Selecting a study bible, and looking forward to the time I’ll spend in it, has been one of the most joyous experiences I’ve had. This is truly like making out a Christmas wish list and just waiting for Christmas morning. There are so many options available. Also, I’ve found out that study bibles are designed with different themes, to meet varying needs for everyone. A friend once told me that my bible is actually a lover letter to me, from God. That excites me! Love is one of the greatest things we can experience. I’m going on a journey to find the most amazing love experience of my life; please join me.
Why a Study Bible?
As I review study bible options, it’s clear that I’ll be able to take so much more away from my devotional experience than I have in the past with a traditional text. The bible overall can be a complex thing. Add on: that it’s dated, the language and interpretations are different, the meanings behind the texts, the location, chronological order, etc. The publishers have addressed these issues, and through their efforts, I’ve seen how the bible comes to life. I know this is what God intended. It has always been His desire that our experience with Him be a living, joyous and exciting adventure. An adventure of a lifetime!
As I look over various study bibles and their options, I’m keeping the publisher in mind. I’ve found a number of names I recognize as strong and reputable. I own their bibles. Names like Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, and Cambridge, and there are numerous others. Tyndale has been publishing since 1962, Thomas Nelson since 1798 and Cambridge since 1591. I want to use a publisher who I know is producing sound doctrinal text. I may choose a more updated translation, but I don’t want something extremely erroneous. Example, my friend has studied for years in a bible by Scofield Publishing and believes some things that are very contrary to biblical doctrine, according to the Received Text.
Connecting Two Worlds
When studying my regular bible maybe I’d grasp the application and maybe not. Exploring study bibles and especially life application study bibles, I’m finding a connection between, (what I thought to be) two literal worlds. The world of biblical: events, characters, God’s plan of salvation, and Christ, and then there was the real world of my life today. The timeline, life application notes, recordings of historical events that were part of world history, but not located in scripture has helped me to see, I’ve been living a part of God’s world, and His plan of redemption is truly a part of my life today.
One study bible I previewed included a chart that outlined the activities in the life of Christ by denoting where it could be located, in which gospel, by the color coding in the outline. I see this as a very useful tool for personal or small group study. From a glance at this chart, I saw that my former preconceived notions, that the gospel accounts were the same information, from four sources, was inaccurate. I found some gospel comparisons that also included figures from the bible, referencing various character strengths and weakness, and how we could identify with that in our lives and grow.
Chronological Study Bibles
One thing I’ve learned about chronological study bibles is that they lay out biblical events in the order in which they’ve happened. I’m purchasing one. I think I could speak for more than a few us when I say we’ve spent a fair amount of our lives learning things in a logical order, historically, how one variable will affect another when added to an equation. As I review some sample pdf files of chronological study bibles, a whole new perspective has opened up to me. One I hope you’ll examine, as well.
Chain Reference Bibles
Some bibles are specific to chain referencing. This simply means following one reference after another to complete a thought. The chain begins at one point and ends at another. The bible is full of biblical concepts that weave throughout the old and new testaments like beautiful spun threads of gold. The Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible won the Evangelical Christian Publishing Associations book of the year award in 2009, though the Ryrie Chain Reference Bible has higher reviews. I can also, chain references throughout my bible, with the purchased referencing tabs from the bible supply store.
Life Application Study Bible
Several publishers have used the important theme of, Life Application, to design study bibles. I reviewed the top sales for 2013, and many publishers reported the, Life Application bible, to be one of the top selling bibles. In these texts, character profiles are emphasized. It’s so encouraging to see how God gave His people the ability to work towards overcoming sin, and walking more closely with Him. When I view the characters stories of people like Peter and Paul, and how God worked with them, I’m able to see His working in my life, more clearly each day.
Comparative Study Bible
A comparative study bible has multiple translations in one. Zondervan publishers have one that was listed as part of the top ten study bibles for last year. I like the fact that you can read four versions at one time. This specific bible is NIV, NASB, NKJV and KJV. From the 173 reviews, 132 people gave this text a five star rating. The only negative comments I found were, print size is small, and one reviewer felt the print could’ve been darker, but in large print it should be ideal. For a comparative translation study this would be excellent.
In a small group bible study I attended at our church, the instructor used the Amplified Bible. This text helped our lesson open up in amazing ways. The Amplified Bible, though it’s not a study bible, is considered to be in the top ten for study bibles – 2013. According to Biblegateway.com the Lockman Foundation who published this bible in 1987, did so with the desire of bringing out the word meaning and context in each verse. This was done to Amplify, the richness of the Greek and Hebrew text.
Hebrew – Greek – Keyword Study Bible
I’d give this study bible to a seminary student, or one involved in serious word study. There are Hebrew and Greek numbered lexicons in the text with corresponding numbers in the back. The keywords here are numerically coded to the Strong’s Exhaustive Bible Concordance. I found from reviewing this text, that it has roughly a 4.75 rating out of 58 consumers. However, many of them commented that this is for a serious student, a teacher or a preacher. I recommend this bible as a course of study, and will consider it personally.
Apologetics Study Bible – Understand Why You Believe
Christian apologetics is another way of saying winsome witnessing. This powerful bible includes the HCSB text, an introduction to each book of the bible, and profiles of apologetics in biblical history. The apostle Paul was one of the greatest apologetics ever. This text also includes over 100 articles from well-known apologetics authors of today such as: Ted Cabal, Chuck Colson, Lee Strobel, Norm Geisler, Josh McDowell, and many more. This insightful text is a study bible experience that each of us could benefit from.
Every Man’s Bible – Every Man’s Series – By Merrill, Tyndale
For our fella’s out there I looked over a lot of study bibles, and conducted many, reviews. The study bible for men that came back the most highly recommended and reviewed, is the Every Man’s Bible, by Tyndale. Guys are saying this is the go to book, the one that’s kept by their bedside and read daily. I read that this text is gaining them ground in successful Christian living. True content with applications and notes for topics like: work, sex, women, competition, integrity and more. Also, words of advice from some well- known Christian scholars: Henry Blackaby, Stuart Briscoe, Tony Evans, Chuck Swindoll, and more.
Women’s Study Bible
I found numerous women’s study bibles. I didn’t know we had so much spiritual food available to us. Several publishers have excellent women’s study bibles; I’d encourage others to do some research, read reviews and shop. As a woman I’ve lived through dysfunctional and destructive relationships. Years ago, Pastor T.D. Jakes wrote, Woman Thou Art Loosed, which is highly used, and commended. He now has put together a woman’s bible, addressing many of the issues to help women overcome destructive pasts and issues with self-esteem, this is the perfect study bible, for the right person. I highly endorse this bible.
KJV Study Bible for Kids – Lawrence O. Richards
From investigating, this KJV study bible for kids (ages 6-11), is one of the most highly recommended bibles in that age group. I see how thrilled the parents are with their children’s reactions to studying this text. The beautiful colored photos, appropriate font, purple bold subtitles, and the layout are done with children in mind. It’s aesthetically pleasing and helps to stimulate an interest. A special life application section on the page bottom puts the lesson in a different perspective asking them what they think about it, or how they feel it applies to their lives.
Ignite Study Bible – Thomas Nelson
This powerful study bible for (teens) has a gray cover with a single orange flame, with the title Ignite. The simplicity of this book and its unique features are bringing to young people a freshness and an ability to focus on the word. Colors and design layout are simple. The content is rich and sound. This is a NKJV bible that is very highly reviewed and recommended. This text is also for young men or young women. However, consideration could be given, toward a specific book for a young man and something more specific geared to a young woman.
ESV Student Study Bible – Crossway
This bible received the ECPA, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, award for book of the year in 2012. From my research, out of 81 reviews, this book has nearly a 4.80 rating on five stars. This text includes almost 12,000 study notes, new character profiling to bring bible characters to life, and almost 900 ‘did you know’ facts. It has over 80 full color maps and illustrations, so my student can easily locate things. It really impresses me that there were over 100 Christian pastor, scholars and teachers working cooperatively on this effort. I’d consider this for (high-school age and college youth.)
ESV Children’s Bible – Publisher, Crossways
I love this beautiful children’s bible. It is for the young person in my home, even my four year old grandson who is a pre-reader. This easy to read, English Standard Version has 200 pages of photos that appear with the adjoining story. The size is perfect for small hands, yet big enough to make even the smallest “big girl” feel grown up. There is a study helps with important verses to memorize as they are growing, explanation on God’s plan of salvation and bible charts. From the reviews, this highly recommended book is good for any young person, prior to starting school and up to middle school.
Best Study Bible
What I’ve learned, through all of the research, various types of study bibles, and numerous publishers, I’ve not found any bible as highly reviewed or recommended as the Tyndale Life Application Bible. This text in its many translations: KJV, NKJV,NASB, NLT, and NIV are about the most faithfully read and well-loved study text available. Now Tyndale has added to that with their Chronological Life Application Study Bible. This text was awarded the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association’s book of the year award for 2013. This bible or the Life Application Study Bible, would be my choice and my recommendation. The Chronological Life Application Study Bible has a free sample pdf for review, online.