Tools for Bible Study
by Ligonier Ministries
This week, we have been looking at the process of hermeneutics, the science of biblical interpretation. We explored the grammatico-historical method, explicit versus implicit deductions and the basic literary forms found in the Bible. Today, we conclude our brief study of hermeneutics by outlining some of the tools necessary for Bible study.
Scripture. The first tool for Bible study is the Bible itself. Since most people cannot read the Scriptures’ original Hebrew and Greek text, a good English translation is needed. The best translations in English rely on a literal “word for word” approach to translation. The English Standard Version is perhaps the best translation currently available in English that relies mostly on a literal “word for word” approach.
Concordances. A serious study also necessitates using a concordance to look up Bible verses. You can find the location of a Bible verse by looking up a word you know is part of the verse. You can also use concordance to see many texts that address a particular biblical theme. Dozens of concordances are available in book stores and on the Internet.
Bible Dictionaries. A good Bible dictionary for looking up definitions and a good Bible atlas for viewing biblical maps are indispensable for study. These tools help the modern reader become familiar with unfamiliar terms and the biblical culture.
Commentaries. The Bible is the church’s only infallible authority, and throughout history, God has raised men within the church to teach the truths of His Word. Biblical commentaries help us see what the church has learned from Scripture. Commentaries written by those within the Reformed tradition, such as John Calvin’s, have proven to be reliable commentaries that have withstood the test of time.
In Knowing Scripture, Dr. Sproul recommends those who would like an overview of the message of Scripture read these books in the following order: Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Amos, Hosea, Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Psalms, Proverbs, Luke, Acts, Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, 1‑Peter, 1 Timothy, Hebrews, and Romans. You can also find our reading plan on the Bible app to read through the whole Bible in a year.
CORAM DEO Living before the face of God
An important work of the Holy Spirit is to illuminate the meaning of Scripture for us. He does this by working through our diligent study of His Word, utilizing the commentaries of men He has raised throughout history. When you sit down to study, do not neglect the tools the Spirit has given the church for understanding the Bible.