As a teacher and a scholar of the New Testament, I’m passionate about good resources for Bible study. The reality is that most of the best resources cost something, particularly the more in-depth resources. But, the good news is that there are still a number of great resources that don’t cost a dime, though you will need to jump around a bit on the internet to get at the best stuff. The unfortunate part is that the good resources are often drowned out by the amount of old and outdated resources on the internet (like all of the commentaries you find on biblehub.com and blueletterbible.org). This post highlights some high quality and FREE resources that I recommend. These are the kind of free resources that I would be content with my students using in assignments.
After recommending my number one resource, I’ll break down the resources by type rather than by website.
Faithlife Study Bible
The Faithlife Study Bible (FSB) is an incredible free resource from Faithlife (the makers of Logos Bible Software). After you sign up for the FSB on the site, the best way to access it is through the app, especially a tablet. But if you don't have a smart device, the Faithlife resources can be accessed through your web browser here, or you can download and install the free engine of Logos Bible Software to access your FSB resources.
Especially if you are a novice, the FSB will significantly increase the caliber of your study. The following resources are part of the FSB:
- Translations. The FSB comes with some very good Bible translations, including two of my personal favorites, the Lexham English Bible (Faithlife's own word-for-word translation) and the NRSV. Also included is the ESV, KJV, NKJV, NASB, and the NIV.
- Lexham Bible Dictionary. This is what continues to make the FSB stand out for me. Bible Dictionaries are amazing resources for learning more about the Bible, but there is no up-to-date Bible encyclopedia that is free online. Furthermore, the Lexham Bible Dictionary is comprehensive and written by top-notch scholars (and schmucks like me who wrote a few articles as well). This resource alone is worth the effort to sign up for the FSB.
- Study Bible Notes. Almost everyone has a Study Bible with notes at the bottom of the page. The FSB is the largest and most up-to-date collection of study bible notes that are often multi-layered. These notes are excellent, and often link back to the Lexham Bible Dictionary for further information. The study bible notes will also link to media to further enrich your study.
- FSB Media. Yet another thing that makes the FSB shine is all of the media included. There are stellar infographics, photos, and videos.
- Search and Take Notes. The FSB enables you to search the Bible and take your own notes.
Unless I am missing something (and please let me know) there are no up-to-date commentaries worth your time that are free on the internet. You can find plenty of dated resources like Matthew Henry's commentary online. But these are severely dated and largely devotional commentaries that do not engage in any of the critical issues surrounding the text.
The closest we do get to commentaries online are study bible notes. I have already mentioned the excellent study bible notes in the FSB above, but another group of very good study bible notes is from the NET Bible. The NET Bible is connected with the excellent Bible.org website, and can be accessed through their online Lumina Bible reader. Their study bible notes are those that are tagged as "sn" (study note).
Many people who don't really know the original languages will tend to use whichever Greek or Hebrew lexicon that happens to be on the site they are looking on (bible gateway, biblehub, etc). Unfortunately, many of these are simply the Strong's dictionary entry, which are both dated and very slim.
Fortunately, there is a good Greek lexicon, the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek lexicon (LSJ). This is available through the Step Bible. Find the word in the English translation, click on the word, and it will show you the Greek word and the LSJ entry. Alternatively, you can look up the LSJ entry directly using the 2 Letter Lookup website.
Although it is older and not as good as the LSJ, Thayer's Greek lexicon is okay as well. This can be accessed through Biblehub. Go to your verse and access the interlinear. Above the word will be a little number (the Strongs number) – click on that to find the Thayer entry on the word.
Unlike the LSJ which is still considered a standard Greek lexicon, none of the standard Hebrew lexicons are online. Fortunately, there are a few good ones with valuable information that are online. The first one is the Brown-Driver-Briggs (BDB) lexicon. Like the Thayer lexicon, this one can be accessed through the interlinear on Biblehub. Two other alternatives, available through 2 Letter Lookup is Gesenius's Hebrew Lexicon and Jastrow's Hebrew lexicon.
Text Critical Notes
For those interested in text critical issues (issues related the manuscripts and variants), the NET study bible includes text critical notes. These type of notes are almost nevery part of study bible notes, which makes these NET notes quite unique and valuable. Like the NET study bible notes, these can be accessed through the Lumina Bible reader. All of the notes tagged as "tn" (textual note) are text-critical notes.
Into Academic Waters – Journal Articles Online
For those that want to delve deeper into the academic study of the Bible and want to stay in the free realm can access many free journal articles online. A great spot to find these is the comprehensive biblicalstudies.org.uk. Use the menu to find the relevant Bible book or topic and see what articles you can find.
To close, I want to reiterate that a sizeable portion of Bible Study resources on the internet are dated. And if you are serious about Bible study, you should dive in with Logos Bible Software. If I missed anything good, let me know in the comments!