Why a Study Bible? – R.C. Sproul, Sr.

Source: Why a Study Bible? by R.C. Sproul | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org

TTCover-Sept-2015The new monthly issue of Ligonier’s Tabletalk magazine is out, and yesterday I plunged into its interesting articles on the subject of study Bibles. The theme for September is “The Study Bible: Its History, Purpose and Use.”

One might assume that because Ligonier is the producer and publisher of the Reformation Study Bible (currently in ESV; soon also in New KJV), only that study Bible would be promoted in this issue. But such is not the case. Other study Bibles are referenced and even recommended, although the Reformation Study Bible is definitely on the foreground. That is not a fault or weakness of this issue of “TT”, for their study Bible is a fine one.

I still have and use the original one they produced – the New Geneva Study Bible (NKJV, published by T.Nelson in 1995). And I also received for review the new edition in ESV (which I will reference sometime in the future.). The Ligonier study Bible was the first Reformed study Bible to be produced (unless you count the original Geneva Bible of 1560 – cf. S.Nichols’ article referred to below), and I was thrilled to see something like this produced – especially because the study Bible market had been dominated by bad (dispensational and Arminian theology!) ones for so long, such as the Scofield Reference Bible.

You will, therefore, benefit from this special issue on the matter of study Bibles. And with some good input from these articles, I hope you do invest in a good Reformed study Bible. R.C. Sproul, Sr. introduces us to the “why” of study Bibles in his article linked above and quoted from below. Find the rest of his thoughts at that link above.

At Ligonier, we’re confident in the power of the Word of God to convert sinners and equip Christians for every good work. We want the gospel to go forth to every nation, even if some may take that gospel and twist it to their own ends. But we want the people of God to grow deeper in their faith and to explore the depths of the gospel, which is simple enough for all to understand and yet so deep that in our lifetime we can only begin to scratch the surface of its meaning and application. For that, sound teaching is indispensable, and that’s why our goal has been to provide a study Bible grounded in the Reformed tradition of Christian theology.

Reformed theology, which C.H. Spurgeon said is merely a nickname for Christianity, is our passion here at Ligonier. We want to spread the knowledge of the gospel to as many people as possible to help churches around the world understand the substance of its message. Everything we do through Ligonier Ministries is directed toward that end, including the Reformation Study Bible.

…The original Geneva Bible, which you will read about in this issue of Tabletalk, was developed to help people learn the theology revealed in God’s Word. It is in the spirit of that Geneva Bible that we produced the original New Geneva Study Bible, and then the Reformation Study Bible. We wanted a resource that, like the Geneva Bible, faithfully taught the Scriptures and presented the key tenets of Reformed theology rediscovered in the Protestant Reformation. And in that same spirit, we have the completely new, reworked edition of the Reformation Study Bible—which really excites me.

The next featured article is by Dr. Stephen Nichols and treats “The History of Study Bibles.” You will want to read this as well.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Is there a large difference between the two Bibles (Reformation Study Bible, and the New Geneva Study Bible), if so, what are the differences? Thank you!


    • Hi, Peggy! Nice to hear from you. The main difference in my mind is the translations – the NGSB was in NKJV, while the RSB is in the ESV – both good translations for the most part but with strengths and weaknesses. I prefer my old NGSB because of the NKJV, but the RSB is supposed to come out with a NKJV edition soon (You can still find copies of the old NGSB online). I have not compared the two closely, but can tell you that the RSB has been expanded and updated in its notes, study helps, maps, etc. It appears that these are all good improvements. The RSB carries a more Presbyterian slant to it (Westminster standards are referenced more than the Three Forms of Unity in the theology notes), but that is not a bad thing either, since we are not usually as knowledgeable about the WS as we are with the TFU. But, from that point of view, the new Reformation Heritage Study Bible is to be recommended, since its perspective is our own Reformed tradition (the TFU are all in the back) and the translation used is the KJV. I trust you saw Prof.Cammenga’s high recommendation of the RHSB? I posted it on my blog a few months back.


      • Thank you for the information! I do too, like the NGSB. That was my first Bible. I plan on getting the RHSB in the near future. Thank you much for your recommendation!


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