Send to Kindle
Bookmark and Share print

Reference Bibles
Updated March 31, 2015 (first published June 8, 2004) -- (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143,
A reference Bible refers to a Bible that contains various studies and helps in addition to the Bible text, and it is an important tool for the serious Bible student. Following are some facts and tips on their use.


The most basic reference Bible commonly has the following features:

1. Cross references
2. Chapter headings and dates
3. A brief concordance and/or dictionary

Usually the concordance in a study Bible is not very helpful because it is so limited, but the cross references are invaluable.

Beyond that, a more complete reference Bible contains many other features, such as the following:

4. Maps
5. Introductions and outlines of the books of the Bible
6. Notes and commentary
7. Topical studies
8. Larger dictionary
9. Larger concordance. The Scofield Bible contains an extensive and very helpful concordance. The Dugan Reference Bible, for instance, contains the complete Cruden’s Concordance.


1. Study Bibles often Use the Wrong Greek Text and Undependable English Versions. Most of the newer study Bibles are based on undependable English versions and incorporate corrupt readings from the modern critical Greek New Testament. These will have notes that say things such as “oldest and best manuscripts omit this verse” (Matthew 17:21) or “oldest and best manuscripts read he who instead of God” (1 Tim. 3:16). But this is misleading, because what they should say, in the majority of cases, is that one or two or at most a handful of old manuscripts make these changes whereas the vast majority of manuscripts read the same as the Received Greek New Testament underlying King James Bible. The Old Scofield Reference Bible, though based on the King James Bible, contains marginal notes supporting the modern critical text.

2. Study Bibles Can Contain Heretical Notes. Another problem with reference Bibles is that many of them contain false or misleading notes. As with commentaries, the student must be careful to “prove all things” (1 Thess. 5:21) and not merely believe everything that is written.

For example, Dake’s
Annotated Reference Bible, edited by Finis Jennings Dake and published in 1961, was written by a Pentecostal, and his theology is reflected in his comments. A pamphlet that accompanies the Bible from the publisher claims that Dake received his teaching by divine revelation. Dake teaches that there was a pre-Adamite world ruled by Lucifer between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, that healing is guaranteed for the Christian, that tongues are for today, that the believer can lose his salvation, that God has a body, that each member of the Trinity has his own soul and spirit, that God created the races to “reproduce after their kind,” and many other fanciful and false things.

Another example is the
New Oxford Annotated Bible, edited by Bruce Metzger and Herbert May. It is filled with heretical modernistic notes. The notes claim that the Pentateuch is “a matrix of myth, legend, and history.” The worldwide flood of Noah’s day is said to be a mere “tradition” based on “heightened versions of local inundations.” The book of Job is called an “ancient folktale.” The book of Isaiah supposedly was written by at least three men. Jonah is called a “popular legend.” The HarperCollins Study Bible is also filled with this type of modernistic comments.

The notes in the
New Jerusalem Bible and New American Bible contain Roman Catholic heresies. For example, they say that Matthew 16:18 refers to the pope.


Following are some of helpful reference Bibles:

Cambridge Concord Wide Margin Bible

It features wide margins on all four sides, cross references, concordance, maps, and 56 blank pages for notes.

KJV Classic Wide Margin Study Bible

This is an Old Scofield Bible with wide margins. It features cross references, a helpful concordance, a chain reference system that follows topics through the Bible, dates of events at the top of each column, paragraph headings, and notes and comments from a dispensational perspective.

The erroneous gap theory is taught in Genesis 1, and there are notes promoting the critical Greek New Testament.

The Thompson Chain Reference Bible

The Thompson has cross references and marginal notes, an analysis of every book of the Bible, extensive topical studies, biographical studies, a harmony of the Gospels, a Bible atlas, and a concordance.

There is very little space to write your own notes, and it is a large Bible and thus difficult to carry. The cross references are linked to the topical system and are not as simple and straightforward as those in other reference Bibles. The
Thompson views the book of Revelation as history rather than prophecy.

The King James Study Bible

This is published by Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and was previously called the Liberty Annotated Study Bible.

It has good cross references, concordance, color maps, a harmony of the Gospels, conservative introductions to each book, doctrinal studies, prophecies, the miracles and parables of Christ, archaeological research proving the accuracy of the Bible, weights and measures, and biographies. The notes are written from a baptistic, non-Calvinist, dispensational, pre-tribulational viewpoint.

There are some critical notes, such as the one at Daniel 3:25, which says, “like the Son of God” - “Or a son of the gods,” or the one at Mark 16:9-20, which says, “Ancient manuscripts contain two different endings for Mark. .. In light of the uncertainty attached to verses 9-20, it may be advised to take care in basing doctrine upon them...”

The KJV Common Man’s Reference Bible

It has 60,000 cross references, dates, 3,000 footnotes and study notes, chapter headings, color maps, and wide margins on all four sides.

Large Print Wide Margin Reference Bible by Hendrickson Publishers

It has a cross references, a concordance, and wide margins on three wides of the text.

copyright 2013, Way of Life Literature

- Receive these reports by email
- "About" David Cloud


Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family, but they cannot be posted to web sites. You are also welcome to use excerpts from the articles in your writings, in sermons, in church bulletins, etc. All we ask is that you give proper credit. Things we do not want copied and distributed freely are items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18).

Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.

Offering: We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications. We seek offerings only from those who are helped. OFFERINGS can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: