A Guide on How to Choose a Study Bible

person writing on white paper

A guide on

How to choose a study Bible

What to look for in a study bible

There are many different factors to consider when choosing a study Bible. A few things to keep in mind are : translation, features, usefulness and purpose.

What translation do you Prefer?

There are many different translations of the Bible, so you’ll want to make sure you choose a study Bible that uses the one you’re most comfortable with. Some of the most popular translations include the New International Version (NIV), the King James Version (KJV), and the English Standard Version (ESV).

Use a website like bible gateway to see and read the difference between the different translations. Here is an example of the different ways the verses read.

Study pro tip: It’s okay to have more than one bible. I use several to reference when a question pop up or I just need further explanation of a specific topic or verse.

bible study cross reference
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Consider the features

Study Bibles typically include additional features like commentary, maps, and concordances. Think about which features would be most helpful to you and look for a Bible that includes them. 

I love these helpful guides with The New Inductive Study Bible. It allows me to discover and connect different biblical concepts and principles throughout the Bible while offering a bit of guidance along the way. 

Usefulness and Purpose

As I write this article it’s currently “back to school” season. A time of excitement, busy schedules, and setting new routines. Stores have rearranged, changed, and are stocked with all the necessary (and not so necessary) supplies. One of the most exciting things to buy each year is a new backpack!

I see kids ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over the different themes, colors, and sizes. They take the time to check out the pockets , zippers, straps and accessories. It’s an important decision for holding all their supplies for the year ahead.

group of people wearing white and orange backpacks walking on gray concrete pavement during daytime
How to choose a study Bible

Wait, How does that connect to Bible Study?!

I think the same can be said for choosing a study Bible. Just like a backpack, it’s important to choose one that will be comfortable, useful, and practical for you. Depending on your stage in life, interests, and level of biblical understanding there are many different options available.

Truly, the decision rests on which one is useful and meaningful to you and one that you will actually use on a regular basis.



Determine your Purpose


Determining your purpose is simple. Just ask yourself, “why do I want a study Bible?” Maybe you’re new to studying the Bible and want something that will offer guidance and explanations.

Maybe you’re a seasoned Bible reader but feel like you’ve hit a wall and need something to help renew your love for God’s Word.

Maybe you just want a pretty leather-bound study Bible because it sounds nice and keeping it out on the table helps you to stay committed in your reading plan.

Whatever your reason, knowing your purpose will help you focus on the features that are most important to you and make choosing the right study Bible a lot simpler.


Consider the Different Options

Now that you know your purpose, it’s time to consider the different options. This step is all about doing your research and finding which Bible will offer what you’re looking for. 

Useful features: 

 – commentary

– character studies

– maps

– charts

– detailed book introductions

– master index

As an added bonus, you’ll find my top three favorite recommended study Bibles below! 


Pray about it

The most important part of this step is to pray about it! 

(more on prayer HERE)

Ask God to guide your decision and to help you find the Bible that will be most beneficial to your spiritual growth.

Prayerfully choosing a study Bible doesn’t have to be complicated. By taking the time to determine your purpose, consider your options, and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, you can be confident that you’re choosing the right Bible for you.

recommendations for study bibles

Life Application Study Bible


  • All in one Study
  • Great commentary
  • Durable


  • Thin pages
  • Not much room for notes
  • Small text

The life application study bible is the study I’d call the “all in one” style. It has great verse by verse commentary similar to how a pastor would explain and connect the relevant topics. It is very durable with the leather bound cover version. I have had mine for 10 years now and the quality is very nice. The only drawback would be that the pages are a bit thin for highlighting and taking notes. Overall, its a great study bible that has plenty of great resources and features to keep the reader engaged and learning for years to come. 

Study Bible Life Application Study Bible
The New Inductive Study Bible

The New Inductive Study


  • Tons Resources
  • Teaches Biblical Understanding
  • Note taking system


  • Could be overwhelming at first
  • Extra booklets to purchase
  • Long studies

Don’t let the list of cons steer you away from this great resource. I have been using this study bible for almost five years now. The extra study guides that you can purchase with each book in the bible walk the reader though each chapter verse by verse. The way the authors guide the reader is an amazing eye opening experience! If you are serious about gaining knowledge on biblical principles this study is the study to help you do just that!

The Message


  • Easy to read
  • written in everyday language
  • Great price


  • Lacks resources
  • Verses not clearly marked
  • Used more as a reference than a stand alone study

The Message has become one of the most popular translations of the Bible because it is so easy to understand. It is great for people who are new to the Bible or for those who want to read the Bible in a different way. The Message is also a good choice for people who want to read the Bible in modern language. I use this version as a companion bible while studying. The ease of reading helps to bring clarity and understanding to difficult verses. I would highly recommend this version to accompany a deeper study for a resource to help grow in your understanding.

The Benefits of having a study bible

Growing your knowledge and wisdom

A study bible can be a great tool for anyone who wants to grow in their understanding of God’s Word. It can provide guidance and explanations for difficult passages, offer new insights into familiar stories, and help you to apply biblical principles to your everyday life.

By having a study Bible, you can be sure that you’re getting the most out of your time in God’s Word. In addition, a study Bible can also be a valuable resource for small group studies and personal devotions.

Whether you’re a new believer or a seasoned Bible reader, a study Bible can help you to deepen your relationship with Christ and grow in your knowledge of His Word. The benefits of choosing a study Bible are numerous, and the impact it can have on your life is immeasurable.

Choosing a study Bible doesn’t have to be difficult. By taking the time to determine your purpose, consider your options, and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, you can be confident that you’re choosing the right Bible for you


Take purposeful action

My prayer is that this guide will spark a desire in you to take action. Not just any action, but to purposeful action. So often we can be like a ship without a rudder, just drifting through life without any clear direction. But when it comes to our relationship with God, He wants us to be purposeful.

He wants us to have a plan to understand His plan.

That plan is written out and given to us in His Word.

And the Bible is not meant to be a book that we just read through once and then put on a shelf. It’s meant to be studied, digested, and applied to our lives.

A study Bible is a great tool to help us do just that.

So take the time to find the right one for you and get started on your journey of discovering all that God has to offer.

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