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Word Study Process
One of my favorite ways to really dig deep into Scripture is to do a word study. Because I will be posting many of these over time, I wanted to give you a little insight into my process for performing a word study.
These are the most important resources I use during a word study.
Bible – I like to use the NIV 1984 version, and many of my physical book resources are from this version.
Digital Bible – I usually use Biblegateway.com as my source for easily looking up many verses quickly. Bible Gateway currently uses the NIV 2011 version, which has a few wording differences from the 1984 version. Sometimes, these differences provide interesting insights. Bible Gateway has a ton of different versions of the Bible for cross-comparison if desired.
Concordance – I have The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance to find where the word is used throughout the Bible and identify the Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic word that was used in the original text.
Dictionary – I have Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words to look up other ways the Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic word identified in the concordance might be translated elsewhere in Scripture. The most common words will also have a dictionary entry with some additional explanation.
Sometimes, I also use additional resources.
Dictionary of Biblical Imagery – This provides an exploration of images and symbols in the Bible.
Holman Bible Handbook – This provides short commentary on Bible passages.
Biblegateway.com, biblestudytools.com, and other websites also have commentaries available for free online.
In general, I try to get the base of my information from the Bible itself using the Bible, exhaustive concordance, and dictionary. Other resources that provide commentary on ideas or passages are used only as a supplement.
Identify the word I want to study.
Look up that word in the Concordance.
Read through most/all of the verses that use that word. If the list is too overwhelming, I scan the entries to try to find the ones that look like they will provide the best insight. I try to look up as many as I can. Sometimes, I break it up into Old Testament and New Testament to make it more manageable.
Start to form questions or categories for how the Bible uses that word.
Identify the Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic number(s) associated with that word. Look up these numbers in Mounce’s Dictionary.
Read the alternate translations for that Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic word.
Look up these alternate translations in the Concordance to see if I can learn anything new.
Start to put verses, definitions, and insights together to form a conclusion about what this term means based on how it is used in the Bible.
If needed, I might look up the word in other resources, such as commentaries.
Write out my final thoughts and conclusions about what God has to say about this word using Scripture.
Form these thoughts into a post that I can share with you!
I hope this explanation gives you some confidence in my word study process. My goal in word studies is to be faithful to the true meaning of the Scripture to the best of my ability.
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