In my humble opinion, the most helpful tool the everyday Christian can use to better understand and apply the Bible to his/her life is a good study Bible. Study Bibles offer basic commentary, usually in the form of footnotes, on the historical context, the background of the book, details about the author’s life, and information about the meaning of the language that is often lost in translation. Some study Bibles also offer helpful suggestions for how a verse or passage applies to our lives today.
There are a bunch of study Bibles out there. Here are a few that I’ve used and recommend.
Using the New International Version English translation, the NIV Study Bible is one of the best I’ve used. In fact, I used it almost exclusively before moving to digital Bible study software with electronic Bibles. You can get it in paper for less than $30, and it’s about the same price on Kindle.
This study Bible is a breakaway bestseller in recent years. It was compiled by a team of excellent scholars and offers an abundance of relevant and insightful commentary. It utilizes one of the most popular formal translations, the English Standard Version. $12 on Kindle, just under $30 in print.
Billed as today’s #1 best-selling study Bible, the Life Application Study Bible is one of the best. Not only does it offer great commentary on the meaning of the text, but it also offers helpful applicational insights showing how the Bible relates to everyday life. You can get it in a variety of English translations, including dynamic translations like the NIV and the NLT, and formal translations like the NKJV and the NASB. Pricing varies depending on what translation you want, and whether you go digital or paper, but you can pick it up for somewhere between $16 and $50.
This is, in my opinion, the unsung hero of study Bibles! NET stands for New English Translation, and this Bible includes over 60,000 footnotes by world-renowned scholars to help you understand and apply Scripture. The NET Bible is always being updated as new scholarship uncovers new information and insight. You can buy it in print, or access it for FREE online!
This study Bible is a new contender in the study Bible arena. Produced by Logos Bible Software, hands down the best Bible study software in the world, Faithlife offers a wealth of information and application. Faithlife is also the first study Bible to be completely digital, there is no paper version. You can use Faithlife in any number of translations, including NIV, NLT, ESV, LEB, NASB, and more. There are smartphone apps, and Faithlife is paving the way for Bible studies to take advantage of online community. Their site not only offers the Bible and notes, but also functions as a sort of faith-based, Bible study-based Facebook. You can join the community and access the default translation (the Lexham English Bible, one of my favorites) for FREE. Alternate translations may cost a small fee.
Well, I hope this has been helpful! What is your favorite study Bible?