Many years ago, as a Bible study on Galatians began, we were instructed to do a little research into Galatians (get an overview) for the next week. I forgot. So on the ride there (my husband was driving), I read the intro to Galatians in my study Bible. When the leader asked what we learned about Galatians, I shared the tidbits I remembered from reading the intro…and…everyone thought I was brilliant. haha. But really, they were impressed – but all I did was utilize a feature of my study Bible!
Recently when I led a Bible study, as we considered one verse, I had the class turn to a couple other verses that were related to that verse. These other verses brought light and understanding to the class. I said that the references should be listed in their own Bibles in the cross references. Cross references? I was surprised that some had no idea what cross references were, so I pointed them to the cross references in their Bibles. While not all Bibles have cross references, many do. Even if a Bible is not a study Bible, it may have cross references. Most in the class had been Christians for years, and I was surprised they had never investigated the small print references either in the middle between the columns, or on the side. One person said something like, “I’d always wondered what those little references on the side were.”
Once I was teaching about: When you see LORD (in all capital letters) in your Bible, this is the translators way of indicating that the word LORD in that verse is YHWH or Jehovah. When you see Lord (not all caps) referring to God, it is usually a rendering of Adonai. Exodus 3 is a good passage to look at, when God proclaims himself as the great “I AM” and “LORD” to Moses. This was new info to everyone in the class. Anyways, a good study Bible may have a note about the all cap “LORD” aspect. I directed those in the class with a study Bible to look at their study note at the bottom of the page. In some of the Bibles, there was indeed a note about the all caps “LORD” aspect. There it was, all this time! A couple participants were amazed that their Bible had this info.
I could go on. You get the idea. And by the way, when I say these things surprised me, I did NOT act surprised in front of the people. That would not be polite. I used it as a teaching opportunity.
Many Christians have a study Bible. But, I wonder, what is the point of a study Bible if you never utilize its features? Perhaps some features are unclear, as cross references could be. But a study Bible should have a section in the front that says something like “How to use the features in this Bible” and it will point out and explain the features – Like a manual for a new electronic device will have pictures, arrows, and descriptions for understanding how to use it.
Utilizing the features of your Bible can help you better understand the Bible.
Be curious. If you hear a sermon on a certain passage of the Bible, go home and utilize your study Bible. Say there was a sermon on a passage in Ephesians. Read the intro to Ephesians in your Bible. Re-read the sermon passage. Read the study notes. Look up some cross references. Etc.