How To Study The Bible - PART 4

Learn how to study the Bible the right way!

How to Study the Bible - Part 4

Collaboration & Motivation - Using Bible Study Helps and Putting Things Into Action

"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." 2 Peter 3:17-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This week we will discuss Bible study tools that are helpful for the Christian worker. Every worker has “tools of the trade” required to complete their work. The toolbox of Bible students is a personal library, and their tools are study books and helps that aid them in understanding the scriptures. Never give the “tools” more attention than you give the Bible itself.

It is important to note that study books are valuable, but they must be kept in their proper place. They aren’t inspired by God in the same way that scripture is. They are not the final word on any biblical text. Our primary source of truth is the Bible. Sola Scriptura was the Latin saying established during the Protestant Reformation that means “the Bible alone.” 

There are many resources available such as books, printed pages, CDs, tapes, digital recordings, podcasts, etc., but none of these resources eliminate the need for time in the Bible itself.

Bible Study Helps

A.) Study Bibles 

Study Bibles are a wonderful resource in your discovery of the Word. They have explanatory notes about the text, doctrine, and Christian living on every page. Some study Bibles have charts, articles, extensive cross-references, a concordance, a topical index, and numerous maps. A few great examples include: New Scofield Reference Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, MacArthur Study Bible, Life Application Study Bible, and Spirit-Filled Life Bible.

One thing to remember, however, is that the notes in study Bibles are the explanatory words of people, not the authoritative words of God. The study aids are provided as immediate helps, but are not meant to be the end of investigative study. They'll have helpful instructions to each book of the Bible and outlines so we can see how the books fit together.

B.) Bible Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias are among the first tools you'll need in your study of the Bible. They contain vastly more than just definitions of words and are filled with brief articles on major Bible subjects with helpful explanations and scripture references related to the subject. Great ones include The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary, and The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - a five volume set.

C.) Exhaustive Concordances

An exhaustive concordance lists every reference where every biblical word is found. When you can only remember small portions of a verse, a concordance can be used to find its reference. It is important to make sure the concordance you use is keyed to the Bible translation that you use. For example, the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is keyed to the King James version of the Bible.

D.) Topical Bibles

Topical Bibles list biblical words alphabetically and give select references to where the word you are looking for is found. This resource is useful for word studies and character sketches. An example of a good topical Bible is Nave’s Topical Bible.

E.) Expository Dictionaries

Expository Dictionaries are helpful when studying words of the Bible. A Webster’s English Dictionary is fine, but it focuses primarily on English. When studying the New Testament, we are dealing with English translations of Greek words. I recommend The Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words by W.E. Vine. 

F.) Bible Atlases

For those who want a more detailed description of geography in the Bible with explanatory articles, this is the book to use. Atlases contain far more maps than those that appear in the backs of Bibles. This resource helps to better understand locations and travel in Bible times.

G.) Commentaries

Commentaries are among some of the most often used tools in studying the Bible, and using one is much like being taught directly by great men and women of God. A personal benefit of using commentaries written by Bible scholars is that you are able to test your own conclusions against what the experts are saying. This obviously requires you to interact with the text yourself before consulting a commentary. Remember, you want to learn how to study the Bible, not how to study other commentaries.

Commentaries are not the final word about a text. You will find that even Bible scholars disagree among themselves sometimes. Remember, the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible!

Recommended commentaries include, but are not limited to:

  • Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on the Whole Bible
  • Matthew Henry Commentary 
  • The Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoord and Zuck, a two-volume set
  • The Bible Exposition Commentary by Warren Wiersbe, a six-volume set

When selecting a commentary, one of the first things to determine is the author's theological persuasion. Some write from a theological persuasion, some from a dispensational perspective and others from the reformed perspective. This is good to know because there are doctrinal differences in the contents of the book.

Getting Bible Study Resources

Every Christian should develop their own library of study tools, and the internet offers a wealth of them, mostly for free. Review the resources listed below and add the ones that are useful to you.


Bible Apps 

E-Sword (iOS)

MySword (Android)

YouVersion Bible App (iOS, Android)

Resources for persons with vision impairment or low vision - Web and mobile app (iOS, Android)

Getting Organized

It is often helpful to develop a notebook or three-ring binder from your study of scriptures. You can develop study notes on Bible topics, or you can develop by studies on books, characters, etc. It’s a blessing to read later what God has taught you in your own study of His word!

Motivation - Putting Thoughts Into Action

"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." 2 Peter 3:17-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

God’s Word – the Bible. Underline it, circle it, write in the margins, fold down page corners – the more you use it, the more valuable it gets to be.

The Bible is repeatedly the best-selling book every year, but perhaps still one of the least read. Why the disconnect? The answer is both natural and spiritual.

Hindrances to Bible Study

1.) The Busyness of Life

From a natural perspective, the busyness of life can keep us from scripture. Sometimes we can be lazy when it comes to our spiritual health and responsibilities. Other times we simply fail to understand the importance of time spent in the Bible.

2.) Sin

From a spiritual perspective, sin in our lives can keep us from spending time in the Word. Sin causes us to lose our appetite for the knowledge of God. The forces of darkness are doing all they can to keep us from studying God’s truth. Anything that monopolizes our time will do! It doesn’t have to be evil, just something that weighs us down and takes our time. The job of a pastor isn’t only to feed the sheep, but to teach them to cook! Learning God’s truth through reading and studying God’s word is the Will of God for us all.

Consider the following verses:

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

"Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Verses like these should motivate us to be in our Bibles.

As Apostle Peter ended his second letter in 2 Peter 3:18, he strongly urged believers to “grow…in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” which is something that starts with knowing His Word. Our spirit needs God’s word every day just like our bodies need food.

3.) Our adversary, the devil, does all he can to keep us from obeying God’s will. 

God wants to bless us, and the devil wants to destroy us. Our time in the Word fortifies us against the enemy’s attacks. Satan knows that Christians, without regular time in the Word, become weak and ineffective for Christ. But with prayer and the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, we can overcome the enemy of our souls, enjoying our time with God as we feed on His word.

What should motivate us?

God’s Goodness

God’s goodness should stir us to study His Word. We can see His goodness evidenced in our lives on a daily basis. There are some countries where even owning a Bible is a crime. In our country, we do not have this obstacle. Have you ever thought to be grateful that it is legal to own and study a Bible that is so freely available to us?

According to the International Bible Society, the Bible and its parts have been translated into about 2,500 of the worlds 6,500 languages. That means there is still a majority of language groups who have not yet heard the Gospel in their own language. That’s a sad reality.

As we conclude our study, let’s consider the lives of Mary and Martha. Mary is a great biblical example of a person whose desire was to be taught by Jesus. Every time she appears in the Bible, she’s kneeling before Him.

  • In John 11, she’s at His feet in sorrow. 
  • In John 12, she’s at His feet in adoration.
  • In Luke 10, she’s at His feet to learn truth.

Mary, the worshiper, wants her soul fed by Jesus. Her sister Martha, the worker, wants to feed Jesus. In response, Jesus told Martha “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

Mary’s experience was that of being taught by the incarnate Christ. Each of us can experience the blessing of being taught by the risen Christ – by the power of His Holy Spirit, through the study of God’s amazing Word.

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." 2 Peter 3:18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)