You are trying to study your Bible and you really wish you had some help! In-depth Bible study brings wonderful encouragement and strength and having the right tools can help you gain everything possible. While there are many we can look at, here are the 7 best bible study tools and resources to get you started.
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran of bible study, tools are valuable. If you are new to the Word of God or to Bible Study, your first question might be – what are Bible Study Tools? These tools and resources are simple things like the right kind of Bible, books to aid in understanding, journals or notebooks to write out what you learn, pens and markers, and lots of free online resources which place many of the best bible study tools right at your fingertips.
Bible Study Tools For Beginners
Any tool that’s good for a beginner is probably also good for everyone else. However, a beginner might want to start out with a different Bible translation than the more experienced reader. You can read more about Bible translations in this blog – Bible Translations-Find the Best One For You.
For a beginner, my recommendation is to find one that is easy-to-read. While the King James Version is a wonderful and highly trusted translation, it is not the easiest to read. The New International Version is not only the best selling translation, but it is also far easier to read. Other easy-to-read translations include the New Living Bible, The Message, and others you can find in the online apps I have listed below. This best bible study tool is one you will use and enjoy.
While you can read almost every translation of the Bible for free and online, you need to purchase a Bible that you can write in and highlight, journal in and really use. The whole idea of engaging in Bible Study is to make the Word of God part of you. In order to do this, you need to engage yourself fully in studying.
There is nothing more important you could learn about than God the Father and you do that by studying and absorbing His words. Then, you apply them to your life. Writing, re-reading, comparing, looking up word definitions, understanding history and context are all part of the process. The 7 best bible study tools are only the beginning.
Tool #1 – A Study Bible In A Translation You Can Read and Understand
The Life Application Study Bible comes in multiple translations including New Living Translation and New International Version. It is the top selling study Bible in 2020. This one Bible contains many tools you could purchase separately like – maps, commentary, dictionary/concordance, book introductions, character profiles, and more. It is not a journaling Bible which means that there are no wide margins allowing you to easily write on a page. Bible study resources like these Bibles are available at Christian Book, Amazon, Nelson Publishers and other places and I have included a link for you if you want to learn more about the Bible below.
As with most Study Bibles, this is a large book. Its dimensions are 9.5″ H x 6.75″ wide and 2″ deep and it weighs in at 3 lbs 12 ozs. Generally, a Study Bible is one that sits on your desk or table as you study and isn’t really meant to be carried with you. The link above is for the hardcover but it also comes in imitation leather. The right Bible is the first, most important, and best Bible Study tool.
The Spirit-Filled Life Bible is another wonderful Study Bible with many of the same features. The newest version is available in New King James or King James Version only. The older version is available in New Living Translation. I currently use this Study Bible, the newest edition, and find it to be a very complete and wonderful resource. As with the Life Application Bible, it’s quite large – 9.5′ x 6.5″ and 2.25″ thick, weighing in at 3 lbs. 12 ozs. However, I use it at my desk as I study and write. The 7 best bible study tools start with the most important – a study bible you enjoy reading and using.
Tool #2 – A Journal or Notebook For Notes and Observations
As you read, you will have questions, ideas, and insights you will want to remember. I can recommend a number of Journals but you can also just use a notebook in whatever size you prefer. A smaller wire-bound notebook is inexpensive and you can find one almost anywhere. You might want something a little nicer and, again, journals and notebooks are found at Walmart, Target, Staples, Walgreens and online. If you go online, you can find hundreds of them. Or, you can simply start a Word or Google document that you can access anywhere there is wifi to start one of your best Bible Study tools.
The important thing is that you use the journal, As you study, you will see that you are changing and growing over time, This journal is the history of your personal spiritual growth. You will want to include the following information:
- The date
- The Scripture reference – i.e., John 1:1-15
- Your thoughts
- Information about the author, the people, the situations, and the context.
- Word definitions, commentary, other scripture which pertains to this one.
- Your insight – what did you learn? What questions do you still have? What questions were answered as you studied?
As you become more and more comfortable with journaling, you’ll develop your own style and find the things that are important to you and then you might want to invest in a more expensive journal or find one that better fits your needs.
Many people use their Bible Journal for two purposes – Bible Study and Prayer. Those two go together quite well! If you have never tried writing out your prayers and writing out Scripture, you might want to combine those with your Bible Study. A journal will give you one place to record all three aspects – study, prayer, and writing Scripture.
Tool #3 – Marker or Highlighter
Of course, if you don’t want to highlight, write in, or otherwise mark your Bible, it’s totally up to you. However, I’ve found that it’s very helpful to do color-coded highlighting in my Bible. I have my own system and it’s explained in detail in How To Study The Bible.
Multi color highlighter
I have a pen I’ve used for years. It’s the Pentel Arts Multi 8 Pen, and the link will take you to Amazon where you can also purchase refills. It’s a crayon type highlighter only you can create very fine lines because the sticks are small but sturdy. It can also be used for coloring. There are several things about it I love, The most important is that there is no bleed through the page. Most study Bibles are made of thinner paper and even the best pens bleed through. This does not bleed because it’s a crayon, not a liquid. Also, because I do color-coded highlighting/underlining, I love the fact that this pen accommodates that so easily. It is quick and simple to change the color you want to use.
I find color-coded highlighting (or underlining, which is what I do) is so helpful especially when I’m searching for a particular verse or one that is special to me.
These are the three tools I recommend that a beginner or anyone purchase – a Study Bible, Journal, and Highlighter/Marker. While these may have a cost, they are well worth the investment as the best bible study tools to set a good foundation for your studies.
Tools For everyone
Tool #4 – Concordance
So what is a Concordance? Here is the Google Dictionary definition – “an alphabetical list of the words (especially the important ones) present in a text, usually with citations of the passages concerned.” Many Bibles have a Concordance of some sort and Study Bibles generally have a more thorough Concordance. You can go online and find them as well. It’s like a Dictionary only it provides you with links to verses which relate to the topic, idea, or subject of the first one. A concordance will quickly become one of your favorite and best bible study tools.
Certain Bibles also have “references” in the text. Some are at the bottom of the page and some in a center column. If you are reading John 3:16 in a Bible with in-text references, the reference will have (16) a number or some sort of specification next to it and then another verse which relates to John 3:16. The Thompson Chain Reference BIble – another great Study Bible – has its own numbering system to help you find topics related to a certain verse. Here is a photo of John 3:16 in my Thompson Chain Bible.
The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible has a section in the back with corresponding numbers and the verses which relate to that subject. Thus, the title “Chain Reference.” It connects verses from various locations based on a subject like God’s Love, Universal Love, or Infinite Value.
I also have a book called “Nelson’s Biblical Cyclopedic Index.” It’s a Concordance on steroids with 534 pages of words and subjects you can look up and find a corresponding verse or verses. I purchased it on Amazon through an outside seller for $12.68 plus tax and $3.99 shipping – Nelson’s Biblical Cyclopedic Index. This is just one example of a book that is a helpful Bible Study tool.
You can also just do a simple Google search like this example – Scripture on peace. From there, you will find links to sites like OpenBible.com. The translation used in many of these is the English Standard Version (ESV). As you find verses that pertain to your study, you can then look them up in other places like BibleGateway and see the same verse in multiple translations, read commentary, see maps, and look up original meanings.
Tool #5 – Dictionary
Again, there are multiple free, online dictionaries, You can do a search like this – definition of redemption. This will give you the Google dictionary, Miriam Webster’s dictionary, and several others. You can add ‘in the bible’ to the search and find Bible dictionaries which are also free. Word definition is an important part of study because, while you may think you know what a word means, you may find there is deeper meaning in it than you first thought. Looking up definitions also helps you use the word correctly in context.
I look up definitions in the Strong’s Concordance for almost every blog I write. I also look up definitions in the dictionary and go back to the original meaning in those as well. I do this because it brings an added dimension to the word, For instance, the word “inspire” or “inspiration” might appear to be one you understand. The first definition of inspire you will see is – “fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”
If you click on ‘origin’ just below the definition, here is what you will see – “from Latin inspirare ‘breathe or blow into’ from in- ‘into’ + spirare ‘breathe’. The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being, in the sense ‘impart a truth or idea to someone’.” The word inspire has a deeper meaning – God breathed.
Look up 2 Timothy 3:16 NASB, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” The Greek word used here for ‘inspired’ is theopneustos and means – God breathed.
Now, when you think of inspire or inspiration in relationship to the Word of God – you realize there is a far deeper significance to the word than you may have realized! This is the value of Bible Study and using the best Bible Study tools.
Tool #6 – Online Resources
Reading multiple translations is one of the best ways to determine for yourself, what a particular passage, verse or chapter really means. However, purchasing and using multiple Bibles is expensive and time-consuming. The good news is – you don’t have to. Online resources provide you with multiple translations, concordances, commentaries, maps, history, and dictionaries which are all free! You can obtain additional resources from each of these sites for a small cost but you really don’t have to.
There are so many resources online that I can’t list all of them but here are a few of the most popular ones and the ones I use most often:
- Biblegateway.com – free app for IOS or Android; multiple translations; Dictionaries; Encyclopedia of the Bible; Scripture Engagement Tool; and more. All of this is free.
- YouVersion.com – free app for IOS or Android; multiple translations; verse of the day; Bible Reading Plans that you can also join with friends; area for notes and the ability to highlight scripture.
- E-Sword – was first available in 2000 but it’s been continually updated and It’s free. It does not offer as many translations but does do some things the others don’t. You have to download it to your computer and then you can do side-by-side-comparisons of some translations and integrate your own notes into a particular study.
- BlueLetterBible.org – Free Apps; Multiple translations; Concordances; Dictionaries; Topical Studies; Audio and Video Commentaries; Charts, maps and diagrams, and more make this a very popular resource for in-depth Bible Study.
- BibleHub.com – is also a great, free resource. You can type in a verse and then see it in various translations, see the original language, Strong’s Concordance definitions, and commentary on that specific verse.
The ones I use most often are BibleGateway and BibleHub. There are more but these are enough to get you started and provide you with multiple free resources and are a definite part of the 7 best bible study tools you can find.
Tool #7 – Bible Studies
If you aren’t sure about how to get started doing an in-depth Bible Study you can find free and paid Bible Studies on the internet You can do a search by topic like “bible studies on peace.” Also, as mentioned, the apps like YouVersion and BibleGateway both have Bible Studies available to help you get started. This can give you topics, verses, chapters, or books of the Bible to start your own study.
Another example of something you could use to get started on a topic is something like this – Joyful Living Toolbox and the accompanying EBook, Victory Over Affliction. I know the individual who wrote this and she is an expert on joyful overcoming, after having lost both of her hands and feet as an adult. The study costs $19 for 70 pages of the Scripture, instruction, and encouragement. This is just one example of the resources available to help you get started.
Here you have a list of the most basic and best Bible Study Tools:
- A Study Bible in a Translation you enjoy and trust.
- A Journal or Notebook
- Markers or Highlighters
- Online Tools
- Bible Studies
The most important tip I can give you is this – have fun! The idea of studying the Bible is not meant to be a task or a chore. It’s not like writing a College Thesis. Instead, it’s a process designed to bring growth, strength, hope, peace, and wisdom into your daily life as you make the Word a part of your innermost being.
Bible Study is a treasure hunt so have some fun, take your time, absorb, and be free to make changes in how you do it. Do what works for you.
If you have questions or think there are more resources or best BIble Study tools that should be added, please let me know. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might also enjoy reading – How To Study the Bible
Study Your Bible Now uses a variety of Scriptures and Translations in their material. You may refer to our Scripture Citation Page here,