If you'd ever like to explore a topic throughout the Bible, the simplest way is by using a concordance, which is essentially a collection of all the verses related to a specific topic. Think of it like a Bible GPS. On our site, we have a handful of concordances to help you in your study.
So, for example, if you're looking for verses about thanksgiving, you could zip over to Torrey's New Topical Textbook ("topical" usually means you're dealing with a concordance). Click "T" from the alphabetical index at the top, and then click "Thanksgiving." (Tip: You could just type "thanksgiving" in our search box, which cuts out all these steps.)
From there, you'll see how the concept is used in the Bible. Like this:
Christ set an example of
The heavenly host engaged in
Is a good thing
And that's just the warmup. You'll find much more where that came from.
Does the Bible have a central story? And if so, how can we figure out what it is? Those are the questions Dr. Matthew Harmon tackles in "Reading the Bible in Light of the Whole Story" (a BST exclusive). Here's a little excerpt to get you started:
After his resurrection Jesus made it clear to his followers that we should read all of Scripture as in some way related to his death/resurrection, the call to repentance and the offer of forgiveness through Jesus' name to all the nations (Luke 24:13-27, 44-49). But do we practically do this? Reading each passage of Scripture in light of its place within the unfolding storyline of the Bible can seem like a daunting task. After all, it is easy to see how certain OT passages relate to the gospel of Jesus Christ because the NT authors specifically quote or allude to them. But what do we do when faced with the many OT passages to which the NT authors do not refer? While it is tempting to throw up one's hands in exasperation and pursue the familiar paths of moralizing, there are ways that are more faithful to Scripture itself.
We highly recommend you spend a few minutes reading the rest. It'll give you the "big picture" of Scripture.
Let's just be honest. Sometimes passages in the Old Testament can be tough to understand. For example, in Exodus 23:19, why does God prohibit cooking a young goat in its mother's milk? Why even bring that up there?
Well, when you're faced with a mystery, many times the issue is simply a matter of context (what's not said). In other words, commands and issues that would have made sense to the original audience have long since been obscured by history. That's why it's good to have a handy commentary close by for such odd statements.
In this particular case, it's very likely that God had an ancient pagan practice in mind, a practice that would have been a form of idolatry. Here's an excerpt from the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:
The true sense of this passage seems to be that assigned by Dr Cudworth, from a MS. comment of a Karate Jew. "It was a custom with the ancient heathens, when they had gathered in all their fruits, to take a kid, and boil it in the dam's milk; and then in a magical way, to go about and sprinkle all their trees, and fields, and gardens, and orchards with it, thinking by these means, that they should make them fruitful, and bring forth more abundantly in the following year. Wherefore, God forbad his people, the Jews, at the time of their in-gathering, to use any such superstitious or idolatrous rite."
If you're like us, sometimes you may wonder what happened to the people in the New Testament after everything was written. For example, what happened to Peter after he wrote his two letters? Well, tracking that down can be tough because few first-hand accounts have come down to us. While the Bible was preserved through the years, not everything else was.
But that doesn't mean we can't dig into history to at least get a glimpse of the lives of the apostles. One of our favorites on this topic is Fox's Book of Martyrs, which chronicles the lives of each apostle and what likely happened to him, as well the lives of Christians throughout the history of the church.
Here's the entry on Peter:
Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof. Hegesippus says that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death; which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would flee the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, "Lord, where are you going?" To whom He answered and said, "I am come again to be crucified." By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome says that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was .
And you'll find much more where that came from.
Inside BST goes behind the curtain of BibleStudyTools.com and into the minds of our editors and developers. You'll discover encouraging stories, information about the site, links that interest us, and devotionals.
John UpChurch, Senior Editor (BibleStudyTools.com)
Alex Crain, Managing Editor (Christianity.com)
Stephen McGarvey, Senior Director of Editorial
Stephen Sanders, A/V Editor