What a Study Bible is and Why You Need One

study bibles for beginners, get a deeper understanding with a study bible

Share this! Your friends will love it...

Study bibles are excellent tools for getting a deeper understanding of God’s word. Do you have limited knowledge of the history and cultures surrounding the bible? Then a study bible can provide information that gives you insight on things you might not have known beforehand. Let’s take a deeper look at what study bibles are and you can decide if using one is right for you.

study bibles for beginners, get a deeper understanding with a study bible

What is a Study Bible?

A study bible is a bible that contains both original scripture as well as extended explanatory notes, cross-references, and other educational materials such as illustrations and maps.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you buy from my link I might make a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay. See the full affiliate disclosure here.

The study bible that I am currently using, ESV Student Study Bible by Crossway, breaks down it’s purpose “first and foremost to honor the Lord: (1) in terms of the excellence, beauty, and accuracy of its content and design, and (2) in terms of helping people come to a fuller understanding of the Bible, the gospel, and of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.”

What is the Difference Between a Study Bible and a Regular Bible?

The difference between a study bible and a regular bible is that regular bibles contain only scripture. Study bibles contain the original scripture but supplement this with study notes, commentaries, cross-references, timelines, illustrations, maps, and other resources that are meant to help you have a deeper understanding of the scriptures.

difference between scripture and study notes and resources in a study bible

What Does a Study Bible Look Like?

Different study bibles will have different appearances. In general, the original scripture is in larger font at the top of the page. The study notes and resources are kept separate and usually have a smaller/different font for easy distinguishing. Your study bible will most likely have an introduction explaining the layout and how to use the study bible.

what the maps inside of a study bible look like

Some study bibles are heavy on illustrations and maps that help you visually understand historical data and the background of scriptures. Others have more in-depth notes and commentaries that explain the meaning of scriptures as well as things like who they were meant for, the culture at the time, and other facts that you may not know without having studied the entire bible and the history surrounding the people in it.

Images and explanations inside of a study bible

A lot of study bibles also provide an introduction to each book within the bible. The bible I’m using shows a timeline, background on the author and date, theme, overview, and key themes.

What the introduction page looks like on my study bible

How a Study Bible Can Help You Understand the Word Better

A study bible can help you get a better understanding of God’s words in many ways:

  • Maps can show you the distance between locations and where locations are that scripture references.
  • Cross references can point you to other relevant scriptures to reinforce the scriptures you are reading.
  • Introductions to each book help you establish who the author is, who they are speaking to, and when and where they are speaking.
  • Historical notes give you a reference to relevant culture norms so you understand the people better.
  • Illustrations can help you visualize and understand things you’ve read about.
  • The glossary can provide definitions of commonly used words that you may not know the meaning of.
  • The concordance shows you where you can find words repeatedly used across the scriptures and the meaning context it was used in. I like to use this more in-depth concordance. The concordances included with study bibles are usually short and simplified but are still very useful.

What Should You Avoid When Using a Study Bible?

Study bibles are a great tool for those wishing to develop a deeper understanding of scripture. However, some caution should be taken when using using them. The most important thing to understand is the difference between the “divine words and merely human words” as my personal study bible states. When reading from a study bible, make sure that you are conscious of the fact that the footnotes are not words of God but words of scholars and should not be taken as inspired words.

The introduction of the ESV student study bible that I’m currently using does a great job at separating the words of the bible and the human commentary and notes. The writers suggest that you begin by reading the original words of the bible and seek to understand them yourself. Then, you can look to the study notes for the information and resources provided to you by the contributors who are commentating.

How to Choose a Study Bible

When choosing a study bible, you should first look for one that is in the translation you prefer. There are a lot of different opinions and preferences when it comes to translations. I personally am liking the ESV translation right now. This article from BibleStudyTools.com breaks down the different translations if you are having trouble deciding.

You should also look into the contributors to the study bible and make sure that you can trust their notes and the resources provided.

Another thing to consider is which resources mean the most to you. Do you like illustrations? Do you want real-life applications?

Popular Study Bibles

I wanted to find some popular study bibles to help you find the right one for you. I’ve checked reviews and features of the bibles and have outlined them below. Remember to do your own research though and find something that works for you!

ESV Student Study Bible

This is the one I’m currently using and really like. It’s described as being “for students who are serious about God’s Word–who want to learn more about what the Bible teaches and how the Bible applies to all of life”.

Some resources included:

  • study notes
  • “Did You Know” facts
  • character profiles
  • articles
  • glossary
  • maps and illustrations
  • concordance
  • cross-references

NLT Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition

This life application study bible is labeled as the #1 selling study bible. The description reads that “this NLT Bible will help you understand God’s Word better than ever. This study Bible for women and men answers real-life questions and provides practical yet powerful ways to apply the Bible to your life every day.”.

Some resources included:

  • notes
  • profiles
  • introductions
  • maps and charts
  • dictionary/concordance
  • cross-reference system

CSB Tony Evans Study Bible

This one is from Dr. Tony Evans and is really popular. The description reads “With tools for application, this Bible is designed to inspire readers to live and share the values of the kingdom of God.”.

Some resources included:

  • study notes from Tony Evans’ sermons and writings
  • videos included with a QR code
  • articles
  • “Kingdom Living Lessons”
  • questions and answers
  • “Hope Words”

NIV, The Woman’s Study Bible

This one is specifically for women. The description says that there are “special features designed to speak to a woman’s heart”. There are contributions from over 80 women with different backgrounds.

Some resources included:

  • full-color design
  • biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women
  • study notes
  • topical articles
  • essays
  • introductions and outlines
  • maps, charts, timelines and family trees

Share this! Your friends will love it...

Similar Posts