

1. Name the quality. Write out the dictionary definition. List synonyms.

2. Name the opposite quality (the antonym) and write those dictionary definitions.

3. Do a simple word study.  (Scripture Spy blogpost What is a word study?)

4. Find some cross-references. (Scripture Spy blogpost Concordance and Word Search)

5. Do a brief biographical study.

6. Find a memory verse. (Scripture Spy blogpost Dwelling on the Word by Memorization)

7. Select a situation or relationship to work on.

8. Plan a specific project.

9. Write out a personal illustration.

Here are a couple of lists to get you thinking about qualities talked about in the Bible.  The list is not exhaustive. It is just to give you some ideas.

Positive Qualities: servanthood, honesty, humility, determination, diligence, faithfulness, availability, teachability, forgiveness, generosity, loyalty, fairness, kindness, cooperativeness, discipline, sincerity, contentment

Negative qualitites: lazines, a critical spirit, pride, selfishness, unfaithfulness, disrespectfulness, rebelliousness, gossip, being unloving, dishonesty, impatience, worry, fearfulness, lustfulness, bitterness, apathy, grumbling

A final quote from Rick Warren:

Before we can work on a Christlike quality in our lives, we must be able to recognize it. This study is designed to help you identify negative and positive character qualities and then be able to understand them.

You may then work on setting aside negative character qualities and building positive ones in yiour life. Doing these things will enable you to become more and more like Jesus Christ.

Here is an online PDF of the book by Rick Warren, Bible Study Methods: 12 ways you can unlock God's Word

Previous: Chapter Summary Bible Study Method
Up next: Thematic Bible Study Method


1. What character trait of a Bible character would you like to reflect more? Why do you choose that?

2. What negative character trait would you like to change into a positive trait? Can you think of a Bible character who portrays that trait?

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.
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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?