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The CGW’s Guide to Studying The Bible (Part Three): Using Online Resources and Commentaries

by | Jan 31, 2020 | A CHURCH Life

Do you long for greater understanding of Scripture? Do you need clarity about what you read in your Bible? Me, too.

As promised, this week I’m going to show you my favorite websites for Bible study and working with online commentaries.

Ready, set, GO!

leigh079

I love Bible research!

There are all sorts of amazing online websites that have powerful resources for helping you understand the Bible better. My favorite free online Bible resources are at biblehub.com,  biblegateway.com, and blueletterbible.org.  There are many others out there but over the years these have become my go-to’s. Each has its strengths for various reasons that I’ll detail below.

Bible Hub

Bible Hub is great for looking up single lines of Scripture and seeing multiple translations on the same page. When you search a line of Scripture, along with the various translations, you also get a right column containing cross-references of your Scripture found all over the Old and New Testaments. Depending on the line you’re researching, if you scroll down the page, you may find the Hebrew/Greek Lexicon listing each word in Hebrew/Greek letters with its English equivalent along with its grammatical description. It also has Strong’s numbers and the Hebrew/Greek definition of the word between the languages.

As you might imagine, this is a pretty powerful tool for deep dive word studies! All you need to do is hover and click and it takes you into more details than I’m willing to cover here. If you’re a student interested in languages of the Bible, you can actually read passages in the original language, too. (Just be sure to remember that Hebrew is read right to left… )

Commentaries

Near the bottom are where the commentaries appear. Cross-referencing of Scripture by Scripture is usually more than enough to satisfy a believer’s interest and study. However, when you’re still looking for greater explanation of a text, the commentaries can be helpful.

Biblical commentaries have been done since the beginning when copied and script translations were put on parchment. When the scribe didn’t know or was unsure of a word meaning, footnotes were added. You can see many of these along the bottom of your Bible and even which translation it came from, like the LXX, or Septuagint.

Each commentary author or group of authors come from varying backgrounds and doctrinal beliefs. Whenever I use these for reference on a passage, I carefully comb through each commentary to see what ideas are most agreed upon and not what makes them stand out from one another. I am also careful to check for doctrinal differences. 

Where there is conflict in the thoughts of men, unless it is valid for better personal understanding of varying doctrinal perspectives, the best path to take is avoidance, lest we end up in a state of confusion. Again, I would rather refer back to the Holy Spirit’s leading in Scripture to verify itself.

A few other features I love about Bible Hub are the parallel chapters, the Bible outline and an easily understood timeline. You can also easily look subjects up in by Bible verse or phrases, topically, or by using the Strong’s Numbering System.

What is Strong’s?

The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is a conglomerate of all the words used in the Bible listed as an index showing where a certain word is used throughout Scripture. At the back of most Bibles, there is a modified concordance (go look at the one in your own Bible!) with basic words for topics. Strong’s lists every single word that is written in a Bible.

Depending on you Bible’s translation, there are other exhaustive concordances particular to the words and phrases used. For example, I have an NIV84 Exhaustive Concordance in book form that details every word used in that translation that I can look up and read.

The great thing about the Strong’s Concordance in Bible Hub is that it has so many features for both languages. You can listen to how the word might have been pronounced in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, or Koine Greek. That’s important for speakers and teachers to get right for their students.

Bible Gateway

One of Bible Hub’s most serious limitations for me is the fact that it cannot handle more than one line of text at a time unless you go into the full chapter. Bible Gateway is wonderful when you have multiple verses of text or multiple sections of Scripture that you need to study. I can add parallel verses here, too, and there are keyword searches as well as a topical index. There are devotionals here for you to read. The other major advantage to this online tool is that not only does it contain English translations, but it also has multiple languages from all over the world.

Blue Letter Bible

This was my very first online Bible study tool. There are so many things I love about it, but the first is the access to Rose Publishing maps and timelines of the Bible. While they are not an extensive collection, they are great for beginning Bible study and are much like the map section at the back of your paper Bible. If you are wanting a visual for teaching or speaking, these are downloadable for free.

Commentaries

BLB has a wide variety of commentaries that are listed, from the very early writings of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria (A.D. 297–373) to Martin Luther (A.D.1483-1546), from Sir Isaac Newton (A.D.1642-1727), to Charles Spurgeon (A.D. 1834-1892).

Bible Reference

The extraordinary amount of Bible references that BLB has is worth checking out for personal Bible study. Along with the Harmony of the Gospels, there are encyclopedias, dictionaries, and topical indexes right alongside Greek and Hebrew grammars you can download for free.

LOGOS.com

If you decide that biblical research is your thing, you might decide to invest in online commentary software. LOGOS.com has almost any author and commentary you can imagine available in varying price level packages. The software allows you to see your primary text in one window while having up to four other window columns open with multiple scrolling text commentaries, dictionaries, or resources. You have everything available in one window.

The first advantage for me using LOGOS is time-savings. I have everything right where I can see it in front of me and can reference up to four different commentaries at the same time. All I have to do is highlight a word in Scripture and I automatically see a pop-up box with the Strong’s information, and a highlighted phrase shows cross references with the actual verses contained in the pop-up.

The second advantage is having my church’s approved doctrine authors and commentaries right at my fingertips. This saves time reading through all the commentaries and trying to determine what is correct theology for our movement.

Final Thought:

Many Bible commentaries exist for free in our public libraries. Sometimes the easiest resource to use is the most basic and tech-free.

For more articles like this, don’t miss last week’s The CGW’s Guide to Studying The Bible (Part Two): Foundations and The Basic Methodology of Exposition, The CGW’s Guide to Studying The Bible (Part One): The Bible and Its Divisions,#idobible: Who is Melchizedek? How To Blog (101): The Basics of Blogging  and How To Be Nice Church Ladies. Seriously.

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