Through my years of preaching and teaching the Bible, I have developed, what I consider, essential tools to aid any Bible student in their quest for learning.
My list has changed over the years as digital format has entered my Bible Study Toolbox.
A word of caution. Only the Word of God is perfect. Each tool I use falls into the “not perfect” area. The goal should be to surround yourself with trustworthy resources. Just because an author is on the “Best Sellers” list does not mean the resource is trustworthy.
Some will suggest that the Bible is all you need for Bible study. I would ask them to consider that the Holy Spirit is alive and active today. Men are still inspired by the truth of God’s Word, writing commentaries and Bible studies that enable the student to dig deeper into the Word of God.
The following is my list of essential Bible study tools. Some can be purchased in hard copy or digitally. I love the speed of my digital media, whether on my PC or smartphone, but nothing satisfies me as much as the smell and feel of written material. Just my personal preference. Also, written material allows you to have several tools spread out on your table or desk, enabling a beneficial study of a verse or text. However, I love the speed of access to my digital tools. Over my forty years of collecting Bible study tools, I have in my inventory LOGOS Bible study software in which my library contains thousands of books, and my office library contains hundreds of printed materials. Let me be clear, I have accumulated these tools. My suggestion to you is that greater than 80% of good Bible study can be accomplished with the following tools in your Bible Study Toolbox.
The list of six tools that I am presenting represents a solid investment for many years of happy and fulfilling Bible study.
A “no-reference” Bible is simply that: it does not contain any references/commentary/helps – this Bible is simply the Word of God. This Bible is simply for reading.
A good reference Bible is simply that: a reference Bible with no notes or commentary.
Pen, pencil, color markers, and highlighters
I prefer writing and marking in my Bible. That way I do not have to carry books and commentaries with me, I have written in the meaning of words, notes, and textual ideas.
Caution: ensure that marking pens and highlighters are made for marking in your Bible, as bleed-through ruins your Bible. For highlighters, I prefer the “wax” type over the gel type, but that is just me. Also, when highlighting a verse, paragraph, or chapter in my Bible using a “wax” type highlighter, I take a Kleenex and wipe off the excess, so it doesn’t cause the pages to stick together when the Bible is closed.
A Bible Concordance
A Bible Concordance contains an alphabetical index of words used in the Bible and the Bible references for that word. It is useful when trying to locate passages. There are many free Bible Concordances online. The two biggest sellers, and for good reason, are the “Young’s Analytical Concordance” and the “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.”
Bible Dictionaries are just what the title says: a dictionary of Bible terms. They are reference work containing encyclopedic entries related to the Bible, Such as people, places, customs, and doctrines. These are scholarly in makeup. Do you want to find out what a “jot and title” is in Matthew 5:18? Use a Bible Dictionary.
The maps of today do not include the places of the Old and New Testament. Many places mentioned in the Bible are just ruins today. A Bible Atlas will give you a bird’s eye view of the land that Abraham, Joshua, the Prophets, and Jesus walked.