7 Free Bible Reference Study Tools

If you’re like me, you are always looking for more Bible reference study tools to help you understand the Bible better. That’s what I am focusing on in this review. We look at six Bible reference tools on the web that are free to use.

In my last review, I looked at the top 5 Bible study websites on the web. In this review, I am focusing on Bible reference tools besides these websites.

When I refer to Bible reference tools, I’m talking about Bible dictionaries, commentaries, Bible handbooks, lexicons, and other tools that help us dive in to the Bible. The Bible was written over a 1600-year span, many cultures, and had about 40 authors.

That means there are things that will be hard for us to understand or relate to in the Bible. We may not understand something that happened in the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Bible reference tools help us break down the text and explain it to us.

We All Need Bible Reference Study Tools

I’ve shared when I think of some of the most commonly visited and used study websites for the Bible, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. They offer a more complete approach to Bible study. But sometimes you just need a Bible reference tool quickly.

If you know your way around these websites, that’s not a problem. But in my original search for Bible tools online, I found a ton of resources, so I want to bring them all to you. You may find them easier for something that is not offered on other websites you know about.

When you study the Bible, you need to be able to dig deep into the history, archaeology, and meaning of the Bible text. Some of these resources I’m about to share with you will help you do just that. Even if you don’t think you can use these tools now, there will be a time when you will need them and others like them.

When I have looked at Bible study software like Logos, Accordance, e-Sword, and others I have yet to give a review for, you will find some of these tools with those. But what if you don’t have access to Bible software? That’s where these websites and Bible reference study tools come in handy.

Free Online NET Bible

As we look at some of these Bible reference study tools, I would cover this Bible reference study tool when I talk about Bible versions and Bible websites, but the NET Bible is a special Bible. You can get valuable insights from the footnotes of the NET Bible.

These footnotes give you insight into the original languages and why the translators of the NET Bible have chosen the English translations they have. These are very informative notes that can aid you in deciding which Greek and Hebrew words to study in depth.

You can access the free version of the NET Bible and look at how it is laid out. I have found that many websites where you study the Bible take at least a few minutes to familiarize yourself with how they work.

There’s nothing better than free. You can access the notes from the translators of the NET Bible by clicking on one of the hyperlinked footnotes. Then, down in the bottom, you can see the footnotes that I think are the best part of the NET Bible.

Free Bible Dictionary

You really need to have Bible dictionaries as part of your Bible reference study tools. What happens when you come across a word or an idea in your studies? Sure, you could go to Google and just ask it what a word means or how it is used in the Bible. But, Google is not a Bible search engine.

It may give you a number of meanings for word used in the Bible or in your reading of Bible and Christian history matters but you cannot guarantee it is covering the same word and meaning you need to know. That’s why you need a Bible dictionary to search Bible words and Bible concepts.

Bible dictionaries range in price, but there’s nothing better than FREE! One of the Bible dictionaries I found free on the web is actually part of one of the websites I evaluated in my earlier review.

You can access the Holman Bible Dictionary for free on studylight.org. This website has a number of Bible dictionaries, but this is one of the best ones you can access for free. It will give you the Bible and Christian meaning of the word you look up there.

The Holman Bible Dictionary is a great resource that I often use in my Bible study. It’s one of the best single volume Bible dictionaries out there.

Free Online Concordance and Lexicon

When you are doing your own study and research on a Bible passage or Bible word, there’s no better tool than a Bible concordance. The most commonly used and easiest Bible ordinances to work with is a Strong’s concordance. I was pleasantly surprised to find a concordance and a couple of lexicons for Bible reference and study tools.

Since this is usually in the public domain, it is easy to find on the web. A Bible concordance gives you every time the word appears in a certain version of the Bible. Ones done for the KJV are often free, and I found a website that deals with a concordance and lexicon for free.

What is lexicon? You can look up a word and its use in a version of the Bible with a concordance, but that concordance is keyed to that specific version. A lexicon is a Hebrew or Greek dictionary for the word you find in Scripture. With it, you can see where the original language word is used and had a good solid definition of that word based on the original language instead of just English.

There’s great place on the web where both are available to you. Check out Eliyah Ministries Concordance and Lexicon. The concordance is based on Strong’s for the KJV. If you’re looking for different version and it’s concordance, you may be able to search for a website that has such a concordance. But it may not be for free.

Even though these are older scholarship both in Strong’s concordance with the KJV and the Hebrew and Greek lexicons, it’s great to have such free resources available online. Having these tools available online is a great start to your Bible word study.

Free Online Bible Commentaries

What happens when you’re reading your Bible and something seems different, or maybe you’re looking several Bible versions and notice that they have a wide range of words they choose in a verse? Something must be happening in the original languages there.

The other Bible reference study tools I have mentioned will help you with that. But sometimes it’s easier to get a studied scholar to walk through the text with you. This is called a commentary, and it walks through the Bible verse by verse. There are different kinds of commentaries. I break it down into at least three types.

  1. Devotional Bible Commentaries are focused on applying the Bible passage and do not go very in depth into the text itself and its meaning.
  2. Specialty/Technical Commentaries are ones that are very technical in the original languages and not accessible to people who do not know the original language as well. They are much harder to read and many times use grammar and syntax words even I sometimes have to look up.
  3. Exegetical/Expositional Bible Commentaries go deep into the meaning of the text, often talking about the Greek and Hebrew words in those verses. They also consider the context of the passage.

I think for free on the web you will probably run into devotional and sometimes exegetical commentaries. I have found at least four commentaries available for free on the internet, and here are these Bible reference study tools of commentaries.

The Enduring Word Bible Commentary is a very involved commentary that includes text, audio, and video commentary. There is a text commentary for the whole Bible and goes verse by verse. Some books of the Bible also have audio commentary. There are also videos for some of the commentary. The commentary is from David Guzik.

His commentary is written in an outline style and goes into some detail but provides a lot of application. Many people find his commentary useful and helpful in studying the Bible.

The International Critical Commentary falls under the exegetical and maybe even technical commentary. Some of them don’t into great detail about the original languages. They are considered a critical commentary meeting that they can be written by Christian and non-Christian scholars. This website offers older versions of this commentary series. I can tell you that the current volumes are quite expensive.

That’s why it’s nice to be able to dig into some of these older commentaries. Sometimes older commentaries are actually better. It all depends on which scholar rights to commentary volume for that book.

Free Bible Commentary is a website by Bob Utley ministries with audio, video, and text Bible commentaries available for you to use in your Bible studies. What I like is that these commentaries are dedicated to what we call a grammatical method of studying the Bible. That means we honor the grammar of the Bible and the historicity of the Bible. They will not just make something up like an allegory.

I really like Dr Utley’s commentary because it is not tell you what he thinks it means. It is a study guide commentary which I find very helpful. I will definitely be referring to this commentary series again..

Christian Bible Commentaries is another place on the web you can find commentaries. It has several collections of commentaries but you can only access three of them completely free. To get the other commentaries, you have to sign up for their Plus program, which I could not access. The three commentaries you can read for free are John Gill’s commentary, on the whole Bible, Matthew Henry’s original commentary, and Matthew Henry’s thorough commentary.

I categorize Matthew Henry’s commentaries under the devotional commentary. They are helpful for devotional, spiritual, and applicable thoughts on a text but he does not go into original languages most of the time. John Gill’s commentary goes into a lot more detail and is pretty good. Because it is an older commentaries, it sometimes is harder for modern readers to read.

 Final Thoughts

There are some great free online resources for your Bible reference study tools. Now that I am aware of them, I will use them when I do not have my Bible software available. My personal favorite was discovering Dr. Bob Utley’s website.

When you are studying the Bible for Bible studies, sermons, or just your own personal study, any of these resources will help you gain a clearer meaning of the text as you are studying. Use the tools to their strongest benefit and you will grow deeper in your biblical knowledge and passage study.

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