What is a Bible Concordance?
It is a tool, much like a dictionary, but whereas a dictionary helps you find the correct spelling of a word, a concordance can help you find the exact location of that term throughout the Bible. If you only know a small part of a verse but can't remember where it is, you can locate it by looking up one of the primary words in the verse. For example, you want to locate a particular verse about Trust.
You know Jesus said it. You know a few of the words in the verse, enough to recognize the phrase with the word 'trust' in it. But you don't know the specific book, chapter, or verse. This is exactly the purpose of a Concordance, and this is how it works. First, you would look up the word, "trust", and the Concordance will list all the uses of that word in the entire Bible with the Bible Books and verses beside each one. A Concordance lists the verses in the order that book appears in the Bible, Genesis first, and all through the Old Testament, then the New Testament books in order, all the way to Revelation. You will notice some books are missing, that's because the word "trust" does not appear anywhere in that book. So back to our specific search...
Obviously you know if Jesus said it, it's not in the Old Testament, so that limits the search by quite a lot. Now, you start looking in the concordance starting in Matthew-the first book of the New Testament, and you will see verses listed like this,
And in his name shall the Gentiles TRUST.
And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that TRUST in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your TRUST the true riches?
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye TRUST.
JOHN is the last of the four Gospels. After JOHN other writers discuss Jesus, but JOHN is the last book where Jesus is actually going to be speaking (that's why the red letters stop there). Jesus gets crucified at the end of John, so if you see it in Acts or anyplace further, Jesus wasn't talking. So that narrows your search to only the 4 verses above. You were looking for the verse where Jesus used the word TRUST, more specifically you wanted to quote the verse in your Sunday Study Class where the Bible talks about TRUST and money. You look through the choices, and there it is! Mark 10:24
"And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that TRUST in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!"
Searches just like that can be used over and over, for any word you need.
Which Concordance Is Best For Me?
Just as there are many Bibles, there are many concordances. A good way to decide which to choose is to think through the ways you would use a concordance.
A FEW THINGS A CONCORDANCE CAN AND CANNOT DO
- A concordance will list the places in your Bible (by chapter and verse as above) where you can locate a particular word or phrase.
A concordance will not itemize every single word in every single verse, for example it would be ridiculous to look up every use of the word "the", or "and". Otherwise, you will find every major word you need.
- There are concordances which are produced for particular Bible Versions or Translations, like the NIV Compact Concordance for the NIV Bible.
A concordance may not always work with multiple Bible translations. For example, using the word "begotten" your concordance would find John 3:16 in your KJV, NKJV, NASB, or AMPLIFIED Bible. However, you would not find it if you own the NIV or Message Bibles because those translations are modern language translations and the word "begotten" is not considered a modern language term. [See "Specific Version Concordances" below]
- A concordance can locate most Biblical terms wherever they appear.
Concordances have language limitations. Biblical language differs greatly from modern language.
- Many Bibles include a concordance in the back.
A concordance feature in a Bible saves time and keeps all your study in one book; however the concordance feature in your Bible handles only major terms, and will not provide all listings where the word appears. By comparison, a full-size concordance may include 50,000 entries, and can be over 2,000 pages, which obviously will not fit in the back few pages of most Bibles.
- Concordances contain tens of thousands of entries! That's no surprise considering the Bible has over 31,000 verses in it. The more
Concordances for Specific Bible Versions
- NIV Concordance
- KJV Concordance
- NASB Concordance
- Multiple Versions - NIV, KJV, NKJV, NCV
- KJV LARGE PRINT
- NLT Desktop Concordance
- TNIV Zondervan Concordance
- HCSB GIANT PRINT Concordance
- The Message Concordance
- Spanish Concordance re: "Españoles Concordancia"
Over the years The Strong's Exhaustive Concordance has distinguished itself as one of the premier concordance on the market. Dr. James Strong was formerly the Professor of Exegetical Theology at Drew Theological Seminary. He spent nearly forty years preparing this landmark concordance. The original Strong's Concordance was first published in 1890 with the help of more than one hundred of his colleagues, and today Strong's remains the definitive Bible Concordance compiled upon the King James Version. It highlights every single word of the particular version and lists where each word can be found in the Scriptures.
You will find that in many Study Bibles there are numbers above or beside certain words in the passage. Those numbers directly correspond to an entry in the Strongs Concordance. You will soon find that your Study Bible and your Strongs Exhaustive Concordance become inseparable, and that's a good thing. With that set of tools you can broaden the scope of your study even further. Some Concordances such as the New Strongs Guide to Greek and Hebrew Words also correspond with specific Greek or Hebrew Terms for those who want to go into more specific study of the original Biblical languages.
So, by using Concordance tools that focus on Greek and Hebrew you can do a word study on the meaning of any term the Apostle Paul used when he wrote the book of Galatians.
How To Use A Bible Concordance
The Apostle Paul wrote 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament, and he is a great example of how a great study Bible and an excellent concordance can be used together to better understand the nuances of Scripture. So when he wrote,
"...Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father..." It makes you wonder what he means by "evil world".
"Evil world..." What is that you wonder. Is it evil people, evil solar system, evil O-Zone layer? So you look up Galatians 1:14 in your Key Word Study Bible, and you see there is a little number above the word, "evil". That number is the number of that same word in any Strongs Concordance. Those concordances have all the terms numbered in order, so they're easy to find. When you find word  you discover that same word is used elsewhere, like in Matthew 1. Now, using your Study Bible and your Strongs Complete Word Study Concordance you find the word, read that section, and when you compare Matthew to Galatians, you get a lot more insight.
When you compare the two, you discover this explanation.
Before Paul became a follower of Christ, his name was Saul, Pharisee Rabbi Saul. Pharisees were the religious leaders of the time, and they enjoyed the privilege and power that role gave them. So when Christ taught the people that religion wasn't the way to God, the Pharisees became His strongest, loudest, and angriest objectors--the Pharisees--but not the people who were supposed to be their followers. The people heard what Jesus was teaching, and they watched with their own eyes as He healed the blind, and raised the dead, and multiplied a child's lunch to feed 5,000!
With every miracle and every lesson Jesus taught, the Pharisees could feel the power slipping from their grasp. How do you continue to convince people to listen to you, and follow your same old tired religion, when here was this man Who claims to be God... and worse than that - His teaching and miracles back up that claim! Ultimately the Pharisee's frustration turned to suspicion, and suspicion dissolved into fear; fear became anger, anger became hatred, and hatred rationalized violence. Which is how it happened that the Pharisees were the ones who conspired and lied to get Jesus crucified! They kept more people--full of religion--but empty of Christ. What could be more evil?
Was Paul thinking of his former life, and the Pharisees who were still leading people astray when he wrote "..evil world..", quite possibly so. That is how you use a Concordance along with a Study Bible to better understand what the Word of God is saying. You read the verse, then look up one word, then compare it to other verses with the same word, perhaps compare to other books written by the same author - throw in a little Bible history about the writer, and you begin to get the feeling there is more to the Bible than what you've been getting with just a quick reading of a phrase in a verse... and that's only two words, from one verse!
The set of Bible and Concordance make reading the Bible fun! You'll find yourself reading it more. You will find more value in the chapters and verses, and words and thoughts. And that's the whole idea. As you read and study the Bible more, you will discover that a handy quality Concordance will become an essential tool.