Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Bible Study Helps

The list I suggest in this study is not exhaustive, but will give you a basic place to start building your library. I introduce eleven basic categories of helps.


I don’t know if you are a beginner or scholar; consequently, I will suggest some of both levels, but mostly for the beginning Bible student. The first category of Bible study helps is that of a concordance. This invaluable help allows you to find verses anywhere in the Bible. Some concordances are more complete, but the most comprehensive will alphabetically list every word in the Bible. 

How do they work? Say, for example, you are looking for a verse, but cannot find it nor remember where it is in the Bible. All you have to do is remember a word in that verse, and look it up in the concordance. Furthermore, if you want to find all the verses that contain the word “God,” for example, just look up God, and presto – there they all are. Normally concordances are linked to a specific translation of the Bible. 

The two old standards are Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

Bible Dictionary

This category of Bible study helps gives you background material on various topics, places, maps, geography, and people in the Bible. Depending on the dictionary, you will find in-depth articles on theology and books of the Bible. 

A good recent dictionary (1998) is the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Another specialized dictionary on the background of the Bible is Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, by J.I. Packer and M.C. Tenney.

An excellent encyclopedia is edited by Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (5 volumes). 

Something similar to a dictionary is the Bible handbooks. One of the all-time best-selling Bible handbooks, published in 1927, is Halley’s Bible Handbook. Unger’s Bible Handbook is more up to date.


Commentaries are a class of Bible study helps that gives explanations of Bible books and makes comments on the biblical text. Historical and cultural notes, outlines, and topic expansions are also given. The longer commentaries will interpret each verse. 

For beginners, and more advanced students, I recommend a one volume commentary, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Earl Radmacher, Ronald Allen and H. Wayne House are the editors. It covers the entire Bible.

An excellent two volume set is The Bible Knowledge Commentary (2 volumes), by John F. Walvoord and Toy B. Zuck. If you are an advanced students who desires more detail, and have a bigger pocket book, a good choice is, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (12 volumes), edited by Frank E. Gaebelein. 

The classic, scholarly (but older) Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is available for advanced students.

Bible Introduction

This category of Bible study helps gives great detail on important issues such as how we got the Bible, who are the writers, and audience. They are similar to apologetics in that they organize a defense of the Bible. Some are quite detailed.

A good starting place would be A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler and William Nix. 

Study Bible

This category of Bible study helps is simply the entire Bible interlaced with cross references, brief book background and outlines, and study notes. Usually they will include short articles on important subjects, some sort of index, and a short concordance. There many on the market.

I have two favorites. One is the Nelson Study Bible. Its editors are Earl Radmacher, Ronald Allen, and H. Wayne House. The other is The Ryrie Study Bible, by Charles Ryrie.

English Translations

If you have studied the Bible for any length of time, you realize there is a fair amount of controversy as to which is the best English translation. Some are not translations, but are a paraphrase of the original text targeted toward a modern speaking English world. My favorite paraphrase is the Living Bible put out by Tyndale House Publishers. It also has several study Bible editions.

One must be careful with the paraphrases, because sometimes they sacrifice accuracy for ease of reading. Consequently, for any serious study in the English translations, I recommend the New American Standard Translation, or the New King James Version. 

Word Study

It is important to understand the exact word meanings of the original Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek language. One excellent work is Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Thomas Nelson is the publisher. The other is The Complete Word Study Dictionary by Spiros Zodhiates and AMG Publishers. 

Both are keyed to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Both are suitable for English only readers.


To get oriented to the geography of various events of the Bible, maps are necessary. For the beginner, I recommend Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts.

Bible Survey

For an overview of important people, places, event, and introduction to the books of the Bible a good survey is necessary. For the New Testament, I recommend the older but reliable New Testament Survey by Merrill C. Tenney. 

For a more scholarly book on the Old Testament that incorporates both survey and introductory issues, Gleason L Archer’s A Survey of Old Testament Introduction is excellent. Moody Press publishes the latter. 

Christian Evidence

If you are a beginner, I recommend Josh McDowell for a key Bible study help on the defense of the Christian Faith. He published two volumes that are now in one, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, which is published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. Another word for this category is apologetics. 

Systematic Theology

I will end my list of books with this category of Bible study helps. Systematic theologies are single or multi volume works that explain in detail various doctrines of the Christian Faith. A newer popular edition is Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Millard Erickson has Christian Theology, and the updated Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof is excellent.

With this list of Bible study helps, you will have an excellent start on building a solid library that will serve you many years. Esmie and I wish you all the best in your study. Of course, we don’t want you to forget all the information that we also provide.

Dr. Willis and Esmie Newman

Bible Study Questions

1. Which category of Bible study helps would you select if you were trying to locate a verse in the Bible, and remembered only one or two words?

2. Which category of Bible study helps would you go to if you were looking for a systematic treatment of the doctrine of Jesus Christ?

3. Which Bible study help would to turn to if you wanted to find our more background on Isaiah?

4. Which category of Bible study helps would you turn to find the exact meaning of the Greek word, agape?

5. If someone wanted you to defend the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which category of Bible study helps would you inquire of?

6. Which group of Bible study helps would you turn to if you wanted a more complete explanation of John 3:16?

7. If you wanted to locate the relationship between Jerusalem and Rome, to which category of Bible study helps would you turn?

8. According to the list in this study, what would be a good study Bible?

9. According to this study, what is a good English translation for accurate Bible study?

10. What stands out to you the most in this examination of Bible study helps? Explain.

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