Why the Ryrie Study Bible is So Popular | Reviews, Images, Theology

The Ryrie Study Bible, named after its author, theologian Charles Caldwell Ryrie (1925-2016), is one of the most popular Bible study resources of the last 50 years. The Bible includes the entire text of Scripture, and comes in the King James Version (KJV), the New American Standard Version (NASB), and the English Standard Version (ESV).

KJV Ryrie study bible
See my video on Ryrie’s Study Bible below

The Ryrie Study Bible is a classic resource in evangelical circles and it is a chief proponent of premillennial dispensational eschatology, which is explained below. The “RSB” includes an introduction to each book of the bible, including an outline, and bottom-of-the-page notes on thousands of Old and New Testament verses.

Ryrie said, “When I was working on the study Bible, I thought of people in home Bible classes, and I would sometimes ask, ‘Would they want a note on this verse or an explanation of this doctrine? Simply?’ These people were my make-believe audience.” [1]

The Ryrie and Scofield Study Bibless are two of the most popular Study Bibles ever. Compare them here: Ryrie vs Scofield Study Bibles: What’s the Difference?

Articles and sections in the back of the study bible include Harmony of the Gospels, A Synopsis of Biblical Doctrine, Through the Bible in a Year (i.e. a daily reading plan), and a concise concordance.

There are also 16 full-color maps and charts, covering Old and New Testament topics.

The Ryrie Study Bible: Features

The Ryrie Study Bible was Moody Publisher’s first bible project. It was originally released in 1978. [2]

Book introductions: All 66 books of the bible contain 1 to 3-page introductions.

  • Author: in one paragraph, information about the book’s author is discussed, such as their biographical details like testimony, ministry calling, and other places they are mentioned in Scripture.
  • Date/Setting: The date and historical setting of the book described.
  • Theme: The contents of the book are thematically summarized in 2-3 sentences.
  • Distinctives: Many book introductions also include a section on a topic related specifically to that book. For example, Luke’s introduction includes “Distinctive Approach” and Acts’ introduction includes “Importance of the Book.”

Study notes: All 66 books of the bible contain study notes at the bottom of the page. On most pages, the notes comprise 1/4 to 1/3 of the page.

Not every verse of the bible has supporting study notes, but thousands do. Ryrie’s comments range from one sentence to one paragraph.

For example, the study note supporting John 19:40 includes an explanation of one phrase found in the verse – “linen strappings.” The note simply states, “i.e. long strips of linen.”

Yet a few verses later, the study note supporting John 20:1 is 18 lines long and summarizes the likely order of Christ’s appearance after his resurrection along with a brief description of each occurrence and the Scripture references where it’s recorded:

“The order of Christ’s appearances after His resurrection seems to be as follows:

(1) To Mary Magdalene and the other women (Matt. 28:8-10; John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9-10);

(2) to Peter, probably in the afternoon (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5);

(3) to the disciples on the Emmaus road toward evening (Luke 24:13-32; Mark 16:12);

(4) to the disciples, except Thomas, in the upper room (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25);

(5) to the disciples, including Thomas, on the next Sunday night (Mark 16:14; John 20:26-29);

(6) to seven disciples beside the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-24);

(7) to the apostles and more than 500 brethren and James, the Lord’s half brother (1 Cor. 15:6-7);

(8) to those who witnessed the ascension (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12).”

After reading the article below, see Best Bible Commentaries: Top 50. Based on aggregate reviews.

Harmony of the Gospels: This seven-page section lists 186 events found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in chronological order with chapter and verse references. This section could be used for devotional reading or bible study and small groups.

Ryrie study bible cover

A Synopsis of Bible Doctrine: This thirty-three page section discusses the primary doctrines of Christian theology.

It outlines the elements of each doctrine, provides brief explanations, as well as chapter and verse citations.

While this section can be read straight through, it may best serve as a theological reference resource.

Through the Bible in a Year: This chart provides the reader with a plan for how to read through all 66 books of the bible in one year.

Each day has a morning reading from the Old Testament and an evening reading from the New Testament. There are even instructions on what to read on February 29 of Leap Years!

Concise concordance: Do you like word studies? This concise concordance makes them easy, as key words of Scripture are organized alphabetically and include all the key places that particular word is found in the bible.

Also see How to Choose a Study Bible to learn more.

Ryrie’s Theology: Premillennial Dispensationalism

Ryrie was a leading advocate of pretribulational premillennialism, also called dispensational premillennialism.

The prefix “pre” is the words pretribulational premillennialism refers to when Christ will return.

Pretribulational literally means “before the tribulation” and refers to the rapture of believers. Premillennial literally means “before the millennium” and refers to the Second Coming of Christ.

In summary, in Ryrie’s view, the basic chronological order of the end times is: the present church age, the rapture, the seven-year tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, the 1,000-year millennium, and lastly the eternal state.

The word “dispensation” refers to the view that God has divided history into seven periods of time or epochs, and that He relates to people differently in each dispensation.

One conviction that is built on the foundation of these dispensations is that Israel and the Church are perpetually separate entities.

In other theological systems, the Church replaces Israel is God’s plan for the ages. Dispensationalism doesn’t hold to “replacement theology,” but believes God has a different end-times agenda for each.

The Life of Charles Ryrie

Charles Cardwell Ryrie was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1925. He attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania, initially intending to pursue a career in banking. Then he met Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder of Dallas Theological Seminary.

Ryrie sensed a call to Christian ministry and eventually graduated from DTS in 1947 with his Master of Theology degree. He then earned a Doctorate in Theology in 1949. He also earned a Doctor of Philosophy in 1953 from the University of Edinburgh.

Ryrie taught systematic theology at DTS from 1953-1958. He then served as president of Philadelphia College of the Bible (now Cairn University) from 1958-1962. Ryrie returned to DTS as the dean of doctoral studies until his retirement in 1983. He died in 2016 in Dallas, Texas.

Interestingly, Ryrie had an exquisite and valuable collection of rare books and bibles. It was considered one of the greatest private collections in the 19th century, the result of five decades of subtle acquisitions.

Ryrie owned rare and early versions of the works of John Wycliffe, Myles Cloverdale, and William Tyndale.

He also acquired medevil Latin bible manuscripts as well as two leaves from the Gutenberg Bible printed in 1954. On December 5, 2016, went up for auction at Sothebys auction house. It sold for $7,300,000. [2]

The Ryrie Study Bible – New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The NASB was Ryrie’s favorite translation. [3]

From the publisher: Study the Bible with one of America’s greatest living theologians.

Charles Ryrie’s life work has been to help people know and understand the Bible—a pursuit that has encompassed church ministry, college professorships, and, most notably, his position as the Systematic Theology Chair at Dallas Theological Seminary.

The Ryrie Study Bible reflects this lifetime of biblical scholarship in a single, powerful work.

Since its initial publication in 1978, The Ryrie Study Bible has sold more than 2.6 million copies, giving countless Bible readers a firmer grasp on “the greatest of books.”

Available in multiple translations and containing more than 10,000 of Dr. Ryrie’s explanatory notes, it is a single source for all Bible study needs.

Included are detailed sections for broad biblical comprehension:

  • A Synopsis of Bible Doctrine
  • The Inspiration of the Bible
  • Understanding the Bible
  • How We Got Our Bible
  • The Meaning and Blessings of Salvation
  • Archeology and the Bible
  • A Brief Survey of Church History

Additional features:

  • In-text graphics, including maps, charts, timelines, and diagrams
  • Book outlines
  • Extensive cross-references
  • Expanded topical index
  • Comprehensive concordance
  • Detailed introduction to each book
  • Introduction to the Old and New Testaments and the Gospels
  • All-new 16 full-color maps
  • 8-page historical timeline
  • Daily Bible reading plan
  • Thinner: 20% fewer pages than older versions
  • Wide margins for better notetaking

The Ryrie Study Bible – King James Version (KJV)

Same publisher description as above.

The Ryrie Study Bible – English Standard Version (ESV)

Same publisher description as above.

Basic Theology

From the publisher: Everyone is a theologian of sorts. Theology simply means thinking about God and expressing those thoughts in some way. But sloppy theology is a problem.

As Christians, our thoughts about God need to coincide with what He has said about Himself in the Bible.

With his clear understanding of the Scriptures and accessible writing style, Charles Ryrie has written Basic Theology for every student of God’s Word, from the lay reader to the seminary student.

Within these pages, you’ll find:

  • A systematic overview of the Bible’s major doctrines, including God, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, the church, Satan, sin, salvation, man, angels, demons, events to come, and more
  • A glossary of theological terms
  • A list of key Scripture passages for the study of theology
  • Featuring charts, definitions, and Scripture and subject indices, Basic Theology will give you a clear and comprehensive picture of Ryrie’s approach to systematic theology.
  • Its 94 chapters are arranged in outline style for easy reference. Considerable emphasis is given to explaining the dispensational view of the end times.

End Times Prophecy

From the publisher: Many Christians think of end-times prophecy as a gigantic, intimidating puzzle—difficult to piece together and impossible to figure out. But every puzzle can be solved if you approach it the right way.

Paul Benware compares prophecy to a picture puzzle. Putting the edge pieces together first builds the ‘framework’ that makes it easier to fit the other pieces in their place.

According to Benware, the framework for eschatology is the biblical covenants.

He begins his comprehensive survey by explaining the major covenants. Then he discusses several different interpretations of end-times prophecy.

Benware digs into the details of the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, the judgments and resurrections, and the millennial kingdom. But he also adds a unique, personal element to the study, answering questions as:

  • Why study bible prophecy?
  • What difference does it make if I’m premillenial or amillenial?
  • If what the Bible says about the future puzzles you, Understanding End Times Prophecy will help you put together the pieces and see the big picture.

A List of Ryrie’s Famous Quotes

“The Bible is the greatest of all books; to study it is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.”

“The solution to the problems of the church today lies in solving the problems of individual Christians, and the remedy is a person—the Holy Spirit.”

“During my years of teaching I know that I have developed idiosyncrasies.

I am certain that I am unaware of some of them, but one that I do know about is my invariable reaction the chapel speaker who begins his message something like this:

‘Now today, young people, I’m going to be very practical in my message. I’ll leave the doctrine to your teachers and the classroom – I just want to be practical.’

By this time I have already tuned the speaker out, for he has made a fundamental mistake in disjoining doctrine and practice.

All doctrine is practical, and all practice must be based on sound doctrine. Doctrine that is not practical is not healthy doctrine, and practice that is not doctrinal is not rightly based.”

“These three—fellowship, the Word, and prayer—will enable the believer to experience the new life in his heart: in his intellect, emotions, will, and spiritual life.”

“It is more important to be than to do, for if I am what God wants me to be, then I will do what He wants me to do. If I try to promote a program, however well-meaning, without personal holiness, it will be tainted by the defects of my life.

It may lack the direction of full knowledge of the Word, or the discernment of maturity, or the direction that comes through unclouded fellowship with the Lord. Primarily we do not need to develop programs, but people.”

A List of Ryrie’s Books

Ryrie wrote over 30 books, many of which are still in print. Miracles of Our Lord and So Great Salvation won Gold Medallion Book Awards. His best-selling work, however, is his study bible, which has sold over 2.5 million copies.

  • Dispensationalism Today, 1965; The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.
  • A Survey of Bible Doctrine Moody Press, 1972 NOTE: This title is also available in electronic version for use with, and sold by: Logos Bible Software
  • The Grace of God Moody Press, 1963 (First Edition), 1970 (Second Edition), 1975 (Third Edition)
  • Ryrie’s Concise Guide to the Bible, Here’s Life Publishers, 1983
  • Basic Theology, Moody Press, 1986
  • Balancing the Christian Life, Moody Press, 1994
  • Biblical Answers to Tough Questions, Tyndale Seminary Press, 2008
  • Biblical Theology of the New Testament, Moody Press, 1959
  • Come Quickly Lord Jesus: What You Need to Know About the Rapture, Harvest House Publishers, 1996
  • Dispensationalism, Moody Press, 1995
  • Dispensationalism Today, Moody Publishers, 1965
  • Neo-Orthodoxy: What It Is and What It Does, Moody Press, 1956
  • Revelation, Chicago: Moody Press, 1968
  • Ryrie’s Practical Guide to Communicating Bible Doctrine, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005
  • So Great Salvation: What It Means to Believe in Jesus Christ, Moody Press, 1997
  • The Acts of the Apostles, Moody Press, 1961
  • The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, ECS Ministries, 2005
  • The Best Is Yet to Come, Moody Press, 1981
  • The Holy Spirit Moody Press 1965
  • The Miracles of Our Lord, ECS Ministries, 2005
  • The Role of Women in the Church, B & H Publishing Group, 2011
  • The Ryrie Study Bible Moody Press 1986, 1994
  • What You Should Know About Inerrancy, Moody Press, 1981


  1. http://www.bpnews.net/46335/study-bible-scholar-charles-ryrie-dies
  2. http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2016/bible-collection-of-charles-caldwell-ryrie-n09539.html
  3. https://www.moodybible.org/news/global/2016/dr.-charles-ryrie-19252016/
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