High speed broadband. Powerful search engines. Are they your friends or foes to answer questions about God and the Bible? For the best of what’s free on the internet, check out the resources below. For the rest of what’s on the internet, well, just Google it.
Where to begin?
Before you look at the passage in any detail you should have a good understanding of the background of the book of the Bible. These details are compiled into books called “Surveys”. There are many to choose from. For a more entertaining presentation you can try the videos at the bible project (www.jointhebibleproject.com – be aware that not every book of the Bible is covered yet).
“What does it say?”
Pick a few different translations across the continuum (eg NASB, NKJV, NIV, NLT & MSG).
You are looking for words that you do not understand and words that the translators have had difficulty with (made evident when the versions suggest different translations).
Biblegateway allows you to compare five texts at once. They have a how-to guide here:
“What does it mean?”
Once you have a list of words that you want to explore you will need a Bible dictionary.
Biblehub has compiled the entries from five freely available dictionaries (Easton’s, Smith’s, 2 vols from American Tracts Society & Webster’s) at biblehub.com/dictionary
“How does it fit?”
Investing in (and using) a good study Bible will be invaluable for this step. Use the cross-references and footnotes to explore how other parts of the Bible illuminate the text. The openbible has some innovative ways of exploring these connections at www.openbible.info/labs/cross-references/visualization
You will also need access to a theological dictionary. CARM have compiled the entries from eight such dictionaries at carm.org/dictionary-theology-intro
“What does it mean to me/us?”
At this point in your preparation (and only at this point) feel welcome to look at some commentaries. For a list of the best modern commentaries (listed by book) see www.bestcommentaries.com
However, in terms of value-for-money, some even better commentaries are freely available online and include some of the biggest theological giants such as Calvin (www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/commentaries.i.html), Spurgeon (www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/) and Edwards (edwards.yale.edu/archive).
Want to go deeper?
If you are interested in discovering if theological education might be right for you there is an amazing range of courses freely available at biblicaltraining.org