You have read your Bible, but are now interested in more serious Bible study. Here are some tools that will help you get started. Some of these Bible study tools are recommended books, while others are online resources.
Basic Bible Study Tools
The first thing you need is a Bible. It will help to have a Bible that is easy to read. While having a small pocket Bible that you can carry with you in a backpack or purse is nice, these are often difficult on the eyes if you are doing a lot of reading and serious study.
Besides being easy to read, find a Bible that will lie flat on a table so that you can leave it open while holding other books or writing in your notebook. Some Bibles have wide margins to help you keep notes right in the Bible instead of needing a separate study notebook.
There are several types of study Bibles to choose from. Study Bibles are Bibles which have outlines or color coding to help you understand the text as it relates to the rest of the book, or the Bible as a whole. Some study Bibles are arranged differently than a normal Bible. They may have the text of the Bible laid out in topical or chronological format. Most, however, will simply have notes in the margins or along the bottom of the page that explain certain verses and tell you which other verses in the Bible talk about the same thing.
Bible study books are as varied as the types of Bibles you can buy. There are Bible overview books. They are also called Bible surveys. These give an outline and a chapter summary each biblical book. Bible overview books are helpful if you want to get an understanding of what is contained in the biblical book without getting bogged down on individual verses.
Bible handbooks are more detailed than the overview books. Handbooks give more details about the culture and geography of the location covered in the biblical passage. Halley's Bible Handbook has been around for more than 50 years and is respected by Bible scholars. It is easy to read and can be found in most Bible bookstores.
There are websites that allow you to search through different passages and Bible versions quickly and easily. One such website is BibleGateway.com. It is easy to look up individual words as well as topics. The strength of Bible Gateway is the many different versions and translations. Some Bible versions are copyrighted. The copyright holders require software and websites to pay for usage of that Bible version. Most websites choose not to pay the copyright fee and therefore cannot offer certain versions or translations. Bible Gateway pays for these different Bibles and offers their usage freely to their site's visitors.
Advanced Bible Study Tools
Any Bible you would use for basic Bible study can be used for more advanced study. A good Bible can last for many years. Take the time to learn what you want in a Bible by visiting a Bible bookstore. They can show you Bibles in many sizes and qualities. Invest in the best one you can afford. Usually, but not always, the more expensively bound a Bible is, the longer it will last.
Beyond overview books and Bible handbooks there are Bible commentaries. These are often multi-volume books that give verse by verse level commentary. There is no need to buy a whole commentary set when first starting out. You can buy individual books from a set, though buying the whole set at once will usually yield a steep discount in price.
A good concordance is helpful. A concordance is a book that allows you to look up a word and find the verses in the Bible that use that word. Most Bibles will have a basic concordance in the back. If you are reading from the King James Version of the Bible, a Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is an indispensable tool. This concordance includes every word of the King James Bible. Not only can you find where every word is used, a Strong's concordance gives information on the the word in its original language. A Strong's concordance gives you a word by word explanation of what you are reading. Even if you are not reading the King James Version of the Bible, a Strong's concordance can be helpful as it gives alternate spellings and renderings of words. Strong's was originally written and tied to the King James Version of the Bible.
A more advanced tool for Bible study online is the BlueLetterBible.org website. Blue Letter Bible allows you to look up the Strong's Concordance information right at the website. It is easy to compare Bible versions. There are pages and pages of information and online Bible study tools. These include charts, outlines and lists of different types of stories in the Bible.
Bible Gateway and Blue Letter Bible have different strengths. There are many times more Bibles and translations at Bible Gateway than at Blue Letter Bible. In English alone there are 24 Bibles at Bible Gateway and only 11 at Blue Letter Bible. Blue Letter Bible has a few foreign Bibles, whereas Bible Gateway has Bibles in more than 50 different languages.
The strength of Blue Letter Bible is the number of Bible study tools. Bible Gateway is best used when you simply need to find the text of a passage. Blue Letter Bible has tools to help you study the underlying language and nuances of the original text.
For a serious Bible student, both of these resources are invaluable. Bible Gateway even more so if you are needing a translation in another language.
A good Bible, a few books and some online tools will help any student of the Bible have a better understanding of God's Word. It certainly is possible to spend a lot of money to study and understand the Bible, but a diligent student can spend a lifetime studying the Bible with just a few simple tools.