In the previous two articles we considered some of the problems connected with Bible study, solutions to those problems, and principles involved in proper study. It remains for us to consider the tools that are used for Bible study.
When we speak of tools we understand that someone uses them. For example, a hoe is a tool that is a great help in cleaning a garden. But, if that hoe is not picked up and used by someone, if someone does not work with it, it is useless. So it is with tools for Bible study. We must use them. We must work with them. Are we repelled by that? We should not be because work that leads us to a greater understanding of the God of our salvation, builds our faith, and brings glory to Him.
The tools necessary for Bible study are few though without them one cannot do an effective job. They are as follows:
1. A good quality Bible. I know that a good Bible is rather expensive but it is well worth it. You will use it for many years. The covers, binding and paper must be the sort that is not easily ruined. Once you get a good Bible, use it as a tool. Write in it. Underline in it. Develop a system of reference in the Bible — perhaps with different numbers or colors to mark certain texts or topics. By using your Bible in this way you will find it much easier to find texts that you try to recall. Not only does your reference system help, also the fact that you use the Bible over many years helps you remember just where to look on the pages.
Just a couple more points about finding a good Bible. First of all, shop around for the style of type and layout you find easiest to read. Don’t be easily satisfied, because you plan to live with your decision for a long time. Secondly, though you may want study helps in your Bible, for example a wide margin for notes, I would advise to stay away from highly detailed reference systems in your Bible. Though one might wish to have a chain reference Bible (or something similar) as a secondary reference, I have found them cluttered and bent in a Premillennial direction. In fact reference systems often try to lead the reader to agree with the basic theological tenets of the originator. Finally, when it comes to a personal study Bible, make mine King James. The Authorized Version is in my opinion the wisest choice. It is one of the most accurate. It is also the version used in our churches and schools. I can testify to the confusion of trying to switch versions having been raised on the American Standard. Other versions can certainly be helpful in understanding a text. But, I can guarantee that you will find your study of the Bible will be more meaningful and applicable if you insist on making yours King James.
2. A good dictionary. I would hardly dare to estimate the number of times a teacher advises his (or her) students to “use a dictionary.” The dictionary is the most basic tool of communication and understanding. Do not be too proud to use it. Even the most gifted scholars have a good dictionary sitting at their right hand. Dictionaries are constructed to include the meanings of the words in the King James. In fact, many words would have been omitted long ago as being archaic except for the fact that they are in current use in the Bible. One of the primary complaints against the A.V. (or King James Version) is the fact that its language is archaic. That is not a valid objection as far as understanding a text is concerned. Yes, it means work. But, we have committed ourselves to work. And, we should use the dictionary even with familiar words in order to have a clear understanding. Also, you will find that the more you take the time to study out the meaning of a word, also of an archaic word, that it will be easier and easier to understand what is being said. So, use your dictionary. It is an essential tool for your study of the Bible.
To be continued.