We already know that one of the most important things any Christian can do is read their Bible. Reading it is more important than reading about it. More important than memorizing it. Just reading, meditating, absorbing. That being said, there is a place for using study helps like sermons and commentaries to help us understand who it was written for and what its message is for us today.
And (as with everything else) the Internet is where we turn for help — nearly two-thirds of online Americans use the tubes for faith-related reasons — but not all Bible “help” is created equal.
These sites are rated based on the number of modern translations and other resources (commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and Greek and Hebrew study tools), and design. While some have a paid version, or additional content available, here we consider only what’s offered for free.
Pros: Has a fantastic, tabbed interface, which houses a wealth of information, including the full text of the HCSB Study Bible, a few commentaries, and several Bible dictionaries. MyStudyBible has arguably the best Greek and Hebrew (Strong’s) implementation anywhere on the web, making basic tools simple enough for even a novice.
Cons: No reading plans or social sharing tools. Also focuses on the Holman brand, and doesn’t have the full range of public-domain commentaries offered by other sites.
Bottom line: My top pick.
2. Faithlife Study Bible
(Disclosure: I am employed part-time by Logos Bible Software. I’ve tried to be as fair and impartial as possible for this review.)
Pros: The Faithlife Study Bible is the world’s only digital-first study bible. It has all the “bottom-of-the-page” study notes you’d expect to find in a print study bible, without being limited by the number of words the editors could fit on a page. Hundreds of photos, maps, infographics, and videos are packaged in a sleek and simple design. For more in-depth study on a topic, it also comes with the Lexham Bible Dictionary, with contributions from dozens of top scholars.
Cons: No Greek and Hebrew tools, and limited other content.
Bottom line: FSB is my favorite single resource for next-level Bible study; but for even more serious study with commentaries and original language tools, you’ll need to move on to somewhere else.
Pros: Great design, personal notes/highlights, social sharing, mobile app. Find friends and groups, share notes with them, read through a pre-set plan together, setup events for live sharing, and even set accountability partners to make sure you stay on track.
Cons: No Greek and Hebrew, commentaries, or other study content.
Bottom line: YouVersion is the clear choice for those who just want a simple way to read the Bible and share thoughts with others, without a lot of extra content from commentaries and other sources.
Pros: Great mix of tools, especially a wide range of public domain commentaries and other resources. The interface is easy to navigate, and has one of the best searching abilities around.
Cons: Doesn’t excel in any one area.
Bottom line: Perhaps the best-known site in this list, for good reason.
http://biblos.com (aka bible.cc and several other domain names)
Pros: More free commentaries, dictionaries, maps, and other content than you would find almost anywhere else.
Cons: Confusing interface makes it almost impossible to use. Limited searching, and no personal notes or social sharing.
Bottom line: Biblos would be a decent choice for an in-depth study on a single passage, but not for regular reading, journaling, or social sharing.
- http://www.theopedia.com/ The Wikipedia of Christianity
- http://biblewalks.com/ – Maps and photos of the Holy Land
- http://www.bible.ca/maps/ – super-high res maps with accurate historical markers