Best Study Bibles

Given the wide selection available, finding the best study Bible – an essential tool to fully understand and apply God’s Word – is a difficult task. To make things easier and provide some guidance on the best ways to study the Bible, we have scoured the current offerings and compiled the following list of what we believe are the top 10 best study Bibles for 2018 and 2019. We hope that our overview offers you a good starting point for bible study and choosing your personal favorite.

NIV Life Application Study Bible

Best Study Bibles

The NIV Life Application (New International Version) has emerged, with good reason, as one of the most popular and relevant among the best study bibles. General readers and experts alike embrace it as a tool to enlighten their Bible studies. As we find, with very good reason.

The key advantage of this study bible is that it is thoughtfully designed to assist you in deciphering and – most importantly – incorporating the wisdom of Scripture into your life. Carefully drafted and easy to follow commentary will provide you with immediate insights and promises to leave a lasting impact on how you approach challenges in your own life.

Another strength is that this guide brings more than one hundred of the most important Bible characters to life, making it easy for readers to learn everything about them and the lessons their lives offer to modern society. These character sketches are supported through charts, overviews, time lines, dictionary-concordance, and other helpful Bible study tools.

In sum, the NIV Life Application study bible is the perfect companion for those who want to embrace God and the teachings of the Bible in everyday life but are not always sure how to do it and how to study the Bible. This bible commentary will help you to not only hear, but to apply and respond. Highly recommended for all types of readers, personal and group study, including as a source for finding good bible study topics.

ESV Study Bible

Best Study Bible ESV

The ESV Study Bible (English Standard Version), authored by Crossway’s international team of scholarly experts, is one of the most encompassing and highest rated study bibles, in many ways reminiscent of an encyclopedia.

This beautifully designed study bible succeeds in bringing together Bible text explanations, evangelical Christian scholarship (in the shape of articles and resources), and the Bible’s English Standard Version. Offering important commentary on topics such as what it means to know God, biblical ethics applied to concrete situations in our lives, and Bible interpretation, this book will provide you with background information and new perspectives that will help you see the Bible in new ways. Despite its impressive volume – the ESC weighs in at more than 2,700 pages – an index system ensures that you won’t be lost.

If you wish to unlock the Bible’s deep wisdom and don’t mind a more scholarly approach, this detailed yet still accessible volume might well be the best Bible study book for you.

Zondervan NIV Study Bible

Best Study Bibles NIV

Zondervan’s NIV study bible is another highly acclaimed guide to understanding the Bible. Read and appreciated by millions, the best selling study bible from Zondervan is an essential component of any compilation of the best study bibles.

The basis for this book is an updated, contemporary version of the widely admired New International Version of the Bible, which is reproduced in full. Building on this foundation, the key features include thousands of detailed explanatory notes and commentary, in-depth information on biblical characters, geographical and archaeological context, and – last but not least – guidance on how to apply the Bible’s insights and God’s Word to your own life. An index helps you find your way around this excellent book.

The Zondervan NIV study bible (which is actually also available in a more expensive thumb-indexed version) is probably also the best study bible when it comes to layout, high-quality colour illustrations, photographs, maps, and charts. The book is simply stunning in this regard. In short, the Zondervan offers an ideal package.

New Interpreter’s Study Bible – NRSV

Best Study Bible

Edited by the late Walter J. Harrelson, the New Interpreter’s Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha offers you the insights and analysis of sixty leading scholars. The Bible, in the New Revised Standard Version, comes alive in this book thanks to these scholars’ insightful introductions, annotations, and background information.

This study bible and its authors further enhance the reader’s knowledge through several excurses, or in-depth ‘digressions,’ on selected Bible topics. Accordingly, the text notes are also organized in two categories, regular notes and ‘special notes’ for additional information and ‘bigger picture’ context. The tone of the notes is analytical but does not shy away from critical discussions of specific topics. Although it’s a close call, we found this book on balance to be more up to date and superior to one of its close rivals, the HarperCollins Study Bible.

For those interested in geographical details, the New Interpreter’s Study Bible will also be particularly helpful. It features a collection of custom maps, specifically made for this book, to visualize important Biblical places and their surroundings during different points in time.

Overall, this study bible is rich, full of interesting features, and highly comprehensive. For general readers, students, and experts that are interested in a study bible with a more academic bent, this is an excellent choice.

New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha (NRSV)

Best Study Bible Oxford

Published by OUP, The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha is an extremely impressive and complete study bible. While this academic guide is geared towards seminary students and scholars, general readers interested in historical and critical approaches will also find it highly useful.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible’s main strengths are its ‘freshness’ – many materials are either recently updated or newly written and published for the first time – and its broad and deep provision of information. Offering in-depth notes and essays covering text interpretation and background information by leading scholars and researchers, color maps, and informative charts and illustrations, this study Bible will allow you to fully embrace the Bible’s text, achieving a highly advanced understanding of its meaning and context. Among others, there is also a notable emphasis on historical background information as well as an overview of broader, critical perspectives.

Additional advantages of this highly affordable study guide are its enhanced-readability layout and the fact that it is very feature rich. For example, beyond text interpretation and essays, readers are offered an index, glossary of key terms, and a wealth of graphical material.

In sum, the New Oxford Annotated Bible truly lives up to its reputation as a ‘modern classic’ and is one of  the best study Bibles.

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament

Best Catholic Study Bible Ignatius

This study guide (based on the Revised Standard Version 2nd Catholic Edition; RSVCE 2nd) is annotated and compiled by two highly respected Scripture scholars and teachers, Dr. Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. Among its main qualities are its highly accurate and clear translations, organized format, as well as the depth and breadth of commentary, which follows authentic Catholic Bible interpretations. As Dr. Scott says, his aim is to read the Bible ‘from the heart of the Church’.

The guide is further enhanced through extras such as essays that introduce each book of the New Testament and explore various key topics. Readers of this Bible can also rely on an index of doctrines, concordance, icon annotations, word studies, charts, cross-reference guide, and maps.

For those who wish to study more or other books of the Bible, the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible offers a series of additional, highly acclaimed study guides by the same team of authors. The single volume book is, however, the most popular one. Overall, clearly an excellent work product and one of the best study Bibles for the New Testament.

Orthodox Study Bible – Ancient Christianity

Best Orthodox Study Bible

This unique and remarkable study guide by the St. Athanasius Academy explores Orthodox Christianity, that is Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy. This volume is ideal for Christians that wish to deeply immerse themselves in the roots of their faith. Its stated goal is to present a widely accessible text of the Bible and provide commentary to Orthodox Christians and to non-Orthodox readers that wish to explore the faith of the Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox Study Bible covers the Old Testament and New Testament, with annotations that go back to and relate to the perspective of early Church Christians and saints. Each book features an introduction and footnotes and annotations throughout. There are also essays by leading Orthodox scholars on various themes and features including a lectionary, glossary, collection of prayers, maps, icons, and index.

While this guide’s annotations are not as extensive as those found in other study bibles, this book is nevertheless a treasure trove of knowledge and enlightenment for those practicing or interested in Orthodox Christianity. Its wide popularity proves that the authors have succeeded in compiling a highly useful and sought after study companion for a broad audience.

New Inductive Study Bible

Best Inductive Study Bible

The popular New Inductive Study Bible (based on the Updated New American Standard Translation) is another ‘star’ – with millions of readers – and more than solid choice for those looking for the best study bible.

This book’s ‘inductive’ approach is particularly noteworthy. In its purest form, inductive means that the Bible’s text includes everything that we need to know to understand it. Thus, instead of lengthy commentary, this book guides readers by using questions, introductions, and other teaching devices, thereby helping you to unlock Scripture through the power of your mind. You will observe, think, and analyze… and ultimately discover how God’s Word in its purest form speaks directly to you. There are even blank pages for your own notes as you go through the book.

For serious readers that are ready for this special inductive experience, the New Inductive Study Bible will be one of the study companions of choice. Easy to read, inspiring, and ideal for both personal and group study.

King James Study Bible

Best KJV Study Bible

One of the true leaders of study bibles, the King James Study Bible is an impeccable mechanism through which to enhance the study of God’s Word. Written in 11-point font and regally red-bound, this study bible is beautiful on the outside and a joy to read on the inside. It is, we think, clearly the best KJV study bible.

This guide provides thorough book introductions and outlines that give an overview of each book’s authorship, dating, and content. Its text is also punctuated with in-depth annotations – in more than 5,700 spots – with clever insights providing guidance as to what is being said.  The annotations provide background information, allowing the reader to contextualize the Bible’s events and teachings and help the reader achieve a more thorough understanding of the text.

Particularly noteworthy features of this version are the in-text maps and charts, an excellent concordance with more Hebrew and Greek word studies and numerous indices – including an index of Christ and his Gospels – that make searching for information quite easy. The King James Version (KJV) Study Bible is also particularly interesting in its approach by providing personality profiles of key figures in the Bible as well by referencing key archaeological sites of places mentioned in the Bible.

Most importantly, this study bible and its format are designed for ease of use for all audiences – pastors, experts, teenagers, or beginners – alike. By making it so easy to bring God’s Words to life, this volume is a must for any list of the best study bibles available and those looking for the best study bible for beginners.

The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard Version

Best Study Bibles Lutheran

The Lutheran Study Bible is the first English version of the Lutheran bible that is distinctly Lutheran: it contains unique Lutheran notes, it was prepared by Lutheran theologians and pastors, and it contains the most current Lutheran scholarship.  As the first ever ground-up production of a Lutheran Bible in English, this is truly a unique resource.

The Lutheran Study Bible contains wonderful introductions to the books – including excerpts from Luther’s introductions, book outlines that possess depth to them, and extremely well-written articles that delve into a host of topics confronting the Church today. In addition, it contains more than 6,500 Lutheran study notes, 80,000 center column cross-references, and over 900 cross references, all of which serve to facilitate the study of the Lutheran bible.

Yet, one of the most engaging aspects of this book is that the notes serve to answer actual questions posed by readers, since volunteer readers wrote down real questions when reading the Bible. As a result, the Lutheran Study Bible is geared towards answering authentic reader questions, rather than simply answering theoretical questions, making it infinitely more useful. With its uniquely Lutheran perspective, this is surely one of the best study bibles out there.

Best Study Bible

1NIV Life Application Study BibleZondervan23682011
2ESV Study Bible (Indexed)Crossway27522014
3Zondervan NIV Study BibleZondervan25602011
4New Interpreter’s Study Bible – NRSVAbingdon Press22982008
5New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha (NRSV)Oxford University Press24162010
6Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New TestamentIgnatius Press7262010
7Orthodox Study Bible – Ancient ChristianityThomas Nelson18562008
8New Inductive Study BibleHarvest House22962013
9King James Study BibleThomas Nelson22402013
10The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard VersionConcordia Publishing25002009