A simple Google search will reveal that there are literally hundreds of websites that contain the phrase, “Bible study.” However, not all Bible study websites are created equal. Some are more profitable than others, and some can be more detrimental than helpful. A recent search from Buzzsumo reveals the top 10 most influential Bible study websites on the internet. How can these websites effect our Bible study? Below are the websites in order from greater to lesser.
1. Bible Gateway (Biblegateway.com)
Bible Gateway is an online searchable Bible in more than 200 versions and more than 70 languages. This Bible Gateway blog features news about the Bible, interviews with authors about their Bible-focused books. Bible Gateway has its own doctrinal statement that contains orthodox beliefs that Christians have held for 2,000 years.
I use Bible Gateway to save time and to add convenience. I can read any text in multiple translations. I can cut and past the text off of the website into my sermon manuscript. Bible Gateway enables Bible study students to have multiple translations of the Bible at their fingertips. Bible study articles, topical indexes, key word search and devotions are available as well. This is a great site for anyone who may not have money to spend on Bible study materials. However, for as little as $3.99 a month you can join Bible Gateway Plus and have access to resources like the NIV Study Bible, the NKJV Chronological Study Bible, and the Abridged Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Cost and convenience are a plus for Bible Gateway. It is available to download as an app for various devices as well.
2. Bible Study Tools (Biblestudytools.com)
BibleStudyTools is the largest free online Bible website for verse search and in-depth studies. The site includes dictionaries, lexicons, parallel Bibles and interlinear Bibles. A section entitled, “Classics” includes John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, St. Augustine’s Confessions and Thomas a Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ. Verse by verse exposition of the New and Old Testament can be found in commentary written by some of the greatest Christian church leaders including John Calvin, Matthew Henry and Charles Spurgeon.
This website is a gold mine of information that will aid the student who wants to study the Bible. Resources are available to learn the meaning of words in the original languages. Articles are available on how to be a better Bible student and numerous videos are available that help explain Bible study and certain verses. The site is easy to navigate for beginners. Plus all of the resources are free. The only down side may be that there is so much information on this site it may be overwhelming.
3. Bible Study Guide (freebiblestudyguides.org)
This website is sponsored by the United Church of God. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry says that the church is an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God and it began in 1995. CARM further states, “The United Church of God is a non-Christian cult that denies the Trinity, the true divinity of Christ, and requires both baptism and obedience to the commandments to be saved.” In addition, the United Church of God believes God the Father exists in two different beings, it denies the personhood of the Holy Spirit, and believes that Jesus is one of two divine beings. This denomination denies the basic tenets of Christianity that have been held by Christians for over 2,000 years. Nothing it publishes can be trusted to be orthodox. Stay as far away as possible from anything on the Bible Study Guide website.
4. Margaret Feinberg (margaretfeinberg.com)
Margaret Feinberg is a popular Bible teacher and speaker at churches and leading conferences such as Catalyst, Thrive, and Women of Joy, and creator of best-selling coloring books for grown-ups. She was recently named one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today by Christianity Today, one of the 30 Voices who will help lead the church in the next decade by Charisma magazine and one of 40 who will shape Christian publishing by Christian Retailing magazine. Margaret lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, Leif. She holds a degree from Wake Forest University.
Feinberg has written several, multiple session, small group Bible studies directed toward women. These studies, along with her books, can be purchased from reputable book sellers like Christian Book Distributors and LifeWay. These studies appear to be self-directed and reasonably easy to complete.
An area of concern is the lack of any kind of doctrinal statement on Feinberg’s website. There is no mention of even basic Christian theological beliefs such as the Trinity, the person and work of Christ or the nature of God. A cursory check of some of her material and personal interviews leads me to believe she is theologically conservative.
A second concern I have with any kind of small group study like this is that they do not force participants to study and dig into the Word of God for themselves. The study usually involves personal observations and easy to answer questions that tend to be subjective. While such studies can aid in Christian growth, they rank low on teaching someone how to study the Bible for themselves.
5. The Gospel Project (gospelproject.com)
The Gospel Project is a small group curriculum published by LifeWay Christian Resources of The Southern Baptist Convention. It states it is “Christ-Centered Chronological Bible Study for All Ages.” It covers all 66 books of the Bible, it is Christ-centered, contains a missions focus and covers at least 99 Christian doctrines. It is expository in its approach. I have used this curriculum to teach small groups. Both the student and leader guides provide a “Voices from the Church” section that gives a quote from a famous theologian or preacher. The quote sheds light on the text. These quotes come from men such as Dr. John MacArthur or Charles Stanley. An additional section, “Voices from Church History,” contain applicable quotes from men like Augustine, John Calvin or Charles Spurgeon. Likewise, a Gospel Project app is available on iTunes.
A big advantage to this resource is that it teaches each text with a view of the grand narrative of the Bible (creation, fall, redemption, consummation). Texts are not isolated. In addition, these lessons are heavy on theology. Teachers will be forced to deal with theological words and concepts. However, like so many small group resources this curriculum produces the results of Bible study and does not force the leader to study on his her own apart from the leader guide. When using a curriculum like this the leader is not forced to select a text, study it, formulate the main idea, structure the text then teach it. All of this has been done by the publishers.
6. Blue Letter Bible (blueletterbible.org)
Blue Letter Bible is another website I use regularly during my sermon prep time. Blue Letter Bible provides powerful tools for an in-depth study of God’s Word through a free online reference library, with study tools that are grounded in the historical, conservative Christian faith. The site has a statement of faith that is theologically conservative in the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Blue Letter Bible gives users access to multiple commentaries from men like Athanasius of Alexander, Martin Luther, George Whitefield and Matthew Henry. Additional study aids include timelines, charts, topical indexes, lexicons and creeds. One thing that is unique about this site is a tab on each page that enables users to cite the page as a reference in writing. The strengths of Blue Letter Bible include lack of cost, trustworthy material and it is easy to use. Helps such as word studies will aid users in going deeper than just surface level Bible study on this site. This site has its own app than can be used on smart phones and tablets too.
7. Bible Pronunciations (biblepronunciations.com)
Like many other Bible study websites, Bible Pronunciations is available as an app but it is not available as a website. A website exists but just for information about the app. With Bible Audio Pronunciations, you can hear helpful audio recordings of over 3,780 challenging words, names, and places. The Bible Audio Pronunciations app is available in the iTunes App Store in both lite and full versions. The lite version allows the user to try the app for free and access 400 of the most common audio pronunciations, while the full app features recordings of over 3,780 Bible words.
This app can aid in the Bible study only in a rudimentary way. It will not tell the meaning of words just how to pronounce them. Bible Pronunciations will help users in the public reading of scripture but not in-depth Bible study.
8. Faithlife Bible (faithlifebible.com)
The Faithlife Study Bible is ideal for Bible study and Christian community. It works with several popular Bible translations. You can read it anywhere. It’s always growing with new study notes, maps, and media. The app is available for Apple and Android products and it can be accessed through the website. Devotionals, Bible reading plans, the Lexham Bible dictionary and smart searches are available. Groups, churches or schools can create a “Community Notes” page to allow multiple people to study and comment on one text at a time.
A definite plus is the ability to create community notes. A class or group could be assigned a text to study then post their notes before the group meets as a whole. Three layers of notes can be created using this option. A second bonus is that Faithlife Study Bible is regularly adding study notes, maps, media and dictionary articles.
Negatives would include that most Bible versions must be purchased when using this app. The app only comes with the Lexham English Bible. Second, the only study resources appear to be photographs of biblical locales, videos of biblical settings, and infographics. Commentaries, lexicons and such are not available.
9. Eerdmans Publishing (Eerdmans.com)
The William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was founded in 1910 and currently has over 1,000 titles in print. The company’s moto is, “The finest in religious literature.” Their website states, “Our founder, believed that responsible viewpoints from across the religious spectrum should be given opportunity for expression and that high literary and intellectual standards were of utmost importance. His publishing company continues to operate according to these beliefs. Thus, deeply rooted in the historic Christian tradition, ecumenical in spirit, open to emerging dialogue with other faiths, Eerdmans continues to commit itself to the life of the religious academy, to the church, and to the role of religion in culture.” This in itself is a theological concern. Phrases such as “open to emerging dialogue with other faiths” may indicate the presence of theological modernism or liberalism.
An additional negative is that this is not a Bible study website. It is a website where Bible study aids can be purchased. Nothing is available on line here that would aid in personal Bible study. Third, the sheer amount of material under each category could make it difficult for a beginning Bible study student to determine what to buy. A cursory check under the “commentaries” section revealed 170 sources. Someone may ask, “Where should I start first?” Also, “Which author should I read behind?” Plus most of these works are written from a technical viewpoint and are for men and women who have more than a basic understanding of the Bible. A familiarity with biblical languages and textual criticism is almost a must when purchasing anything from the Eerdmans’ website.
10. Logos Bible Software (logos.com)
I am a fan of Logos Bible software and use it every week in my sermon preparation and devotional Bible reading. I am regularly discovering something Logos can do for me that I was previously unaware of. I have a personal library of hundreds of resources. Logos aids in personal Bible study in two main ways: time and space.
Instead of having to pull numerous books off of the shelf to study, they are at your fingertips with Logos. Dictionaries, language helps and commentaries are literally a click away. Secondly, Logos helps when it comes to space. I can carry hundreds of Bible study resources around in one hand via my laptop computer, iPad or iPhone. There are no books to haul around when you use Logos.
The negative side of Logos is cost. There are some beginning packages as cheap at $294, however this can be pricey for the beginning Bible study student. Resources can be added individually or as a set. An additional negative element is familiarity. If you are not familiar with theologians, authors and scholars, Logos can be overwhelming. It can be especially overwhelming if you are not familiar with a writer’s theological persuasion as well. Caution should be exercised before buying any author you are not familiar with.
Proceed with caution regarding any website that claims to be one that aids Bible study. As with books or resources, it is always best to get a recommendation from a trusted friend, pastor, or teacher regarding resources on the information super highway. One wrong turn and you can find yourself in heresy and unorthodox teaching.