If you have read through the Bible or are involved in a Bible study group, you may be ready to purchase a study Bible. A study Bible is different from other Bibles in that it includes additional material and tools to help you dig deeper into the meaning of the Bible text. It will always include the same text of the Old Testament and New Testament as any other Bible.

Among the features you can choose from in a study Bible are:

Book IntroductionsStudy Bibles will nearly always provide introductory information before each book. It will state who wrote the book, who it was written to and when it was written. And it will give a brief summary of the book. This might be a simple paragraph before the text of the book, or it could be a whole page (or more) with extensive information.
ConcordanceJust about every study Bible will include a concordance at the end of the Bible text (before the maps). It looks similar to a dictionary in that it has a list of words in alphabetical order. Instead of giving you the definition of a word, it will have a list of Bible verses where that word can be found, with a portion of the verse where the word appears.
Chain Link or Cross ReferenceMany study Bibles will have a chain link reference (sometimes called a cross reference) tool. This is usually formatted as a column down the center of each page of Bible text. The text of the Bible will have reference numbers that correspond to an entry in the column. This reference will list one or more verses that also use this word in the same context and therefore provide a richer understanding of each of the verses. Or it may give you an alternate translation for the word referenced.

Most study Bibles will include one or more of these three elements (usually all of them) and these features can be found in different formats across all the study Bible translations. Many will also include extensive essays or footnotes on the text of the each verse.

Most Bible study material is specific to a particular translation of the bible. But there are several study Bible notes and commentaries that have been added to multiple Bible translations.

One of the most popular study Bibles is the Life Application Study Bible. The notes and commentaries that make up this study Bible have been added to the New International Version, the King James Version, the New King James Version and others. It consists of maps, essays and verse commentary.


A popular study Bible option

The Holman Study Bible (sometimes called the Holman Rainbow Study Bible) has also been used with many translations. It can be found with the New International Version, the King James Version, the New King James Version and the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Don’t be confused about the Holman name. There is a Holman Christian Standard Bible translation. But there is also a Holman Study Bible which is a specific set of study notes and commentaries. You can get a Holman Christian Standard Bible with the Holman Study Bible notes. But you can also get an HCSB translation with the Life Application study notes.

Most Bible translations have a version with study material geared to men and others geared to women. In these cases the study material will be specific to that particular translation. For instance the NIV Woman’s Study Bible will have different tools than the KJV Woman’s Study Bible and the ESV Women’s Devotional Study Bible.

Some translations offer study tools for specific purposes. NIV has a Ministry Essentials Bible for pastors, KJV has a Teacher’s Study Bible for bible teachers and HCSB has the Apologetics Study Bible for those who want specific information about defending the Christian faith.

Be aware that study Bibles are among the more expensive Bibles. As you add features you will be adding to the cost. So if you can help it, don’t spend money on features you won’t use.

Make your way to the Translations page to see which study Bibles are available in each translation.