how to build a bible library with bible reference books

How to Build a Bible Library with the Best Bible Reference Books

Whether you are a new Christian reading the Bible for the first time or a seasoned Bible scholar, you are probably excited about studying the Bible. However, you might find that a study Bible just doesn’t quite cut it. You need what you could find in a personal Bible library.

If you have wondered how to build a Bible library so that you can study the Bible with everything you need, you have probably been curious about which Bible reference books would best suit you. How many do you really need? Maybe you don’t have room for much!

This reference page is full of different Bibles and Bible reference books for you to consider. You might want to start with the bare minimum – just what you need to study the current chapter you are studying in the Bible. There’s no need to purchase a whole Bible library on day one.

Instead, consider which books you need and determine your budget. Then you can purchase all of the books you feel you need in order to have a satisfying Bible library with every book you need to understand and even someday teach the Bible.

We won’t go too in-depth with theology and language books, as this is just for a basic Bible library. However, I would like to share either the books I own (my husband and I are Bible nerds) or books I would highly recommend owning. I believe these books will help you on your Bible learning journey!

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How to Build a Bible Library with the Best Bible Reference Books

What a Bible Library Is and Tips to Get Started

A Bible library can consist of any Bible reference books or Bibles that help you better understand the Word of God. The goal of this page is to guide you to slowly create your own Bible library based on books you feel are necessary for your library.

It’s important to realize that a Bible library should be built over your lifetime. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing everything on this list today, but keep your eyes peeled for deals or free books that are listed on this reference page.

Also, don’t compare your library with someone else’s. Many people get handed-on gifts after relatives pass away, so their collection of Bible library books will be completely different from yours. Some people have more disposable income to spend on these items, too. 

Do what’s best for you and your family when you start building your Bible library. Have fun doing it over your lifetime; it’s a marathon, not a sprint! 

You can just purchase items as you find a need for them. Don’t expect too much and think you need everything now.

Your Bible library should consist of books that help you while you study and learn more about the Bible. If you realize a Bible concordance would help you with your topical studies, be sure to pick one up when your funds allow it. Not all Bible reference books are affordable, unfortunately.

Why You Need a Bible Library

A Bible library or Bible reference book collection is perfect when you study the Bible in a comprehensive or deep manner. As you dive in to learn more about a topic or book of the Bible, you’ll want to have the resources you need handy.

For example, if you run across a word that you are unsure about, it would be nice to be able to look that word up in a Bible dictionary so that you can better understand what the Bible is trying to say to you. If you come across a place you don’t know well, a Bible atlas would assist you well!

Reason #1 – Expand your horizons.

When you have a full Bible library, you can visit places as you explore your Bible atlas and experience new languages when you read the Key Word Bible, teaching you Greek and Hebrew. It’s like getting to go to new places without even leaving your home!

Reason #2 – Understand God’s Word better.

The main purpose of a Bible library is to help you understand the Bible better. Once you get a strong grasp of the Bible, you will only want to know more! Your Bible study library will be full of enlightening books you would never have owned had you not created this unique atmosphere.

Dictionaries, concordances, and commentaries can assist when you are studying a Bible passage in-depth. If you don’t understand something, these Bible reference books can help explain what is going on, who is involved, and so much more!

Reason #3 – Have the right Bible study tools when you need them.

Maybe one day, you will become a public speaker for your faith or a Bible school teacher. Having Bible study tools like the ones mentioned in this article can help you a great deal. 

Hopefully, by the time you are ready to grow in your spiritual role, you will have a solid grasp of what the Bible says and means. If something still baffles you, having the right Bible library will aid you on your journey. 

Remember, no one is a complete expert in the Bible or understands every passage completely. Learning how to understand the Bible is a lifelong process, not to be tackled lightly or in a short period of time.

Reason #4 – It’s truly an enjoyable experience.

From personal experience, I can vouch that collecting Bibles or creating a Bible library can be a lot of fun! You get to find new bookstores and search for the perfect books to complement the selection you currently have in your Bible library. 

It’s a great hobby to have, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! One tip I might offer is to have a place to put all the Bible reference books once you buy all the ones you want!

Also, keep a list of the Bible reference books you purchase so that you do not accidentally buy the same book twice! Guilty!

Reason #5 – Have a lifelong mission.

As mentioned, growing your Bible library is a lifetime spiritual goal. You probably won’t be able to get all you need overnight. This can give you a sense of purpose and a positive mission in life. 

One caution is to not be wasteful if you get addicted to buying Bibles and Bible reference books for your Bible library. If you won’t read them, don’t purchase them! Only buy what you will use as you study the Bible.

How to Build a Bible Library (What to Include in Yours)

What Are The Different Types of Journaling Bibles?

Everyone should eventually have a journaling Bible, a coloring Bible, and a creative journaling Bible, but what do these terms mean? Why do you need so many Bibles?

You don’t! Don’t feel obligated to purchase a bunch of Bibles you won’t use. However, if you wish to have a richer experience with the Word of God, consider buying a few different kinds of Bibles and find the method of interacting with the Bible that works best for YOU.

A journaling Bible is one that you can use washi tape, stickers, paint, or whatever creative means you wish to decorate your Bible. Some people don’t wish to add color to their Bibles but want a journaling Bible because there’s more space to write notes in your Bible.

My journaling Bible is the Bible I write in, use highlighters in, and write notes in colored pens or pencils in. It has all my notes, life applications, and thoughts in it. It’s what most people would consider to be their main Bible. I highly recommend finding the right Bible for your main Bible and writing your valuable notes and insight into it.

My coloring Bible is one that is like a family Bible. It sits on the coffee table because it is the most beautiful Bible in our collection. There are plenty of images to color in it as well, and our intentions are to color each image over the years and pass it on one day.

Finally, my creative journaling Bible is the same as the others, but this Bible has a different purpose for me. I use it to draw, color, and make notes. It’s more of a “fun” Bible to decorate and make beautiful over the years.  There’s plenty of room to be creative with a Bible like this.

The Must-Have Journaling Bible Collection

  • NLT THRIVE Creative Journaling Devotional Bible (my journaling Bible) – This women’s Bible was so beautiful and uplifting that I bought two different versions of it. My main Bible is a blue and cream version; that’s the Bible I take all my notes in. The floral-covered Bible is the one I use for reading. I love the personal devotionals in it, too!
  • Tyndale NLT Inspire Bible (my creative journaling Bible) – I’ve received SO many compliments on this Bible. It’s to-die-for beautiful. I’ve used a lot of different Bible journaling techniques to decorate it, but it will always be a work-in-progress, as I still have much to do. If you are looking for a stunning Bible to decorate, this is the one for you!

If you love Bible journaling, stay tuned because there are plenty more articles on how to do Bible journaling planned for the future at Sharing Life and Love! It’s a wonderful hobby to adopt!

What are the Different Versions of the Bible?

Since the Bible has been translated into over three thousand languages, there is a limitless number of versions of the Bible out there. You could probably spend a lifetime collecting Bibles and still not grab them all. Plus, they are always coming up with new ones!

The more popular Bible translations include the NLT, KJV, NKJV, NIV, CEV, MSG, TPT, NET, and CSB. 

You may have noticed that my journaling Bibles are all NLT versions (New Living Translation). That’s not the only version I read, though. In fact, I recommend having either your YouVersion Bible app ready to go with different versions downloaded or purchasing different versions of the Bible.

NLT is just my husband’s favorite version of the Bible, but there are plenty more we should explore. As you read the Bible in different versions, you will learn new words and ways of saying things. Some versions are clearer than others, while others are more accurate.

One of our spiritual goals is to collect every version of the Bible, and I must confess that we are pretty close in our collection to having each type of Bible. Remember, don’t compare your library to mine. Create a Bible library that best suits you and your family. 

You certainly won’t need every version of the Bible, and buying them all will cost money. There are ways you can save, though. Use a free Bible app or read the Bible in different translations online. You can even purchase a parallel Bible that has many different translations in one book.

Let’s look at a few other translations so that you can broaden your horizons a bit. It’s always best to look at one version you understand first and then compare it to another version of the Bible.

How to Build a Bible Library with the Best Bible Reference Books
  • CSB She ReadsTruth Bible (my devotional Bible) – If you’ve joined this group, this Bible seems to be a must-have for HCSB Bibles! There is beautiful, simplistic artwork throughout, but there are also plenty of devotionals to learn from in this women’s Bible. They also have a men’s version: CSB He Reads Truth Bible, which my husband has!
  • NIV, Life Application Study Bible – This is truly a great study Bible! I love it because it has clear insight and information that you just won’t find elsewhere. It’s very similar to the NLT Life Application Bible, which is a huge favorite in this house, as we own two of the large print versions! These are great for the application side of the SOAP Bible study method.
  • NIV, NKJV, NLT, The Message, Contemporary Comparative Parallel Bible, Hardcover (my parallel Bible) – If you are looking for four Bibles in one, a parallel Bible is the way to go. I love looking at a passage in this Bible, as it shows me other versions at a glance. It’s great when a Bible verse is a little difficult to understand or when you are unsure of the meaning of scripture. I was glad I bought this version instead of the Message.
  • The Passion Translation New Testament, Burgundy, Large Print – After a Bible study where this was read from, I had to purchase it to add to our collection. It only has the New Testament, Songs of Solomon, Psalms, and Proverbs. This is because the Old Testament hasn’t been translated in this version yet! It’s a beautiful and unique Bible!
  • The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible: NKJV Edition, Leather – This is a must-have once you start exploring the Bible in-depth. This Bible has most main words translated in Hebrew or Greek to help you understand the original language! It’s very easy to navigate through. Check out the other versions: NIV, ESV (the one I purchased), KJV, NASB, and more!

What is a Study Bible?

If you enjoy reading the thoughts of others, the facts behind the scripture, definitions of unclear words, and more, you should definitely invest in a study Bible. A study Bible will give you additional information in the footnotes of your Bible – information you wouldn’t otherwise know.

I’ve enjoyed study Bibles as they have taught me a lot of interesting information, but I also love them when I’m studying a passage in a deep fashion. I have several of these types of Bibles, so when I gather insight from them all, it paints a clear picture of what is happening in the Bible.

Study Bibles may provide you with cross-reference scriptures or the original language of a particular word. Cross-reference passages are those that are related to the one you are reading. They are meant to give you further insight into the passage you are studying.

Recommend Study Bibles for Your Bible Library

I have a few study Bibles that I find very handy as I study a book of the Bible. Study Bibles give you further insight into a passage, so you can better understand it. My recommendation is to have at least one great study Bible that you enjoy in your Bible library.

  • The CSB Study Bible for Women (my study Bible) – Unlike my other study Bibles, this one is not a life application Bible. Though I love getting insight that comes from applying the Word to my life, it’s nice to just get the additional facts, commentary, and other information found in the footnotes of this study Bible. It really is worth checking out!

These are great study Bibles if you are a new Christian or have recently set a goal to try to read the Bible all the way through. Each one offers the new believer a way to start diving into God’s Word. You may find you grow more from one of these study Bibles than from one of the ones that have a ton of information for a more seasoned reader.

Specialty Bibles and Bible Reference Books

A Bible Commentary Series

There are many commentary books available to help you understand the Bible better. Commentaries basically give you insight into scripture by a Biblical scholar or expert.

As a beginner Bible scholar, I would recommend you purchase one or two-volume commentary sets. This will save you money and perhaps time. There are many online resources you can use for commentaries, as well. 

My husband and I found a discount Christian bookstore in Springfield, Missouri, when traveling. Plus, my grandfather, who used to be a deacon in the church, gave me a collection of Bible reference books, so our Bible library is larger than a normal one. Again, everyone’s experience is different

Here are a few shorter commentaries that I would recommend if you are looking for a one or two-volume set.

A Bible Concordance

A Bible concordance can be overwhelming if you are new to Bible study. Typically, it lists all occurrences of a specific word in a specific version of the Bible. Some are a little bit more elaborate than others. Sometimes, they have a dictionary included with the rest of the reference material.

A Bible Dictionary

A Bible dictionary is a tough one to purchase because you never know if you are getting the right one. When purchasing books for your Bible library, I suggest going to your local library to determine which books are best for your collection. Try them out first!

If you get too cheap of a Bible dictionary, you may not find the words you were hoping to find in there. Find the version of the Bible you prefer and purchase a Bible dictionary that uses that version. That way, the language is the same.

A Bible dictionary is basically what it sounds like – a dictionary for Bible terms. You may also find cross scripture verses that you can look up in your Bible dictionary. It really depends on how elaborate your dictionary is. There are, of course, free online Bible dictionaries, as well.

A Bible Atlas

A Bible atlas is a great way to learn about different locations mentioned in the Bible. This can aid your study as you learn about new places and discover what is located there today. It can be a very educational experience!

More Fun Bible Reference Books and Supplies

Prayer Journals

  • My Prayer Journal by Christian Art Gifts – This gorgeous book will reinvent your prayer life. It’s very high quality and will wow you with 120 days of prayer. Each prayer has sections for different parts, so you can have a little guidance as you pray!
  • Daily Prayer Journal by Sharing Life and Love – This FREE daily prayer journal is great if you enjoy using a paper prayer journal with questions to guide you. It is perfect for everyday use. This prayer journal is an easy printable you can grab in the Shop.

Bible Library Supplies for Study

There are a few other supplies you might want to consider for your Bible library that will help your study. 

Bible Tabs

I’ve had good and bad experiences with Bible tabs. Sometimes, it takes trial and error to find the right one. Be careful when purchasing a cheap set, as they may be either too thin or too thick for the pages of your Bible. 

If you are in doubt as to whether a set will work for your Bible, don’t put them on! They are so difficult to take off and to reapply new ones. Some of my favorite ones, ones that worked great on my Bibles, include the following.


Bible highlighters can be tricky. It all depends on how thick the pages of your Bible are. If they are thin pages, which most are, I would recommend using designated Bible highlighters, but try a small area before highlighting too much. 

I have found that many of my Bibles are thick enough for plain, old Sharpie highlighters! Those are my favorite, but they can bleed through!

Here are the Bible highlighters I have loved that don’t bleed through the pages. I have never been a fan of gel highlighters, though my husband uses them with success! I find them a bit messy.


My favorite writing pens for writing in your Bible are Sharpie Art Pens. They write very neatly and don’t bleed through the pages. Because they are fine-point, you can write small and fit plenty of text on a page. 

The set of Sharpie Art Pens I suggested even comes in a neat case that snaps open and close. It’s very convenient. I’d recommend purchasing the whole set!

Other Bible Journaling Supplies

You are probably starting to see how purchasing Bible supplies can be an addictive and expensive hobby! Yes, there are even more things you can buy, especially when doing Bible journaling. 

My favorite and most highly recommended decorative supplies can be found in my Recommended Letter-Writing Supplies! Check those out for even more ways to have fun during your quiet time with God!

Included as Bible journaling supplies are washi tape, stickers, pens, pencils, stationery, and much more! Purchasing a blank journal to write your Bible study notes in is not a bad idea!

Don’t forget to look for online resources or other ways content is delivered, such as through electronic means with Bible software (Logos).

Must-Have Christian Books

  • The Power of a PrayingⓇ Wife – This bestseller has sold millions of copies and is great if you want prayer to transform your life! With illustrations, heartfelt prayers, and Bible verses, you will change into the praying wife you’ve always wanted to be!
  • It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way – I have to recommend this one by Lysa Terkeurst because I’ve already bought 3 copies for friends and family and read it twice! It’s a truly remarkable book for anyone going through disappointments in their life. It’s a real eye-opener! If you go to their website, you can also download a free study guide!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Build a Bible Library with the Best Bible Reference Books

What are the different types of Bibles?

There are many different translations or versions of the Bible, but within each version of the Bible, there are different types. You might want to check out a study Bible, a Bible reference book (a Bible dictionary, a Bible commentary, or a Bible concordance) – whatever works best for you during your personal Bible study time.

How do you build a Bible reference library?

If you are ready to build your Bible reference library, you are probably feeling a mixture of nervousness and excitement! Remember that you can purchase books for your Bible reference library throughout your lifetime. Buy only what you’ll use at first; then, you can expand your collection to include other books.

What essential Bible reference books do you need for your library?

A study Bible is a great addition to any Bible library. You might also want to buy a commentary of the whole Bible, a concordance, a Bible dictionary, different versions of the Bible, and Bible journaling supplies (stickers, markers, washi tape, etc.). Since each person is different, their Bible library needs are different.

What are the easiest Bible study methods?

The SOAP Bible study method is one of the easiest ways to study the Bible. It allows you to analyze scripture using an easy anonym (SOAP) – Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. There is also the SWORD Bible study method and the HEAR Bible study method. These are all easy ways to learn the Bible.

Where do you find Bible studies online?

Sometimes, you really have to sort through (“dig”) the internet to find the exact thing you are looking for. I enjoy the FREE Bible studies written by Sarah Koontz (Living by Design) and Darlene Schacht (Time Warp Wife). You can find many Bible studies online with YouVersion, Bible Gateway, and Blue Letter Bible.


Hopefully, you now know how to build a Bible library with the right Bible reference books. I do also encourage you to take it slow and not purchase everything at once. Your wallet will thank you!!

Plus, if you build your Bible library over time, you will always have something to look forward to, and you’ll only buy and own what you really need for a proper Bible study session.

When I study a book of the Bible, I also like to find Bible studies online on the subject. Answering Bible study questions can often encourage us to think outside of the box. We can also better apply what we’ve learned to our lives.

We’d love to hear all about your Bible library. Which Bible reference books do you find most helpful? What kind of study Bible do you use? Which is your favorite Bible?

Leave a comment, and please share this article on social media! Enjoy your Bible library, and God bless you all!

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