MacArthur Study Bible (Book Review)

9781433504006I’ve been asked to review the Bible.  Um, okaaaay.

Being asked to do a book review of the Bible is a tricky proposition. Honestly, how do you move forward with a task like that? The Word has existed forever – even before time began. It was written by God himself not for us to criticize, but to soak in and live by. To be critical of the writing of the Creator of the universe would be as dangerous an act as I can think of.

So, I politely declined the offer to do the book review.

“No, no, you don’t understand” they said. “We want you to review the MacArthur Study Bible – the notes and stuff, not the actual Word of God.”

“Oh…” I replied. “Well in that case, do I get a free copy?”

When opening up the beautiful, leather bound copy of the MacArthur Study Bible, it was so full of notes, I didn’t get to the book of Genesis until 27 pages in.

Sure, you have the typical table of contents, but then you have a list of charts and maps you’ll be able to find throughout the book, an introduction to The Bible itself, personal notes from John MacArthur and an incredibly impressive section on how exactly the Holy Bible came to exist in the first place – which is worth “the price of admission” I would say, if I were reviewing a film rather than a book. As a Christian I’ve had so many non-believers with their own ideas of how the Bible came to be, and how it was in error because man wrote it, and I never had a good answer for those questions and arguments. Having the history of the publishing process, the revelation of God, the inspiration from God, how the various books were chosen (the canonicity) and how the scriptures have been preserved over the centuries, will be useful to any believer wanting to know not only what he believes, but why he believes it.

As this is a study Bible, John MacArthur even takes a few pages to tell you how to study the Bible – something else that will come in mighty handy for anyone who feels anxious about the idea of studying the Holy Word.

The Bible itself comes in a variety of translations, which you can see from the website. The one I am using in this review is the English Standard Version, so it is extremely easy to read and understand even for those who have never picked up a Bible in their lives.

Whenever I pick up a new Bible I am debating purchasing, I always turn to the book of Genesis first. Not only is it the first book of the Bible, but it’s also my favorite, so I’m anxious to see what kind of notes might be included.

This study Bible reminds me a bit of the Life Application Bible in how it is structured, with scripture at the top of the page, notes at the bottom, which I like very much. It’s very easy to follow. John MacArthur begins the book of Genesis with a two-page introduction and an outline. By his doing this, you have the opportunity to learn about the background and history of the world at the time the stories in Genesis take place, which can be very helpful in understanding the actions and decisions people make.

When I turned to the book of Genesis itself, I was presented with the first third of the page as scripture – and the bottom two-thirds filled with slightly smaller type and notes from John MacArthur with his thoughts about the passages themselves, cross-references, and more.

MacArthur took almost 100 words to explain the phrase “without form and void” (Genesis 1:2). He takes a full paragraph to explain the various definitions of “day” in the Bible, and how “first day” (Genesis 1:5) truly represents a literal 24-hour period.

For those more inclined to turn immediately to the New Testament, you will not be disappointed. John MacArthur gives the same treatment right from the beginning, with an introduction, an amazing historical chart, a separate introduction and historical chart for the Gospel themselves, and four and a half pages of introductory notes and outline just for the book of Matthew – all of this before you ever get to Matthew 1:1.

If you are someone who has been on milk for long enough and are ready for meat, the MacArthur Study Bible is certainly something you should consider taking a look at.

Feel free to register for a free leather copy of the MacArthur Study Bible right now (through October 5th, 2014) at

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