“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17
Paul tells us that the scriptures are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2Timothy 3:16) The longer we walk with Christ the more evident this becomes. We begin to have real experience with how the word affects us, and our understanding of its purpose deepens.
There are many blessings that come to us through the scriptures. Through them we grow in our knowledge of God. This knowledge helps us to grow closer to him as we see him more clearly. The scriptures also help us to stand in truth and worship in truth. The scriptures can also change us. Spending time in the word can lead us to a better understanding of God’s will. That together with the work of the Holy Spirit helps us to live lives more pleasing to him as we submit to his will. They also provide a foundation for works of righteousness and can protect us from or free us from false teachings. The scriptures truly are a great gift. It is wise for us to spend time in them.
There is so much to explore in the word of God. I love how you can go back and reread verses you know and suddenly gain a better and deeper understanding. I believe we need to not only read the scriptures but that we should also meditate on them and study them. I believe this helps the word of God to dwell more richly within us. It does take time and effort, but there is an incredible return on our investment. Spending this time can lead to even more joy and worship as we deepen our understanding of our Lord.
There is a time to grow past the milk and move onto solid food. (Hebrews 5:12-14) Studying God’s word is one way to help us do that. I say move on! Dig deeper. Enjoy more! In order to help facilitate that endeavor, I have listed some suggestions for my sisters in Christ. I believe we women are not only able to study God’s word, I believe we should. In different areas of my website I will revisit the reasons why I feel this is so important. In the meantime, I pray that this list is a blessing.
With today’s technology, good resource material is available to us like never before. Where you use to have to spend a lot of money for books, now you can download an app or visit a website and get access to lots of excellent free material. The medium may have changed, but the tools are very much the same as they were twenty-five years ago. Below I have listed materials that can be used while studying the Bible. You may find them as hard copies or digital copies.
Good Bible Translations: Start with a good Bible or two. It can be helpful to read two or more versions side by side. This can bring clarity to the text. When digging into the word it is very important to use trusted translations. The original meaning and accuracy of the text must be maintained as much as possible for proper understanding. I believe this is just as important for reading and meditating on the word as it is for studying the word. I do not believe that paraphrases should be used alone for Bible study. God’s word “is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Heb. 4:12a) Paraphrases can dull the sword and in some cases grind it to a pulp. The Message Bible would fall into that second category. (Please see The Message – Verse Comparisons for a comparison between The Message and the KJV, NASB, and ESV)
Some modern translations are referred to as gender-neutral Bibles. Gender-neutral Bibles change the wording of certain verses to remove references to masculinity. Some of these changes affect the accuracy of the translation. There is a lot of information about this on the Internet. Today’s New International Version is an example of a gender-neutral Bible.
Examples of good Bible translations are the English Standard Version (ESV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the New King James Version (NKJV). The King James Bible is also a good translation, but some of the words are no longer part of our everyday speech and that may obscure the meaning of the text.
Commentaries: A commentary is a verse by verse or section by section explanation of the Bible. The author(s) will have a bias. It’s important to know what that bias is. Commentaries from different schools of thoughts can be helpful as long as you remain discerning. I like to use a combination of older commentaries together with modern day commentaries. It’s very interesting to see what has remained the same through the years and how ideas have changed.
John Calvin’s Commentaries
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown – A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Wycliffe Bible Commentary
The MacArthur Bible Commentary
Bible Dictionaries: Bible dictionaries define people, places, and things in the scriptures. These can also be purchased as hard copies or digital copies.
Exhaustive Concordance: In an exhaustive concordance every word in the Bible is listed alphabetically with scripture references and numbers keyed to Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. A concordance can be used to find verses when you can only remember a word or two. It can also be used to study topics or find out how often and where particular words are used in scripture. A well-known concordance is the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. If you have access to an online Bible, Bible software, or a Bible app, the Search feature can be used in a similar way.
Interlinear: An interlinear shows Hebrew and Greek texts together with the English translation and Strong’s numbers. (The Strong’s numbers refer the reader to the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries in the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. The dictionaries give definitions and origins of the Hebrew and Greek words.) Online Bibles, Bible software, and apps sometimes have an interlinear option.
New Testament Word Pictures by A.T. Robertson: Information about Greek words and usage in the New Testament.
Nave’s Topical Bible: Lists various topics and words of scripture and provides the verse references to find them in the Bible. This can be very helpful when doing a topic study.
Systematic Theology books/sets – A deeper exploration of theology, anthropology, soteriology, and eschatology.
Systematic Theology, 3 Volumes by Charles Hodge
Systematic Theology, by Louis Berkhof
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
There are many online and computer resources today. A lot is available for free. Below is a small sampling of what’s available.
Online Bibles/Bible Study Resources
Other Online Resources
OpenBible.info “Remix Bible data.” Cool site with a Topical Search and other data collections.
Theopedia “Theopedia is a growing online evangelical encyclopedia of biblical Christianity, a network of interconnected pages, constantly being refined and updated.”
Cross Platform – Bible Software and App
E-sword: Download Bibles and resources for free. Additional material is available for purchase.
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16