Ultimate guide to Bible study tools

Ultimate Guide to Best Bible Study Tools for Church Leaders

Thomas Costello Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Bible study is the foundation of our Christian faith. Using the best Bible study tools (and there are many) helps us grow in biblical knowledge and deepen our faith.

These Bible study tools will help you explore the Scriptures and gain a better understanding of God’s Word.

Whether you’re a new Christian, need to prepare for a sermon, or have been studying the Bible for years and want to go deeper, these tools will help you get more out of your Bible study.

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Finding the Right Bible

Our Bibles are the essential resource we need to know God’s Word, and there are many options available when it comes to translations and formats.

There are a few factors to consider when looking for the right Bible.

  • Determine what translation you want to read.
  • Consider whether you want a Bible with commentary, study notes, and/or journaling space.
  • Finally, think about size, weight, portability, and appearance.

Bible Translations

Multiple Bible translations are available, so it can be challenging to decide which one is best for you.

The best way to figure out which translation will work best for you is to read different samples. (Below, we talk about some free online resources where you can read different translations.)

How is the Bible translated?

The Old Testament is translated from Hebrew and Aramaic, while the New Testament is translated from Greek.

Generally, the various Bible translations are on a spectrum that ranges from word-for-word to thought-for-thought translation techniques.

  • Word-for-word is also known as an equivalent or literal translation. This type of translation focuses on preserving the meaning of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words.
  • Thought-for-thought is also known as a functional equivalent and, on the far end of the spectrum, a paraphrase. These translations focus on preserving the overall meaning in more modern language.
Bible translations study tool

Word-for-Word or Literal Translations

Here are some of the most common literal translation Bible versions:

  • Interlinear Bible
  • New American Standard Bible (NASB)
  • Amplified Bible (AMP)
  • English Standard Version (ESV)
  • King James Version (KJV)
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Thought-for-Thought or Functional Equivalent Translations

On the other end of the spectrum are translations that take more liberties with the original text in order to better communicate the meaning in modern language.

Different translations that extend from the middle of the spectrum to paraphrases include:

  • New International Version (NIV)
  • New Living Translation (NLT)
  • Contemporary English Version (CET)
  • The Living Bible
  • The Message
  • The Passion Translation (TPT)

Study Bibles

Study bibles are available for most of the different Bible translations.

Sometimes, these Bibles contain commentary and insight from a particular individual, usually a pastor or Bible teacher.

Other times, study Bibles are put together by a team of scholars and contain articles and insights from multiple people.

Study-specific Bibles may also include devotionals. And they can focus on particular topics or target different groups.

These Bibles can be a helpful resource for group Bible studies and answering peoples’ questions.

For example

Apologetics study Bible for church leaders

Here are some of the all-time best-selling study Bibles. They will enhance your general knowledge and provide needed background for bible study.

Cultural Study Bibles

It can be challenging to understand some of the stories, expressions, and customs in the Bible because they are so different from our own culture.

Cultural study Bibles help explain the historical context and customs of biblical times.

Some popular cultural study Bibles include.

Another resource that can help with cultural Bible study and background is Halley’s Bible Handbook.

Bible Journaling

Bible journaling is a popular way to connect with Scripture.

Journaling involves adding your own artwork, sketches, and handwriting into the margins of your Bible.

Many different Bible journaling Bibles are available with wide margins for note-taking and creativity.

Bible journaling

Bible Journaling Tools

When it comes to Bible journaling, feel free to get creative.

Some Bible study tools you could use for journaling include:

Loose Leaf Bible

If your Bible gets a lot of wear and tear, or you like to make a lot of notes, then you may want to consider a loose leaf Bible.

With the ability to lay flat and spread out, you can dive deep into your Bible study without worrying about the book binding.

Bible Study Resources

Now let’s move on to some additional in-depth best Bible Study tools.

In this section, we’ll cover some of the best maps, dictionaries, concordances, and other study tools to help you dive into Scripture.

These additional Bible study tools help us grow in our knowledge of historical context, cross-referencing, definitions of words, and studying specific topics or themes.

Consider adding some of these books to your Bible study library!

Atlas and Bible Maps

One of the best ways to deepen your understand of the Bible is to see where the events took place.

That’s where an atlas comes in handy.

A good Bible atlas will have detailed maps and information about biblical places, people, and history.

A few popular Bible atlases include:

Atlas Bible study tool

Bible Dictionaries

Another essential resource for studying God’s Word is a Bible dictionary.

A Bible dictionary can provide definitions and background information for words and topics in Scripture.

You don’t need to look up every word in the Bible, but Bible dictionaries can be a valuable resource when studying difficult passages.

Or maybe you’ve read the same passage many times and taken for granted that you know the meaning… in these cases, digging into a Bible dictionary can help you digest what you’re reading on a deeper level.

Knowing the full meaning of a Hebrew or Greek word can transform your understanding and enhance your Bible study.

Some popular Bible dictionaries include:

In addition, if you want to explore the original language your Bible was written in during your Bible study, you can opt for a Hebrew dictionary or Greek dictionary.

Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Bible Concordance

A Bible concordance is an alphabetical list of words and phrases found in the Bible.

This can be a valuable Bible study tool when you’re looking for specific verses or topics.

A Bible concordance can also help you understand the original meaning of words in Scripture.

The best-known concordance for Bible study is Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

Some Bibles also include a concordance in the appendix or in footnotes, but these are usually not as extensive as Strong’s.

Bible Encyclopedias or Historical Resources

You may find that a Bible encyclopedia does a great job of combining maps, historical context, and archaeological insights.

An encyclopedia can provide a broad overview of people, places, and events in the Bible.

Understanding the geographical, cultural, and historical background of Scripture passages can do wonders for making sense of your Bible study.

The New International Bible Encyclopedia has several volumes including:

  • Bible Difficulties
  • Bible Characters
  • Bible Words

Other options include Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Bible.

Bible Commentaries

Bible commentaries are written by Bible scholars and pastors who provide explanations and interpretations of Scripture.

A Bible commentary can be a helpful study tool, especially when you’re studying a difficult passage.

You may not need a Bible commentary for every book of the Old and New Testament, but it can be beneficial to have a few.

Some Bible commentaries have been around hundreds of years, while others are more recent.

Here are some popular commentaries for Bible study:

Bible commentary for church leaders

Bible Software and Apps

You may love old-fashioned study tools in the form of books, but a great thing about our day and age is having many digital resource options for Bible study. These are certainly more compact and lightweight!

Let’s explore some of these digital Bible study tools.

5 Best Bible Study Software Programs

One modern Bible study tool we can all take advantage of is Bible software.

These types of software programs allow you to search the Bible electronically and access a variety of supplementary study tools.

This can be a great way to dig deeper into Scripture, especially if you want to study the original languages or access additional resources.

The amazing news is that some of these Bible software programs can be accessed online completely for FREE.

The list below starts with three online Bible study tools that are free, then moves on to two great paid options if you’re looking for a really in-depth electronic Bible study tool.

Blue Letter Bible (BLB)

Blueletterbible.org offers a free website and app filled with helpful Bible study tools.

You can access commentaries, references, dictionaries, timelines, maps, and much more for free Bible study.

Bible Gateway

Biblegateway.com is a website that allows you to read, search, and compare different versions of the Bible.

You can listen to Scripture online, find devotionals and blog posts, and access study tools like commentaries and concordances.

Bible Gateway also features Scripture Engagement practices with activities and exercises to help you better focus and engage with Scripture.

While some translations and tools are offered for free, you can also pay for a subscription to Bible Gateway Plus for less than $5 a month for added features and fewer ads.

Bible software free plan

Bible Hub

The Bible Hub website and app also contain a variety of the tools and resources listed here in digital form.

You can compare a wide variety of Bible translations, reading verses side-by-side, or dive into numerous free tools.

One of the interesting Bible tools is “Measures” which compares lengths, weight, money, time, and dry measures.

You can also find reading plans, devotions, and sermons.

Accordance Bible Software

Accordance Bible Software is known for its fast speed, simple interface, and cutting-edge tools.

You can see the Bible come to life with interactive 3D maps, drag-and-drop graphical searching, a dynamic interlinear, and many other Bible study tools.

You can also take advantage of customization tools and sync your program to your mobile devices.

Accordance Pricing Options

Whether you’re a Greek and Hebrew scholar, or simply want to dive deeper into Bible study for your personal benefit, Accordance has a wide range of packages available.

On their pricing page, you can compare options for collections.

A Basic Starter is $19.95 while an Expert or Master plan can cost up to $38K+.

Logos Bible Software

You may have heard of Logos. This is a well-known software tool for in-depth Bible study.

Logos software has a wide array of resources. You’ll find lexicons, commentaries, language study, Bible dictionaries, and more.

It also offers audiobooks and online courses from leading scholars.

When preparing for sermons or doing your own study, you can create personal notes, and sync with various Logos mobile devices.

Logos Pricing

Logos offers eight different pricing packages. These range from a $250 Starter plan to a $9K+ Portfolio plan.

Visit their pricing page to compare plans, books, and features.

Bible study software plan

Bible Apps

Most of the digital Bible study tools mentioned above also have an app.

Whether they have corresponding software or not, most apps give an option to create a profile. This allows you to save notes and sync across devices.

Here are a few more Bible apps you may want to consider.

YouVersion Bible App

YouVersion offers the Bible App, one of the best-known out there. The Bible app is offered in over 60 languages and has been installed on over 500 million unique devices around the world.

The YouVersion app offers a variety of ways to engage with Scripture including devotionals, plans, and audio Bibles.

The Bible App for Kids

Looking for a great age-appropriate Bible study tool for your kids?

YouVersion also has an app for that. Kids can learn more about the Word of God with interactive Bible stories and games.

Olive Tree App

The Olive Tree App is another excellent interactive way to study the Bible.

You can utilize resource guides, daily reading plans, and customize your experience.

Olive Tree also offers Bible study software, study packs, and other Bible study tools, but you can use the app for free.

Helpful Bible Study Tools

No matter what level of Bible study you’re at, there are tools to help you dig deeper into Scripture.

Consider trying out a few of the best bible study tools mentioned above. With so many options available, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your needs.

What’s your favorite Bible study tool? Let us know in the comments below!

More Resources for Church Leaders

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