7 Bible Study Tools That Every HBS Teacher Should Consider
Here are 7 Bible Study tools that I believe every Home Bible Study teacher should consider having to properly prepare for their HBS ministry:
Logos Bible Software
Logos Bible software is a superb Bible study tool that is as accessible as your keyboard. It connects the pastor or Bible teacher with powerful tools to dive deeply into the Word of God in one of the easiest and smartest ways known. Logos has a powerful theological library that assists the pastor in developing sermons. With the newest version, Logos 6, you can be given new ideas on how to preach on subjects and that give you all of the knowledge you need on persons, places, events, cultural settings, and each book of the Bible. You can explore narrative maps, see ancient temples, and look at beautiful artifacts that can enrich your messages. This software gives you the ability to take an in-depth look at the Greek and Hebrew language without having a master’s or doctorate degree in either of these languages.
A Bible Dictionary/Encyclopedia
This might seem like a no-brainer but I use my Bible encyclopedia frequently. A Bible dictionary is a great tool in finding out more about a particular place, person, or setting that can make the verses be clearer. A Bible encyclopedia, which is essentially more comprehensive than a dictionary, gives you the ability to find out what certain city names mean and how that name is intentionally placed within the context of Scriptures. It also helps to see what a person’s name means and how it adds meaning to the account of that person in the Bible. For example, I wanted to see why Jesus quoted Isaiah so often and discovered that more was written about the Messiah by Isaiah than any other author of the Old Testament. It shouldn’t surprise us that Isaiah’s name means “God is salvation” or “salvation of God.” We can see the significance of the Jesus human birthplace, Bethlehem, and the meaning of it, which is “house of bread” and why God changed Saul’s name (means “destroyer”) to Paul (means “little” or “humble”). Names have meaning to God and a good Bible dictionary or encyclopedia will help you discover why God names certain people and places as He does. As you know, nothing is by accident in the sovereignty of God.
Greek or Hebrew Lexicon
Bible lexicons can really embellish your Bible study and increase your biblical knowledge about the Greek, Hebrew, and in a few rare cases, the Aramaic language used in the Bible. A lexicon can improve our understanding of the context in which a particular word is used and the cultural meaning that a certain word had in the original language and what it meant to the original audience. It also gives us the root words and their meanings. For example, if you read John 3:3 which says you must be born again the Greek word for “born” is “anōthen” and means “from above, from a higher place” so this means that when a person is born again, it is a new birth whose cause is from above or from God. This word reveals the fact that we did not choose our being born again any more than we chose our human birth, thereby indicating that salvation is fully a work of God which is thematic throughout the Old and the New Testaments.
An Exhaustive Concordance
Many Bibles have concordances in the back but an exhaustive concordance is a book in itself and is extremely useful when studying particular subjects at a given time. A concordance will have alphabetical listings for words and phrases that are found in the Bible and are great resources for research on subjects, persons, places, and topical sermons. The bigger the concordance, the closer to being exhaustive it will be. Concordances in the backs of Bibles typically fall far short of the information you might be seeking or it may not have anything listed at all for a person, place, subject or phrase that you are looking for.
Cross Referencing Bible
Fortunately, I have a Bible that has many Scriptural cross references already in the margins. For example, when Jesus talked about Him being anointed by God to preach the gospel (Luke 4:18) the Scriptural reference for Isaiah 61:1-3 is given because Jesus came to fulfill this prophecy written hundreds of years before Jesus’ human birth. When you read a Bible verse as part of your sermon, frequently you’ll discover another verse that is referenced and it’s often helpful to read that same verse to see how it gives the verse you have read more meaning. These types of references can make the most difficult passages make sense or the complex verses seem simpler. A great way to make the cloudy clearer is to show other verses and to interpret the difficult ones in light of the others.
A Study Bible
I have several study Bible’s in my library but my favorite two are the MacArthur Study Bible and the Reformation Study Bible. The MacArthur Study Bible (ESV) gives the reader a firm grasp of the background of particular events and stories in the Bible. It includes the cultural background and the peculiarities of certain situations that might escape most who simply read through the Bible. The Reformation Study Bible by R. C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries is also a rich source for studying the Bible. This study Bible contains different slants on what many casual readers of the Bible miss, pointing out things that enrich the text and give a broader meaning to the context within each verse. Although the commentary is not inspired, it may shed light on the Scriptures you read or shed light on a difficult passage of verse(s).
This might seem too simple but here’s why I think every pastor needs a dictionary. You might mention in a sermon about the Garden of Eden where it was written that God “will put enmity between you and the woman” (Gen 3:15). We cannot be certain that everyone in the congregation knows what the word enmity means any more than they know what the words atonement, propitiation, or reconciliation mean. A good English dictionary can help make certain words that are not used in our everyday conversations more clearly understood because a dictionary can give a good definition or meaning and usually a dictionary has similitudes to certain words like reconciliation which you can look up and say that reconciliation also means “to resolve disputes, to reestablish a relationship, to make compatible” or to make harmonious.”
I pray these suggestions for these Bible study tools can help you better understand the Bible, whether you are a home Bible study teacher, a church member, a Sunday school teacher or a pastor. These can certainly help you teach with more meat of the word instead of the simple milk for which many might be being underfed. If you can think of another Bible study tool, please, by all means, feel free to suggest it.
The above article, “7 Bible Study Tools That Every HBS Teacher Should Consider” was written by Jack Wellman. The article was excerpted from www.christianmediamagazine.com web site. May 2014.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”