THE MANY OPTIONS
We live in a day and age where technology abounds. We as Christians are blessed
by the resources we have available to us to assist us in studying the Bible. There are indeed many tools on the marketplace
which can help us learn and study the Bible more efficiently and effectively and with a far better understanding than our
forefathers had available to them. Many Christians have found the World Wide Web to be an excellent source of study tools.
Many Christian web sites will offer free downloads of various versions of the Bible, Biblical search engines or study
guides and materials at no cost to the surfer. Some of these are indeed very useful and very helpful. Others are polluted
for a specific emphasis of doctrine - downloader beware. For the most part, these computer options tend to be very helpful
and easy to use.
In this particular course we will only examine a few foundational tools and their specific functions.
This list is in know way exhaustive, but rather a fundamental starting point by which you can expand your study and development
patterns from. Many of the books and texts we will discuss are available in a software format for your personal computer.
If you are internet active many of them can be updated regularly or enhanced by logging onto the home web site of the particular
software being used. Take full advantage of every opportunity and option you have in these situations.
If your approach
is more traditional in using the printed page, then your local Christian book store will obviously bee the place to go for
literary and study guide enhancement. If such a store is not geographical convenient, check with your pastor or several local
churches. Typically, most churches will have an adequate resource library for an average student to get started in. However,
if they dont, they more than likely could give you addresses of mail order reference and resource catalogues which would assist
the average student.
STRONGS EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE
The Strongs Concordance is considered
by many theologians and Biblical scholars to be the key foundational tool that will help connect and better define various
scripture passages. The Strongs contains three separate dictionaries (Hebrew, Chaldee & Greek) which bring definition
to literally every word in the King James version of the Bible. You can use other translations of the bible, however the Strongs
will work more efficiently with the King James. Some of the software that is available now for computers will automatically
correlate the various English translations of the Bible into the Strongs word numbering system.
The Strongs takes
every word in the King James version of the Bible back to its original text language (Hebrew, Chaldee or Greek) and assigns
a number to it in what ever original language it is in.
The main concordance is found in the front of the Strongs.
Every English word used in the King James Bible is listed in alphabetical order. Example: Jeremiah 5:9 Shall I not visit for
these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? (KJV)
Lets say that we want
to know more about the word avenged and how it is used in that passage of scripture. We would open our Strongs to the front
part called the main concordance and look for the word avenged. Once we find it in the alphabetical listing, it can be noticed
that the word avenged is used 15 times in the entire King James Bible. Underneath the word avenged in the concordance we will
find ever reference listed chronologically from the beginning of the Bible until the end of the Bible. Looking down a little
ways we will see the Jeremiah 5:9 reference listed. Next to it will be printed phrase containing the word we are researching
: shall not my soul be avenged on such.
Immediately to the right of that phrase you will see a three or four digit
number. This is called the word number. If the verse you are researching is in the Old Testament the word will be defined
in the Hebrew or Chaldee dictionary towards the back of Strongs. If the verse you are researching is from the New Testament
you will find the word defined in the Greek dictionary section of the Strongs. Simply go to the appropriate dictionary section
of the Strongs and look for the numbered word (they are listed chronologically by number in the dictionary).
you find the numbered word, many times their will be a phonetic breakdown of the word, showing you how to pronounce the word.
Then there will be a brief and basic definition of the word and explaining how the word can be used as a noun, verb, pronoun,
adjective, adverb etc. In the definition it might list other words from the same dictionary and the appropriate numbers for
those words. It is very helpful to reference those words also to see how the word you are looking for could be more thoroughly
defined or used. Example : the word avenged (from Jeremiah 5:9) is Strongs word 5358 "naqam" in the Hebrew dictionary section.
The word is adequately defined as to avenge or punish with no other words referenced in its definition.
would be the word true in 1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good
work.(KJV) In the Strongs the word true is Greek word number 4103 pistos which is primarily defined as objectively trustworthy.
It also says that it is derived from another greek word number 3982 peitho, which means to convince through the use of an
argument or analogy. Notice how much more depth the verse now has when you see the way the original text has a more layered
Many times this layering affect of definitions will go two or three layers deep. It is very important
to look at al of the meanings and definitions of the words that comprise the original word you are researching. You will notice
how some of these will interlock and support one another, giving a more richer conept of the original word.
AND WORD STUDIES
Once you have found the word in the Strongs Concordance and have researched it through that
tool you may want to see it in a more critical and applicable light.
There are many Greek and Hebrew dictionaries
and word studies available on the market as well as on line. Most of them are not based on the Strongs Concordance numbering
system, but rather display the words alphabetically in their original text. This is why you need to see the actual word in
the original text if you start out in a Strongs Concordance.
Specialized Greek and Hebrew dictionaries will more thoroughly
define the words using much of the layering we previously discussed in the core definition in an expanded text.
studies are also reference texts that help you see how the word you are researching might have been typically used in the
culture and society of the time that particular passage of scripture was written. These can help us better interpret what
the author was really trying to communicate on a cultural or sociological platform. It also helps us de-American-ize our viewpoint
of the Bible. Many times we read the Bible as if it was a book written in North America during our lifetime. So an English
word used in a translation of the Bible might have a slightly different use or definition in our time than was originally
intended. The problem lies in the fact that it (the translation word) probably was the best available word to use by the translator
at the time, since the English language tends to be narrow in its use and definition. This is why word studies can be very
helpful in a thorough Bible study system.
COMMENTARIES & REFERENCES
be very helpful in the interpretation of passages of scripture. When reviewing the comments of another theologian or commentator,
it is essential to understand that these are merely reflections and perceptions of scripture by other humans. Commentaries
are not considered to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and are definitely not equal to the scriptures contained in the Bible.
They will give you a variety of insights into various passages of scripture which you may have never been exposed to.
Many times the variety of viewpoints will bring a more balanced perspective into our method of analysis and interpretation
of the Bible.
Popular traditional commentators include ones written by Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, William Barclay,
W.A. Criswell, Frank Gaebelein, Matthew Henry, Charles Hodge, Thomas Oden, Matthew Poole and many others. There are many others
in the last century who have issued and published their notes and commentaries on a wide variety of Biblical texts. The main
thing to remember is that the words of a commentary are just that. They are the words of a man and his perception or interpretation
of scripture. We must be diligent to acknowledge where the Holy Scriptures end and the commentators notes begin in our thinking.
Many up and coming Bible scholars end up studying the commentaries more than the scriptures, hoping to find answers to their
own misconceptions and lack of enthusiasm to search the scriptures for themselves. Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more
noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every
day to see if what Paul said was true. (NIV) Notice these Christians at Berea used the Scriptures to test the words of Paul.
Many times in modern Christianity we go to the commentators to see whether the Bible fits our mold correctly. This pattern
of searching the scriptures given to us by the Berean Christians is correct motivation for Bible study even today.
Many Biblical students find that the use of maps and archeological references help make the
Bible much more understandable and easier to follow. Even though the region of the middle east and/or the Roman Empire stayed
the same through the recorded history of the Bible, the provinces, territories and National boundaries changed somewhat across
Keeping a group of maps handy during Bible study will help you understand the topography and the distance
between related cities and countries. It may also help you understand the use of time in the Bible also. The following is
a list of maps that you might find helpful in your research and study of the Bible;
Map of Genesis and early civilization
Map of the exodus and journey through the wilderness
Map of conquering the promised land of Canaan
Map of Israel
during the reign of the kings
Map of the known world during the time of the prophets
Map of the Roman Empire during
the life of Jesus Christ
Many times Biblical archeological studies will also prove to be interesting and informative
to the student of scriptures. Archeological reports tend to be very confirming and assuring of Biblical history and sociology.
There is an increasing amount of information on maps and archeology on the internet. Many maps can be downloaded and
usually without cost. There are countless pages of reports on Biblical and mid eastern archeology. The irony of much of the
middle eastern archeological reports is that even from secular non religious sources, they all seem to be very confirming
of scriptural historical and geographical accounts.
Many times just
the use of various translations of the Old and New Testaments will help to shed light on various passages of scripture. It
is important to keep in mind that there is no perfect translation of the scriptures. This is because the originally inspired
text of the books of our Bible (in their original languages of Greek or Hebrew have to pass through the mind of an imperfect
man to be translated. Therefore there is always some margin for error. This is not a statement of condemnation inregards to
the translator, but rather a fact that we must consider anytime we read or study the Bible in any language other than its
original languages of Hebrew and Greek.
The English language constantly is changing and has different word interpretations from generation to generation. Idioms
can change and become popular is the normal use of the language and can influence the specific definitions and tone of a sentence.
Therefore a translation of the Bible into English and knowing its specific date may influence the understanding of a selected
passage of scripture.
Some of the most identifiable translations of the Bible into the English language are as follows;
The American Standard Version
The Amplified Bible
The Living Bible
The New American Standard Bible
New English Bible
The New International Version
The New King James Bible
The New Living Translation
Youngs Literal Translation
Some "translations" are actually paraphrases that blend more interpretative
words into the language of the text because they are not rooted in original text but rather derived from another translation.
They (such paraphrases) may be easier to read, but may be more diluted from the original language than are other translations.
It is always wise when reading a text in a paraphrase to check out specific word definitions or compare them with an actual
A GENERAL LIBRARY
It is always helpful to maintain a current library of books
and other applicable resources. A well stocked and well organized library will help the effective minister or Biblical student find
and use the resources needed for momentary situations, lesson and sermon preparation, personal study, interest development,
and for times of devotional and meditation.
A large amount of material is available on the internet, some of which
can be printed or downloaded on to a computer file freely for future use and reference. From entire books to articles or reference
papers targeted at specific topics, it is virtually impossible to consume all of the Biblical, theological and religious material
that is available on line. A good search engine can keep you busy for hours collecting and reading up on any topic.
are also many resources available on video and audio media. There are tape sets to cover just about any Scriptural theme needed.
There is much in the way of ministerial education and continuing education available from various Christian publishing houses
that can make learning a pleasure and virtually replace the classroom at times. These resources are always great to have on
hand to refresh yourself on topics of interest. Audio cassette tapes are great learning tools for drive time. Learn to integrate
your various library stock into your time management. You will be sure to notice the difference it will make in your ability
to converse, communicate and understand the various topics and aspects of Christian ministry.