You know what a Bible is. You also know what a dictionary is. But do you know what a Bible dictionary is, or why you should use one? Here are three reasons to use a Bible dictionary, based on my own recent study of God’s Word.

LEARN A LITTLE CHRISTIAN TRIVIA

I was reading Psalm 111 the other day and decided to pull open the Resource Guide. As I was scrolling, I noticed that “Hallelujah” was listed under Topics. Now, I know that “Hallelujah” means “Praise the Lord” (and the app told me this, too), but I was curious if there was any other information on the phrase that I hadn’t heard before.

Bible Dictionary

When I tapped on “Hallelujah” and opened my Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, I learned something hilarious. You see, when I was in high school, I sang in the choir, and we always sang songs that incorporated “Alleluia.” Turns out that, according to Vine’s, it’s a misspelling of “Hallelujah”! All this time I’ve been wondering what the difference was…

 

LEARN ABOUT GOD’S PROMISES IN HISTORY

Exodus 4 is another passage I was looking at recently. It’s here that Moses is instructed to inform Pharaoh that Israel is Yahweh’s “firstborn.” If Pharaoh does not relinquish the Israelites, God promises to kill the Egyptian ruler’s his firstborn son.

“Firstborn” is most definitely a key word in this passage–but what is its significance? There is a deep, rich history of God expressing the closeness of His relationship to the Israelites through this term, that is discoverable through using a Bible dictionary. Vine’s provides references to many other passages that teach about the cultural view of firstborn children in the Israelite community, revealing that it was a coveted position that held many benefits. A firstborn son was considered to be the most loved and to receive the greatest inheritance.

So, when the Israelites hear that God has called them His “firstborn,” a lot of emotions are stirred! According to Vine’s, being God’s “firstborn” meant enjoying a privileged position and blessings, in comparison all other nations. In Exodus 4, God is making it known that Israel is His prized child, and that no one—not even Pharaoh—can mess with them.

LEARN ABOUT GOD’S PROMISES FOR TODAY

But it doesn’t stop there. Vine’s is searchable, like a normal dictionary, and you can find a word’s definition for either the Old or New Testament. By looking up “firstborn” in the New Testament, I found passage after passage where Jesus is referred to as the “firstborn” (protokos) of creation. The most interesting reference I found was when John the Baptist proclaims that “He (Jesus) was first (protos) of me.” He’s saying much more than “Jesus was born before I was.” Instead, he is putting Jesus in the ultimate privileged position with God, receiving the highest blessing, because he is not just a son, but the Son.

Now, the important question: how does this apply to our lives? Time and time again we see God be faithful to His people, the Israelites. Better yet, we see the Father praise, glorify, and bless His Son. This seems like a pretty exclusive group.

But, we’re invited! When we believe in Christ’s atoning work, we are welcomed into this family. We enter this promise, into this privileged position with God. If you study the word “firstborn” across the Old and New Testaments, you can learn more about the history of God blessing those He calls His own. For thousands and thousands of years, God has been drawing people to Himself—and you are one of them.

ONE LAST THOUGHT

Overall, the main reason to use a Bible dictionary is this: The Bible is not our own. The Bible is a compilation of God speaking to His people through His people, in a time and culture we weren’t around for.  So, although we have been welcomed into this family, we must recognize that this family has existed for thousands of years! That takes a bit of help and research to understand—but it’s worth the investment.

In this blog, I used Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words—but there are lots of other helpful dictionaries out there as well! Here are a few we like and have available in our store:

Anchor Bible Dictionary (6 vols.)

Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

The IVP Dictionary Series (8 vols.)

Theological Dictionary of the Old and New Testament (TDOT & TDNT 25 vols.)

Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

DON’T SEE WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR?

Head on over to our website to see a list of all of our Bible dictionaries. If you have questions, remember that you can always leave us a comment.

 

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Greg Tassone Reply

    Thanks for the excellent examples, along with a great mini-Bible study!

    I agree having a good Bible dictionary is definitely an enormous benefit to any in-depth study of the Word. I’d encourage everyone to take advantage of this special. Vine’s is a well-respected work. Anchor seems excellent but possibly far too specialized for the layperson. Also, I appreciate Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary, although it’s not as detailed as Vine’s in many areas (also available on OliveTree, link: https://www.olivetree.com/store/product.php?productid=17528).

    May we all keep studying His word in earnest.

    • Cierra Klatt Reply

      Thanks for the encouragement, Greg! Glad you liked the post.

    • Cierra Klatt Reply

      Hey, Oscar! So glad you’re interested in a Bible dictionary. If you follow this link (https://goo.gl/Tv4eTg) you can check out the Bible dictionaries we have on sale. The ones I mention in this post are Vine’s and Anchor. Let me know if you need any more help picking one out to purchase!

  2. THANKS FOR UPDATE THE WORD OF GOD IS POWERFUL AND LAST FOREVER . LETS STUDY IT . IT IS THE BREAD OF LIFE . AMEN AND AMEN

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