Inside BST


Inside BST

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.

Contributors:

John UpChurch, Senior Editor (BibleStudyTools.com)

Alex Crain, Managing Editor (Christianity.com)

Stephen McGarvey, Senior Director of Editorial

Stephen Sanders, A/V Editor

An Early Easter Sermon

The early church had no lack of excitement for the resurrection of Christ, as revealed in a sermon from Leo the Great (d. 461). In other words, the knowledge that Jesus really rose from the dead gave them reason to celebrate. We'll show you what we mean:

And then there followed many proofs, whereon the authority of the Faith to be preached through the whole world might be based. And although the rolling away of the stone, the empty tomb, the arrangement of the linen cloths, and the angels who narrated the whole deed by themselves fully built up the truth of the Lord's Resurrection, yet did He often appear plainly to the eyes both of the women and of the Apostles not only talking with them, but also remaining and eating with them, and allowing Himself to be handled by the eager and curious hands of those whom doubt assailed. For to this end He entered when the doors were closed upon the disciples, and gave them the Holy Spirit by breathing on them, and after giving them the light of understanding opened the secrets of the Holy Scriptures, and again Himself showed them the wound in the side, the prints of the nails, and all the marks of His most recent Passion, whereby it might be acknowledged that in Him the properties of the Divine and Human Nature remained undivided, and we might in such sort know that the Word was not what the flesh is, as to confess God's only Son to be both Word and Flesh.

Read the rest of this sermon and many more like it in our history archives.


What Does Our Logo Mean?

A guest on our site recently wrote in to ask what our logo means. Great question, and one we're glad to share the simple answer to.

The logo that you see at the top of our website and on our social media pages represents an open Bible with light pouring out of it. That idea isn't ours, however. It comes straight from the book we love to study:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

In other words, we see God's Word as our guide, and we want all our guests to see the same thing. Our logo is meant to show that the Bible is exactly what the world needs because its pages tell out the Savior. Or, as Peter put it:

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19)


5 Verses You Thought Were in the Bibleā€¦ but Aren't

Oprah 1

Even though Western culture gets slapped with the “Post-Christian” label, that doesn’t mean references to biblical ideas have been scrubbed away. In fact, nods to Scripture show up quite often in pop culture—from movies to rockstars.

But as often as not, these attempts at grabbing onto what the Bible actually says can miss. By a lot. You see, we’ve got some “everybody knows” notions about God’s Word that borrow much more from Western ethos than they do from the Wisdom literature. You could say they're something like the “old wives’ tales” that popular imagination has attributed to the Good Book.

That doesn’t mean these “phantom verses” are okay, though. In fact, they actually go against what Scripture teaches. Sometimes in damaging ways.

So, what verses do people think are in the Bible but really aren’t? Here are 5 to get us started.

1. "God helps those who help themselves.” 1 Americanians 17:76

The so-called American Dream means that almost anyone can be born into or come to the country with nothing, work hard, gather a loan payment or three, and die with enough to leave to children. And this “verse” (which may go back all the way to Aesop of fable fame) fits nicely with that American ethic.

But it’s definitely not biblical.

In the Bible, the help always comes from one place, which the Psalmist lays out succinctly in Psalm 121:2, "My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” When the Israelites stared down the crashing waves of the Red Sea and the crushing horses of Pharaoh’s army, God didn’t have the people build boats. He did the helping:

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)

When desperate people came begging Jesus for help, He never had them prove their mettle. After all, He knows the sinfulness in us. Instead, He helped them because of His own compassion.

Does that mean we can just float through our Christian walk? Not at all. In fact, it’s because of our salvation through Christ that God has provided everything we need to “abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). We’re saved to do good because God provides the tools and power to get it done.

2. "This, too, shall pass.” Wisdomonius 4:11

Whenever something bad happens, this “verse” pops up. It certainly sounds biblical, and some have even quoted it on TV as being from God’s Word. But it’s not, and it’s not even necessarily true.

Sure, we’ll usally move beyond the debilitating pain of loss or find another job or heal from an accident. But not every pain will pass away while we’re here on earth and in this body.

In fact, some pains don’t pass because God has a bigger purpose for them. When Paul struggled with a thorn in his flesh, he begged Jesus to remove it. You’d think that Paul, who saw many miracles as he preached the gospel, would see this pain “pass.” But he didn’t:

"But [Jesus] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

We can be sure that God provides comfort, but that doesn’t mean He will necessarily take away the source of the pain.

3. “Yea, verily, God wants you to be happy.” Oprah 1:1

This popular verse floats to the top every so often and gets thrown around on talk shows and magazines. We like to think that our happiness is God’s highest goal because that fits our consumer-focused, instant-access, you-deserve-it world. It’s a verse that allows people to skirt other biblical mandates because, as is often claimed, happiness trumps everything else.

But none of these false verses does more damage than this one. So, let’s just be blunt here: your happiness is not God’s intent nor your reason for existing. We are here to praise God—not to accumulate wealth, be comfortable, have a great relationship, feel satisfied, or reach our personal goals.

Here’s how Paul puts it:

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6–7)

Why are we saved? So that God can forever point to us as evidence of His love and His glory. That in itself is enough to make us happy and to give us joy. But happiness is not the goal.

In fact, if we put our happiness ahead of everything else, we’re completely disobeying what Jesus said are the most important commands: Love God; love people (Luke 10:27). Elevating our own happiness as the ultimate goal gets in the way of both of those. We love God by obeying Him. We love our neighbor by serving.

4. “If you work hard enough, you’ll be successful.” 2 Jobs 4:04

Is hard work good? Yes. In fact, we’re told over and over in Proverbs that we’re supposed to work hard (12:11, 13:4, 14:23, etc.). Jesus kept a tireless pace during His life on earth, and you’ll never hear Paul condemn someone who works hard (in fact, he condemns those who don’t in 2 Thessalonians 3:10).

But the popular idea that hard work necessarily equals abundant earthly blessings has no basis in Scripture. In fact, for all His hard work, Jesus sometimes had nowhere to even sleep at night (Luke 9:58). Paul, the tireless tentmaker, spent much of his time running from mobs, swimming from shipwrecks, and singing in jail.

As a Christian, we are supposed to work at everything as if we were doing it for Jesus. But our reward is in knowing we did our best for Him, not in seeing our bank accounts bloom. While we may receive tangible blessings for our hard work, the bigger blessing is knowing that our Father who sees everything is pleased (Matthew 6:4). That’s a huge reward in itself.

5. “Just follow your heart and believe, and you can do anything.” Song of Disney 20:15

Sometimes, Disney movies seem to invade Scripture. Perhaps because we humans love Cinderella stories (unjust rags to magical riches), the notion of us being "anything we want to be if we just believe” has become weaved into the fabric of how we view the Bible. David the shepherd boy became a king, right?

But we aren’t meant to do just anything. We’re meant to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives. For example, David was created to be king. Long before he was born, in fact, Jacob/Israel had prophesied that a ruler would spring from the line of Judah (Genesis 49:10). David didn’t "follow his heart" to the throne of Israel. He followed His God along the path laid out for him (Psalm 119:35).

God gives us passions and desires and uses our lives to prepare us for His purposes—just as He prepared David during his time as a shepherd, soldier, and court musician. But that only works if we completely surrender our lives to His leading. On the other hand, if we spend our lives pursuing that “whatever we want to be,” we may very well end up disillusioned and dissatisfied even if we achieve our goal.


Who Was St. Patrick?

When you're looking for information on historical saints and martyrs, you'll find a treasure trove of information in our History section. And the story of Saint Patrick is no exception. So, who was he? What do we know? Here's part of what you'll find about him in our Sketches of Church History:

It is a question whether Patrick was born in Scotland, at a place called Kirkpatrick, near the river Clyde, or in France, near Boulogne. But wherever it may have been, his birth took place about the year 387. His father was a deacon of the church, his grandfather was a presbyter, and thus Patrick had the opportunities of a religious training from his infancy. He did not, however, use these opportunities so well as he might have done; but it pleased God to bring him to a better mind by the way of affliction.

When Patrick was about sixteen years old, he was carried off by some pirates (or sea-robbers), and was sold to a heathen prince in Ireland, where he was set to keep cattle, and had to bear great hardships. But "there," says he, "it was that the Lord brought me to a sense of the unbelief of my heart, that I might call my sins to remembrance, and turn with all my heart to the Lord, who regarded my low estate, and, taking pity on my youth and ignorance, watched over me before I knew Him or had sense to discern between good and evil, and counselled me and comforted me as a father does a son. I was employed every day in feeding cattle, and often in the day I used to betake myself to prayer; and the love of God thus grew stronger and stronger, and His faith and fear increased in me, so that in a single day I could utter as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night almost as many, and I used to remain in the woods and on the mountains, and would rise for prayer before daylight, in the midst of snow and ice and rain, and I felt no harm from it, nor was I ever unwilling, because my heart was hot within me. I was not from my childhood a believer in the only God, but continued in death and in unbelief until I was severely chastened; and in truth I have been humbled by hunger and nakedness, and it was my lot to go about in Ireland every day sore against my will, until I was almost worn out. But this proved rather a blessing to me, because by means of it I have been corrected of the Lord, and He has fitted me for being what it once seemed unlikely that I should be, so that I should concern myself about the salvation of others, whereas I used to have no such thoughts even for myself."

Keep reading for more about Patrick.


What Lies Below?

You probably know how easy it is to use our multi-search bar from any page on our site. You just type in a book of the Bible, a chapter, a verse, a word, or anything, and we’ll find what you’re looking for in Scripture. Once you’ve found the verses, you can read them in a number of translations.

But that’s not the end.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the reading pane (where the verses are), you’ll find a list of resources connected to that particular verse or section. Each one has a small plus beside it. Click the plus, and you’ll get links to some solid commentaries that will help you in your study. (Tip: Open them in a new tab in your browser by using your alternate click so that you don’t lose track of where you were.)

If you click on “Cross References,” you can also follow a chain of thought through Scripture and see how it relates. You never know where a click might take you and what nugget of wisdom you might dig up.

Try it now on John 3. Read down to the bottom and get started opening up our resources. Then, come back here and tell us what your favorite commentary is.


Are We Staying in Touch?

Those of us at BST love social media. In fact, you’ll find us all over the Internet, sharing God’s Word. We never get tired of taking the Bible to the world.

If you’re already a member of a social media network, chances are you can keep in touch with us there as well. Our social media channels present some unique content to inspire and encourage you.

Here’s where you can find us:

  • Twitter: On our Twitter account, we share a daily verse to get your day started right and some helpful articles and tips.
  • Facebook: Our Facebook community continues to grow quickly, and those who “Like” our page interact to answer each other’s questions. You’ll also receive some encouraging posts and pictures right in your newsfeed.
  • Pinterest: We admit it. We love to pin things... especially Bible verses, encouraging quotes, and inspirational prayers.
  • Email Newsletters: Based on your feedback and interests, we try to add email newsletters that fit your life. Take a look at what we currently offer (with more to come).

We hope to meet you there.


Aholibamah or Oholibamah?

Recently, someone wrote in asking us why names in various translations of the Bible can be spelled differently:

I have a question about names of people in the Bible in different translations. Why do different English versions have different names for the same people (e.g., Aholibamah in KJV is Oholibamah in NIV)? Some have just one letter different, others have a letter added or taken away. I understand the translation being different, but why are names different?

So, why the alphabet shuffle with certain names? While you could fill a book explaining the details, here's the short answer:

In the original Hebrew, there are no vowels, just consonants. That's not so much a problem when you're reading in the original language, but it is tough for transliterating words into English. Now, this isn't a problem in understanding what the words mean... just how they're pronounced. For example, you may have heard that God calls Himself Yahweh in Exodus, but in the Hebrew, it's just YHWH.

So, when translators are moving ancient Hebrew names into English they do so by providing vowel sounds. When you factor in tradition and also Greek-icized versions of names that came to us through the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), you can see why there are some variations. (In fact, formalized spelling of names wasn't common until recent times even in English.) In Greek for example, you have Elias instead of Elijah or Jesus instead of Y'shua (or Yeshua).

When you factor in those differences, you can see why there's some variation. Tradition generally wins out for most modern translations. For example, we know of Nebuchadnezzar instead of Nebuchadrezzar, even though he was called both.


Quick Look: ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament

Even for those who have learned biblical Greek somewhere along the line, maintaining that skill can be somewhat challenging. After all, it's not a language most of us use every day. So, wouldn't it be great if there were a Bible that helped you both study the English and brush up on your Greek? That's where the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament (ESV EGRINT) comes in.

Most interlinears, including the one on our site, give you the Greek first and then the English translation underneath. But by turning things around, the ESV EGRINT gives you another valuable tool in your study arsenal:

This state-of-the-art reverse interlinear New Testament, created in partnership with The German Bible Society and Logos Bible Software, breaks with the convention of traditional interlinear texts by keeping the English as the top-line entry and placing the Greek text underneath it. This approach allows you to see firsthand the accuracy with which the translators of the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV) rendered the Greek text.

In other words, you can study Scripture smoothly in English... and also dig into the Greek.

Great for: pastors, theologians, seminary students, and anyone wanting to learn some Greek


Sharing Your Love for Bible Study

Getting your children interested in Bible study is a tall order for any parent. But it’s certainly not impossible. An article from Quick Relief for Sunday School Teachers offers a few tips to get you started:

Model it. Passionately, enthusiastically, and practically - make the Bible part of who you are. Carry it with you, memorize it, consult it often, and let your students know that you are obedient to it.

Use the Bible. Keep your Bible in your hands or nearby throughout the lesson. Let the children see you referring to it as you tell the story. Read verses from the Bible, not from the teacher's guide. Let the Bible be the ultimate authority in your class.

Make Scripture interesting. Use teaching techniques such as drama and role-play to bring the past into the present. Explain unusual Bible customs, serve Bible-time food, and explain and enjoy the imagery of Bible poetry.

What tips do you have for sharing your love for Bible study with the next generation? Leave them in the comments below.


Bird's-Eye Overviews

When you study the Bible, sometimes you may like to get a quick overview of a particular book. Well, we've got an easy way for you to do that with our Books of the Bible page.

A while back, we quietly rolled out a new page on our site that features a quick overview of every book of the Bible. If you're trying to decide what to read next, these short descriptions make that pretty simple. Just use the tab at the top to jump between the Old and New Testaments.

You can also click on the titles of each book, and you'll be taken to a more in-depth overview that includes a summary, background, author, date, theme, and more. (Check out the overview for the book of Genesis to see what we mean.) Using the tabs at the top of these pages, you can also browse the chapters and see what videos we have for that particular book.

So, head over and take a look at our Books of the Bible page. Then, start studying.


Get Creative with Bible Reading

Bible reading plans don't have to follow any set rules or patterns. If you completed something more traditional recently, you could change things up. Here are some suggestions for doing just that:

  • Divide the 66 books of the Bible by months or weeks. Instead of following a set reading plan, you could either shoot for reading five or six books each month or one or two per week. Since some of the minor prophets and letters are short, this isn't as daunting as it may seem. Split the short ones up so that you have at least one each month or save them for weeks that you know you'll be busy.
  • Instead of reading through the whole Bible this year, consider zooming in on one book each month. Read it through several times and take notes about what God's showing you. Use several versions of the Bible for added insight. Then, watch some videos or read study materials on our site to really dig in (you'll find them linked below the reading pane).
  • Read out loud. Sometimes, hearing the words spoken aloud can help you in your studies. You could even read in a group of others so that no one person has to read the whole book.
  • Commit to memorizing one verse from each book you study this year. That may sound scary, but it's not. We memorize things all the time. Plus, it'll help you remember a lesson from each one.
  • Memorize an entire chapter or book of the Bible. This is a big challenge for anyone, but it's well worth the investment. A Psalms 1, Philemon 1, or Jude 1 could be the place to start.
  • Write out verses. Another method of study that some people find helpful involves copying Scripture in a notebook. It can be a slow process, but you might be surprised how well you connect with what you're writing.
  • Learn Greek and Hebrew. There are many sites on the Internet that will teach you these ancient languages. Learning to read the original manuscripts of the Bible is well worth the effort.

How Do I Deal with Distraction?

Distraction while studying the Bible is a real stumbling block for many people. Technology, worries, and events all seem to work against us digging into Scripture. So, how can we overcome the noise (and wandering minds)? Here are some general principles that can help.

1) If possible, set aside a time to read. This helps your mind know that a particular time is for nothing but God's Word. There's something about having an appointment that helps many people keep the right perspective.

2) Give yourself a buffer between work or anything stressful and your reading time. This will help get your mind off the troubles of the day. (Many of us here like to read first thing in the morning so that we're not as distracted by other issues.)

3) Remove as many distractions as you can. While we love online Bibles, as you might guess, if your phone or computer is a distraction, use a traditional Bible and turn those things off (you can also print verses from our site if need be). It's easy to wonder what updates or emails you're getting, and when your phone is right there, the temptation can be too much. If you prefer studying on your phone, turn on the "Do Not Disturb" mode and cut off notifications. That will help keep your eyes on the prize.

4) Pray before you read. Just ask God to help you focus and understand what you're reading. You'd be amazed how this can get our minds and hearts in the right place.

5) Write notes, thoughts, and prayers as you read. If you're reading with the purpose of taking notes, you're more likely to focus. Simply sign in on this site, and you can take and access your notes from anywhere.

In addition, there are some other steps you could try if you need a little extra help: