What Is a Bible Concordance?
- A Bible concordance helps you find Scripture with specific words.
- A concordance is a helpful tool in studying the Bible.
- Use a concordance to find cross-references of the same word.
Studying the Bible with the right tools can help you find more meaning in the words of Scripture. While many Apostolics prefer using the Apostolic Study Bible because of the rich book introductions that call attention to key Apostolic insights, another tool that is useful for understanding words within the text of the Scriptures is a concordance. A concordance is an alphabetical list of the words within the text, generally listed with a citation of the passage where the words occurred. Although this sounds like a dictionary, a concordance can provide references across the Bible that would be difficult to obtain without such an exciting tool.
What Is a Bible Concordance Used For?
A concordance has many uses, but two of the primary uses are:
- A Bible concordance helps you find every place a specific word occurs within Scripture; and
- A Bible concordance is frequently used for a specific word study. This will help you gain deeper illumination into the Scriptures as you study. When you dive deeper into Scripture, you are sure to discover spiritual nuggets of wisdom to help your understanding.
Many people start using a concordance to find specific verses. If they can remember a word or phrase from a verse and want to find the Scripture, they can use the concordance to look up the word, while also discovering other occurrences of the same word in other passages.
Some concordance tools give even more information. Using the concordance, you can see the original translation from the Hebrew or Greek. The phrase “my cup” occurs thirty-four times in the Scripture. It typically means “cup,” but can also be used as a type of bowl. The concordance shows you every time the original word is used in the Scripture. This tool can help you see how the word is referenced throughout the Bible. This will not only help you understand the use of the word as it was originally translated, but it can also help with understanding unfamiliar vocabulary.
For example, in the King James Version, which was first translated in the 1600s, Luke wrote about Mary and Elizabeth being cousins (Luke 1:36). In today’s vernacular, many readers would assume the two women were the daughters of siblings. However, in early English, the Bible translators used the word cousin to assume their relationship was as close as blood relatives or as distant as people from the same nation. In the context of Romans, cousins means “of the same race.” Although it is likely that Mary and Elizabeth were related in some manner, the usage of the word from the original Greek word leads us to broaden our understanding of how they may have been related.
One thing to remember about using a Bible concordance is that it needs to correspond to the translation of the Bible you’re using. Strong’s Concordance relates to the King James Version of the Bible. If you are accustomed to reading a different version of the Bible, you may have difficulties using Strong’s Concordance to find the word you want. Since the Apostolic Study Bible also utilizes the King James Version it is easy to use in conjunction with the Strong’s Concordance, or you can use the concordance featured in the back of the Apostolic Study Bible.
The four main types of Bible concordances are:
- Exhaustive – this concordance covers every single word in the Bible, even the words a, and, and the. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is the standard.
- Complete – a complete concordance generally includes the main words that you want to look up, but it won’t include all the prepositions and conjunctions.
- Concise – a concise concordance is a smaller type of concordance with a list of selective words. Many Bibles have concise concordances in the back to help you find specific references.
- Analytical – this concordance is usually organized by the Greek or Hebrew word instead of alphabetically by English word. This type of concordance can help you see where the original word is used throughout the Bible to understand its various contexts.
How to Use a Bible Concordance
A concordance isn’t a commentary on the Bible. It simply allows you to find a phrase or passage in the Bible and to compare how the word is used in other verses. The original concordance, Strong’s, indexes each word from the KJV Bible with a specific number. These numbers are known as Strong’s numbers, and most authors of other translations refer back to Strong’s numbers. Strong’s numbers are characterized by their Hebrew root word, identified with the letter H and a number, or the Greek root word that is identified with a G before the number.
Let’s take another word: “doctors.” In Luke 2:46, Jesus was surrounded by doctors. Using the concordance, you easily find the original verse where it appeared:“And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.”
From the concordance, you see that the word doctors has a Strong’s number of G1320. It is a Greek word translated from “didaskalos.” The KJV translates G1320 as “master,” “teacher,” and “Master” (or Jesus).” If you keep digging, you can find fifty-seven times where it is used in the New Testament. In Matthew 12:38, the Pharisees addressed Jesus as Master. In Mark, G1320 is used multiple times when talking to Jesus. The translators translated G1320 as teachers in I Corinthians 12:28.
This information can help you understand Luke 2:46. Jesus wasn’t surrounded by medical doctors in the temple, but by teachers and masters of the Scriptures.
In Mark 7:27, Jesus tells a woman, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread.” The word meet is used in an archaic sense. Today’s readers may not fully grasp how the word is used in the sentence. Going to the concordance, you can take Strong’s number (G2570) and get a sense of how the original translators used it. Kalos is the original Greek word that means “noble” or “good.” This can help us more fully comprehend the full context of Scripture.
A Concordance Adds Depth to Your Bible Study
The purpose of a concordance is to lead the user to deeper illumination as they study the Bible. While it will not answer questions you may have related to the plan of salvation as described in the Book of Acts, it will bring clarity and insight to specific Scriptures and phrases. Now that you are no longer wondering what a Bible concordance is, you can include its usage in your regular studies. You may not need to look up every word, but when you come across a phrase that isn’t fully clear in context, you now have another tool to help you get the needed information. So grab your Apostolic Study Bible and the concordance that is right for you as you discover more of God’s Word today!