- Treat it as a reference work, not as your main Bible.
- Go heavy on overviews (book introductions) and historical background.
- Wrestle with the biblical text without your study Bible.
- Refer to the study notes when you have a specific, impenetrable question—then set them aside again.
- Read the articles and genre introductions.
Within a week, two other posts appeared on the internet saying very similar things. I want you to know I’m not the only one holding these opinions.
- Don’t use poor study Bibles.
- Use quality study Bibles.
- Don’t use the notes as a crutch or shortcut instead of wrestling with the text itself.
- Don’t combine the authority of the God-breathed text with the notes.
- Use a study Bible in the same way that you would responsibly use other resources that help you better understand and apply the Bible.
- Use your study Bible discerningly. (“The most important feature in a study Bible is the horizontal line that divides the biblical text from the biblical interpretation. Everything above the line is inerrant and infallible. Everything below the line is filled with good intentions but may not be true.”)
- Use your study Bible for more than just the notes. (“I am convinced that the most underutilized and yet important parts of a good study Bible are the introductions to each biblical book.”)
- Use more than one study Bible.
- Use your study Bible as an opportunity to interpret the Bible with the communion of saints. (“The best study Bibles don’t present startling new interpretations. They put you in dialogue with the best interpreters—teachers who are gifts of God to the church—to help us rightly handle His Word.”)
There you go. The point is not whether there should be 4 rules or 5, nor how exactly to state the rules. The point is that even the study Bible editors (who want to sell you their study Bibles) don’t want you to over-rely on their study Bibles.
Disclaimer: Clicking the Amazon links and buying stuff will provide a small commission to help this blog with hosting fees. Get one of these study Bibles, but don’t over-rely on it. And don’t say we didn’t warn you.