Systematic Theology Study Bible | Review, Pictures, Video

systematic theology study bibleThe Systematic Theology Study Bible, published by Crossway, and offered in the English Standard Version (ESV), uniquely combines Scripture and Christian doctrine. Because theology is rooted in the Word of God, the project designers of the STSB aim to teach doctrine right next to the Scripture upon which it is based.

The Systematic Theology Study Bible aims to obey Titus 2:1, which reads, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” (ESV).

“God’s Word is full of theology, from beginning to end,” begins the introductory article. “But many believers wonder how to put this theology together in a coherent way.” The STSB hopes to solve that problem.

The notes and articles help readers discover the key passages in which critical doctrines, like the Trinity, the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, and the Second Coming, are found.

Additionally, the theologians who authored the notes and articles (more below), help readers understand exactly where and how Scripture teaches these doctrines.

Systematic Theology Study Bible: Features

There are four features of the Systematic Theology Study Bible that teach readers theology: (1) book introductions, (2) sidebars, (3) articles, and (4) customized, user-friendly indexes:

Book introductions: Like most study bibles, the STSB includes 1-2 page introductions to all 66 books of Scripture. Each introduction includes information on the author, date, and setting of each book. Unlike most study bibles, the STSB book introductions contain a section on what the book contributes to systematic theology. These are the largest sections in each book introduction. This section in the introduction to Genesis includes these two paragraphs:

God saves by grace through faith. God saves Noah, Abraham, their spouses, and their descendants by his grace through their faith in him (8:20; 15:6; cf. Heb. 11:1–40). They do the good works he saved them to do (Gen. 18:18–19; cf. Eph. 2:9–10) so others will come to know God. God never surrenders his kingdom or his subjects to sin. He saves those who trust him.

Jesus Christ is a descendant of Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham (Matt. 1:1–17; Luke 3:23–38). He keeps all of God’s promises. He holds creation together (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3), defeats sin (Rom. 3:21–31) and death (1 Cor. 15:1–58), and blesses all nations (Matt. 28:16–20). He is the only Savior (Acts 4:12), and his people are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:16–20).

Consider other examples as well: the introduction to Psalms contains one paragraph that summarizes the author, date, and setting, while “The Theological Message of Psalms” contains six substantive paragraphs with chapter and verses references. Similarly, Romans’ introduction devotes tow sentences to the author, date, and setting, while “Romans and Christian Doctrine” is seven paragraphs in length.

Sidebars: Sidebars show what the text of Scripture teaches about the primary subjects of systematic theology. The editors explain in the introduction that the sidebars are the foundation of the Systematic Theology Study Bible. Their content focuses on the primary doctrines of Scripture: the Attributes of God, mankind, sin, Jesus Christ, salvation, the Holy Spirit, the Church, Christian living, and the end times. In this, the editors make clear that authors respect “different views on secondary issues such as baptism, spiritual gifts, and details concerning last things.”

systematic theology study bible salvationThere are over 400 sidebars in the STSB, which are evenly divided between the Old and New Testament. The sidebars are also cross-referenced to other sidebars that discuss similar topics. Here are some examples of sidebars:

  • In alignment with John 12 is the sidebar “Salvation: Victory Over Satan,” which is paragraphs in length and filled with chapter and verse references.
  • In alignment with Romans 5 is “Salvation: Justification,” which is three to four paragraphs in length and filled with chapter and verse references.
  • In alignment with Colossians 3 is “Mankind: The Image of God,” which is four paragraphs in length and filled with chapter and verse references.
  • In alignment with 1 Timothy 2 is “Church Life: Women’s Roles,” which is four paragraphs in length and filled with chapter and verse references.
  • In alignment with Jude is “Attributes of God: Triune,” which is four paragraphs in length and filled with chapter and verse references.

Biblical books contains various amounts of sidebars: Genesis has 13, Ruth has 1, Nehemiah has 5, Pslams has 28, Isaiah has 20, John has 19, Romans has 17, Philippians has 6, Hebrews has 13, and Revelation has 11. Most books include sidebars.

Steven J. Lawson, Professor of Preaching at The Master’s Seminary, “Its many doctrinal summaries and theological articles are strategically placed and show how the many threads of theological truth come together seamlessly to form one tapestry.”

Articles: In the back of the study bible, there are 27 articles on Christian doctrine that summarize theological topics. There is an introductory article titled, “What is Doctrine and Why Is It Important?” as well as a practical one called, “How to do Theology.” Additionally, there are historical articles on the history of doctrine, theological traditions, the biblical canon, and on Creeds and Confessions.

Most of the articles, however, are on the common topics of systematic theology:

  • Revelation
  • Scripture
  • God
  • Creation
  • Providence
  • Humanity
  • Sin
  • The Christian Life
  • The Person of Christ
  • The Work of Christ
  • The Holy Spirit
  • Ordinances and Sacraments
  • Grace
  • Election
  • The Gospel
  • Salvation
  • The Church
  • Eschatology

Most articles are three to four pages in length and contain chapter and verse references throughout.

Indexes: There are two indexes in the STSB. The first one lists sidebar titles in the order they appear in Scripture. The second one organizes the sidebars by subject matter. These guides will help readers approach systematic theology in Scripture in multiple ways.

Note: Also see the Study Bible Comparison Chart to compare 50 different study bibles.

Own The Systematic Theology Study Bible

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Writers and Contributors to the Study Bible

The editors of STSB are Chistopher W. Morgan, Dean and Professor of Theology at California Baptist University, and Stephen J. Wellum, Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Graham A. Cole of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is a Consulting Editor.

Contributors to sidebars and articles include: J.I. Packer, John Frame, R. Kent Hughes, Michael Horton, Bryan Chapell, and Sam Storms.

Details from the publisher:

Features:

  • Double-column, paragraph format
  • Footnotes
  • Book intros
  • Topical index of sidebars
  • Cross-references
  • 400+ doctrinal summaries explaining core doctrines and connecting them to specific Bible passages
  • 25+ longer articles on key theological topics
  • Lifetime guarantee on leather and TruTone editions
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Packaging: J-Card (Hardcover); Box (Genuine Leather and TruTone)

Contributors:

  • Gregg Allison
  • Bruce Ashford
  • Gerald Bray
  • Bryan Chapell
  • Graham Cole
  • David Dockery
  • John Frame
  • Michael Horton
  • Kelly Kapic
  • Michael Kruger
  • Robert Letham
  • Donald Macleod
  • Chris Morgan
  • Stephen Nichols
  • J. I. Packer
  • Michael Reeves
  • Fred Sanders
  • Sam Storms
  • Scott Swain
  • Stephen Wellum
  • David Wells

Endorsements:

“Too often, people treat the teachings of the Bible like a jumble of puzzle pieces left in the box. This study Bible is a great tool to fit the pieces together into a beautiful picture of our Lord and his ways. Its sidebars give brief and lucid explanations of how particular Scriptures reveal doctrine for practical life. The sidebars are cross-referenced to each other, indexed at the end, and more fully developed in concluding articles. Consequently, this book traces many paths by which those hungry to know the Word can travel into deeper understanding and faith. May God use this volume to renew the evangelical mind and spirit that he restored to the church through the Reformation.”

Joel R. Beeke, President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; Pastor, Heritage Reformed Congregation, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“If we hope to stand against the trends of our times, vague impressions will not suffice. We need nothing less than the mind of Christ, our Victor over all. The ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible can teach us to think the way Christ thinks, with his categories and his insights, clearly grounded in the words of Scripture. I rejoice at this impressive new resource that will serve to develop believers in this generation who are wise and courageous for God’s glory.”

Ray Ortlund, Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee

“This study Bible makes clear that Christian doctrine arises from God’s inspired Word. A rich store of notes and articles offers guidance in thinking theologically and coherently about God’s revelation in the Scriptures. Readers will find wonderfully accessible help in exploring the themes and doctrines that emerge from the Bible’s pages.”

Kathleen Nielson, author; speaker; Senior Adviser, The Gospel Coalition