Bible Study Tools for the Beginner

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One of my reasons for writing here is to encourage you in your personal walk with God. And one of the foundations of that is a healthy, habitual time in God's Word.

Sometimes, that can seem overwhelming or even underwhelming, right?

We can look at the scope of the Bible & it can seem daunting. So many stories to pick through. So much of the language can be difficult to understand, especially when you're still learning to dissect a passage.

We can sit down to read a passage & seemingly glean nothing. It can feel dry. It could be the subject matter is (on the surface level) not applicable to your life in that moment.

While there are different methods & practices that can help your Bible study, I want to highlight a few basic items that can be really helpful to someone who is just getting started. Maybe a new Christian. Or maybe someone who has stepped away from regular Bible study & is trying to get back in the habit. Or maybe, like me, you've been a Christian since childhood & never invested time in the Word until adulthood.

So, here are a few ideas to get you started!


Study Bibles

The first tool is a really good study Bible. A basic Bible is great & most will have some cross-references to help you as you read & study. However, if you're wanting to do some deep dives into a passage, a Bible with some explanatory notes, historical information, diagrams, & more can be so helpful. Here are a few ideas for you --

ESV Women's Study Bible - Just because it's a women's edition doesn't mean it's no good. With teachers like Jen Wilkin & Trillia Newbell adding their expertise, this is definitely a great one to have on hand.

CSB She Reads Truth Edition - CSB is a fairly new translation, so study editions aren't really out yet. (If you're interested in learning more, I encourage you to do some research. Translation is pretty fascinating work!) The ladies at She Reads Truth have such a beautiful heart for encouraging us to read & study God's Word. This one is probably not as in-depth, but it looks like it has some devotional & commentary aspects.

ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible - As I was searching, I saw this one & had to add it. To many of us, we are seeking to like a Gospel-centered, Gospel-fueled life. But it can be difficult to find those connections. This edition is all about connecting Old & New Testaments, centering them around the Good News of Jesus Christ, & taking time to help the reader apply it to their life today. It looks really interesting!


Journaling Bibles

Journaling Bibles are a little different because they don't have the extra commentary that the study editions have, but they have large margins for notes & cross references from your own personal study. Or the margins are great for taking notes during sermons or Bible studies with fellow believers.

ESV Journaling Bible - There are a few in this series of Artist Edition Bibles, but my favorite is this one with cover art by Ruth Chou Simons of Her mission to "adorn the Gospel" has allowed her to share God's truth with so many.

CSB Notetaking Edition - Hosanna Revival is another Christian artist who makes custom Bibles. This one is a mass-produced edition, and I love that someone who maybe loves her work but could never afford the custom price tag can now have a Bible designed by her. This one is also in the CSB which could be very helpful to some friends.

ESV Illuminated Scripture Journals - Following the old tradition of illuminated texts, these journals use creativity to adorn the Biblical text. If you've ever seen medieval books or Bibles, you'll see the history behind using this method for special texts.


Bible Study Helps

So, you've got your fancy new edition of the Bible. Now, you'd like to step in a little deeper. Yay! Let's take a look at some books that might be really helpful to have on your bookshelf or next to you as you study.

Matthew Henry's Commentary of the Whole Bible - Commentaries are helpful if you want to dive a little deeper than the notes in your study Bible. They really flesh out the explanations & connections. While Matthew Henry's full commentary is multiple volumes, this edition condenses it down to one. Henry's commentary is one of the most commonly-recommended books of its kind. Some of the language may be a little old-fashioned, so you may want to look into the more modern commentaries, too. (Tony Evans & John MacArthur come to mind as more contemporary options. Just remember, you won't agree with everything one person says & that's OK! That's why people will consult multiple sources, so don't be surprised if you start collecting commentaries.)

Understanding the Bible by John Stott - I know my husband has done a Bible study with other men that was written by John Stott. This book gives you an introduction to Jewish history & culture as it relates to the Bible. Books like this help us see the Bible in its historical context which can be so eye-opening!

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin - I cannot recommend Jen Wilkin's books enough. She is one of those faithful Bible teachers who consistently speaks truth. This book is perfect to read as you begin studying. Even if you've read the Word many times, Jen gives some basic "how-to" steps for personal study.


Bible Study Books

While there is nothing like simply reading God's Word for yourself, sometimes it is also very encouraging & challenging to walk through a guided Bible study. There are so many to choose from & some are geared for a group setting. Here are a few others that I've either done personally or they come highly recommended.

The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms & Wisdom Books by Nancy Guthrie - I did this study with ladies at my church in Maryland. It was by far one of my favorites. It walks you through the wisdom books - Job, Psalms, Proverbs, & Ecclesiastes - to show how Jesus is the perfect wisdom of God. Eye opening for sure! Nancy Guthrie has such a passion for equipping women to study the Bible for themselves. This study has a DVD option, but I'm pretty sure I remember it covering a lot of the same material as the books. So, it is very doable without that element.

40 Days Through the Bible: The Answers to Your Deepest Longings by Lysa TerKeurst - I've done a couple of Lysa TerKeurst (or LT if you're cool) studies, but they were video-based. I wanted to stick to ones that were able to be done without that for this post. This one looks really good because it takes you through the whole scope of Scripture. It's brand new, so check it out!

Adorned: Living out the Beauty of the Gospel Together by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth - This is a Bible study that focuses in on one chapter. It's a book that also has a study guide, and you can buy them as a bundle. A friend of mine uses this often with ladies she disciples. And the author is yet another faithful Bible teacher.

Almost forgot to mention that you can find a lot of affordable yet Biblically-sound studies over at The Daily Grace Company. So much good stuff & they also run sales often if you want to grab a few then!


Extra Items for Bible Study

Have you ever sat next to an older Christian & their Bible is underlined & highlighted & worn from many years of study? I used to do that alllll the time as a young person (which got me in trouble when I started putting hearts around the name Joshua when I was desperately in love with a boy so named). Since then, I've left my Bibles in unmarked condition. But, I think it might be time to start marking it up again! (After all, my husband's name isn't a Bible name, so I think we're safe from those earlier mistakes...)

Highlighters - Any highlighters will do! I've seen some people use different colors for different topics, different years, or as a way to highlight various theological concepts (like promises or names of God).

Bible Tabs - I always wanted these as a kid, especially when they did sword drills! Anyone else have sword drill anxiety leftover from childhood?? Of course, they usually disqualified the kids who were using those. Anyway, these are a great tool if you are constantly flipping through your Bible for a specific word study.

Notebook or Journal - I've really benefited from taking notes as I read. It helps me focus on & digest what I'm reading. Any blank journal will do. Target or even Dollar Tree sell cute ones that will do the job.


OK - you're all geared up for your new Bible study practice! Are you excited?

I'll level with you - there will be days & seasons when consistent Bible study is harder than others. And that's OK. It's completely normal & you should be prepared to stick with it. Maybe you need to take a break from the reading plan you're following & grab a Bible study. Or rope a friend into doing one with you!

Or do a word study. Since starting this blog, I've been periodically writing posts in a "Bible Verses about..." series & they are basically just word studies!

Just don't give up!

We serve a faithful God. Even when you're reading Leviticus or the second half of Daniel or Zechariah, He will faithfully meet you where you are. Paul reminds us that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16) Nothing is wasted with God. He will use it for your good!

I am cheering you on as always!

Could you do me a favor? If this post was helpful, do you mind sharing it or pinning it? That helps more than you realize. Thanks!

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