Sunday, August 14, 2011

Online Bible Study Tools

Over the past few years, I've found myself increasingly reading my Bible and working on Bible studies without a physical Bible in hand. Websites, smartphone apps, and Bible software programs have made it less and less necessary for me to open a book. There are pros and cons to this, but there is no denying that our relationship with the written word is changing rapidly.

I was asked recently how I do Bible study and what digital tools were out there, so in this post, I want to list some of the online Bibles and Bible study tools that I've come across. I also use a number of Bible study apps for iPhone and have tried every single one I could find, so I may discuss those in the future. I've also used a number of good Bible software programs. (Go here for a good post comparing available Bible software programs. He's tried out more than I have.)

For plain, old access to the Bible text, I most often go to the online ESV. If I want access to a number of versions to compare or a different version than ESV, I use It has many versions to choose from and is easy to use. They've started adding additonal resources like commentaries and dictionaries. Since I have print versions of both the ESV Study Bible and the NLT Study Bible, I also get online access to their content. This is nice because study Bibles are big and heavy. I also use because it will sync with the resources in my Logos 4 library, but even without that feature, it provides access to many study tools and Bible versions. If you register for an account with the site, you get access to an additional 31 resources. I'm not sure if is meant to replace it eventually, but for now, Bible versions are also accessible at

There are many websites now that provide access to Bible versions and classic Bible reference works that are in public domain. I've known about for a while, but not used it much. I recently discovered that claims to have the Web's largest library of online Bible study resources. I haven't tested the claim, but there was a lot of available content. I will probably use it more in the future. I used to use the NET Bible but hadn't visited their site for a while. It has a clean fresh look and easy to use interface, so I recommend it if you want to use that version for reading or study. They also have a lot of free articles available at Some are by known Bible scholars, teachers, and pastors.

I like and Blue Letter Bible because they have Bible versions in Hebrew and Greek. They also have Bible dictionaries, maps, and encyclopedia articles. The Unbound Bible also has many versions including Hebrew and Greek and some public domain study tools, but their web interface is very basic. I also discovered that Lifeway has an online Bible library which also looks like mainly public domain Bible reference works and translations, but I haven't spent much time using it.

The bottom line is that all the Bible study resources offered for free are essentially the same set of public domain works. is the exception and the text notes alone for the NET Bible are very helpful. I spend most of my time at the online ESV Study Bible but I just might start using as a close second. My goal is to direct you to some websites that might help you with your Bible study, but remember there are limits to what you'll be able to get for free and sometimes the old classics from 100 years ago aren't exactly up to date on their interpretations. If you're serious about having access to some of the best digital tools available for Bible study and research, you might just want to check out a Bible software program like Logos 4.


  1. and the NET Bible do offer what no other site is offering and they have made the Bible study software more usable. I, for one, use it nearly daily and appreciate the extensive text-critical and translational notes. Thanks for the post and the special emphasis to my preferred online resource for Bible Study -- even if I use my Bible Works more often. (As a disclaimer I am a moderator for's forum).

  2. Hi Rick, I wasn't intending to give a special emphasis to, but I have to admit they've put a lot of work into the site since I last checked it out right before the NET Bible was officially published. I give credit where credit is due. I signed up for a account, too, last night since I think I'll use it more now.

  3. Hey Doug,
    Are these all English translations? It's not totally clear from your post what you mean by "the Bible text." I have the practical need now to send my students to an online MT...

  4. Seth, some of these sites have an online Hebrew text like You can also get an online MT at Personally I prefer that one for reading an online Hebrew text. You know that "the Bible text" a deliberately-vague amorphous entity anyway. We all just have versions of something we call a Bible.

  5. The German Bible Society has just put the critical texts--BHS and Rahlfs LXX for OT and NA27 for the NT--online for free viewing. Now if they would add the apparatus that would be even better. Here is the link: