One of the questions I'm often asked is this: "What are some good online resources for studying and understanding the Bible?" This is a good question! After all, there are many, many, many (many!) websites devoted to the Bible and Christianity. And we've also heard the axiom that "you can't trust everything you read on the internet." Since we all know there's more information on the internet we can ever fully access, where might we start? Since we all know there's stuff on the internet that's reliable and other stuff that's flat-out wacky, what can we (generally) trust? If you've ever asked these sorts of questions, here are five online tools that can help you dig into and understand the Bible. (They've helped me, anyway!)
This site is a a good resource for getting into God's Word and doing some basic, important study. Besides providing access to a BUNCH of different translations, one handy feature is that Bible Gateway lets you do keyword searches (for example, seeing every place the Bible uses the words "Holy Spirit," or doing a study on how Paul uses the word "love"). Also, Bible Gateway has some (older, more classic) commentaries that can help you with understanding the meaning of certain passages. Spend some time exploring the site (the main menu runs vertically along the left sidebar) and you'll get the hang of things pretty quickly - the site is nice and user-friendly. There's no cost to access this site, and there's also a free app available.
The ESV is a great translation, and on this site you'll find notes on verses (to help with understanding what God's Word says), as well as a bunch of helpful articles (for example, introductions to biblical books so you can have an overview), maps, and other resources. Creating an account is free, and this gets you access to the text of the ESV Bible, along with a few other basic features. However, to access many of the additional resources ("apps") you'll pay some money. The nice thing is that you can purchase the apps you want, and ignore the ones you don't. Once you create an account, just follow the menu along the top left corner of the screen, click on "visit the app store" under the App icon, and you'll see what I'm talking about. (Personally, I've only added the "ESV Study Bible Online" App [$29.99 as of this writing] and have been very impressed with the resources bundled into it.)
Another site with a ton of resources to help you study the Bible: articles and audio, Greek and Hebrew helps, study notes, and more. There's way more to explore on this site than I'll introduce you to now, so consider that an invitation to do some exploring on your own. With that said, one of the more broadly-helpful features of the site is its studies on different books and verses of the Bible. From the homepage, scroll across the "Resources" button on the menu and you'll see a "Studies by" column pop up. Within this "Studies by" category you can do some of your own digging by topic, book of the Bible, verse, etc. Another helpful feature on this site is the Lumina Bible Study Tool. This tool allows you to read God's Word in a number of different translations (including the NET Bible) in the left-hand side of the screen, and you can tailor the right-hand side of the screen to fit your needs - whether that be additional study notes on a passage ("Notes"), comparing versions (Bibles), doing some language study ("Greek"/"Hebrew"), discovering other articles from the site that relate to the passage ("Library"), etc. To my knowledge, there's no cost to access the features on this site, or at least not the features highlighted here...
For pastors, teachers, Bible study leaders, or anyone who'd digging deeply into particular books of the Bible, commentaries are a great resource to serve your study of God's Word. This site helps identify helpful commentaries on each book of the Bible, and ranks them in different ways (e.g., "technical," "pastoral," "devotional") so you know what might be a fit, and what you're getting into. Reviews are also included, so you can read what some others have thought about the particular commentary. Please note that this site does not actually include the text of the commentary itself! Instead, it helps you know what commentaries are out there and how they might be helpful for you. There's no cost to access this site, but you'll still need to purchase any commentaries you decide you need - and then do the work of diging into them yourself (which is a good exercise, by the way).
OK, OK...this isn't specifically a "Bible study site," but I still recommend it often. It's got tons of great articles and resources (sermons, video conversations, etc.) on Bible passages and areas of interest for evangelicals. Spend some time exploring the "Resources" button along the top menu of the homepage and you'll see what I'm talking about. While presenting a number of different views on topics (in other words, it's not "narrow" in a weird sense, and remember that it's always good to practice discernment!), it at the same time keeps the focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ and spotlights the beauty of the gospel in many ways. There's no cost to access this site, and there's also a free app available.
Have you spent any time digging around the sites mentioned here? If so, which features have you found helpful? What other helpful sites for digging into and understanding God's Word have you run across that I didn't mention in this post?
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