This week, in the How to Study the Bible Class, we covered the basic tools for Bible Study. Here is the resource page I built for that class…

The five basic tools for Bible Study:


an index of every word found in the Bible. It allows you to find words and look up the original language, using the Strong’s numbering system.

  • It is important to note that a concordance is linked to a particular English translation of the Bible. If you try to look up a word that you read in the NRSV or the NIV, and use the Strong’s Concordance, you might not find the word in that verse. That’s because the Strong’s Concordance is linked to the King James Version (KJV).
  • Here are links to two print versions of concordances (remember that you can do all the work of a concordance using the online tools below).

Bible Handbook

provides an introduction to each book of the Bible, including author, audience, main themes, and outline. Here are some Bible Handbooks:

Bible Dictionary

an alphabetical listing of major topics, people, and places found in the Bible.


a guide to the geography and history of the stories found in the Bible. Here are some Bible Atlases:


a scholar’s interpretation and “play-by-play” of each book, chapter, and verse of the Bible. Commentaries come in many shapes and sizes. Some are designed for the layperson (meaning someone not formally trained in seminary). Some are designed for preachers and pastors (these go more into the original languages and historical context). Some are designed for the scholar and go deep into theory, and are generally very difficult to read.

  • A warning about commentaries:
    1. Don’t consult commentaries until AFTER you have done your own observation and interpretation work. Commentaries are a scholar’s interpretation of the text.
    2. Know the author before you read the commentary. You can read ten commentaries on the same passage of scripture and get ten very different interpretations. That’s because the commentator is writing from and for a particular theological lens, e.g. Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Jewish, Muslim, etc.
  • Here are some readable commentaries:

A One-Stop Shop: The Study Bible

The first and most basic way to access these tools is through a Study Bible. We recommend the Lutheran Study Bible. A study Bible has an abbreviated version of all the tools listed above, in one convenient volume.

Online Tools

You can access all these tools online. Here are the three links I mentioned in the video:

Also, you can access great handbook, atlas, and commentary resources at

Here’s the video from the class session…



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