Accordance Bible Study –– 3. Word Studies
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Sample Accordance Bible Study

K. Allison Brannon

Introduction to Dictionaries

In the last article, we looked at the Atlas and put the text of Mark 1:1-11 on the map, discovering where those events took place, what the land is like, and more. Going back farther, we have also put the text into context, read it in several translations, and looked up important facts about it using Bible Notes. But sometimes you need more than just the context of a story or the location in which it took place in order to fully understand and appreciate everything that is taking place within it. A keen understanding of the key words within the story, the way they were used and their exact meanings sheds a great deal of light on a given text. One way to approach the task of understanding the words precisely is by using Accordance's resources, which can give you access to many English dictionaries.

Why Use Dictionaries?

If you already know the meaning of the words in the passage, why would you want to take the time to look them up? Many times, the dictionaries provide more information that just a literal definition of the word in question. Looking up repentance for example, we find that repentance has to do with literally changing one's mind, consciously turning from sin and to God. This nuance is important; with the standard working definition that may come to mind, it would be easy to miss aspects of the word that matter in passages such as this. When John is calling people to repentance, then, he is calling them from their sin, but also to God.

By clicking on the Scripture links found in the dictionary entries, we can see other passages in the Bible wherein God or a prophet calls people from sin and to God. We gain a fuller view of the context and understand what these words meant to those who first heard them when we see other uses of the word in the Bible.

Basics of the Dictionaries

The English dictionaries are found under English Tools in the Library. You may have several different options to choose from; just click the triangle next to English Tools to open the folder and see your options.

There are two ways to access the dictionaries. You can open one, type in the word you want to search for, and hit Enter. This option is useful in such cases as the word baptizing in Mark 1:4. Instead of looking up baptizing, look up baptism for a much more informative result. Open a dictionary (this example uses the NIV Dictionary) and search for baptism. You will see the word in red, and the definition following. You will also see links to various Scriptures that pertain to baptism. Placing the cursor over a reference displays the first verse in the Instant Details box. Clicking on a reference link opens up a text window so you can read the verse. Try looking up other words in the passage, such as confession, or Spirit. Be sure to try other dictionaries as well.

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(click image to see at full size)

 

An easier way to look up the words you want to see is by selecting them one at a time in the original search window and then opening the dictionary of your choice. Accordance calls this "amplifying." Your highlighted word will be automatically searched for, and the results displayed below. This is a convenient option for words that are already in the proper format, such as forgiveness, repentance, and love. Again, try this feature with several words, making sure to click on links to Scriptures that seem pertinent.

English Word Searches

What if you want to look up every place in the entire Bible that the word baptism occurs? Accordance makes this function very easy, and it will add depth to your study of the Bible to find other places that the same words are used. To do this, simply click the Search for: Words button at the top of your search window. Then type the word in the dialog box and click OK. Accordance will display all verses with that word in them; the selected word will be in red. You will see near the top of the window how many hits the word received, and you can scroll through them, or skip through by verse, chapter, or book by using the arrows at the bottom.

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Defining the Range

If you want to look up only verses within the New Testament, or only within the book of Romans, it is easy to define a range and narrow your search. Click on the More Options button (). Go to the pop-up menu that reads [All Text] and choose Define Range.

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Then write the name of the range you want to define (for example: New Testament, Romans, etc). Under Definition, enter Mat-Rev, or Rom, etc. Click Verify, and then Update, and your new range is set. Go back to the search window and search for your word in whatever range you chose. Simple!

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One More Trick

If you want to look up all forms of a word (like repent, repentance, repenting, etc), enter the root of the word (repent), followed by an asterisk (*). Then hit OK. This will bring up all words that begin with repent- and display them for you. If you want to perform an even more sophisticated search, use Enter Command under the Search Menu. This will allow you to search for combinations of words in verses, words that do not have other specific words in the same verse, and more. The Enter Symbol option gives you more choices still. The possibilities are almost inexhaustible.

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Conclusion

By looking up the key words of a passage in various dictionaries, you get a good idea of the meaning and usage of those words. If you search for other places in the Bible where those words are used, you will get an even fuller understanding. Accordance makes these operations easy and quick, and by using these basic functions, you will expand your knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures exponentially.

(Article content and images updated September 2013)

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