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How to Choose a Study Bible

I will never forget my first official study Bible. We aren’t just talking about something simple. We are talking leather-like cover, lots of study notes, maps, and red letters. It’s sitting here with me as I write. It is far more worn than it used to be. 

My mom gave it to me when I was a teenager. I knew little of Jesus, the Bible was valuable but I never had an understanding why until many years later when I accepted Christ. 

In those first years of being a baby Christian it was the only Bible I owned besides a children’s Bible. This Life Application Study Bible is now so marked from those early years and all that God was teaching me. Revelation after revelation, as I learned more of who God was. 

Bibles are never just Bibles, they will document how we grow in Christ. They are our direct line of communication to God. 

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I get asked often what Bible I recommend. So I want to give you some guidelines I use when choosing a study Bible.

  1. They are an investment, a worthwhile one. A good quality study Bible can be found at Lifeway, but also on Amazon and Christianbook.com. Shop around for the best deal once you have decided on a Bible. 
  2. Remember study notes are written by humans, not God. It is important to know who is writing your study notes and where they stand on key issues of doctrine. This will take some homework, but most Bible companies give you all the information you need. If this is something you are unsure of, consult with your Pastor or small group Bible study teacher. 
  3. Study notes vs. Application notes. I love my Life Application Bible but the notes focus more on how the passage affects me rather than giving me context and breaking down the passage. Both are helpful to have in your tool box, however when it comes to a study Bible you want more context than application. 
  4. Choose a version you will read. The version debate is a hot one, but we won’t get into any of that. I do, however, want to encourage you to choose a version that is easy for you to read and study with. If you want to learn more about Bible translations you can check out our study tool Consumed Life. Also check out How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart. 
  5. Maps and Extras. You want them. Seriously, I don’t know what else to say. Make sure your study Bible has maps and charts, they will rock your world. 

Now that I have shared all the tips, I will share my favorite study Bible. (And, I have a few, which we will talk about next Monday in my post on Confessions of a Bible Hoarder.) I love my ESV study Bible. I use it for all the things! The notes are extensive plus it has maps and charts! You can grab a hardcover on Amazon for a great price or treat yourself to a pretty leather version! 

Share in the comments your favorite study Bible and why it is your favorite! If you are in the market for one, let us know what you chose! 

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