What are the basics of doing a credible Bible Study on your own? In several posts that may or may not be consecutive, I’d like to try and answer that question. Hopefully this information will be helpful to young pastors, laymen, Sunday School teachers, and those who teach new believers.
To study the Bible, the first thing you need is a Bible. That’s profound, isn’t it? :-) . The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic). But unless you are fluent in those languages, you need a good English translation.
Good modern English Bible translations include the New King James Version (NKJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). My favorite is the NKJV. That may be partly because I grew up using the old King James Version (KJV).
Once you get a good translation of the Bible, the next thing you need is a second translation of the Bible. Why? Because when one translation is not clear, another translation may be. It can help your understanding to occasionally read the passage under study in a different translation. So get at least two of the above translations. Most of these translations in hardback editions cost about $10 to $20.
Third, get a good Study Bible. A Study Bible has Bible Study helps built right into the volume. Study helps like: a brief introduction to each of the 66 books of the Bible, footnotes that explain hard to understand verses, cross references in the margins that tell you about similar or contrasting verses elsewhere in the Bible, brief glossary or dictionary, concordance to help you find Bible verses, maps, and short articles on major doctrines and themes in the Bible. A Study Bible can give brief, easy to understand explanations of many Bible subjects. While you will end up disagreeing with some of the Bible Study notes, they can keep you from getting too far off base in basic Christian doctrine.
There are many helpful Study Bibles. In my opinion, some of the best are the Scofield Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, and the Criswell Study Bible (Later editions called Believer's Study Bible, and Baptist Study Edition; all are good. I have the Believer's Study Bible).
The Criswell Study Bible (Managing Editor Paige Patterson), and its various editions, is unfortunately out of print, but can still be found in some bookstores or at amazon.com. Hopefully it will one day be republished; it is one of the best.
The above Study Bibles are available in several Bible translations. So you may want to kill two stones with one bird by getting two Study Bibles in different translations :-) . The drawback to a Study Bible is that it is more expensive. Study Bibles range in price from $20 to $50 dollars for a hardback edition, to $50 to over $100 for leather-bound editions. They can be purchased at LifeWay Stores (lifewaystores.com), other local Christian bookstores, or through amazon.com, christianbooks.com, etc. They make great birthday and Christmas gifts. (Be sure to give your local Christian bookstore some of your business. If they don‘t have it in stock, they can order it.)
Once you get a Study Bible, take some time to read the introduction and the explanation of their Helps and Notes. Many have a Study Bible for years without knowing how to take advantage of all the helps it offers.
Much of the above Bible Study information can also be obtained free on the internet at crosswalk.com and BibleGateway.com. They offer numerous Bible translations, concordance (word search), and other study helps. While these two sites are good, be cautious about the internet. Some websites are faithful to the Word of God, many are not.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 24, AD 2009.