The Bible admonishes ministers, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Like a carpenter who makes a sturdy, functional, attractive piece of furniture that he is not embarrassed to display, so preachers and teachers should handle the Word of God carefully and correctly to prepare messages that God approves.
A craftsman must have the right tools. What tools should an Apostolic preacher have in order to work with God’s Word effectively?
Recommended Tools for Studying the Bible
Here are some recommendations. They are not comprehensive, but they illustrate the kinds of resources that are helpful. Many resources of this type are available through computer programs and on the internet.
Apostolic Study Bible
Almost every preacher has a study Bible, which typically contains background information, outlines, notes on key words, cross references, an atlas, and a concordance. Until now, however, the major ones have been prepared by Trinitarians, mostly non-Pentecostals. For the first time we now have the Apostolic Study Bible from Pentecostal Publishing House. It has the following special features:
- Study notes written exclusively by Oneness Pentecostal scholars
- Special emphasis given to scriptural passages that are important to the Apostolic message
- Feature articles on Pentecostal distinctives of holiness, the new birth, living in covenant, miracles, and more by David K. Bernard, Daniel Segraves, David Norris, and other scholars
- Concordance created with emphasis on verses of Scripture significant to Oneness Pentecostals
In addition to the King James Version, it is helpful to have other translations of the Bible, particularly those prepared by committees of conservative scholars. For a more literal, word-for-word translation, see the NKJV, MEV, ESV, or NASB. For a more idiomatic, phrase-for-phrase translation, see the NIV or NLT. The NRSV is the standard for mainline scholarly writing, but its background is not as conservative and occasionally it is problematic. Paraphrases should be used with great care, as they are more like commentaries than the text of Scripture.
(1) General introduction to the Bible, covering inspiration, canon, text, and translation: David K. Bernard, God’s Infallible Word; Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible. (2) Special introductions, covering each book of the Bible: Raymond Dillard and Tremper Longman III, An Introduction to the Old Testament; Andrew Hill and John Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament; D. A. Carson, Douglas Moo, and Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament; Robert Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament. (3) Hermeneutics (interpretation of Scripture): David K. Bernard, Understanding God’s Word; Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth; Robert Stein, A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible; J. Robertson McQuilken, Understanding and Applying the Bible.
(1) English concordances: Strong, Young. (2) Scholarly lexicons, requiring some knowledge of original languages: Brown, Driver, Briggs (Hebrew); Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich (Greek). (3) Lexicons keyed to Strong: Gesenius (Hebrew), Thayer (Greek). (4) Hebrew: Harris, Archer, Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (keyed to Strong, 2 vols. or abridged 1 vol.). (5) Greek: Kittel and Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (requires Greek knowledge, 10 vols. or abridged 1 vol.). (6) English classics: (a) OT: Nelson (1 vol.). (b) NT: Vine (1 vol.), Robertson (6 vols.), Vincent (4 vols.), Wuest (4 vols.).
Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (4 vols., evangelical), IVP Bible Dictionary (8 vols., evangelical, available individually), Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary (1 vol., evangelical), Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (5 vols., evangelical), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (1 vol.), New Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary (5 vols., scholarly standard, not evangelical), Anchor Bible Dictionary (6 vols., scholarly standard, not evangelical).
(Evangelical, exegetical, volumes can be purchased separately). Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1 vol.); New International Commentary on the Old Testament (21 vols., hardcover), New International Commentary on the New Testament (16 vols., hardcover), Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (28 vols., paper), Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (20 vols., paper); Two Horizons Commentaries (10 vols. to date, OT and NT, paper). Commentary surveys: Tremper Longman III, Old Testament Commentary Survey (7th ed); D. A. Carson, New Testament Commentary Survey (6th ed).
(1) Bible translations: BibleGateway (2) Links to various resources: Urshan Graduate School of Theology/Library/Find Resources. (3) Reviews of commentaries and other theological works: Best Commentaries.
For additional resources and discussion, see appendix to David K. Bernard, Understanding God’s Word.
Resources and Links
Apostolic Study Bible – Study notes written exclusively by Oneness Pentecostal scholars • Special emphasis given to passages of Scripture that are important to the Apostolic message.
God’s Infallible Word – This book discusses the inspiration, canon, transmission, translation, and interpretation of Scripture. It answers questions such as, How do we know the Bible is God’s Word? Does the Bible contain errors? How can we interpret the Bible properly?
Understanding God’s Word – In Understanding God’s Word, a sequel to God’s Infallible Word, award-winning author David K. Bernard discusses the interpretation of Scripture, addressing questions such as the following: How can we interpret the Bible properly? Is there a distinctive Apostolic Pentecostal approach to reading Scripture? How should the Bible be used in preaching, teaching, and personal study? How do we apply the Bible’s message to our lives.