The word of God is called "the sword of the Spirit". It is the most
powerful and most successful weapon in your spiritual warfare. However, like any weapon, it is most effective in battle if
you are trained on how to use it.
There are many good Bible study tools available today
to help us understand God’s Holy words. Standing in your local book store while glaring at walls full of Christian writings
- trying to determine where to begin - can be overwhelming and discouraging. This becomes especially true when you begin to
read through some of these books and discover Christian scholars criticizing one another, contradicting one another, each
claiming to be right and the other to be wrong. You may find yourself wondering how could so many good scholars come to so
many different conclusions from the same holy book?
some biblical scholars and theologians rely on the teachings and writings of early church fathers and church leaders. Some
have built doctrine and wrote dissertations and books and built churches based on information found in some of these
writings without considering the possibility that some of these early church fathers and leaders may have been wrong in their
doctrine. Because a certain doctrine or church practice was documented during the early church period doesn't
necessarily mean that the doctrine or practice was indeed correct. In fact, a good portion of the New Testament is spent
correcting the errors of some of these early church fathers and leaders. For example, both Peter and Jude attempted to correct
a specific false teaching (referred to as "the way of Balaam" in 2 Peter 2:15 and "the error of Balaam"
in Jude 11) that have crept into some of the churches around the year 65 AD. Years later, around the year 95 AD, the erroneous
way of Balaam had grown from false teaching to false doctrine in the church of Pergamos (Revelation 2:14).
The best way to guard yourself from the false doctrines of yesteryears or newly established false doctrines of today
is to following these instructions from God:
Acts 17:11 - "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica,
in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so."
This is a reminder to all of us that the word of God must be consulted to measure truthfulness and accuracy of all things,
especially those pertaining to God.
2 Timothy 2:15 - "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a
workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (King James translation). This is a
strong encouragement from God for us to study His words carefully so that we can be confident when we share our knowledge
5:21 - "Test all things; hold fast what is good" - This means that we are to test all things through the
Bible. Whatever does not measure correct to the scriptures must be rejected.
In other words, when it comes to the word
of God, we must cut through the maze of human opinion and go directly to the source - the word of God, to get Godly facts.
So, where to begin? Let's start with the basics; a Bible and a good concordance (one
with a lexicon/dictionary in the back). These items are enough to lay a solid foundation of good biblical understanding.
Remember, the Bible was not originally written in the English language. Unless you are fluent in the Hebrew, Aramaic,
and Greek languages that the books of the Bible were originally wirtten in, it is almost impossible to really understand the
Bible without a good concordance.
A Bible and a good concordance
(one with a lexicon/dictionary in the back). These items are enough to lay a solid foundation of good biblical
understanding. Remember, the Bible was not originally written in the English language. Unless you are fluent in the
Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages that the books of the Bible were originally wirtten in, you will need a good concordance
to help you understand the definition of words, in their original language, and how those words are used throughout the entire
Bible. Tremendous damage has been done within the Christian community by people who have alterned the
meaning of certain Bible passages by developing doctrine based on the English, or western definition of certain
Bible words. A good Bible student must remember that the Bible is eastern in its language, eastern in its thoughts,
and eastern in its cultures. We must take this into consideration as we approach holy scripture.
What Bible to Use?
many different Bible translations available in today's market, some of which with a specialty. The trick is finding a
Bible that is right for you! Here is some information about some of the popular Bibles that are available today:
- Plain Standard Bibles - these Bibles contain no notes, no maps or cross scripture reference, but just the word of
God. This is good for plain reading, but does not offer assistance for studying. These bibles are available in almost
all translations, i.e., King James, New King James, New American Standard Bible, New International Bible, Amplified Bible,
- Devotional Bibles - devotional Bibles contains
a devotional plan for reading the Bible each day. They give you a daily passage to read and a daily devotional thought to
help build faith and dedication to God. The primary focus is on devotion, not education. These bibles
are also available in almost all translations, i.e., King James, New King James, New American Standard Bible, New International
Bible, Amplified Bible, etc.
- Paraphrase Bibles - paraphrase Bibles are not a word for word translations
but rather a thought for thought translation (hence it's a paraphrase and not a true translation). Popular paraphrase
Bibles includes the New Living Translation, the New Century Bibles, the Message, the Good News Bible, and others. A paraphrase
Bible is good for understanding the basic message or thought behind passages. It is great for kids since it is easy to read
and good for people who have zero knowledge of the Bible and want to get a very basic understanding of the entire Bible. Its
downfall is that spiritual growth is limited. You cannot perform word searches or get behind the definition of words and terms.
Bible study tools such as a concordance or expository dictionary won't work with a paraphrase Bible since these tools
are designed for a word translation Bible and not a though translation Bible. You are at the mercy of the writer's interpretation
and it is almost impossible to take the Berean Approach since you don't have a true word for word translation from an
original manuscript. Good for beginners, but you will quickly outgrow it.
Study Bibles - there are many different types of study Bibles. Some are designed
for beginner to mid-level Bible students (i.e., Life Application Study Bible or the Inductive Study Bible) while others are designed for advanced students (i.e.,
Key Word Study Bible). Most study Bibles include the basic features such as background information for each Bible book, profiles
or biographies of certain biblical people, time-line of historical events, maps and charts, scriptural cross references, and
explanations and commentaries of hard-to-understand verses. They differ in their area of concentration. For example,
the Life Application Study Bible contains all the necessary ingredients to understanding the Word of God, but has a concentration
on how to apply what you learned into your life. An Inductive Study Bible will also contain the necessary
ingredients to understanding the Bible but have a greater concentration on teaching how to get to the original meaning
of Bible words and passages and understanding it's proper context. A Key Word Study Bible focuses on key words of
the Bible, their original meaning, and how they were originally used. This Bible includes the Strong's Reference
Number above key words throughout the Bible and grammatical tools to assist in understanding grammar, particularly
Greek verbs of the New Testament (the original language of the New Testament). Study Bibles tend to be more expensive, costing anywhere from $40.00 to over
$100.00, but they offer great information to help you understand the Scriptures. A great Bible for
the serious student!
Popular Bible Translations
Some of the most popular Bible translations are The King James Bible (KJ), the New American Standard Bible (NASB),
The New International Bible (NIV), and the Amplified Bible. With the exception of the paraphrase Bible, you can find each
of the above types of Bibles in one of these translations.
KJ Bible has been the standard English translation for almost four hundred years. Its a majestic style and dignity have
given it an enduring and universal appeal.
The NASB is the most widely accepted contemporary word-for-word translation.
Based on the original American Standard Version, it is highly regarded for its scholarship and accuracy.
is the best selling modern English Bible translation. It is a scholarly translation that accurately expresses the original
Bible texts in clear and contemporary English while remaining faithful to the thoughts and meaning of the Biblical writers.
The Amplified Bible is also based on the American Standard Version, however, it uses a system of synonyms, punctuation,
typographical features, and clarifying words or phrases to reveal shades of meaning of key words in the original text.
When selecting a Bible translation (i.e., KJ, NIV, NASB, etc.) you should consider the manuscripts
that were used by the translator(s) for writing that Bible translation. The reason why this is important is because
some manuscripts do not contain certain Bible passages that are found in other manuscripts. If the Bible translation
you are using relied exclusively on one manuscript, your Bible may very well be missing these Bible passages.
For example, in comparing the KJ Bible with the NIV Bible you will find that the following Bible passages are not included
in the NIV:
Matthew 17:21 "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
Matthew 18:11 "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost."
7:16 "If any man have ears to hear, let him
Mark 9:44 "Where their worm
dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
Mark 9:46 "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
Mark 11:26 "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven
forgive your trespasses."
Mark 15:28 "And
the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors."
Luke 17:36 "Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the
(And there are others.)
Do your homework!
Find out more information about the manuscript(s) used by the Bible translation your are interest in prior to making the purchase.
Some manuscripts are more accurate than others; and most Bibles will explain which manuscripts were used.
The next thing we must acknowledge is that no Bible translation is free of translation errors. Such errors were not
in the original manuscript but were introduced much later. For example, consider the following comparison
chart of 2 Samuel 21:19 with 1 Chronicles 20:5 - which contain the same story but from four different translations:
|2 Samuel 21:19|
|Kings James Version
Bible||Amplified Version Bible||New American Standard Bible||New International Version
“And there was again a battle in
Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.”
“There was again war at Gob with the Philistines; and
Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim, a Bethlehemite, slew Goliath the Gittite, whose spear shaft
was like a weaver’s beam.”
there was war with the Philistines again, at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the
Gittite, the shaft of whose
spear was like a weaver’s beam.”
“In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim, the Bethlehemite,
killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with
a shaft like a weaver’s rod.”
|1 Chronicles 20:5|
| Kings James Version Bible|| Amplified Version Bible|| New
American Standard Bible||New International Version Bible |
“And there was again war with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew
Lahmi the brother of Goliath
the Gittite, whose spear staff
was like a weaver’s beam.”
was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.”
“And there was war with the Philistines again, and Elhanan the
son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath
the Gittite, the staff of whose
spear was like a weaver’s beam.”
“In another battle with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shift like a weaver’s beam.”
In the above example,
the King James translation is the oldest of the four and is the only one that correctly identifies the BROTHER of Goliath
as being the one killed during the battle of Gob (aka Gezer) in 2 Samuel 21:19. The other three translations erroneously identify
Goliath as being the one killed during this battle (although we know from 1 Samuel 17 that it was David who killed this infamous
In the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 20:5) while the King James translation maintains its harmony with 2
Samuel 21:19, the other three translations correctly identifies the person killed as Lahmi, the brother of Goliath, but in
doing so they now stand in contradiction of how they previously recorded this same event in 2 Samuel 21:19.
not advocating that you should burn your NIV or NASB Bible and run out and purchase a King James translation. The point is
simply to make you aware that no translation is free of translation errors, however, the older the manuscript and the translation,
the more likely translation errors have either been corrected or well documented in the footnotes.
you prefer the King James Version but with a more modern wording, there is a New King James Version available that does not
use words like "thee” and "thou" and is easier to read.
The important part
to remember when studying your Bible is the purpose of your study. The purpose of your study should always be about discovering
the Author and developing a personal and intimate relationship with Him. Remember, although the Bible was written by 40 different
people, it has only one Author - God Almighty. For this reason the best Bible to get is a study Bible as they contain helpful
study tools that will assist in your learning. In addition, a Life Application Study Bible helps with teaching how to apply
lessons from the Bible to your everyday life. The New King James Life Application Study Bible is a great starting place. It
offers all the necessary tools to assist in developing a solid foundation of the word of God.
following are links to several stores that carry the New King James Version Life Application Study Bible. Click on the desired
store name to go directly to its web site.
Berean Christian Stores
Barnes and Noble