Self-Feeder Resources


The other day I was talking with a friend about the things that I have learned over the last few years as I have pursued my Master’s degree in theology. I have learned a lot, but perhaps one of the most valuable things that I have learned is how to find good resources. Unless you really know where to start and where to look, finding resources to help you study the Bible can be very difficult.

So, let’s assume that you want to take the next step in your Bible study – you want to understand the text at a deeper level, engage with the historical background, and learn things that you might not otherwise know from just reading the Bible itself.

Or maybe there are topics that you are interested in studying, but you do not know where you find all of the verses that talk about that certain topic.

Here are 5 resources that are foundational to any good Bible study Library.

1 – Bible Handbook

A good Bible handbook bring together maps, history, archaeological findings, commentary, photos, and much more in one volume. Generally Bible handbooks go book by book and will help you gain a broad knowledge of the background and pertinent information contained within the book that you are currently reading. Here are a few that I own and recommend:

image002 image001

2 – Bible Dictionary

A Bible dictionary is not necessarily like a normal dictionary. A Bible dictionary is more like an encyclopedia. So why don’t they call it a Bible encyclopedia? Who knows. But lets say you are reading the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 and you’re thinking, “I’d like to know a little more about this Baal character.” Well, you could turn to the B section in your hand dandy Bible dictionary and find a section like this:

BAAL (Bāʹ ȧl) Lord of Canaanite religion and seen in the thunderstorms, Baal was worshiped as the god who provided fertility. He proved a great temptation for Israel. “Baal” occurs in the OT as a noun meaning “lord, owner, possessor, or husband,” as a proper noun referring to the supreme god of the Canaanites, and often as the name of a man. According to 1 Chron. 5:5 Baal was a descendant of Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn son, and the father of Beerah. Baal was sent into exile by Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria. The genealogical accounts of Saul’s family listed in 1 Chron. 9:35–36 indicates that the fourth son of Jehiel was named Baal.[ref] James Newell, “Ball,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 152.[/ref] Here are a few good options.



3 – Surveys and Introductions

Old and New Testament Introductions are some of my favorite resources. Generally they will deal with every book in the Bible and will walk through some historical background, then deal with all of the arguments surrounding a particular book. For instance, scholarly debate concerning the date of authorship or who the actual author might be. Good introductions will also walk through the theological importance of a book and breakdown the text by unit so that you can see how it all fits together. These can be a bit expensive, but they are well worth the $25-$40. Here are my favorites:


4 – Systematic Theologies

Systematic Theology is, just what it sounds like, a systematizing of theology.  It moves through the basic doctrines of the faith and shows how the Bible proves those doctrines. Systematic theologies will be able to quickly answer questions like the ones below and provide the Biblical texts to support the claims. Everyone should have a good systematic theology to help them work through difficult theological questions. Some examples are:

What does the Bible say about angels and demons?

What is the Trinity?

Are humans born into sin?

Here are my two favorites!


5 – Commentaries

Buying commentaries is a very good thing, but in my opinion buying full sets isn’t best. Generally all volumes in a commentary set are written by different scholars. Therefore, all volumes are not equal because some commentators are better than others.

Additionally, I do not suggest purchasing a whole bible commentary (a commentary that covers a little bit from each book of the Bible) because your introduction or Bible handbook will have virtually the same information as a whole Bible commentary.

A better way to approach commentaries may be to buy single volumes as you have need of them. Buying them all at once will be very costly. So, if you are doing a study on Isaiah, buy a good commentary (a good one will be about $30-$40). When you move on to another book for sermon prep or personal study, buy another commentary. always try to find the best commentary on that book. Tim Challies has an excellent list of The Best Commentaries on Every Book of the Bible. Tim is a good reviewer and none of his suggestions have ever missed for me.

Another option is purchasing software. I use Logos Bible Software. Currently for about $535 you can get a Logos package that includes over 500 biblical study resources including Lange’s Commentary set, Ben Witherington’s Socio-Rhetorical commentary set, the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, Greek Tools to help you understand the original language, Bible maps and infographics, and much, much, much more. You can check out the base packages by clicking the Logos logo below.


So there you have it! I hope this was helpful and that you will consider spending some money on these things so that you can better understand and study God’s Word and apply it to your life!