Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Problem With So-called "Study" Bibles

There exists one main colossal problem when it comes to many so-called "Study" Bibles. They are not Study Bibles! The information contained in these so-called "Study" Bibles merely exists to indoctrinate their readers with the presuppositions, feelings, opinions, theories, and interpretations of the author. In not one single "Study" Bible do they teach you critical thinking, or how to actually study the Bible so that you can "rightly divide the Word of truth" (1 Timothy 2:15). The information contained in these "Study" Bibles is nothing more than the author's personal commentary, and therefore should be sold separately as a Commentary so as not to lead the reader astray by colouring the Scriptures with false information. A genuine Study Bible should help the reader study God's Word for all it is worth before turning to commentaries to see how their conclusions measure up. Commentaries should always be the last resort when studying the Bible—not the first thing the reader reads at the bottom of the page to indoctrinate them with the belief that a passage means something it does not actually mean.

Sadly, the majority of "Study" Bibles out there are Dispensational in content. They brainwash the reader with false interpretations and sensationalism. If the reader would simply read those passages in context, they would find that the Dispensational nonsense falls apart. The student of God's Word is to let the Bible speak for and interpret itself. Commentaries are only a means of checking our work to see if we are on the right track or not. This does not mean that every commentary will be accurate in its interpretation of Scripture. If the majority of commentaries agree on an interpretation, they may be correct, but not necessarily so. Take Romans 7, for example. Most commentaries view this as a Christian's struggle with sin. This is not what Romans 7 is teaching, so the majority of commentaries are wrong! Examine the context of Romans 6 through 8, study the verbs, and pay attention to Paul's rhetorical questions and his method for answering them. Paul's usage of "I" does not start in verse 14; it starts way back in verse 7. What is he teaching us in verses 7 through 12? Anyway, that is not the topic of this article. I have dealt with it numerous times in the past already. The simple fact is, a Study Bible should help us to actually study God's Word. These so-called "Study" Bibles do nothing of the sort.

The ironic thing here is that many Bibles that are actually good for studying God's Word are not even called Study Bibles. A proper Study Bible should contain the text of the Bible and those markings that lend to helping a person better understand the Scriptures and arrive at correct interpretations. The Newberry Reference Bible has markings that do just such a thing. The Thompson Chain Reference Bible has a unique system of chain topics you can follow through the Scriptures in order to understand better the Bible's teachings on such things. The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible (the only one of these three actually called a Study Bible), despite its several erroneous Dispensational notations, underlines key words and links them to Strong's Concordance. Instead of this Bible, I prefer its cousins (so to speak), The Complete WordStudy Old Testament and The Complete WordStudy New Testament, both of which contain the text of Scripture but have every word linked to Strong's Concordance as well as providing additional information as to the grammar of those words. They likewise have the same erroneous Dispensational notations, but I ignore them and use only what is profitable for in depth Bible study.

Of the so-called "Study" Bibles in existence, the ESV Study Bible is close to being a decent Study Bible, but, unfortunately, it contains many errors and false interpretations, too. For example, the commentary on Jesus' words in Matthew 19:9 says, "'And marries another' implies that the second marriage, though it begins with adultery, is still a marriage. ... The second marriage should not be thought of as continually living in adultery, for the man and woman are now married to each other, not to anyone else." Excuse me, but if a marriage begins as adultery, when does it cease to be adultery? Never! Furthermore, the Greek word translated "commits" is in the middle voice, which is present tense continuous, meaning a constant state of adultery. Therefore, this commentary note is in direct contradiction to the grammar of the Greek text. Likewise, the article Divorce and Remarriage on pages 2545-2547 is in complete contradiction to what Scripture accurately teaches. This is the interpretation derived from a wicked heart. Would I want to divorce my spouse if she committed adultery on me? Of course! It is what our flesh tells us to do. But where is Christ and His church displayed by doing such? Where is the Gospel displayed by doing such? Where is forgiveness and reconciliation displayed by doing such? Would you like Christ Jesus to divorce you when you sin against Him? Everything the Christian does needs to be about and display the Gospel for all to see. If we claim to be Christians, then let us Prove it!

Bibles such as the Scofield Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, MacArthur Study Bible, Jeremiah Study Bible, Max Lucado Study Bible, Joyce Meyers Study Bible, Jimmy Swaggart Study Bible, Joel Osteen Study Bible, etc., are merely products of vanity; not to mention anything in regard to their false teachings and/or heresies presented inside. If I were to give a Study Bible to someone, it would simply be a regular Bible along with actual study tools: The Complete WordStudy Dictionary Old Testament and The Complete WordStudy Dictionary New Testament, Strongest Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, and Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. A person's personal commentary should never be part of an actual Study Bible! If you want your presuppositions, feelings, opinions, theories, and interpretations to be read, then publish a Commentary!

"Not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the
Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." 1 Corinthians 2:13