Here at Slippery Rock Alliance Church, we believe that knowing and obeying God’s Word is fundamental to all true success. Which means you really need to be reading and studying your Bible. Do you really need a study Bible to do that?
As we covered in this post, the Bible is the inspired Word of God and stands on its own. You don’t need anything else to read the Bible. But to really study it and get the most out of it, a few tools can really help, and one of those tools is a good study Bible.
Why Should I Get a Study Bible?
The reason a study Bible is a great tool to start your collection is because it’s actually a bunch of tools rolled into one. Such as…
The most noticeable feature of a study Bible is the footnotes. These are chock full of really useful information. What I usually find most helpful are the cultural explanations. We don’t think much of the fact that Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey, but he was making a statement by doing so. The footnotes will also introduce theological ideas, explain technical terms, cross reference with other Bible verses, and lots more.
I use my concordance more than any other tool in my Bible. You look up a word and you will find a list of verses that use it. It’s an excellent way to find a verse that you kind of have memorized but you’re not sure exactly where it is. Independent concordances will have much more complete listings, but the one in the back of your Bible is a good place to start.
Maps, Charts, Tables, Timelines
For people who like to see what is happening in the story, study Bibles have lots of visual aids to show you the text in a different format. You can track where Paul is on his missionary journeys, see how the kings of Judah and Israel lined up on a timeline, or compare the events of Jesus’ ministry as told in the different gospels.
Almost every study Bible will give you an introduction to each book of the Bible. It will outline the author, major themes, timeline, historical context, and possibly get into the genre of the book as well. One of the best things you can do for your Bible comprehension is take a minute to read this over before diving into a new book.
Sounds great! Which one should I get?
The study Bible market has exploded in recent years. There are study Bibles for men, women, teens, children, tweens, Messianic Jews, new Christians…the list goes on and on. Don’t get overwhelmed. I own two study Bibles and am very happy with both of them. So if you’d like some help picking one out, I recommend one of the following two:
The ESV Student Study Bible
I really like the English Standard Version these days. I’m also a big fan of the 1984 version of the NIV, but since they’ve updated it I’ve preferred the ESV. The ESV Study Bible is a great tool. If you’re looking for a Bible to sit on your desk for devotional and study time, it’s a really good choice. If you’re looking for a Bible to carry around with you, the ESV Student Study Bible is a slightly condensed version.
I went with the student version because I wanted the same version as we give our middle school students and I carry it around with me. Either one is going to help you out with cultural barriers, cross referencing, character profiles, and well written articles.
The Gospel Transformation Bible
I really, really like this Bible. The Bible is one unified book, telling the story of God’s redemption of mankind. If you ever have trouble seeing that in your Bible reading, this is the study Bible for you.
Every footnote brings the reader back to Christ. It’s all about finding grace in every verse. I’m all about finding real life application in the Bible. It’s there to change us, not just to be read as a good story. But sometimes this approach leads us to make the Bible all about us.
The Bible is not about us. It’s about God. And this Bible will help you find Him on every page.
Study Bibles are excellent tools to help you mine the most insight out of God’s Word. Not necessary, but really, really helpful.