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)

Stephen McGarvey, Senior Director of Editorial

Stephen Sanders, A/V Editor

Let's Make It Through the Bible This Year

Those of us at BibleStudyTools.com love New Year's. During this time, many Christians consider their life plans and what changes they'd like to make. And while we can't do much to help you with weight or exercise goals, we can help you with your renewed focus on God's Word.

Here's how we can help you make it through the Bible this year:

  • A Bible reading plan: This is the most straightfoward way to meet your goals. You could plunge in and read through Scripture one day at a time for 365 days, but not all of our plans are for the whole Bible. You could start off small and work your way up. Whatever you choose, we'll keep your rolling.
  • Scripture by email: With all due respect to your spouse or mom, there's no better email in your inbox than God's Word. We'll send it to you in one of four translations.
  • Daily articles and blogs: Every weekday, you'll find new Bible study articles and blog posts on our site. Each one helps you understand Scripture and grow in your faith. We also provide tips for getting the most from your Bible study.
  • Audio Bibles: Some of us at BST prefer to listen to our daily Bible reading. And if that's you, then we've got you covered.
  • Online library: We've got more than enough books and resources in our free online library for you to study a new one every day of the year. Try digging into one of our classics this year for some added study.

Whatever your goals, make BibleStudyTools.com a part of your daily reading, and we'll do our best to keep you going.


The Most-Watched Bible Study Videos of 2014

You love videos. That’s one thing we can say for certain after a record-breaking 2014. So, what videos made the list as the most watched. As they say, seeing is believing.

Here are the top three videos of the year:

3. What is the significance of the "144,000" mentioned in Revelation 14?

BibleStudyTools.com: What is the significance of the from biblestudytools on GodTube.

2. What is the unforgivable sin described in Mark 3?

BibleStudyTools.com: What is the unforgivable sin described in Mark Chapter 3?-Brian Hedges from biblestudytools on GodTube.

1. Is homosexuality worse than the other sins listed in Romans 1?

BibleStudyTools.com: Is homosexuality worse than the other sins listed in Romans 1? - Rena Lindevaldsen from biblestudytools on GodTube.


7 Bible Reading Plans for 2015

We believe that 2015 can be your best year yet for reading, understanding, and applying the Bible to your life. And we don’t just talk about how you can do it, we want to help you with your goal of working your way through God’s Word this year. In fact, we recently introduced a completely new Bible reading plan system to encourage you every day and to keep you on track.

So, what plans do we offer? Here are some of our favorites (after all, we at BibleStudyTools.com are on this journey with you):

Book Order Bible Reading Plan

Sure, it’s basic. But going through the Bible from “cover to cover” in a year is a satisfying and equipping experience. This plan will break up everything from Genesis to Revelation in daily chunks.

How long? One Year | More Information

Classic Daily Bible Reading Plan

The classic daily Bible reading plan has been tried and tested for decades, and Christians keep coming back to it. Why? Each day, you get three selections of Scripture (such as Genesis, Psalms, and Luke), and this gives you a unique perspective on how interconnected the Bible truly is.

How long? One Year | More Information

Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Seeing events unfold in the order that they happened has great appeal for many Christians. If that’s you, the chronological Bible reading plan is exactly what you’re looking for. It will carefully walk you through the history of God’s redeeming work.

How long? One Year | More Information

Ninety-Day Challenge Bible Reading Plan

We introduced the ninety-day challenge Bible reading plan recently, and the response has been tremondous. Hundreds of you have accepted and worked your way through all of Scripture in only three months. Is it tough? You bet. But you’ll really see how God works all things together for the good.

How long? Ninety Days | More Information

One-Year Bible Immersion Reading Plan

Many Christians take great comfort in the New Testament gospels and letters—but also don’t want to neglect the Old Testament. If that’s you, the one-year Bible immersion reading plan will lead you through the New Testament three times and the Old Testament once each year.

How long? One Year | More Information

Stay-on-Track Bible Reading Plan

Sometimes, it’s tough to read the Bible each day. Life gets in the way. That’s why we designed the stay-on-track Bible reading plan. Each week, you’ll have five days to read and two days to take a break, catch up, or get ahead. And you’ll still read through the whole Bible in a year.

How long? One Year | More Information

Busy-Life Bible Reading Plan

Some of us have started out reading the Bible in a year, made good progress, but then fallen so far behind that we just give up. That’s why we created the busy-life Bible reading plan. If reading through the whole Bible in a year seems impossible, this plan works with your schedule to help you reach your goal.

How long? Two Years | More Information

Really, that’s just scratching the surface of our Bible reading plans. We’ve got ones that focus on the New Testament, the Wisdom Books, and more. In other words, we’ve got one no matter where you are in your spiritual walk.

Visit the Bible reading plan page to take a look.


The Most-Read Bible Study Articles of 2014

In 2014, you guys kept us hopping. We continued our quest to bring you some of the best Bible study articles and blog posts that we could find. And you responded by making this year the biggest in the history of BibleStudyTools.com.

So, what were you reading? Here are the top 5 articles.

5. 3 Sins Against the Holy Spirit

by Greg Laurie

I think it is really important for us to better understand the person of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people think of the Holy Spirit as more of an “It” than a “Him.” But according to Scripture, the Holy Spirit is not only God, but He has a will, a personality, and can even be offended!

4. What Happens to Us When We Die?

by Ray Pritchard

Why this fascination with the world beyond the grave? Is it not because death is so final? Whatever one thinks about the reports of “near-death” visions, death when it finally comes is irreversible. When you finally cross the line, there is no coming back from the other side. Death wins the battle every time. After the doctors have tried the latest wonder drug, after the best minds have pooled their wisdom, after the philosophers have done their best to explain that death is only a natural part of life, we come face to face with the ugly reality that someday we will all die. And that death—whether planned or accidental, whether comfortable or painful—will be the end of life as we have known it.

3. 5 Ways to Stop Discouragement from Getting the Best of You

by Leslie Vernick

Discouragement and disappointment are normal emotions we all experience even as Christians, but it’s important to know how to make sure those debilitating emotions don’t get the best of us. Discouragement happens, even to the strongest and best of people. Below are five (5) steps you can take when you start to feel the black cloud of discouragement swallow you up.

2. What Is Heaven Like?

by Ray Pritchard

Everyone wants to know about heaven and everyone wants to go there. Recent polls suggest that nearly 80% of all Americans believe there is a place called heaven. I find that statistic encouraging because it tells me that even in this skeptical age there is something deep inside the human heart that cries out, "There's got to be something more. Something more than the pain and suffering of this life. Something more than 70 or 80 years on planet earth. Something more than being born, living, dying, and then being buried in the ground. Sometimes we talk about a "God-shaped vacuum" inside the human heart. I believe there is also a "heaven-shaped vacuum," a sense that we were made for something more than this life. We were made to live forever somewhere. In a real sense we were made for heaven.

1. Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Battle

by Tonilee Adamson and Bobbye Brooks

To understand the battle, we need to begin with acknowledging that we are in a war. Battles make up smaller components of the bigger picture. By definition, battles involve combat between two persons, between factions, between armies and they consist of any type of "extended contest, struggle, or controversy" (Webster-Merriam).  As Christians, we are in a spiritual battle of some sort on a daily basis. In warfare, battles are fought on different fronts, for different reasons, and with varying degrees of intensity. The same is true in spiritual warfare. Our spiritual battles are real, even though we cannot physically see the attacker. But, we can educate ourselves on how the battles are fought and how they impact our lives on a daily basis.


Ready for Questions about Christmas?

During this season, believers often have the opportunity to share their faith. Family gatherings, parties, and other events open natural avenues for telling others why we celebrate Christmas and who Jesus really is. But when you find these opportunies, you'll also likely face something else: questions.

Thanks to the Internet, many people have probably read or heard false ideas about Jesus and His work on earth. They may even be quite skeptical. So, what can you do when you're faced with questions you don't have the answers to?

That's exactly why our sister site, Jesus.org, was built. Here's what the site's about:

Many people have questions about Jesus and on this site you will find biblical answers to the most common questions asked about the birth and life of Christ, his ministry and disciples, and of course the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

So, when someone hits you with a question about why Luke and Matthew's genealogies differ, you'll know exactly where to go. (If you're wondering, here's why.)


No Room in the Inn?

Luke 2:7 has been the source of quite a bit of discussion throughout church history. For many, this verse says that there was no room for Joseph and Mary in "the inn," a tradition that stretches way back. But other Christians suggest that this verse is better translated "upper room" or "guest room," as it is in Luke 2:7.

At the heart of this debate is the Greek word kataluma, which you can see defined in our lexicon. Specifically, the verse says there was no room for them in the kataluma. In the New Testament, this word is used only here and in Mark 14:14 and Luke 22:11, with the two latter verses describing the location of the Last Supper before Jesus was crucified.

So, which view is right? Let's dive into our online resources to see what we can find.


Here's John Gill's take:

"It seems that Joseph had no house of his own to go into, nor any relation and friend to receive him: and it may be, both his own father and Mary's father were dead, and therefore were obliged to put up at an inn; and in this there was no room for them, because of the multitude that were there to be enrolled: and this shows their poverty and meanness, and the little account that was made of them; for had they been rich, and made any considerable figure, they would have been regarded, and room made for them; especially since Mary was in the circumstances she was; and it was brutish in them to turn them into a stable, when such was her case."

The People's New Testament describes it this way:

"The khan is usually much on the model of the Eastern house, but of much larger extent. Four rows of apartments are so constructed as to enclose a large yard with a well in the center where the cattle may be kept. The outer wall is usually of brick upon a stone basement. The apartments are entered by the guests from the yard, and are elevated two or three feet above the level of the yard. Below and behind the row of the travelers' apartments was often the row or the long room of stables, into which the floors of the apartments being a little extended, formed a platform upon which the camels could eat."

And, finally, this is the description from The Fourfold Gospel:

"Justin Martyr, who born about the beginning of the second century and suffered martyrdom A.D. 165, first tells us the tradition that the stable in which Jesus was born was a cavern. Caves, however, were never used for stables except when opened on the sides of hills. The one at Bethlehem is a cellar fourteen feet under the level surface. Justine must, therefore, be mistaken."


This Christmas example shows how you can explore God's Word through our site. Just look up a verse, look below the reading pane, and choose a resource for further study. We've made it easy.

Whatever view you take, use our resources to help "dig up" the past and see the amazing truth of Jesus.


The Year of Christ's Birth

One of the most-asked questions during this time of year regards the date of Christ's birth. In fact, historians and theologians have been musing on that topic since early in church history. How do we know? Because we have some of their writings on our site.

Here's just one such examination from Samuel James Andrews from his classic work The Life of Our Lord upon the Earth.


We take as our starting point in this inquiry the statement of Matthew, (ii. 1-9,) that Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great. We must, therefore, first ascertain when Herod died. According to Josephus,1 " he died the fifth day after he had caused Antipater to be slain; having reigned since he caused Antigonus to be slain, thirty-four years, but since he had been declared king by the Romans, thirty-seven." He was so declared king in 714. This would bring his death in the year from 1st Nisan 750 to 1st Nisan 751, according to Jewish computation, at the age of seventy.

But the date of his death may be more definitely fixed. Josephus relates1 that he executed the insurgents, Matthias and his companions, on the night of an eclipse of the moon. This eclipse took place, as has been ascertained by astronomical calculations,3 on the night of the 12th and 13th March, 750; yet he was dead before the 5th of April, for the Passover of that year fell upon the 12th April, and Josephus states1 that before this feast his son and successor Archelaus observed the usual seven days' mourning for the dead. His death must therefore be placed between the 13th March and 4th April, 750. We may take the 1st of April as an approximate date.2

How long before Herod's death was the Lord born? The Evangelists Matthew and Luke relate certain events that occurred between His birth and Herod's death, His circumcision upon the eighth day, the presentation at the Temple on the fortieth, the visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt, the murder of the Innocents. Whatever view may be taken as to the order of these events, they can scarcely have occupied less than two months. This would bring His birth into January, or February at latest, 750.


And he's just getting warmed up. Keep reading this fascinating account as you celebrate the season of Christ's birth.


Awe-Inspiring Version Of ‘Mary, Did You Know?’


Reading Your Way to Christmas

As you can imagine, we love Christmas here at BST. We especially love reading the Bible's account of the frist Christmas over 2,000 years ago. Each year, we learn something new as we explore Scripture, and we want to share that wonder with you.

How? Simple. Our site features a Christmas Bible reading plan that will take you 25 days or less. The readings start with Old Testament prophecies about the coming of Messiah and lead into His birth in Bethlehem.

But that's not the end. We want this reading to be more than just about Christmas. We want them to share the good news as well. That's why these readings lead you from the manger to the cross. You'll see why Jesus came to earth.

Make the Christmas Bible reading plan a part of your yearly traditions, and share them with your family.

And you certainly don't have to just use this plan for Christmas. It's also a great way to remember the crucifixion and the resurrection.


On the Topic of Thanksgiving

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:


Thanksgiving [n]

Christ set an example of

Matthew 11:25 ; Matthew 26:27 ; John 6:11 ; John 11:41

The heavenly host engaged in

Revelation 4:9 ; Revelation 7:11 Revelation 7:12 ; Revelation 11:16 Revelation 11:17

Commanded

Psalms 50:14 ; Philippians 4:6

Is a good thing

Psalms 92:1


And that's just the warmup. You'll find much more where that came from.


What's the Bible All About?

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.


Boiled in Its Mother's Milk?

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."