Thursday, April 18, 2013

How to Have Fun Studying the Bible Without a Study Guide

  Bible study guides are  enormously  popular   and   have their place but  they can also take some of the thrill   out of  doing our own study.   Here's a few  suggestions for getting  the most out of  your  time in the Scriptures without  using a pre-fab study guide. 
Study Tools
 The next post will focus on  Hermeneutics (HERE) which is the  science of  Biblical interpretation but today let's look at some   Bible study tools we can use to  dig deeper  into  God's marvelous Word.   
  There are  many  great  study resources  available online for free  and  a list  of some of them  can be found  on the above  Bible Resource Study Links page.    For those who can afford programs like  LOGOS  there's even more  available at a fraction of the cost of buying all those books  for your library.   .
  So to begin,  if  I were stranded on a desert Island and could  take just one book with me besides my Study Bible (which by the way is the MacArthur Study Bible ),  it would have to be the Strong’s  Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.   Here’s a shot of my beloved dog-eared copy circa 1975.

 The purpose of this concordance is  to provide a complete index of every word in the Bible helping  the  reader to find virtually any verse in Scripture.     Even if you can only remember one word from the verse you’re trying to recall you can find it.   You can also use it as a  subject look-up and a cross reference  by finding verses using the  word you want.
  Each verse in the main concordance includes a number known as “Strong’s Numbers” which refers to the back of the book to either the Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary of the Old Testament  or the New Testament Greek Dictionary.    This is a great tool for people like me,  who don’t know Greek or Hebrew.
  All total, the Strong’s lists 8674  Hebrew root words used in the Old Testament and  5624  Greek root words used in the New Testament.  Quite often one word will be used in the English when there are  several different words in the original language that can take on different meanings.
  The following online version  links information from  Lexicons and  the Theological Word Book of the Old Testament and  also provides a phonenic  sound button which is nice if you’re teaching and want to know how to pronounce a word.     An example of how this works  using the word  “love” from Genesis 29:32 which is  Strong’s  word  #157  from the OT,  can be found  HERE.
 Running a close second for a favorite Bible study tool is The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge which provides extensive cross referencing which can be found online HERE .
For generations, the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge has been an enduring cross-reference resource for Bible students worldwide. This highly respected and nearly exhaustive compilation of cross-references was developed by R.A. Torrey … With nearly 500,000 cross-references it is the most thorough source available.”
   Besides an exhaustive concordance and cross reference next in line for study tools would be Lexicons, also known as word studies or dictionaries;  Interlinears,  which show the Hebrew and Greek words above the literal English translation of each word;  and commentaries.     Here’s a few  I like with links to them.
  • Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon of the Old Testament which is keyed to the Strong’s numbers.
  •  COMMENTARIES : Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament,  Matthew Henry,  John Gill, Matthew Poole,  and more.    If you can buy them it’s good to have whole sets of commentaries such as John MacArthur’s commentary on the New Testament.    There are also many  excellent multiple and single  volume commentaries  by more modern authors such as  James Montgomery Boice and  Martyn Lloyd Jones, etc..   so  always try to read more than one opinion about a passage if you can. 
  • The Pulpit Commentary  which I’ve used extensively, is  a 23 volume set with homilies from over 100  contributors  can now be downloaded for free - but I have to warn you that some of the authors didn't believe in a literal 6 day creation because this was written during a time when naturalism was starting to take hold in the Evangelical world.  
       In addition to the above resources it’s also fun to use Bible maps and encyclopedias.    Having Bible study tools is very helpful but more importantly, it’s essential to know HOW to study the Bible correctly so next time we’ll look at some thoughts on that. 

 "Study to show yourself approved unto God,
 a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 
2 Timothy 2:15


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lyn said...

Thank you for some of the links you've provided Diane. I'm not sure if you've heard of this one - It allows you to download various translations, some for free, some for a small fee. It also provides commentary from John Gill, Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, and others; again some for a small fee.
The version I have includes Brown-Driver-Briggs for the O.T. and Thayer's Greek Definitions for the N.T., as well as Strong's Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. It has been an excellent study tool for me; the initial download is free, how you 'customize' your version may come at a small cost. Over all, it is a pretty good source for bible study.

jean said...

I agree with you, Diane, on digging for the gold ourselves; especially with so many doctrines out there. My favorite study guide is the Strong's concordance. - jean

Petra said...

Wow, great info, references and tools with which to uncover the glorious riches of God and His Word. Thanks! Yes, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance would take 2nd place next to the Bible if I were stranded on a desert (or ocean) island, with The Pilgrim's Progress totally scrambling for that same spot, even as I type. (I figured it would.)

There is one other study guide, most exhaustive, whole, in depth, absolute, infinite, enlightening, revealing, precise, powerful, perfect, real... and absolutely free. ♥

Thistle Cove Farm said...

What passes for "Bible studies" these days surprises me and not in a good way. People don't have any depth at all; what are they going to do when the cold times come? How will their skin deep religion get them through life?
Your post is well done and much needed, Diane.

Diane said...

Lyn - Yes! I love the esword software too and have a link on my resource page. I have it on my computer but am still waiting for it to come out for Android. It's amazing what we can get for free!

Diane said...

Thanks Jean - Yay for Strong's!

Diane said...

Pilgrims Progress...yes, it's a toss up Petra. :)

Diane said...

Thank you Sandra. I know how hard you've had to lean into His promises these past few years. God bless you sister.

EJN said...

Love this, Diane. Thank you.

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