The best thing about a study Bible is that enables a person to have ready access to help understanding the Bible. Most study Bibles try to address the major questions people have when reading Scripture. Historically one of the greatest ways to study the Bible is to purchase individual commentaries for whatever book of the Bible you are currently studying (provided you choose a reputable and trustworthy scholar). Obviously this can become very expensive, not to mention inconvenient in terms of storage and mobility. A good study Bible provides you with excellent commentary in a convenient, mobile, and handy package: one bound book.
The photograph above features six of my study Bibles. I own several more, but I chose to show these because since my conversion to Christ as a teenager these six Bibles were each, at one time, my primary study Bible of preference. I arranged them in photo chronologically from bottom to top, starting with the red Ryrie Study Bible, my first study Bible. The ESV Study Bible is currently my favorite study Bible. It is not pictured above because this photo was taken at my office and my ESV Study Bible is at home.
I started with the Ryrie Study Bible because that was the Bible I saw that my uncle used. My uncle was a Baptist deacon and had a reputation for being an excellent Bible teacher. So if it was good enough for him then it was good enough for me. I also had noticed one day when watching Charles Stanley’s “In Touch” program on television that he was preaching from a Ryrie Study Bible. More confirmation that I was on the right path! I liked my Ryrie Study Bible so much that when I came to believe that I should own a New American Standard Bible, there was no doubt which kind I would get: a Ryrie Study Bible (NASB). I even had my name with a little fish put on the front. Looking back now I laugh at my choice of color (see the second Bible from the bottom in the photo above). Another mistake I made, besides buying green, was trying to save a buck by getting bonded leather instead of genuine leather. I’ll save an explanation of that for a future post.
My next study Bible of choice was a Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible (NASB). Pretty much every young preacher I know who goes to school goes through a phase where knowing the original languages becomes THE secret to proper Biblical interpretation. As you can probably guess, I was smack dab in the middle of that phase at this point in my study Bible journey. I’ve gotten a lot more schooling in the languages since then and have come to realize that as helpful as languages can be, they are not the “end all” when it comes to intepreting the Bible. A side note about this Bible. I actually own two copies of this Bible, one hardback and the leather one pictured above. My hardback copy is autographed by the author himself, Spiros Zodhiates, a wonderful Christian scholar who I got the privilege of sitting next to one Sunday morning at his home church in Chattanooga, TN (click HERE for my take on getting autographs).
Next was the International Inductive Study Bible, aka the IISB, the one I recommended last week.
Next I fell in love with the MacArthur Study Bible. It wasn’t a long courtship. I was already a huge longtime fan of Pastor John MacArthur. There is no living man who I respect more when it comes to studying, interpreting, and explaining the meaning of God’s Word. Pastor MacArthur is the gold standard among living expositors of Scripture. So I was thrilled when the MacArthur Study Bible came off the press. As a pastor, I was blessed to receive a free hardback copy. But I still bought one for myself and one for my wife. With one in our kitchen, one in our bedroom, and one at my office, there is usually one within reach. If I only get a fourth for my car, I’ll rarely be more than fifty feet from one!
Finally, for a short season, the Reformation Study Bible became my preferred study Bible. It too is an excellent study Bible. But the hype was short-lived for me, because (1) I eventually found myself reaching more for my MacArthur Study Bible and (2) the ESV Study Bible came along.
Tomorrow I will share some concerns/dangers that come with using a study Bible.