In pursuing more serious Bible study, I’ve found a few resources immensely helpful. If you’re just starting out in study the Bible or trying to grow in Bible Study skills, these resources will be helpful to you as well.
A Good Study Bible
I use the ESV study Bible, but any reputable one from a major translation will serve you well. I’m hoping to get one in a different translation soon.
A Printed Copy of the Text
Copy and paste the text from Biblegateway.com in to a document and double space it. Be sure to keep the footnotes. Print it out on actual paper with actual ink so you can mark it up with a real pen.
Colored Pens or Pencils
Since I’m a bit of an office supply hoarder, I have a set apart set of pens for this: my fancy Japanese ones with the super-fine nibs. You don’t need fancy Japanese pens, but if you want some, it’s a good excuse to buy them. Having multiple colors helps you to see patterns and themes as you mark up the page. For instance, you can underline a frequently repeated phrase or theme and see patterns that you wouldn’t have spotted otherwise.
An English Dictionary
I’m not talking about a Greek to English dictionary. Webster’s will do. As I’m reading closely, I come across words that I think I know the definition for, but looking them up gives me a better understanding of the text. Of course you can just use Google for this, but I tend to get distracted the moment my computer is open, so I use an actual paper dictionary that I got for less than a dollar at a thrift store.
A Class on Bible Exposition
This one is more of an investment —definitely in time, but possibly in money as well. I recommend Crosslands Seminary’s class on Bible Exposition. It’s $120 to access the material for a year, and you’ll need to purchase a few books to complete the course work. While there are other course available, I’ve really appreciated Crosslands because it’s mostly reading rather than lectures, which is much easier online. If you tend to learn best from listening rather than reading, you should probably find a different class. But for this American who struggled in the lecture-heavy American education system, a UK based reading-heavy class has been a delight.
If you’re looking for a free (donation encouraged) class that is not a full seminary class, but still immensely helpful for the average lay person, Dallas Theological Seminary, has a four week long course that will equip you for years of Bible study.
A Set Time
Serious Bible study takes focus. Focusing takes time. I have a scheduled time each week that I get to dig into whatever portion of Scripture I’m studying. It’s during my son’s nap times on Saturdays. That way, if he doesn’t nap well, my husband is the one who takes care of him and I still get my study time. Many people set apart certain mornings to study. I’ve tried this before and found myself sleeping at my desk with my coffee growing cold. Even when I was able to stay awake, I couldn’t make the words on the page make any sense to my brain. So now, I happily sleep to a reasonable hour and study while the sun is in the sky.
This is my last used tool. After I’ve studied a passage, read it repeatedly, asked questions of it, and sought for the answers within scripture, then it’s time to reference a commentary. Start with a classic full Bible commentary like the Matthew Henry Commentary and build your library from there.
Most of all, in order to read and study the Bible well, I’ve need to commit and recommit myself to doing the work over and over again. There are weeks that I slog through my Bible Study, unsure of what the pay off is. I know it’s good for me to do. I know it will help me to know and worship the Lord better. But I still find myself looking for the instant gratification. The way studying will change and sanctify me today. However, I don’t always or even usually walk away from my study time with a clear understanding of how the Lord is working in my life through it, but looking back, I can see the transformation he’s work. As my knowledge of and love for his Word has grown, he has used that to transform my heart and make me more like him. It’s a lifelong work, and for that I’m thankful.
Do you have any recommendations for Bible Study resources? If so, I’d love to learn from you. Comment below.