Reading and understanding the Bible can sometime be a pain, I know, I have been there. What I learn during my over 15 years as a Child of God and reading my Bible is that it helps to have other tools other than your regular Bible translation.
That is why I would like to share with you 9 tools that can help you to study and understand the Bible better
Tools To Help You To Study The Bible
Different Bible Translation
I know you already have your favorite Bible translation whether it maybe King James Bible or NIV Bible, but I would recommend that you have at least 3 different Bible translation. Having more than one Bible translation will help you to better understand what each Bible verse is saying as you can see it much clearer. For example, my regular Bible I use is King James, however, at times to get a better understanding of what a verse is saying I would quickly run to my King James and Amplified Parallel Bible. What this Bible does is that it compares verse by verse between KJV and Amplified version.
Check out different version of Bibles on Amazon and then search for version of your choice
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The second thing I will recommend is that you try and get a Study Bible. I strongly believe that anyone who wants to study the Bible should get a study Bible, which one is up to you. There is a wide variety of types and quality of study Bibles on the market.
Here is my recommendation base on experience:
NIV Study Bible– This one is really good. I bought it for a friend
The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible– This is my favorite Study Bible. I have one at home right now and use it almost everyday. If I am not using my King James and Amplified Parallel Bible then I am using my Hebrew and Greek Study Bible. With this Bible you will be able to see both the original Greek or Hebrew words use so that you can better understand what the verse is actually saying. It also has a lot of other nice features I know you will love.
Life Application Study Bible NIV– Another favorite of mine. I bought one like this for a special friend of mine for her birthday, and she loves it. Life Application Study Bible not only explain difficult passages and give information on Bible life and times, but go a step further to show you how to “take it personally,” as God’s Word speaks to every situation and circumstance of your life. You must go out and get one. And guess what, they also have a KJV version if you do not want to buy a NIV version
A Bible background commentary covers the cultural background of the Bible verse by verse. Each book of the Bible has its own chapter (listed in the order used in the Bible, not alphabetically). Each chapter begins with an introductory section covering authorship, date, setting, purpose and genre, and then works its way through the entire biblical book, section by section. When using a Bible background commentary, be careful to distinguish between background information and interpretation.
My recommendations are: The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament
You can also check out (it is a bit costly, but it will be worth it) Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary Set: Old Testament
Getting a Bible dictionary should be on top of everyone’s list. Bible Dictionaries are formatted like an encyclopedia with short articles arranged in alphabetical order, just like your regularly dictionary or encyclopedia. A Bible dictionary is good for researching historical background and cultural context and meanings of different words. You can use a Bible Dictionary can be use to: learn about people, places, and what a word or phrase meant at the time of the author. If you aren’t able to find a particular word, identify the general category to which it belongs. For example, in the parable Jesus tells in Luke 19:11-27, a nobleman gives each of ten slaves a pound. The word pound is not listed in my Bible dictionary, but it can be found in the article on “money.”
My favorite is Zondervan’s Compact Bible Dictionary. It is small but it is packed with useful information to get you going. You could also check out Bible Dictionary & Concordance or Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary is also good.
We use a concordance for cross-referencing, which is basically determining where else the author used a particular word, it is also use for looking up the meaning of the original Hebrew or Greek. “Exhaustive” concordances list every occurrence of every word in the Bible and are arranged alphabetically.
I recently bought The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible as birthday gift for a friend and she loved it. She is able to find the meaning of words and find other occurrences
Whereas a Bible dictionary is indispensable for filling out historical and cultural context, the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery provides understanding of the connotations of biblical images. The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery is used to shed light on biblical images, symbols, metaphors, motifs and figures of speech. For example, the article on “water” describes both the significance of physical water in ancient Israel but also covers the various ways water is used metaphorically in both the Old and New Testaments. The resource is also an excellent tool for identifying cross-references. Arranged like an encyclopedia, it is a good companion to a Bible dictionary.
If you are not able to get a Bible dictionary, just a regular English dictionary can help you to find words you do not understand and will even use it in a sentence
Bible Maps are an invaluable resource in helping students of the Bible to locate the places referenced, understand distances and perceive relationships between them. In many biblical narratives, the weight of the story is missed because we don’t recognize the significance of a place.
For maps you can check out I particularly like Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts. This compact resource has a chapter for each book of the Bible and includes background material, a chart of literary structure, an outline and maps that show all the places referenced in that particular book. You can also check out Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible which is packed with multidimensional maps, photos, and charts, that will help to learn more about places mention in the Bible. Both are good, it just depend on what you like best.
I really hope that these tools will help you to better understand the Bible and you will enjoy using them. Some of these tools may cost a little money, but the knowledge you will gain from each one of them will help you in years to come.