Steve Lawson’s 8 Favorite Study Bibles

Here are some recommendations to add to your bookshelf

If you’re not already familiar with Dr. Steven J. Lawson, I would highly recommend checking out his work — He is a first-class expository preacher, a faithful Bible teacher, and a skilled writer.

Lawson is the President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church and is a teaching fellow with Ligonier Ministries. He is also the Dean of D.Min. Studies and Professor of Preaching at The Master’s Seminary.

He served as a pastor for 34 years, is the author of many books, and is a frequent conference speaker. He hosts a great Bible study that streams online and in The Expositor’s Podcast, he provides practical helps to preachers.

In one episode of The Expositor’s Podcast, Dr. Lawson shared his view that “study Bibles are a pastor’s best friend” and he provided his top study Bible recommendations.

This list can benefit those in the pew as much as those in the pulpit, so I have included the video and additional information on each of the study Bibles he recommends below. Enjoy!

The MacArthur Study Bible

  • 125-page concordance, including people and places
  • More than 20,000 study notes, charts, maps, outlines, and articles – essentially a condensed versions of John MacArthur’s New Testament commentaries
  • Overview of Theology
  • Index to Key Bible Doctrines
  • “I don’t know if I ever preach a sermon without consulting the footnotes in the MacArthur Study Bible.”

Reformation Study Bible

  • This Bible is produced by Ligonier Ministries
  • Crafted under the editorial leadership of R.C. Sproul and the contributions of 75 distinguished theologians and pastors from around the world
  • Contains articles throughout on important theological issues
  • Over 1.1 million words of verse-by-verse and topical explanations
  • Historical creeds and confessions from 2,000 years of church history
  • The book introductions are especially helpful

ESV Study Bible

  • 20,000+ study notes
  • 80,000+ cross–references
  • 200+ charts
  • 50+ articles
  • “A tremendous study Bible. The theological articles are superior. The footnotes at the bottom of the page are very well written.”

NASB Study Bible

  • The footnotes in the NASB study Bible are very good; Lawson calls them “solid gold”
  • Features a center-column reference system with more than 100,000 references
  • Subject and study note indexes
  • Comprehensive NASB concordance
  • “When I taught through the Psalms [the NASB] was my go-to study Bible.”

Life Application Study Bible

  • Explaining the meaning of the passage is one thing, applying it to life is another matter
  • Includes book introductions, in-text maps and charts, personality profiles, and more
  • “The Life Application Bible helps me think about what is the practical relevance of this particular passage.”

Holman Christian Standard Study Bible

  • Provides excellent word studies on important words in the Greek and Hebrew
  • Featuring approximately 15,000 study notes
  • These word study helps are “rich and invaluable.”

Reformation Heritage Study Bible

  • Makes rich application of each passage
  • Provides a family devotion at the end of each literary unit
  • Thousands of study notes with integrated cross-references
  • Introductions to each section and every book of the Bible
  • Classic Bible text with explanations of difficult words
  • Gives suggested questions to ask during family worship
  • Particularly helpful for the Sunday School teacher

The Key Word Bible

  • Marks words in each verse and assigns a number that is keyed to a Greek or Hebrew dictionary.
  • Key Words in the Biblical Text Coded to Strong’s Numbers
  • “Here you can access an almost unlimited number of words as you’re studying your passage.”

As Dr. Lawson says at the close of the video, “As you build your library, consider building out your storehouse of study Bibles.”

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