I find value in the use of a Study Bible and have used several different ones over the years. A danger in using a Study Bible is that you could tend to just rely on the study notes instead of the Holy Spirit in interpreting a passage. I like what my wife does: she first reads and prays about the meaning of a passage, and only after doing that does she consult the study notes.
There are many Study Bibles available these days. Here are four that I have used and would recommend to you:
Reformation Study Bible. This is the Bible that I use for my daily reading and study. Originally published in 1995 under the title of the New Geneva Study Bible, the Reformation Study Bible is available in the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New King James Version (NKJV). R.C. Sproul served as the General Editor, and the study notes are from 75 distinguished theologians such as Sinclair Ferguson, R.C. Sproul, Peter Jones and Wayne Grudem. Willem A. VanGemeren who attends our church. The Reformation Study Bible was completely revised and updated in 2015. Some of the new features include over 20,000 new, revised, or expanded study notes, and historical creeds and confessions from 2,000 years of church history.
ESV Study Bible. First published in 2008, The ESV Study Bible features more than 2,750 pages of extensive, accessible Bible resources, including notes, full-color maps, illustrations, charts, timelines, and articles created by a team of 93 evangelical Christian scholars and teachers. In addition to the 757,000 words of the ESV Bible itself, the notes and resources of the ESV Study Bible comprise an additional 1.1 million words of explanation and teaching-equivalent to a 20-volume Bible resource library all contained in one volume. Wayne Grudem served as the General Editor.
Gospel Transformation Study Bible. Bryan Chapell served as the General Editor for the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. Its contributors feature an outstanding list of more than 50 pastors and scholars, including the following that I had classes with at Covenant Seminary – Scotty Smith, Robert Yarbrough, Mary Beth McGreevy, V. Philips Long, Robert Peterson and Daniel Doriani.
The Gospel Transformation Bible was produced out of the conviction that the Bible is a unified message of God’s grace culminating in Jesus, it is a significant tool to help readers see Christ in all the Bible, and grace for all of life. The notes not only explain but also apply the text in a grace-centered way.
MacArthur Study Bible The MacArthur Study Bible was first published in 1997. It is now available in the English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Version (NASV), the New International Version (NIV) and the New King James Version (NKJV). It contains nearly 25,000 explanatory notes from John MacArthur, more than 140 maps, an extensive concordance and other features.
I have seen Mac Arthur speak several times and read many of his books. One note of caution on his Study Bible notes would be his dispensationalist views on eschatology.
These are four Study Bibles that I use and can recommend; they all have a Kindle version available also. What about you? Do you use a Study Bible, perhaps one that I didn’t mention above? Please respond and let us know your thoughts.