Where Can I Turn When I Don’t Understand the Bible?

That’s the question I asked this week on the Read the Hard Parts Facebook page.

Here are some suggestions that our Facebook friends shared. I also included resources I use when I am studying a Bible passage in preparation for teaching or writing.

Where Can I Turn When I Don't Understand the Bible-


The Bible Knowledge Commentary

This two volume commentary set is the first place I go when I am stuck. A commentary is a book that explains each Bible passage or sometimes each verse. The Bible Knowledge Commentary is quick and easy since each section is brief. This was required reading at Cairn University when I attended there. At the time I trudged my way through it. Now I am thankful to have it!

Tyndale Old Testament and New Testament Commentary series

On Facebook, Jill recommended this commentary as an excellent resource. She and her husband (aka my mom and dad) both use it when preparing to teach at church.

These commentaries are available to purchase one volume at a time or as a whole set.

NIV Application Commentary Series

This is the commentary series that my husband (aka Pastor Tim) uses most when preparing his sermons. I have started to use it, too, since that is what I have access to and I find it unique since there are three sections for each passage: one on the original meaning, one on its connections to other passages, and one on the application for life today. I am currently using this one to study Malachi in preparation for writing a Christmas themed devotional:

Matthew Henry Commentary Series

If you don’t want to invest in purchasing a commentary series but still want to look something up, this commentary is online for free at biblestudytools.com. Written in 1706, this commentary can be some work to read since it was written long ago, but there can be some helpful insights there. Simply click on the Bible chapter you are stuck on and see how Matthew Henry explains the passage. There are many other commentaries on biblestudytools.com including Martin Luther’s Commentary.

Other Resources


I discovered gotquestions.org when looking for a resource to share with the teenagers at church. I have since used it myself. This is most helpful when you are looking for an answer from a Biblical worldview, but you can also search a Scripture reference to get some insight.


This site was recommended by Deanne Johnson from Scripture And. Many people she knows use it as a reliable source when they are digging deep into a Scripture passage.

The Original Greek and Hebrew

Jill also said she likes to look up the verse in the original Hebrew or Greek. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and the New Testament was originally written in Greek. Of course, not all of us have attended a school like Biblical Seminary that teaches Hebrew and Greek.  Even if we did, we may not have kept up with remembering how to read it! (I am speaking from personal experience here…) So if the rest of us want to know the original meaning we can look a word up in…

Strong’s Concordance

Strong’s Concordance uses a numbering system to help you easily reference what the original Greek or Hebrew word means. Each word of the Bible has a number next to it. Then you look that number up in Strong’s Concordance so you see what the original word is and what its meaning is and all its nuances.

More Ideas

  • Jen said she first looks around in the surrounding chapter and book to see if the context can shed some light on understanding the passage. If not, she likes to simply phone a friend! They have a discussion on the passage and what it means. What a great idea!


  • You could always use the cross-references in your Bible to see what other related passages of Scripture have to say. If you have a Bible that uses cross-references, there will be little italized letters next to some of the words in the verse. These little letters are like footnotes, except the letters correspond to the sidebar of the page and the letters will be next to another Scripture reference. Look that corresponding reference up and you will see how the two verse connect.


  • Rebecca said she likes to use a concordance. Many Bibles have a small concordance in the back, but there are also concordances that are more complete that are stand alone books. It’s a little bit like a dictionary where you can look up any word that appears in the Bible. Then it has a short definition of the word and a list of every verse where that word appears. Look up the many verses and you get a more complete understanding of the word.


Have you used any of these resources? Do you have any other resources to add to the list? Please comment below! We would like to hear from you!

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

3 thoughts on “Where Can I Turn When I Don’t Understand the Bible?

    • Oh, yes, I like the NLT version. It has been a while since I used it, though. I like using a new-to-me translation to keep things fresh and it can give you a better understanding, too, of hard passages.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s