Part 3: Search Bible Dictionaries
Third in a series providing a practical guide for studying scriptures about strengths.
God uses His Word to help us understand our unique strengths. Reading scriptures about strengths is an excellent first step in gaining that understanding. As you read what God says about differences, you find out how to use yours to lead from your strengths and to contribute to building His Kingdom.
You can go further by studying strengths scriptures more deeply, using different Bible study tools – many available for free online. Bible Gateway, for instance, offers Bible versions, Bible keyword searches, Bible dictionaries, and Bible commentaries to enhance your reading and studying of strengths scriptures.
Of those, a Bible dictionary is especially helpful in that it provides quick yet technical information for terms found in scripture.
How Can a Bible Dictionary Help Me?
Just as a regular dictionary lists words in alphabetical order and gives their meaning, a Bible dictionary is a reference work that lists scripture terms alphabetically and gives their meaning. Numerous types of Bible dictionaries are on the market. Style ranges from popular prose to scholarly academic writing. The terms referenced include people, places, customs, doctrine, principles, and Biblical criticism. Definitions and explanations are cross-referenced to other resources and to related scriptures.
Bible dictionaries are useful in several ways. Entries provide short definitions of unfamiliar people, places, and objects, which is helpful when you’re short on time or when you want to grasp an understanding of a passage quickly. But don’t think for a moment that a Bible dictionary is superficial at best. Many give explanations for the historical and cultural context of the passage or offer definitions of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic words. Best of all, entries are cross-referenced to related scriptures and other resources.
Three Ways to Access a Bible Dictionary
You can access a Bible dictionary easily using free online Bible study tools. In Bible Gateway, for example, you have three options when it comes to looking up a term in a Bible dictionary.
- Search a topic. Go to Bible Gateway’s Topical Index and type in the term or phrase you want to look up. The results page will return a listing of citations from various dictionaries.
- Search a specific dictionary. Access a list of dictionaries through Additional Resources. Choose the dictionary you wish to search and search its index to find your search term.
- Search a specific Bible text. This is the simplest way is to see relevant entries for your search term. Search for the scripture which contains it and click the Show resources link next to the Bible text. Results will open a window alongside the scripture that includes dictionary topics related to the text.
Try It! What a Bible Dictionary Term Search Reveals About Strengths
In studying scriptures about strengths, one important keyword is “gifts” – those special abilities God bestows on individuals to use to build His Kingdom. A quick Resources search of 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) in Bible Gateway shows several dictionaries with listings for “gifts” and “spiritual gifts, nature of” which you can explore further.
The Dictionary of Bible Themes, for instance, refers to entry 7968 as “spiritual gifts, nature of” (see right.) When you click on that entry, you see the following list of scriptural references for that term so you can study their context.
- A definition of spiritual gifts
- Old Testament examples of God giving spiritual gifts
- Spiritual gifts inked to grace
- Specific references to spiritual gifts
- Warnings about spiritual gifts
After you study the entries for this dictionary, you can look at the entries in another one.
You can see why even just one Bible dictionary search can lead you to a more meaningful understanding of God’s strengths working in you.