These are the book resources to help you to understand the text, meanings, and historical circumstances, so you can get more out of your studies. These are also available in computer software form, which makes the job fast and easy!
Concordance: This is the "Yahoo" and "Hot Boot" of the Bible, so you can take a key word and find out the passages that you want and others that expand on it. This resource is a complete alphabetical listing of all the words in the Bible. It relates the principle themes, doctrines, and ideas. It works just like an Internet search without the clicking. Let's say you remember a verse that said something about "wings of eagles," but you did not know how to find it. Just look up the key words, "eagle" and then "wings" and visit the sites, i.e. passages until you get to the one you want. Sometimes it can be hundreds like prayer, or just a few like 8 for "eagle" or 7 for "wings," it is easy!
A concordance can be very helpful to clarify word meanings, by looking them up in their various contexts; in doubt look it up!
Commentaries: They are designed to expand on the thoughts of the passage through original language study, historical information, settings, and in-depth study by learned scholars with various viewpoints. There are many good and bad commentaries. See your pastor who is knowledgeable and teaches correctly, he may recommend some. I recommend for students, the "NIV Bible Commentary" by Zondervan and "The IVP Bible Background Commentary" by IVP press. The Bible Exposition Commentary" by Wiersbe is very basic and insightful. Then there are multi-volume sets. Pick from such solid Biblical publishers, as Tyndale, Inter- Varsity, Zondervan, Moody Press, Eerdmans, Baker, or Thomas Nelson.
Ask a pastor you trust because, unfortunately, there is a lot of garbage out there. Beware and be discerning, always compare Scripture to Scripture, and do not rely just on people's opinions!
Study Bibles: These are Bibles with some basic notes to help you dig deeper into the text. I recommend the "New Geneva Study Bible" and the "NIV Study Bible."
Do not solely rely on commentaries and study Bibles. Nothing beats study for yourself because you will get addicted to rely on them and, thus, get lazy on your personal studies! Use the commentaries just to see what you may have missed, and what you do not understand!
Bible Dictionary and Bible Encyclopedia: These work just like a standard dictionary or encyclopedia, with the exception of words and topics found in scripture. This can be a great tool to find out more information, subjects, and terms to understand what is being said or what is going on. Baker and Zondervan have several good ones to choose from.
Maps: Most Bibles have maps in them and they are designed so you know where stuff is going on, it gives you a "where" perspective, especially in the book of Acts where there is a lot of traveling.
Books about the Bible: These books help the student to understand what the Bible is about and give general overviews. Such as the classic "What the Bible is All About" by Henrieta Mears founder of "Gospel Light" one of the largest and best producers of Sunday School Curriculums. Also these two works are very helpful: "With the Word" by Warren Wiersbe, provides a devotional overview and "Haley's Bible Handbook" provides overviews and historical facts.
Theological Dictionaries: These books go in-depth with more than just a general understanding of major theological points, such as "Colin-Brown" by Regency and "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology" by Baker.
© 2000, Rev. Richard .J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org