Have you ever thought, “I’d love to be a Biblical scholar, but I just don’t even know where to begin!?” One of the first things you need to know is which sources are available to you to aid in your study. These tools are extremely valuable in helping you understand passages and prepare for classes. I will be outlining a few of the sources I find most valuable to my study; this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should help you get started and help you utilize some of the most valuable resources that are at your fingertips.
Have you ever thought, “I’d love to be a Biblical scholar, but I just don’t even know where to begin!?” One of the first things you need to know is which sources are available to you to aid in your study. – Kristy Huntsman
STRONG’S EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE OF THE BIBLE: This is arguably the single most valuable resource available to you. Most likely your church and/or public library have copies of this book. It is also available at no cost on several websites, one of which is www.blueletterbible.org. Always, when you are using a concordance, make sure that the version of concordance you are using matches the version of the Bible you are using (i.e. if you use a New King James bible, you need to use a New King James concordance). Strong’s takes every word in your Bible and lets you search for verses by specific words. This can be done on www.blueletterbible.org by typing the word you are searching for into the search bar on the home page and then selecting the correct version. Each word is then labeled with a “Strong’s number” that corresponds to the word which you looked up. You will be able to look in the back half of your Strong’s using that number and find the exact translation of the word from its original language. If you are using www.blueletterbible.org, simply click on the little number next to the word you looked up. This will give you a very basic definition for a word. If you are looking for a more in-depth definition, there are several Greek and Hebrew lexicons that allow you to look up words using the “Strong’s number.” These numbers are a standard in Bible study tools.
NAVE’S TOPICAL BIBLE: When trying to find information on a specific topic, this is one of the best resources. It is also very common and available for free online in many places. I recommend www.studylight.org. When using the www.studylight.org version, simply click on “Concordances” on the left side menu, and then click “Nave’s Topical Bible.” You will be able to type a specific word in the search bar or simply browse topics alphabetically. Instead of looking up verses simply by the words they contain, Nave’s has them broken down by topic. It will also show you related topics that may be helpful to look up.
TREASURY OF SCRIPTURE KNOWLEDGE: If you are doing a study of a particular passage or book, this is one of the best cross reference tools available. It is available in book form or on www.biblestudytools.com, when using the online version, click on the Library tab and then on “Concordances.” You will then click on “Treasury of Scripture Knowledge,” and from there you will be able to search by verse. You look up the verse you are studying and the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge will show you any related verses throughout the Bible.
INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA: This encyclopedia contains a wealth of information about various words and concepts throughout scripture. It is an excellent source of background information for any study. It can be accessed online at www.biblestudytools.com by clicking on “Encyclopedias” in the Library Menu.
BAKER’S EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY: Baker’s is also available on www.biblestudytools.com by clicking on “Dictionaries” in the Library Menu. It is another extremely useful tool for background information on certain keywords and ideas throughout scripture. In the midst of the information it shares, Baker’s also lists useful cross-references.
You will notice the conspicuous absence of commentaries on this list. I typically stay away from commentaries unless absolutely necessary because they are no more than the thoughts of men on various scriptures. While there are times when they can be extremely useful, you must remember that these are the thoughts of men and not scripture. Commentaries can be very useful in finding background information such as date, place and information about various cultures. The Truth for Today Commentary Series bears mentioning because it is written by members of the church of Christ; however, continue to keep in mind that no commentary, no matter who it is written by, should be your primary source when studying.
So now that you know what sources are available and how to use them, let’s get some practice in! If you want to really understand when and how to use these sources, I recommend that you complete these exercises.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the concept of hospitality.
Start with Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and look up the word “hospitality.”
- List each verse where this word appears:
- Now, look up the definition in the original language for the occurrence of “hospitality” that appears in Romans 12:13:
- What other verse/verses use this same Greek word?
Were you surprised by the lack of actual listings for the word “hospitality?” Even though there aren’t many instances of the specific word in scripture, the Bible is not silent on the issue. To find where the concept of hospitality is discussed we will now switch to the Nave’s Topical Bible.
- List all verses that discuss specific instances of hospitality:
- Which of these instances were rewarded? How?
- What other topics are listed that relate to hospitality?
Excellent! Now we are really starting to get a grasp on what scripture has to say about hospitality. Let’s look more in-depth at Romans 12:13 since it deals directly with the subject. Look this verse up in the Treasure of Scripture Knowledge.
- List all related verses:
Now look up “hospitality” in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia and Baker’s Bible Dictionary.
- List any interesting facts you learn about hospitality and the customs surrounding it: