UNDERSTANDING NEW CHRISTIANS IN PRISON

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of the Bible with a short description. Knowing what translations and versions are available can be useful when the subject comes up.

The Amplified Version of the Bible is very helpful in learning the scriptures. It expounds on the meaning of a particular verse by putting additional words in brackets or quotations. For instance, in most Bibles, Ephesians 2:8 starts out, “For by grace….” In the Amplified Version it says, “For by the free grace (God’s unmerited favor)…. The Amplified Bible is a good source for understanding the scriptures as a whole. I don’t believe it should be a Christian’s main Bible, just an auxiliary Bible. Reading it in a group would be difficult for others to follow since it has many extra words placed in the verses. Most don’t have an Amplified Bible, so it would difficult for others to follow along in a study group.

Most translations or versions come in a format called a study Bible. Study Bibles have commentaries throughout the chapters that help explain difficult passages. They also give some background information about the author of each book, when it was written, why it was written and to whom it was written. Many also have dictionaries and concordances included. A concordance is especially handy because it will list all the verses that contain a particular word. If I wanted to look up the word “joy”, I could find every verse in the Bible that had that word in it by looking it up in the concordance. A study Bible will cost a little more than just a plain Bible. I would recommend buying a hardback study Bible for your friend or loved one in prison. Some prisons will allow inmates to buy book covers which will give a hardback Bible good protection.

Reference Bibles do not have commentaries. They have a dictionary, concordance and they feature a column on each page that references other scripture verses to back up each verse in that chapter. A reference Bible is a good source for the new Christian to read similar passages on the same subject. This will increase his insight in the Bible as a whole.  As with anything that you want to purchase for your loved one, check to see what procedures must be followed.

It may seem confusing at first to find the right Bible, but it is important to get your friend or loved one started with a good study Bible as soon as possible. The most widely used versions today are the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, and the New King James Version. You can’t go wrong buying one of these in a study Bible format. Talking with your friend or relative to see if he has a preference is a good idea. Getting him started as soon as possible is the key, but be sure not to overwhelm him with too many different learning materials at the beginning.

Eventually, your friend or loved one will also be in need of a concordance, a Bible dictionary and a complete commentary. Although the study Bible has a good concordance, dictionary and commentary included, they are not as comprehensive as the separate ones that are on the market. As your loved one grows in his faith, the more comprehensive ones will be needed. Reference Bibles and Amplified Bibles are also nice for his future studies, but all of these can be bought over time by you or him. Studying God’s Word is a lifetime course.

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