Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Basic Bible Study - Part 4

Previous Lessons:

Two main digital Bible sources will be used for this study.  The first is e-sword, a downloadable Bible that is free to users, but some versions of the Bible and commentaries cost money as they are copyrighted.  The next is YouVersion which is a free online Bible with many versions to choose from.  It is available from any web browser, but also as an app for apple, blackberry, android and other smartphones and devices including the Kindle Fire.  To read many translations from YouVersion, you must be connected to the internet.  Some versions are available for download.  There are also other Bibles to download to kindles or electronic devices as well as Bibles that are a device in themselves.  The variety is vast, but with the covering of two types, hopefully the others will be understandable as well.
The first type of digital Bible study, e-sword is a downloadable Bible.  You only have to be connected to the internet for downloading the program.  When you use it, you will not need to connect to the internet.  You can find it at .  Once you go to that page, you will find a “button” on the right side that says, “Download e-sword now.”  

If you scroll to the bottom of the next page there will be 2 options.  If you’ve never downloaded the program before, you need to do the first option which is e-Sword v10.1.0 application installation .  
Click the down arrow button and follow steps from there.  If you feel more comfortable, you can have someone else walk you through those steps.  The benefit of this is that the Bible is stored on your computer and not the web.  There is less chance of a tampered with version of the Bible that way.
The highlights are added by the user.  The actual program has clearer print than this image.  It is a screenshot provided by the website.

The ease or difficulty of using e-sword will depend on how comfortable the user is with using the computer.  The books of the Bible are listed on the right.  You may download as many translations/versions of the Bible as you desire, but know that several of them cost money and it is an online transaction.  Those decisions are a personal choice, but there are many features that are beneficial and free.  We will walk through it as a class.  If you are only reading the blog, you are welcome to download this free version of the Bible.  If you so desire to help the developers of this excellent resource, there is a place to donate on their page.
Unfortunately I do not own a mac computer and cannot show how to get to the program using one.  I'm sure fluent mac users will have no difficulty finding the program on their computers.

The next digital Bible is an application and not a download.  The information is stored on the internet and a connection to the internet is necessary to read the Bible through it.  There are some downloadable versions of the Bible that can be stored to your device, but switching versions requires an internet connections when the Bible is in use.  The website is .  If you create an account online, you can link your account to an app that you install on your smartphone, iPad, iPod, kindle, tablet or other electronic device.  When you go to the app store of your device, this Bible can easily be found by doing a search for, "YouVersion."   It is difficult to talk about what to do with these apps, so the rest of the class will be dedicated to using them.  If you are not in class, the best way to find out how to use the app is to just experiment.  Following this paragraph, I have included a tutorial on the use of YouTube.  It is just over 9 minutes long, so you can be prepared with your time if you are interested in watching this.  He uses an iPad, but other devices have similar use.  There are more videos with instruction on their use on YouTube and maybe even GodTube.

Worksheet Lesson 4.0

1. True/False  There are only 2 trustworthy digital Bibles

2. True/False  You don’t need an internet connection for e-sword after its installation is complete.

3. List any other digital Bibles that you’ve heard of or actually used.


Check out the digital Bibles that we’ve talked about this week and see if either of them are right for you.  If you don’t like it, there is nothing wrong with that, just keep reading your print Bible and you will be on a great path.  If you use a digital Bible that requires a password and user name, keep those in a safe place.  There is nothing wrong with opening a few accounts if you forget your user name or password, but many programs will only allow an email address to be used one time.

Find Mark 10:45 on a digital Bible

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Basic Bible Study - Part 3

Previous Lessons:
Part 1   Part 2

LESSON 3.0 Bible Footnotes and Maps

Not every Bible has maps in it, but those that do really help the Bible student understand a little more about what is written.  Look at a map or a globe from 1960.  You will find many errors in borders and countries.  Mountains and rivers are generally the same, but one of the quickest things to notice is that there is no such country as U.S.S.R. any longer.  Just as there have been a lot of changes in the past 60 years, there have been even more changes in the past 6000 years, so Bible maps are a great resource for understanding where things were situated in each section of the Bible.

If your Bible has maps, the best place to look for them is in the rear of the Bible.  Often there are maps of the Promised Land and the Exodus route to it.  Many times Bibles have a map of Paul’s Missionary journey.  The maps in the end of Bibles are often in color and are read in the same manner that any map is read.  There is a key and the top generally is North unless otherwise stated.  Of course this lesson is not about map reading, but just an overview of what may be found in a basic Bible map.

Some Bibles are specified as a Study Bible.  In the last lesson, we learned about versions of the Bible, but there are Study Bibles that give the reader a little more historical information to help him or her understand the time-frame and context of the scripture a little better.  Most Study Bibles include other maps interwoven with the text in appropriate places.  Other visual aids in Study Bibles are graphs and timelines and even drawings of items that are described in the text.  These items fairly well explain themselves, but do take the time to explore them this next week in your personal study time.

Footnotes in Bibles.

Some Bibles have no footnotes or side notes of any kind.  Other Bibles have notations at the end of certain passages, but no footnotes.  Some Bibles have footnotes as other books and manuscripts that are notated by a number or a letter in superscript or subscript and then in an additional column or at the bottom of the page, one can find a corresponding notation.  Other Bibles (Generally Study Bibles) have commentary for verses printed on a separate area of the page.  These Bibles usually if not always have the footnotes as well.

If the Bible you read doesn’t have any kind of notations and is just the text of the Holy Word of God, it is not a bad thing.  These Bibles are great to start with because they are not distracting.  They can be read like a book.  Some of them don’t even have the verses divided out, but will say something like 1-10, or 11-14 to mark the passage.  The Bible wasn’t originally written with chapters and verses, but was written as a letter or a book or a chronicle.  Men have divided out the Bible and we can more easily read find the particular area that we want to read the way it is currently divided.  Sometimes a paragraph is divided in one way with one translation and another way with another translation making the verses appear to say something different, but if you look at the whole paragraph all of the information is in its place.

The Holy Bible: Referenced Giant Print, King James Version by Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, has notations at the end of certain verses or with a chapter heading.  For instance, Leviticus 21 says, “c. 1490 B.C.” in a smaller font right after, “CHAPTER 21.”  This tells the reader the approximate date that the text was written.  In some Bibles, these dates are included in a little preface to each book of the Bible.  One key to studying your Bible, is knowing your Bible.  The previously named Bible has its own preface.  In the preface, it tells the reader what each symbol refers to.  It has a dove symbol in it to signify Holy Spirit.  It also tells what superscript letters refer to.  Different Bibles and different publishers have unique styles and those styles are explained somewhere in or on the Bible itself.  Some explain with a preface, some on the back cover, and some in the “reference” section.  This is why we started off by looking through our Bibles to know what they have to offer.

When a Bible has footnotes in the margins, center column or bottom of the page, the superscript letter is within the text and then in that other area.  Most of the time rather than going through the alphabet and then going through it again as double letters then triple letters, the footnote area will also include a number like 4:3.  This number tells us that a is in chapter 4, verse 3.  While sometimes there is another a or two on the page.  This clarifies that the footnote is not the one in chapter 5, verse 16, but indeed chapter 4, verse 3.
This type of footnote can indicate a clarification in translations and say something like, “other translations say priest.”  Sometimes the scripture will contain a word in the original language and the footnote will have an English interpretation. 

If your Bible is not a Study Bible, but still has these superscript or subscript notations, it will likely have another scripture reference at the margin or footnote.  It is called a cross-reference.  As one studies the Bible more and more, he or she will soon notice that scriptures are often repeated throughout the Word of God.  Often Old Testament verses are quoted in the New Testament.  When that happens, the Old Testament verse will tag the New Testament verse.  This allows the reader to then go to the New Testament and see where it is spoken of in that new covenant.  Vice versa is also true. 

If a new Bible student knows nothing more than how to look into cross-references it will still allow for an incredible and enlightening study time in the Scripture.  Some people get so overwhelmed with a Study Bible format or other type of commentary that they forget to cross reference scriptures.  Scripture often interprets itself with other scripture.  Try using nothing but cross-reference for a time of study and allow Holy Spirit to teach you something new.

Lastly we come to Study Bibles.  There is quite a variety of Study Bibles available for purchase in the English language.  There are Spirit-Filled, archeology, translation-based, Jewish and many more options for a Study Bible.  They all have a different “flavor” of commentary.  Because of the variety of Study Bibles available, it is not time-effective to try and cover them all, but we can address them as questions arise.  As stated before, this type of Bible will have its own tutorial on how to use it.  

One student chose a Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation to use with this class.  She hasn't studied the Bible before on her own.  I told her that she made a good choice.  If you are an advanced Bible student, you may want to search out Truths on your own and this choice may hinder your search because you may stop at the commentary.  Ask to look at friends' Bibles to see the options.  There are so many!

When dealing with footnotes and commentary it is also important to know your particular Bible’s abbreviations for each Book.  For instance, Jn could represent the Book of John and I Jn could represent First John.  Another book in the Bible is Jonah, so it is important to know the difference in their abbreviations.  A cross reference rarely includes the whole name of the book that is being referred to.  An example of a cross reference could be Is 53:6.  This means Isaiah 53 verse 6 in most Bibles.

Worksheet Lesson 3.0

If a superscript is in the middle of John chapter 3, verse 16; what notation might you expect to see in the footnote area of your Bible along with that superscript letter?
a.       Another Bible verse reference.
b.      16
c.       3:16
d.      Nothing
Circle all that apply

True or False:

Every Bible has footnotes.  T/F

Cross-references are areas in the Bible that tell of the Crucifixion.  T/F

Two numbers separated by a colon usually signify verse, chapter when referring to something in the Bible.  T/F

Bible maps enhance Bible Study by showing what places may have looked like at the time the Bible was written.  T/F


Look in your Bible and determine whether it has any maps in it.  If it does, pick a map and use it to do a study one day this week.

Read Isaiah 53 in a Bible with footnotes.  Look up scriptures in the New Testament that quote this chapter or at least refer to it. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Basic Bible Study - Part 2

Previous lessons:

LESSON 2.0 Bible Translations, Paraphrases and Reading Plans

As you looked through your Bibles this past week, you may have noticed an acronym or something about version or translation.  There are many different versions of the Bible written in the English language.  Some of these are translations from the original Hebrew of the Old Testament or the original Greek of the New Testament.  Other Bibles are simply a paraphrase of what the Bible might be saying.

Paraphrases are not evil, but as a beginning Bible scholar, they are not the best source of the true meaning of the Word of God.  Some thoughts are skipped and the culture of the Bible is lost a little sometimes in a paraphrase.  After you’ve read the Bible in a translation, reading a paraphrase can make a part of the Bible feel more applicable.  Some would say to read a translation for study and a paraphrase for casual reading.  Some groups of Christians firmly believe that only one translation into the English language is pure, while others argue that another is the best.  The objective of this class is not to debate these things, but to instruct on how you can get the most out of your Bible reading.

Click Here to see where I obtained a list of translations of the Bible.  I edited it for printing, but there are many pages and the list is extensive and a bit confusing.  Wikipedia is not infallible and I do not endorse each translation/version of the Bible, but believe that giving you an impartial list is best.  Paraphrases of the Bible are found in The Living Bible, The Message, Black Bible Chronicles, The Cotton Patch version, The Aussie Bible, The Clear Word (7th Day Adventist Paraphrase), The Story Bible, and Children’s King James Version.

The most logical place to start with Bible reading is the beginning.  This is a great approach, but some of the hardest reading lies within the first 5 books of the Bible and many fail to continue after getting to Leviticus.  If you can press through that portion of the Word, go for it.  It is a good way to know how much of the Bible you’ve read.  There are many places to start the Bible.  Some begin at the New Testament and some start at the end.  None of these methods are wrong.

Several Bible scholars have come up with reading plans.  There is a resource available in the foyer of our church called “God’s Word for Today.”  Each day has a devotional reading and a suggested scripture reading and a prayer for an area of the world.  If you follow these daily, you will read the entire Bible through in a year.  You will also read it in the order that the events occur or chronologically. 

Our Bible is arranged in categories and not in a timeline order.  The categories are The Law (5 books), History (12 books), Poetry (5 books), Major Prophets (5 books), Minor Prophets (12 books), Gospels (4 books), New Testament History (1 book), Epistles or Letters (21 books), and Prophecy (1 book).  Some would say this order is advantageous and others would call it a hindrance to understanding the Bible.  It is a standardized organization of the Bible.  Also, each chronological arrangement of the Bible is a bit different because historians don’t completely agree on the timeline of events.  While some of the timeline is plain to figure out, other portions are still only speculated as is the authorship of several books.

There are several Bibles that are divided into daily sections to distribute Bible readings throughout 1 year or even 2 years.  Several translations have this option.  Some of them are in the canonized order and some are in chronological order.  The price of these varies also.  The benefit of reading plans is that you don’t have to purchase another Bible.  You can just read out of your own Bible.  Some reading plans are written on bookmarks for easy access.  We will talk about digital Bible Study as a whole lesson because there is much to say about it.  For now I will tell you that most electronic Bible formats also have multiple reading plans available in them as well.

Some reading plans are specialized.  Around Easter, Ressurrection, Lent, Passover, or Pessach the Spring-time holiday/feast there are special readings for those days laid out in a plan.  Other holidays have plans.  Jews read a whole book of the Old Testament out loud on feast days.  For instance, on Purim, the book of Esther is read in the synagogue.  There are daily Bible reading plans for times of fasting.  Whichever plan you choose, let it work for you and don’t be ruled by the plan, but by the words you read during the plan.
While at times letting the Bible fall open and pointing to a passage may be exactly what we need, it is not always conducive to studying of the Word.  The internet is a good resource for Bible reading plans, but BEWARES, and do not let it consume you.  The internet is not the Bible.  Some websites mis-quote the Bible.  Some commentaries give a wrong picture of what is in the Word of God.  Even with the Bible on my phone, I like to compare it to the printed Word to assure that I’m getting the right thing.  Even a comma in the wrong place can change the meaning of a sentence.  The common example is, “Let’s eat Grandma!” vs. “Let’s eat, Grandma!”  It can be a matter of eternal life or death for someone if the Word of God is misquoted.

There are a few versions of the Bible that have been developed for a particular way of believing such as the Bible used by Jehovah’s Witness believers.  NWT or New World Translation is this version.  Jehovah’s Witnesses only read the NWT along with their denominational book which narrows their view of the Word of God.  If using a version of the Bible developed for these groups of people, use it along-side a recommended mainstream translation (not paraphrase) of the Bible to assure that you are not missing a thing.  Another translation developed for a particular religion is the Joseph Smith Translation which has been customized to the Mormon faith.  Revelation 22 warns to not add to or take from the prophecies in that book.  This is a rule that should apply to the entire Bible.  Obviously we do not have the original text, nor do we English speakers understand it.  We trust that the translators of the Bible have taken care to be as accurate as possible. 

Finally, a Parallel Bible is one where there is more than one version of the Bible laid side by side in the same binding for easy comparison.  Most people don’t own one of these, but own more than one translation of the Bible, so a good way to study the Word of God is with more than one version side by side and as we go through the course we will see more helps as to how to study the scripture.

Lesson 2.0 Worksheet

1.       Which of the following versions of the Bible is a paraphrase?
a.       KJV – King James Version
b.      NIV – New International Version
c.       NLT- New Living Translation
d.      MSG – The Message

2.       Which of the following versions of the Bible is a translation?
a.       GNB – Good News Bible
b.      NIV – New International Version
c.       MSG – The Message
d.      TLB – The Living Bible

3.       Find 2 different versions of the Bible and transcribe James 1:22 in the space below

Version 1 _________ James 1:22

Version 2_________ James 1:22

4.       Which version of the Bible is meant by the initials NASB?


Look for a reading plan and start it this week.  Don’t set yourself up to fail by trying to read the whole Bible in 6 months or even a year if it is too hard.  There are several good 2 year plans.  It might be necessary to start with a one week reading plan.  If you need a suggestion, try reading the book of Galatians.  There are 6 chapters… read one chapter a day for the next 6 days.

Look at the Bible that you read most often or are likely to read most often and determine whether it is a translation or a paraphrase.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Basic Bible Study - Part 1

Preface:  I have been burdened by God if you will to teach people how to study the Bible.  This teaching is 11 weeks long and I have contemplated making it into a book.  Since this is a Kingdom work and not my own, monetary profit is not my goal.  In order to make this available to many, I believe this blog is the way to go.  I will be posting each lesson at weekly intervals as I teach it at my church so that anyone who is unable to attend will be able to log on and read the lesson.  I welcome anyone to use this material to teach a class of your own.  Add to it and make it your own for teaching, but PLEASE do not sell any portion of this study.

LESSON 1.0 Parts of the Bible

There’s no place to start like the beginning.  The primary tool for this whole course is your personal Bible.  If you don’t own a Bible, please let your Pastor or the teacher of this course know immediately and one will be provided for you.  It is essential for each participant to have a Bible of his or her very own.  You will learn to use this gift of God to know Him more.

As you open your Bible you will notice a page to possibly put your name and a title page which is common to most books.  Following these pages, your Bible should have a Table of Contents.  The Table of Contents is a great resource for the new Bible student and quite frankly for any Bible Student.  In this, you will notice things that are individual according to the publisher and version of your Bible.  Make yourself familiar with those things in your Table of Contents.

Every Holy Bible is divided into two sections.  The first portion is called The Old Testament and the second portion is called The New Testament.  The word, testament, means covenant.  As you study the Bible, or the Word of God, or the Word, you will learn more of the significance of the old and new covenant.  For now a simple truth to know about each of these sections is that The Old Testament covers the time from the beginning of the world until about 400 years before Jesus Christ was born.  The New Testament is a record beginning just before Jesus Christ was born through the years following His crucifixion and resurrection. 

Each Testament of the Bible is further divided into books.  Some of the books are recorded by the same person while some authors only wrote one book in the “Canon” of the Holy Bible.  While there were several human authors or recorders of the Bible, all of it was inspired by God.  II Timothy 3:16 NLT (The second book of Timothy, third chapter, sixteenth verse, New Living Translation) says, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.”  There are 66 books in the Bible, 27 in The New Testament and 39 in The Old Testament.

As novels that one would find at the bookstore or library, the subdivision of a book is the chapter.  Just because there is a new chapter doesn't mean it is a stopping point in the Bible as some lessons continue for several chapters and must be read in completion to understand the full meaning.  Chapter divisions can in a sense be seen as markers to assist the reader in finding a particular theme or area.  To further this search, we also are given divisions called verses.  Verses vary in size from 2 words long a paragraph in length.  We can pinpoint where a particular passage is in the Word as a navigator finds positions on a map by using longitude and latitude.

When notating Book, Chapter and Verse.  It is written like this:  John 3:16.  The colon separates chapter from verse.   Commas can also be used to indicate verses in the same chapter that are not consecutive like, John 3:16,18 or hyphens to indicate multiple verses in the same chapter that are in a consecutive location, I John 4:7-8.  There are several books in the Bible that have a first and second book, like Kings, Chronicles and Samuel.  The difference is often noted by a roman numeral or just a number in front of the book name: I Samuel, II John, 1 Peter, Second Chronicles.  The most confusing book name is John.  There are 4 books called John in the New Testament.  The first is often called The Gospel of John or just John.  It is the 4th book in the New Testament.  Nearer the end of the New Testament are the other 3 books of John: I John, II John, and III John.  It is important to see how John is written to determine which book was intended to be noted.

When looking up a passage, let’s continue to use John 3:16, first you must find the book of John.  This can be done by looking in the table of contents for the page number or thumbing through the Bible until you hit John.  The first is easiest until you know the order of the books or at least have a general idea of the order.  The Bible has headings on the left upper corner of the left page and the right upper corner of the right page like a dictionary.  These headings are the name of the book and also the chapter number.
The chapter number is also placed within the page where it begins It is easy to spot because it is bigger than the rest of the print or font. 

The verse number comes just before the verse itself as a superscript.  It is not always at the margin while the chapter number often is at the left margin just before the chapter text.  Some translations or versions have several verse numbers together and the division between verses is unclear. 

This first lesson may seem very basic to some while it is very informative for others.  Even if you've been studying or reading the Bible for a while, take the time to look over your Bible. Become familiar with the formatting of your Bible and each of its sections.  This is the beginning of a deeper relationship between you and God as you will know Him better the more you read His words.

Lesson 1.0, Parts of the Bible Homework:

1.       First of all each student needs to have a Bible.  If you do not have a Bible of your own to keep even after the class for personal use, please let your Pastor or your instructor know as soon as possible.

2.       Notice the beginning few pages of your Bible.  Look at the Table of Contents

3.       2 Main divisions of the Holy Bible are called.
a.       The ________   _____________________________
b.      The ________   _____________________________
4.       There are 66 ____________________ in the Bible.  ___________ in the ________   __________________ and __________ in the ________   __________________.
5.       The other 2 subdivisions of the Bible are the ________________ and the smallest is the ___________.
6.       Label each part of this notation of a scripture.  
John 3:16

7.       How many books called John are in the Bible? _________ 


Review each part of your Bible this week.

Look up the following scriptures:

John 3:16
Romans 10:9
I John 1:9
II Corinthians 5:17
II Timothy 2:15
Psalm 119:11