If you’re going to be successful at a task, you need the right tools to assist you. Attempting to write with a spoon will quickly prove to be futile but if you have a good pen and paper or even a laptop and some sort of word processing program, you’ll be well on your way. Likewise, if you’re new to studying the Bible, it may feel intimidating. I’ll be honest, it’s a lifelong process that does take some time and effort. However, it’s much less intimidating when you have the right tools. Perhaps you are wondering what these are and where you can find them. I hope this short list can help take the weight off your shoulders. While this list is not all-inclusive, it’s an excellent place to start. Here are five Bible study tools every beginner should get access to as soon as possible.
1. A Study Bible
First, I recommend a good Study Bible. Study Bibles are great because they usually contain notes, maps, commentaries, charts, pictures, and cross-references in addition to scripture. Some even contain short devotions and reflections. Study Bibles can also help you answer many of the questions that arise as you read the Bible.
For example, if you’re reading Deuteronomy 32:15 and can’t figure out who or what Jeshurun is, the notes at the bottom of your page will be able to tell you. By the way, Jeshurun is simply another name for the Israelites.
My favorite Study Bible is Crossway’s ESV Study Bible. It contains so much good information. The one I personally own comes from Hosanna Revival. They collaborate with publishers like Crossway and create beautiful cover designs for their Bibles. They’re one of a kind and perfect to get for yourself or as a gift for a friend. If you’re interested to see what they look like, click here.
2. A Few Good Commentaries
Next, commentaries can help with interpretation. Commentaries are similar to Study Bibles and have notes on each passage in the Bible. However, there is a difference between commentaries and Study Bibles. While the notes in Study Bibles tend to be more informative, the notes in commentaries typically contain more interpretation and application. This means that they heavily reflect the author’s personal viewpoints. This isn’t a bad thing, per se. But, it is something to watch.
I suggest using multiple commentaries so that you get a range of views and can interact with the various interpretations you come across. Remember that while commentaries are excellent resources, they do still reflect the opinions of flawed humans. Take everything with a grain of salt.
If you’re new to reading the Bible, don’t worry. You’ll be able to do this better as time goes by. For now, just know that it’s important to ask questions and think critically as you read. That goes for anything you read!
3. A Bible Dictionary
In addition to commentaries and a Study Bible, you might also want to use a Bible dictionary. Bible dictionaries are great for looking up words that you may not be familiar with. It’s like a regular dictionary but specifically geared towards the information in the Bible. Usually, Bible dictionaries contain more than just the “definition” of the word. It gives a detailed explanation so that you fully understand what it means.
4. Multiple Bible Translations
I suggest looking at a few different Bible translations especially when reading a difficult passage. Multiple translations will give you different angles on the same passage. Some translations will opt for certain words while others will choose a different word. This depends on whether or not the translation is word for word, more of a paraphrase, or if it’s thought for thought. You can read more on this here. I personally use the English Standard Version. My Bible is from the Daily Grace Co. Another translation that I really like is the Christian Standard Bible.
Finally, if you want to look at multiple translations without purchasing every one that’s available, Bible Gateway is a good resource. It’s a database filled with many different Bible versions in many different languages.
5. A Notebook and Pens
Lastly, you’ll need a notebook and pens. This is where you can write down questions, record notes, and ideas. It’s great having a designated notebook for Bible study because you can always look back at it when you’re done and use it for reference or simply to see how far you’ve come. I use the Peter Pauper Press dot matrix notebook. It’s pretty affordable and the paper quality is excellent. My favorite pens are the ones from Muji USA. They’re also available on amazon.
I hope this article was helpful for you! If you have any thoughts or questions let us know by leaving a comment below. And for a final honorable mention, if you’re looking for a resource that can walk you through how to study the Bible, click here to download our free Bible Study guide.