Study Bibles are a wise and popular way to read and learn Scripture. Christians of all denominations — and from different kinds of churches — use Study Bibles to grow in their understanding of Scripture and the God whose Word it is. But should a person take their Study Bible to church?
Christians should take their Study Bibles to church. A person’s Study Bible will help them maximize what they are hearing in sermons, learning in Sunday school classes, and talking about in small groups. Study Bibles help church goers get the most of their attendance.
How exactly do Study Bible help Christians get the most out of going to church? How should a person seek to use their Study Bible will at church? How can it help them as well as others? Keep reading to learn more.
Compare dozens of different Study Bibles on one comparison chart. See The Study Bible Comparison Chart for more.
Study Bibles compliment the pastor’s sermon
Pastors preach sermons that are based on a certain text of Scripture; that is, a verse or passage from a book from either the Old or New Testament.
A passage includes people or characters (at the very least it includes the author); it involves a social and historical setting; and it reflects theology and doctrine. A Study Bible can help readers understand these aspects of a passage better and in a way that’s easy to understand.
- Study Bible tell the reader more about people in the Bible. For example, if a pastor is preaching on David, the study notes can give the reader more information about David’s family, his faith, the time in which he lived, and other aspects of his life that will help the reader understand the sermon.
- Study Bible inform the reader more about places in the Bible. For example, if the pastor is preaching on David, the study notes can give the reader more information about the city of Jerusalem or whatever city, town, hillside, lake, or river that acts as the geographical setting for the story.
- Study Bible explain to the reader more about the theology of the Bible. A doctrine is a theological statement about a certain subject. For example, if the pastor is preaching about David’s life, the study notes can give the reader more information about how the Holy Spirit ministered in David’s life (see example below).
- Study Bibles provide cross references. Regular Bibles often include cross references, but Study Bibles often have thousands of them. A cross reference is a verse of the Bible that relates to the verse being studied. For example, if the pastor’s sermon was on Psalm 51, in which David asks for a clean heart, a Study Bible may list 1 John 1:9 as a cross reference because it states how Christians may have a clean heart before God.
|“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!”|
|1 John 1:9|
|“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”|
Which Study Bible is right for you? See How to Choose a Study Bible to learn more.
Maps and charts in Study Bibles help visual learners
Visual learners love Study Bible because a common feature of many of them is the inclusion of maps and charts. For example, it’s one thing to read about David’s battles, but it’s another thing to read about them and then see a map that depicts exactly how his troops traveled and attacked the enemy.
- Maps help visual learners because they display city, mountains, waterways, and other features that help readers imagine the story. Imagining the story leads to great comprehension for visual learners. Maps can also show topography, national and tribal boundaries, and other information related to the setting of Bible stories.
- Charts help visual learners because they organize information in a way that is helpful and easy to understand. For example, a list of Israel’s kings, which includes David, would help a reader understand the big picture of the nations’ monarchy. It would also help them begin to understand David’s relationship to Saul (the king before him) and Solomon (the king after him).
- Timelines help visual learners because sometimes in order to understand the “trees” of a narrative, it’s important to grasp the “forest” of it. For example, a timeline that showed God’s work from Adam to David would help the reader glimpse His sovereignty over history.
Study notes help people contribute to discussions at church
For many people, their involvement at church doesn’t just involve hearing the Bible preached, but also discussing Scripture with other people. Sunday school classes, small groups, and community groups are common places for discussion to occur.
- People with a Study Bible can help provide social and historical background information to the group. Sometimes understanding the setting of a passage is the key to unlocking its message.
- People with a Study Bible can help provide theological information to the group. The notes of most Study Bibles are written in a way that enables them to be used by readers of any church or denomination.
- People with a Study Bible can help provide information about literary styles to the group. For example, Study Bibles often explain the difference between how to read poetry in Scripture as well as proverbs, narratives, laws, and letters. Understanding literary styles and genres help people understand how to read all the different parts of the Scripture.
- People with a Study Bible can offer application suggestions to the group. For many people, application is the hardest part of their Bible reading. They often think, “I don’t know how this story relates to me.” A Study Bible can help answer that question. Application is an important part of any small group or community group.
Are you knew to reading the Bible? See Best Study Bibles for Beginners to learn more.
Study Bibles help readers become familiar with their Bible
Many people learn the Bible better when they learn a Bible better. Being familiar with where certain passages, verses, and even study notes are in a Bible, helps the reader remember the context better and it helps them find verses and visual aids faster the next time they are looking for them.
If a person reads a Study Bible at home, there is wisdom in taking that same Bible to church. Familiarity aids memory, which aids understanding, which aids comprehension.
Taking a Study Bible to church acts as respectful accountability for preachers and teachers
Pastors and their sermons aren’t the authority for Christians; Scripture is. 2 Timothy 3:16 reads, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (ESV). And 2 Peter 1:20-21 reads,
“Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (ESV)
While church attenders shouldn’t distrust their pastor or expect to be misled in a sermon, it’s important to be aware that God’s Word is the Christian’s foundation and standard, not a human teacher, no matter how good of a speaker they are.
If pastor or teacher says something that contradicts the notes of a Study Bible, a person may want to have a respectful and cordial conversation with that speaker or another church leader.
The point would not be to accuse the preacher or teaching of wrongdoing, but to open up a conversation for the sake of clarity about what the Bible says and for good fellowship between two Christians.
Also see What Is a Woman’s Study Bible? to learn more.