There are several tools that we may use to help us study the Bible; however, they are no replacement for the Bible itself. One can study the Bible alone and with the aid of the Holy Spirit be successful in attaining knowledge and wisdom. Never underestimate the power of the Written Word.
Sometimes it helps to add some tools to help us get a job done faster. Those tools assist us as we work toward the goal of repair or correction or as we build on a new foundation or continue a construction project. Every mechanic needs a good screwdriver and every plumber needs a good pipe wrench.
One tool that will greatly assist the Bible student is a concordance. A good study Bible will contain one in the back of the book. It will list a variety of words in alphabetical order and give references where those words are found in Scripture. However, this type of concordance is limited due to space.
I personally use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. There are many others but this is the one that I prefer. It lists every word in the Bible and gives every reference where a particular word may be found. This is very helpful when you are trying to find a particular verse but can only remember a part of it or can’t remember the reference. This particular concordance contains a Hebrew dictionary for the Old Testament and a Greek dictionary for the New Testament so that you can also find the meaning of any given word.
Another useful tool is a good Bible dictionary. Some are called Pictorial Bible Dictionaries. These give definitions of words, character studies, information on Bible places, archeological findings, etc. The pictorial ones obviously include many pictures of places and things. Use discernment with these as they are not a replacement for the Scriptures.
Other tools that may assist us are Bible atlases, Bible maps, Bible handbooks, and commentaries. A good map can help us understand where a story took place, learn about the terrain of an area, and the distance one had to travel between locations. Commentaries can give us another person’s insight on a particular scripture passage.
Just remember that these tools are available to assist us in our study not to become a replacement for our study of the Bible itself. If there are any discrepancies, then we must not let these tools sway us from the truth of the Scriptures. Remember, God’s Word is truth and mankind is fallible.
May your knowledge of the Bible be increased and your skills in teaching others the Word be maximized as you put these tools in use in your daily Bible study time.