Summary: In this lesson, we discover why and help to point you to some of the more useful tools and versions of the Bible, so you can dig into the Word.
Men, it is great to have you back.
Hopefully, you had some time this last week to build more positive habits. If not, then get started. Starting is most of the work.
In this last session, we want to take one more step into Bible Study by pointing you to some resources that can aid your reading, study, and fuel your understanding.
I put this lesson at the end of this series because additional resources should always be a last resort. If we simply understand the previous four steps, we have enough for reading, studying and understanding the Bible. But since there are so many great resources, I would be amiss to not share them with you.
Today my goal is to give you a high-level understanding of the study tools and Bible resources on the market today, with the outcome of helping you find resources that will complement your personal reading.
When we look back over the history of the Bible, we begin to understand that many people gave their lives to preserving the book we so easily hold in our hands today. It is a powerful collection of historical events and stories laid out for us, taking us through thousands of years of God’s story.
The image at the top of the page is classic, and I have found it very helpful. It visually illustrates the order and layout of the Old and New Testaments books, which are a record of God’s covenant to us. You will notice the Bible contains 66 individual books. 39 in the OT and 27 in the NT.
OT books are ordered by:
and then Minor Prophets.
New Testament books are ordered by:
The Gospels – which recount the life of Jesus
Acts – our book of History of the church
Paul’s Letters – which are his letter to churches he influenced
Hebrews – a book to Jewish Christians
Letters to Other Churches.
and finally, a book of Prophecy we know as Revelations.
I think this gives a nice outline of the Bible.
Now let’s turn to the next page of your handbook. It is entitled Bible Study Tools.
At this time, I want to walk you through a number of resources that can complement any Bible Study. On this page, you will see I have organized tools into six categories. Keep in mind that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these on the market today. Which is the reason why I am giving you an overview. Often there are so many that a reader doesn’t know where to begin.
As I work down the list you see I have ordered them by the degree to which I find them helpful for the average reader. Commentaries, being the most helpful, at the top of the list.
So, let me walk you through them quickly.
First, we have the Commentary (Slide) These are books written by a theologian, that provide a quick explanation of a biblical text. They offer a deeper understanding of any Book of the Bible, and information on authorship, history, setting, and theme. They often “comment” verse by verse. One great version of this is the Study Bible, which is a Bible & Commentary combo platter. Now you can buy them individually, but there is nothing like the Study Bible for the regular reader.
Second, we have the Lexicon (Slide) Lexicons provide definitions and meaning of biblical words found in the original languages. People who love language and word studies usually have one of these. But remember they are going to have original languages in them.
Third, we have the Concordance (Slide) These are used for finding words and meanings in the original languages and offer deeper understandings of words and where they are found in the Bible.
Fourth, we have the Dictionary (Slide) You probably don’t need a lot of explanation here, but these are helpful tools. They usually combine definitions with verse references that help readers to define and analyze texts.
Fifth, we have the Encyclopedia (Slide) These contain articles and definitions of words and terms used in Scripture. Entries usually include full historical references such as date, religious environment, family life, customs, language, and literature.
Sixth, we have the Apocryphal Books (Slide). I have included this one since these texts are books included as part of the Septuagint (which is the Greek version of the Old Testament). The Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles include all of the Apocrypha (except the books of Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh) but refer to them as "deuterocanonical" books. Protestant Bibles do not include the Apocrypha, but all of them can be found online for your reading pleasure.
So, this is a brief overview.
But guess what, you really do not need to buy any of these – unless you want a study bible. Here is why there are plenty of online resources available today and for free. Check out the websites in your handbook.