How to Use Commentaries in Blue Letter Bible
Intermediate Skill ● 6 min
One of my favorite online commentaries is blueletterbible.org. Lots of free tools to use in Bible study but we'll be looking at commentaries specifically. So simply go up here where it says, "Search the Bible," and we're going to be looking at John 7:37, where Jesus invites those who are thirsty to come to Him and drink.
It happens on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles which I feel like there's significance there and we'll look at commentaries to see what that is. As I typed it in, Blue Letter Bible pulls that exact verse. If we go over here ... Well first of all, let me just review. To use commentaries in Bible study, of course I first recommend that you read the entire passage yourself and then write down your own observations and then go to commentaries.
In Blue Letter Bible, you'll go to "Tools," and then like I said, lots of different tools you can use here. Let's go to commentaries. The cool thing about Blue Letter Bible is that it has both audio/video commentaries. Some of these are sermons based on the text, but it also has text only commentaries. I like to use the text ones because that way I can skim and kind of get a feeling for several commentaries without going in depth into all of them at once.
I really like Matthew Henry's. I'm going to go ahead and open his and Jamieson, Fausset & Brown so we'll open their commentary as well. You can just click on it if you want; I open in a new tab so I can come back here if there are more commentaries I want to check.
Here we are, I think this is Jamieson, Fausset & Brown as it's uploading. Theirs is a shorter commentary so you can go through and read the commentary for the whole chapter. You can see that it's broken down by verses and they'll actually include the text in the verse that they're writing their notes about right here.
You can scroll all the way down to verse 37 and see what they say about it. I encourage you to go ahead in your browser and type in blueletterbible.org, type in the passage, go through those steps and follow through and read Jamieson, Fausset & Brown's commentary on John 7:37-39.
Write down a few notes that come out of this commentary text. We're not going to take time to do that but go ahead and pause the video and do that, practice it, and then we'll come back.
Alright, so hopefully you have a few notes from your reading of Jamieson, Fausset & Brown's commentary on John 7:37-39 right here. I would love to hear what stood out to you.
We'll go to the next commentary, which is Matthew Henry's. I like his, he is a bit older -- not sure when he lived. I think a few hundred years ago. You'll see that even his writing style is different. It's more of an older English, so it might take a little bit to get used to. But if you can't, I'll scroll and show you. Oh wait, this is just commentary on John.
So this is why I like to open it in a new tab so I can go back and say, "Wait, that's not what I was looking for. I wanted commentary on John 7." So go ahead and open that up. I think I clicked on Intro to John instead.
As I open this up, Matthew Henry tends to be really detailed and connect a lot of the bigger themes. As you can see, he is going to go into great detail in Chapter 7 explaining all the different connections that you'll find here.
You can, of course, read his commentary on the entire chapter. As you can see, there is a lot. I like that Blue Letter Bible gives you the option to click here to jump to John 7:37. When you do that, here it is.
Here's a listing for just that in particular. He goes through and explains the significance of it being the last day of the feast, how He gave His invitation and what's important about that, some things on the invitation itself, as well as His promise in verses 38 and 39.
So, some really great stuff here from Matthew Henry. Go ahead and open it up in your own browser. You can copy and paste this if you want or just go through blueletterbible.org, type in John 7:37, click on that Tools commentary, find Matthew Henry's commentary on John 7:37, and read through this.
As you read, write down a few notes of what stands out to you. What are some key insights that you have gained and that will be helpful as you come back to the text to understand what is really going on here?
I won't spoil it for you. 🙂 I'll let you look into what is significant about the Feast of Tabernacles and what the priests did with water that made Jesus' invitation right here so much more significant when He says, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink."
That's how to use an online commentary. Read the text, write down your own observations, then find commentaries that are related to the passage you want to study. You can also do a particular theme or word if you want to by clicking right up here and doing that search. Fourth, write down your observations, the things that have stood out to you from the commentary itself.
So my challenge to you this week is to identify a passage that you're studying in Scripture that you want to understand on a deeper level and then use the commentary. Either blueletterbible.org, biblegateway.org, or a textbook type commentary to understand that text at a deeper level.
Then come over to the Facebook group and share with us. What did you learn? We'd love to hear from you.