Questions from Bible Study (Series): What Bible should I use?

Study Bibles

Question: I am new to Bible study. What version of the Bible should I use?

Selection of a Bible for study is one of the more important decisions a person new to Bible study has to make. There are many choices available.

First, it is more accurate to describe the various Bibles available as translations rather than versions. There is only one version of God’s Word. His inspired Word is recorded in the Bible and the message should be unchanged and unchanging. The “original” Bible was recorded in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Since few of us are fluent in these languages, we rely on translations into the language we speak. For most of us reading here, this is English.

There are many challenges to translation of any complicated work from one language to another. Some of those are syntax, no exact equivalent of words from one language to another, the historical context of the writing and the dynamic nature of language. The very meanings of words change over time.

For the beginner, I strongly recommend a Study Bible. In addition to the scripture itself, a good Study Bible contains extensive notes that help explain Biblical scripture. Select a Study Bible that corresponds to your particular needs and interests. My own primary source is the New International Version (NIV), Archaeological Study Bible. I made this choice because of my interest in history and how the study notes from this Bible help me place history into the context of the Bible. Other Study Bibles focus on Life Application or explanations of words and phrases.

A good Study Bible will also contain supplemental materials such as introductions to each Book of the Bible explaining when that Book was written, background on the author and major themes of that particular Book. In addition, a good Study Bible will have maps, an abbreviated concordance and a brief dictionary. Some will contain supplemental articles providing additional information relevant to that particular Book.

The Holy Bible is the primary source!

There are thousands of supplemental resources to Bible Study. They can be extremely useful as you delve deeper into Bible study. But your primary source for Bible study should ALWAYS be the scripture itself. As you read (study) the scripture let it speak to you. Ask questions as you study. What’s happening? Who is involved? Where and when are these things occurring? Why are these things happening? Also ask yourself: What would I do if I was in this situation? How would I feel? And finally: How does this message apply to the world today in general and to me in particular? I’ve found that writing down my impressions/responses to some of these questions helps me to focus and to be a great resource when I come back to that particular scripture at a later time.

The Bible provides what is called progressive revelation. This applies at two levels:

First, although it contains some 66 Books (more in some Bibles), the Bible is one story. It is the story of Christ Jesus from “In the beginning” through “Amen.” As we read through the Bible, God reveals Himself, His character and His plan for humankind.

Second, as we study the Bible we find deeper and deeper meaning to the scripture. We mature in our understanding and we are able to put particular passages into the context of the Bible as a whole and our lives. As an example, I have read Genesis 1 & 2 dozens if not hundreds of times. Each time I study these two chapters I find something new, something deeper.

So, if you are seeking a good Bible for study, there are many excellent options available. Go to a store that has a wide variety of Study Bibles. Leaf through them, read the notes and explore the supplemental materials. Read some scripture passages to see how easily you can understand the passages. After reading, close your eyes and see how that scripture, through the Holy Spirit, speaks to you. When you open yourself to the Holy Spirit, you are never studying the Bible alone. He is your guide and counselor.

Selecting the right Study Bible for you is an extremely important decision. You want as accurate a translation as you can find, one that contains notes and supplemental materials that meet your interests and needs.

As a very practical matter, a critical factor is selecting a Bible that you will actually READ!

This is part of a blog series responding to questions that come up in Bible study courses I am either facilitating or taking. To see all of the blogs in this series, please see: Questions from Bible Study.

Thank you for visiting!

God bless!

Shalom, Art
Alive in The Word

About aliveintheword

Missouri, USA Married to Marty, 45 years 2 sons (with 2 daughers-in-law) and 2 granddaughters Life dedicated to serving Jesus Christ and delivering the Good News
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