Equip Yourself to Dive into the Bible

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In the information age, it’s hard to spend as much time as you want in Scripture. You’re constantly bombarded with more information than you can handle, so you have to constantly prioritize and filter the things that matter and the things that don’t. And that’s what makes Bible study feel like a paradox. You know you’re supposed to see all Scripture as valuable (2 Timothy 3:16). But when you’re dragging yourself through lists of names and types of sacrifices, the treasure of Scripture can feel like it’s slipping through your fingers. That’s because jumping into the Bible without any understanding of context is like diving into the ocean from a helicopter with no equipment. If you don’t really know what you’re doing, it won’t be pleasant. Equip yourself for the dive with Logos 5.

Of course, with the right translation, you can find parts of the Bible that you can read without difficulty. Maybe you enjoy the powerful stories of the Old Testament, or the beautiful picture of love in the Gospels, or the challenging representations of faith in the early church. There are always parts of the ocean that you can swim in, but without the right knowledge and tools at your disposal, there’s still a whole ocean you’ll never see.

In Bible study, these tools are commentaries, key theological texts, Bible dictionaries, and works by popular pastors and Bible teachers. On their own, each of these resources has something to offer your Bible study. For the casual reader and the average Christian, however, the walls of text that often accompany these valuable tools makes them too intimidating. Even if you own one, a Bible dictionary or commentary can make Bible study feel like more work, and you don’t end up reading as much of the Bible. With Logos, that all changes. Logos links all of your texts together, and every verse is linked to every resource you own that references it.

One of the most important parts of reading Scripture is taking the time to reflect on it. Whether you set a goal to read one chapter a day or five chapters a day, what do you gain from it if you don’t take a moment to reflect on what you’ve read? The truths of individual verses can get lost if they don’t stand out to you right away. Important contextual information is easiest to skim over, but it’s some of the most important content when interpreting what that Scripture means for your life thousands of years later. When you read Scripture with Logos, you can spend as much time as you want reflecting on a single verse. Right now, your library could have hundreds, even thousands of references to the verses you read today in your personal devotions. If you wanted to track them down, you’d have to spend hours flipping through books to find what you’re looking for. Even if you’re organized and you’ve carefully sorted your library, you have better things to do than scanning sticky notes, underlines, and margin notes. Logos is more organized than any physical library could ever be. A single search in Logos can save you hours—and that adds up.

When talking about Logos 5, Mark A. Kellner from Washington Times said, “If studying the Bible is something of professional or personal interest, there is, right now, nothing else that comes close.” Logos 5′s datasets add a whole new dimension to your Bible study and bring lists of names, places, and dates to life. You can’t get these datasets anywhere else. Here’s how Sean Boisen, Logos’ director of content innovation explains it:

Don’t let yourself feel like the Bible is too deep or difficult to navigate. Get Logos 5, and you’ll have all the tools you need to plunge into Scripture. Turn every verse into a diving board and see what depths your Bible study can take you. If you already have Logos, but you don’t have Logos 5, upgrade today and take advantage of your very own custom upgrade discount!

The 9 Major Types of Bible Study Tools

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Bible study tools come in all different shapes and sizes, but the most common resources usually fit into one of a few basic categories. They each have a specific purpose to aid your studies.

For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of different kinds of Bible study tools and what they can do for you, along with some suggested resources to get you started.

Bible dictionary

Bible dictionaries are a lot like English dictionaries, but they are focused on biblical words. Rather than providing modern definitions, they describe what a given word means when used in the Bible. They often include details like the meanings of biblical names. Some more technical Bible dictionaries will include references to the Greek and Hebrew, while others stick to the English.

Bible encyclopedia

Bible encyclopedias are similar to Bible dictionaries in concept, but they are greater in scope. While dictionaries typically have short entries for quick reference, encyclopedias tend to have longer articles covering people, places, events, objects, and more as found in the Bible. Bible encyclopedias often go into much greater historical and cultural detail than dictionaries.

Both Bible dictionaries and Bible encyclopedias are organized alphabetically by topic. When you get one from Logos.com, you’ll see links to it in your study notes whenever the text you’re reading mentions a topic it addresses. In this way, your FSB app gets more detailed and powerful as you add resources from Logos.com.

Commentary

Commentaries go verse by verse or passage by passage through the Bible, or through a particular section of the Bible. This system of organization is called “versification” because it follows the book, chapter, and verse structure of the biblical text. Commentaries are meant to be used in parallel with the Bible’s text, offering explanations, insights, textual notes, historical background, and more. Most commentaries also include introductions to the books of the Bible, providing details such the book’s author, as well as when, where, and why it was written.

Study Bible

Study Bibles combine multiple study tools (such as a Bible dictionary and commentary) into one relatively compact volume. Like commentaries, study Bibles are versified, but the notes in study Bibles are usually much more concise and to the point than full commentaries. When sold in print, the text of the Bible is placed right alongside or above the notes and articles. The world’s largest, most advanced study Bible is free! If you’re not already using it, get your free Faithlife Study Bible now. You can also add notes from other study Bibles to your FSB.

Versified resources like commentaries and study Bibles offer a great alternative to the study notes included in your FSB app. If you’d like to survey multiple opinions while you study, add a commentary set or another study Bible to your FSB, and you can quickly switch between them.

Concordance

Concordances are designed to help you find things in the Bible. Basic concordances have fallen out of popularity, due to the ease of searching digital Bibles. However, the more advanced concordances are still useful, due to their ability to search by topics and themes or even people and places, rather than simple word searches.

Harmony

Harmonies take books of the Bible that overlap one another in content, and they show how the books fit together. They reorganize the biblical content to flow chronologically, so you can find parallel passages more easily. The most common variety are Gospel harmonies, combining the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; however, harmonies also exist for other books, such as Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Many harmonies only include Scripture references, while others place the actual texts in parallel columns. A few harmonies actually combine the four Gospels into a single text that flows chronologically.

Lectionary

Lectionaries are reading plans for the Bible that group texts into weekly readings. They often span three-year cycles, designated year A, year B, and year C. The idea is to provide believers around the world with a shared reading schedule. While some lectionaries include only the readings themselves, others include reflections on the texts.

Devotional

Devotionals are one of the most common Bible study tools, but they have wide variety among them. Some focus on a book or passage of the Bible, while others focus on a certain topic, while others still cover multiple topics. Some devotionals include a year’s worth of reading, while others only last for a month. Some are meant to be read in the morning, while others are meant to be read at evening, while others still have entries for both morning and evening.

Bible atlas

Bible atlases are collections of maps that show the world as it was in Bible times. They are helpful for seeing how different biblical locations fit together. Many Bible atlases show the paths followed by biblical people during their travels.

All the study tools you see here can be enjoyed in your free Faithlife Study Bible app. Buy one from each category, and you’ll have a robust Bible study library that will serve you well for years to come.

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Serious Bible study is easier with serious Bible study software. The Faithlife Study Bible is a great place to start, but if you’d like to study in greater detail, Logos 5 is for you. Its powerful, intuitive tools and vast libraries are the perfect way to expand your understanding of the Scriptures. Visit Logos.com/Logos5 to learn more.

What God Meant: “Like Newborn Infants, Long for the Pure Spiritual Milk”

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Biblical writers use several different word pictures to help us understand the power and function of Scripture.

At different times, the Bible is compared to:

  • Light (Psalm 119:105)
  • A mirror (James 1:23)
  • Fire (Jeremiah 23:29)
  • A hammer (Jeremiah 23:29)
  • A sword (Hebrews 4:12)
  • Milk (1 Peter 2:2)
  • Food (1 Corinthians 3:2)

It’s those last two that can be a little confusing. In 1 Peter 2:2, the comparison to milk seems to be a favorable one. Peter’s admonition is for the readers (and us) to preserve a singular focus on and childlike enthusiasm for God’s Word.

Then Paul uses a similar word picture in 1 Corinthians 3:2, but seems to indicate that at some point, we ought to graduate away from the “milk” of the Word.

So which is it? Is the Word of God like milk or like food? And is that good or bad?

While it’s almost always a good idea to compare Scripture with Scripture, literary devices like metaphors or similes remain effective only in their original contexts. The same metaphor used in a different way can illustrate a different point, and that’s what’s going on here.

Peter uses the “milk” word picture to point out how eagerly we ought to consume the Word of God, just like an infant consumes milk.

Paul is addressing a different group of people all together about an all together different idea. The Corinthians who received Paul’s letter did not lack eagerness—they lacked perseverance. They were rehearsing the same fundamental truths constantly, never moving beyond the basics, and were thus missing the richness of other, heavier, more substantial Scripture passages.

Peter and Paul are not arguing. They are standing back to back, defending the same idea from different directions.

As we read the Word of God, it’s important for us to keep in mind that it was written over a span of more than 1,500 years by more than 40 different individuals from all walks of life. They address different subjects for different audiences, from different perspectives, and yet not a single contradiction or error appears in its 66 books. Remarkable, no?

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The Faithlife Study Bible links Scripture passages that address the same topic, so you can make connections with just a click. Download the Faithlife Study Bible for free from your favorite app store, and take your Bible study to the next level.

How to Study the Bible

 

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Reading the Faithlife Study Bible the other day, I happened across a great article titled “How to Study the Bible.” Once more I was impressed by the depth and helpfulness of this tool. Here’s an excerpt:

While we may wish that the Bible was entirely clear, students of literature would never expect that from other important books. When it comes to the Bible, it should be obvious that we have to study the Bible in order to understand it.

Some writing—a newspaper story, for example—might be understood by almost any mature reader. Other writing—such as a Shakespeare play—might require readers to consult dictionaries, study guides, and other aids because of the nature of the language and the subject matter. Yet other writing—a calculus textbook, for example—might require years of prior study as well as patient, focused effort in order to appreciate even a single page. The Bible contains literature at all these levels: some parts any reader can follow, some parts require some help, and some are difficult enough that even seasoned scholars struggle to comprehend them.

This is to be expected. A book claiming to be authored by the One whose thinking and communication can range from the simplest level to far above human understanding should require serious effort from seekers of its truth. It is naïve to think that the Bible differs from all other literature in being automatically comprehensible, or that our good intentions and love of God will make irrelevant the need to study in order to appreciate the quality of ideas He has put into writing for us.

Get this and even more inspiring Bible study content in the free Faithlife Study Bible. Download it today from your app store of choice.

Lexham Bible Dictionary Update: 174 New Articles

The Lexham Bible Dictionary, the world’s most advanced Bible dictionary, recently got a major update—174 new articles.  Since you’re a Faithlife Study Bible owner, you got it for free!

The Lexham Bible Dictionary provides some of the more in-depth content you’ll find in the Faithlife Study Bible.

This icon indicates that the attached article is from the LBD: lbd.icon

The new batch of articles amounts to a total of 168,569 words. To put that in perspective, the median book length is 64,000 words. This update is more than twice as large.

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Here are some of the most notable new articles:

There are two different ways to find these articles, as well as many others like them:

1.) You’ll encounter them as you read the FSB on your mobile device, or at Bible.Faithlife.com.

Tap or click to reveal an LBD article whenever you see this icon:lbd.icon

2.) Or, if you’d like to read about something specific, open the Lexham Bible Dictionary using the “Resources” menu in the app. Just like a regular dictionary, the entries in a Bible dictionary are organized alphabetically. They are also connected to verses that mention those topics, so you can browse by topic or search by reference.

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We are constantly adding to and updating the Lexham Bible Dictionary, so it will always feature the latest scholarship. It’s included when you download the Faithlife Study Bible app on your smartphone or tablet. Download it today, and you can enjoy the world’s most advanced Bible dictionary instantly!

3 Things God Never Promised

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In Scripture, God makes a lot of promises. He keeps them all, but there are a few things he never promised that might surprise you. Here are three; can you think of others?

Justice on earth

God keeps score. He promises to heal the wounded, reward the faithful, and punish the wicked (2 Corinthians 5:10). But he doesn’t promise to do any of that until after heaven and earth are remade without the curse of sin. He promises justice. He does not promise swift justice.

God is patient with us all (2 Peter 3:9). That’s a great comfort until we realize that he’s also patient with those who harm, oppress, and offend us.

To my regular frustration, Scripture never gives permission for us to enforce our own interpretation of justice (Romans 12:9). Instead, we’re told to wait on God’s perfect plan to be carried out on his perfect time (Psalm 37:7).

Comfort

Many television preachers have built a personal empire on the false promise that obeying God will lead to material prosperity and success. But God never promised his followers an easy life. In fact, he warned us to expect the opposite (John 16:33)—hardship and persecution from the world, and even correction from his own hand (Hebrews 12:7).

The Christian life is not a comfortable life, but it is a fulfilling one. (Click to tweet)

Instant change

I love hearing stories of miraculous life transformation. They fuel my faith in the transformative power of God’s Word more than anything else. But they also plant a desire for the same sort of instant change in my own life. Yet still I still wrestle with entrenched habits and besetting sins (Hebrews 12:1). Much as I love to see instant change in others, and long to experience it myself, I must remember that God has promised to change me, but hasn’t promised to do it instantly.

He has promised to complete the transformative work that he’s begun in me (Philippians 1:6), a promise that implies this change is going to take a while.

What other nonpromises can you think of? Tell us in the comments.

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Serious Bible study is easier with serious Bible study software. The Faithlife Study Bible is a great place to start, but if you’d like to study in greater detail, Logos 5 is for you. Its powerful, intuitive tools and vast libraries are the perfect way to expand your understanding of the Scriptures. Visit Logos.com/Logos5 to learn more.