A Bible dictionary is a useful reference tool in studying the Bible. It contains definitions of key words found in Scripture. Bible dictionaries list all the major words in the Bible, such as people’s names, places, concepts, animals, and plants. Bible dictionaries are usually based on specific translations.
Many editions of the Bible contain small dictionaries in the back to provide context when the reader wants to find immediate information. Print copies of Bible dictionaries are available as well as online versions that are often free of charge. More popular Bible dictionaries are Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, and the Lexham Bible Dictionary.
Arranged alphabetically, Bible dictionaries provide easy accessibility to names and locations in the Bible. For instance, if someone is reading about Paul’s missionary endeavors in Philippi (Acts 16:12) and wants to learn more about the city, he can flip to P in a Bible dictionary to find summarized information under the entry for Philippi. The dictionary will assist him in learning more about the ancient city, its culture, and its significance in the Bible. Verses related to the topic are also listed. Some Bible dictionaries also contain concordances, summaries of books in the Bible, and other historical background information.
A Bible dictionary is valuable in increasing understanding of the following:
• the historical and cultural context of a passage
• the background of key words
• key people and events
• original meanings of Greek and Hebrew words that have been translated into English
Here is the entry for Son of God in the American Tract Society Bible Dictionary, a concise yet informative resource: “A peculiar appellation of Christ, expressing his eternal relationship to the Father, Psalm 2:7, Daniel 3:25, Luke 1:35, John 1:18, 34. Christ always claimed to be the only-begotten Son of the Father, Matthew 4:3, 8:29, 27:54, John 3:16–18; and the Jews rightly understood him as thus making himself equal with God, John 5:18, 10:30–33” (William Rand, ed., ATS, 1859).
The Bible is God’s Word, and any resource that can assist a Christian’s study of Scripture is valuable. Pastors, teachers, and other students of the Word can benefit from a Bible dictionary. As a quick and easy reference tool, Bible dictionaries can enhance the experience of studying God’s Word.