Sunday, August 27, 2023

Helpful Aids For Bible Study (#2)

By Joe Slater
    Once you have a suitable Bible to study and a good concordance to use, consider acquiring a Bible Dictionary. Many are available, some being better than others. Smith’s is an old standby, as is Peloubet’s. Just because it says “dictionary” doesn’t mean everything it says is true. Here’s the old refrain: Study and think!
    Bible Encyclopedias are basically the same as Bible Dictionaries, but more detailed. These works contain valuable background information to help you understand the Biblical text. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is an old standard, but there are many others. Like any uninspired book, read with your eyes wide open and your brain fully engaged!
    A Bible Atlas will help you locate countries, cities, rivers and seas, giving you a better grasp of what is happening in the Biblical records you read. It reminds you that the Bible deals with real people who lived in real places.
    I purposely saved Commentaries for last. Far too many people run to the commentary first. Commentaries can be valuable resources, but you should first read the text from multiple translations and then study it carefully by running cross references and using your concordance. Then make use of your Bible Dictionary and/or Bible Encyclopedia along with your Bible Atlas. The final resource you should consult is the commentary. You should already have a fair grasp of what the text is teaching before you reach for the commentary. It may provide some details and other points that you didn’t see before. Be aware of the religious background of the commentator. Expect to encounter some erroneous ideas from denominational authors, and sometimes even from members of the Lord’s church.
    I hope these suggestions will encourage you to be diligent and careful in your reading and study of the Bible!

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

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