The Crucial, Overlooked Benefit of Bible Concordances: Access
As I looked over the new NIV Exhaustive Concordance by John R. Kohlenberger III, I had a surprising thought: throughout my seminary training and in over a decade of pastoring, I’ve never added a concordance to my Bible study toolshed!
Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized a concordance like this one is super beneficial! It hit me that a concordance’s benefits boil down to a crucially important, yet often overlooked one:
This was a lightbulb moment for me. Access seems to be the elixir to the problem many thoughtful Christians are trying to solve, mainly: How can I “go deeper” in my study of God’s Word—for me, for my students, for my small group?
Bible concordances are the font from which that elixir pours forth. They give non-Bible scholars access to the original biblical languages, which gives them access to deeper Bible engagement.
Access for Non-Bible Scholars
Concordances and language dictionaries, Bible software and apps, journals and monographs. These are the resources Bible scholars use to mine the Holy Scriptures for insights.
But what about the rest of thoughtful Christians? What about my dad or neighbor, my cousin’s student group leader or my small group coordinator? What gives them access to the same insights and depth of study? You guessed it: Bible concordances.
A concordance is an index to the words found in the Bible. It lists the references of the verses where they occur, and a piece of each sentence where the word occurs. It’s meant to give non-Bible scholars access to a complete index to the Bible. It is arranged in alphabetical order and shows the location of each word in Scripture, supplying several words of the context in which each word is found.
Because it is arranged like a dictionary, it is intuitive to use and easy to navigate. It breaks down the barriers non-Bible scholars often face when they want to perform sound Bible study by providing access in another crucially important way: the original languages of the Bible.
Access to the Original Biblical Languages
An exhaustive concordance—like The NIV Exhaustive Concordance—indexes every word found in the Bible, and lists every reference where those words are found. It also shows which Hebrew or Greek word is translated for every occurrence of every English word—giving easy, instant access to the original biblical languages.
Bible scholars and pastors know that word studies are the foundation to deep Bible engagement. Dictionaries like Moises Silva’s exhaustive work and software programs—and let's not forget years of language studies!—give us access to the languages in order to give us insight into the biblical text.
For everyone who isn't a full-time biblical scholar, but who wants to do in-depth word studies based on the occurrences of Greek and Hebrew words, an exhaustive concordance is indispensable. It gives them access to the original biblical languages in a way they wouldn't otherwise have—which gives them access to far deeper Bible engagement.
Access to Deeper Bible Engagement
Consider the mom leading a girls Bible study with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
While preparing for a study on Romans 12:1–2, she wonders if there are deeper insights into Paul’s use of “transformed” when he urges Christians to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Using her NIV Bible and The NIV Exhaustive Concordance she can look up the word transformed to find its corresponding Greek index number (G3565), and flip to the Greek Index to see how metamorphoo is translated: “to be transformed, transfigured, changed in form.” She can also see other verses where the word is used (e.g. Phil. 3:21, 2 Cor. 3:18) for greater insights.
Because of her Bible concordance, this non-Bible scholar can help her girls go far deeper in engaging the Bible because of the access it provides to the words of God’s Word, and the original languages behind them.
Bible concordances give non-Bible scholars access to the tools they need to study the Bible harder, better, faster, and stronger. They give them access to the original languages of God’s Word in a way pastors and scholars take for granted. Concordances are the Christian’s gateway into deeper Bible engagement.
Ultimately, it is the key that unlocks the depths of God’s heart—for them and the people they care for in countless volunteer roles throughout the Church.
Which makes Bible concordances a worthy tool in the arsenal of Bible study resources.
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