Christians living in the 21st century have many things to complain about, but a lack of resources for studying the Bible is not one of them. We are surrounded by a vast sea of opportunities to grow in and be transformed by our encounter with the Word of God. The following are just some of those available that I either use regularly or have had commended to me by fellow disciples I trust and admire.
www.blueletterbible.com: This website has some excellent resources that are handily referenced to individual verses and organized by a tab system. You can access the original language in the “Interlinear” tab. You can see various English translations of the same verse in the “Bibles” tab. The “Cross-Refs” tab gives you a phrase-by-phrase cross-reference list and then includes the full text of the referenced verses as you scroll down. The “Commentaries” tab has text, audio, and video resources from well-regarded pastors and theologians that address the verse in question. Somewhat confusing is the “Dictionaries” tab, where you can find dictionaries and encyclopedias and topical guides that pertain to your verse. Finally, the “Misc” tab has images, maps, and even music related to the text.
www.biblegateway.com: Bible Gateway is my go-to for reading longer texts of Scripture, and it is easy to choose your preferred translation, viewing options, etc. It is helpful to add a parallel column to compare two translations over an entire passage. There are additional resources available, but these are similar to what other sites offer, and I’ve not explored them as much.
www.bibleproject.com: One of my absolute favorite online resources, The Bible Project, provides excellent videos that dive into specific topics, themes, and books of the Bible. Some of their content uses language and references more recent scholarship that can be challenging for more traditional Bible interpreters, but they are well within the bounds of orthodoxy.
www.openbible.info: While there are some interesting tools on this site, the two main features in my mind are the “Bible Geocoding” link which shows biblical places by Bible chapter in Google Earth. Pictures are available in a separate link, as well. This tool provides a sense of “place” for the accounts we read in the Bible.
The other main feature, and the one I use the most, is the “Topical Bible.” The provided search bar is a space for you to complete the question: “What does the Bible say about _______?” Once you enter text, the topical bible populates the top verses associated with that topic. You can “vote” on individual verses as to whether they are helpful or not concerning the subject in question. This tool crowdsources information which theoretically helps the resource improve over time.
www.gotquestions.org: It would be best if you never took anyone’s opinion as gospel truth, but the topical essays responding to common questions on this website have often proven helpful. Even when I’ve disagreed with a particular answer, I’ve found that the summaries can help frame the question better or challenge me to think more deeply about a subject than I have yet. It’s a simple concept and a helpful resource. In particular, the hyperlinked biblical texts, recommended resources, and related questions links can springboard into great further study.
www.ccel.org: One of my favorite sources for commentary and church history resources, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, contains essential works from almost every historical phase of the faith from the early church to the early 20thcentury. You can reference texts online, or you can download many for offline use. I believe one of the most significant failures of the American Church has been to cut ourselves off from the rich tradition and history of our faith, and CCEL can help us reconnect with previous generations through studying their interactions with Scripture and one another.
www.desiringgod.org: John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Church have had a significant influence on the current generation of conservative Christians. And many of their writings and sermons are available on this website for free. I frequently reference John Piper’s sermons on a text that I am preaching and generally think long and hard before coming to a different conclusion than he does. Watching him break down a bible passage in a “Look at the Book” video is often insightful, as well. Additionally, the blog has generally excellent essays and book reviews from both staff and guest writers.
www.stepbible.org: STEP stands for Scripture Tools for Every Person, and it delivers. I’ve only recently discovered this resource but enjoy the quick-reference capability and versatile search function. It takes a little bit of work to learn your way around, but it is worth it. As a bonus, it has a downloadable option for offline work directly with the text.
www.planobiblechapel.org/constable-notes: Dr. Thomas L. Constable taught at Dallas Theological Seminary and offers his Expository Notes on the entire Bible for free at this website. One particularly helpful thing is his broad citation of other sources, providing avenues for further study.
www.scripturelabs.com: Though currently in beta testing with Genesis 1, this resource promises to be excellent. The Lab encourages participants to dig deep into the biblical text by considering more carefully the original context, language, and author’s intent. The reflective material is tailored to individual experience levels and even addresses different faith backgrounds for participants. It is of limited use because of the finite texts available, but the Bible study method it teaches will serve students well as they expand to independent study. Inspired by The Bible Project, it includes elements that will challenge more conservative students, but is still worthwhile to engage.
www.accordancebible.com: Accordance is my go-to Bible software. It is native to Mac, but the Windows program is excellent, as well. Check out Accordance Lite for a free intro version of the software.
www.logos.com: Logos is the king of Bible software and is the most popular option, based on anecdotal evidence. They offer Logos 9 Basic as a free intro.
www.biblearc.com: Bible Arc has a free option, but its utility is limited. With a small monthly subscription, however, you can break down Bible passages and make it much easier to see the links within the text.
www.sebts.edu/academics/distance_learning/free-classes.aspx: Southeastern Seminary offers 10 free online courses, in addition to their online degree programs.
www.biblicaltraining.org: Biblical Training offers many courses, some free and some paid. Worth your time to explore.
This list barely scratches the surface of what is available to today’s Christian for help in Bible study, sermon preparation, and personal growth. Is there one you regularly use that is missing from the list? Let me know!