How to Use a Strong’s Concordance

If you’ve done much Bible study you have surely run across Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. It is a great book. But, being familiar with Strong’s and knowing how to use Strong’s may be two very different things for you.

Strong's book coverTwo Main Uses

There are two main ways to use a Strong’s Concordance. One is to use it to help you find verses where you know one of the words in the verse. The other primary use is finding information about a word in your Bible that you are interested in.

Find Verses When You Know a Word

If you know any word that appears in a verse you are able to find the verse you want using a Strong’s Concordance. This is assuming at least two things: you actually know the word and not a mis-remembered derivative, and that the word is in the King James Version of the Bible. Strong’s contains every word in the King James Bible. Knowing any word in the verse will help you find the verse, but it is much easier to do if you pick a less common word.

If, for example, we wanted to find the verse that said something like, “effectual fervent prayer” does something. Maybe I don’t remember the rest of the verse, but I can at least remember these three words. Prayer is probably the most common of the three words. So looking up “effectual” or “fervent” would probably yield few results. (They each occur fewer than 10 times).

In the front section of a Strong’s Concordance (which is about 1/2 the book) is list of all the words in the Bible. Look up the word “effectual” (or “fervent”) and see if you can find a verse that fits the one you were looking for. Once you do you can find that the reference is for James 5:16.

Find More Information About a Word

As you are reading in your Bible you may come across a word that you would like to know more about. Maybe you suspect that it is related to another word. Or, you aren’t sure you understand the definition of a word. While Strong’s Concordance is not necessarily a dictionary, it is a good place to start in learning about a word. You are able to look at all the ways that same Hebrew or Greek word is translated in the Bible and get a very good picture of what the word means.

To do this you first find the word you are interested in. This is done the same way as above when looking for a verse. Find the word alphabetically listed in the first part of the concordance. Then find the listing for the verse where your word appears. Take note that the English word you are looking at may fit several original words. You have to look through the columns to find the exact reference for the word you are interested in.

Over to the side margin of the column where the word and its reference appears will be a number. If you are in the Old Testament, the word will be translated from Hebrew. Therefore the number you see in the margin will point you to the Hebrew section of the concordance. If your word comes from the New Testament, then the number will appear in the Greek section of the book. It is important to know which section to look in because most of the numbers can be found in 2 places. You need to pay attention to whether the word is a Hebrew or Greek word.

Once you find the number corresponding to the word that interests you, then you can find the word in the corresponding section towards the back of Strong’s. Now look at all the different ways that word can be translated. You will also see what that word is related to. Looking up a couple of parent words may give you a broader understanding of the original word.

It is an interesting study to find a word and trace every use of that word in the Bible. Strong’s can help you do that.

An Easier Way

While knowing how to use the paper book is helpful, there is a much easier way to get this information. There are many good apps for phones or tablets that contain all the standard Strong’s information. The app I use is called MySword for Android. There are certainly many apps for iPhones and Windows phones that also contain Stronhg’s information. If I am at my computer, my website of choice for looking up Strong’s numbers and explanations is BlueLetterBible. It gives you many more tools to choose from besides Strong’s. There are some great Bible dictionaries there too.

Strong’s Dictionary

While I said that the Strong’s Concordance is not a dictionary, James Strong did write one for us. I have never used a paper copy of this book, but I am sure this is equivalent to the information I get in the tools from MySword and BlueLetterBible.

I enjoyed teaching this information to a Sunday School class this weekend and thought you might enjoy it too.

Alliteration: Helpful or Not?

I have a love-hate relationship with alliteration. Mostly hate. I am talking about when alliteration is used in sermon outlines and Sunday school lessons. I see the value in alliteration in poetry—when applied by a skilled writer.

Meaning

Typically we think of alliteration as the use of the same beginning letter for the points in a message. This can be a consonant or vowel sound, though most of the time it is a consonant sound. Also, alliteration is usually related to the sound of the words. It is not necessary that the letters themselves be the same.

Memory

One of the benefits to alliteration is that it can actually be helpful in remembering the points of a message. There have been studies that show there is greater and quicker recall of information when paired with alliteration.

Manhandle

However, if words are manhandled to make them fit an alliteration scheme, then the whole idea usually does not work as well as the speaker or writer would hope. An example of this is the Sunday school lesson I am studying for tomorrow. There are 14 pages of notes! The short version of the notes—which will be handed out to the students—has 4 big points and 4 sub-points under each one. All of these points are alliterated to each set of 4 on their outline level. That makes 16 words that are alliterated. With that many words that are supposedly important, I doubt anyone will walk out of class tomorrow with the ability to remember even the 4 big points.

Manipulate

In my recent study of the book of James I looked at outlines written by various authors. Many of them had an alliterated outline. Certainly there is nothing wrong with alliteration if it stays true to the text. But some of these outlines seem to manipulate the meaning of the text so that the author can keep his cute alliteration.

Multivocal

Alliteration is also not helpful as a memory tool when the speaker uses an obscure or marginal word that the listeners aren’t going to remember anyway. By the way, multivocal means “having more than one meaning.” The fact that I had to look the word up and then have to explain it should be a sign that it is a terrible word to use for alliteration purposes.

Main Message

I am not totally against alliteration. I use it myself sometimes. But it should not be forced to the point that you obscure the meaning of your message. And certainly the meaning of the Bible text should never be manipulated just so that it will fit with your alliteration.

[Yes, I intentionally did some bad alliteration with my paragraph headings. I would be curious as to how you might alliterate the points in this article: either better or painfully worse. Leave a comment below with your alliteration or comments on the subject.]

James: Key Verses

Each chapter in the book of James has a two to four themes. If you want to learn the content of the book of James you can learn the themes along with key verses which will help you know what is contained in each chapter and in the book.

I would encourage you to commit these verses to memory. Learning key verses for books of the Bible will help you know what is contained in the book. And, in this case, each of these verses will give you a greater idea of what is in each chapter.

James 1

Greeting — James 1:1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

Trails and Temptations — James 1:12

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Doers and Not Hearers Only — James 1:22

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 2

Partiality — James 2:1

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

Faith Without Works — James 2:14

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

James 3

Controlling the Tongue — James 3:5

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

Wisdom — James 3:17

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

James 4

Worldliness — James 4:4

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Judging One Another — James 4:11

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

Boasting About Future — James 4:14

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

James 5

Warnings to the Rich — James 5:1

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Patience in Afflictions — James 5:8

Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Prayer — James 5:16

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Wandering Christians — James 5:20

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Image with link to a memory course for the book of James.While I have listed these as the key verses to help you learn the topics in each chapter, there could be other verses that you may find to be better in helping you remember each chapter’s content. If you do have another verse that you prefer, post that in the comments below. I am curious as to what stands out as important to others.

For the most part, this list came from a memorization course on the book of James that I am doing. Check out the Master of Memory course if you would like to memorize the book as well.

Why Memorize Bible Verses?

Memorizing Bible Verses: Why is it important?

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1:8

Here are seven areas where memorizing the Bible can help us to grow spiritually. You don’t have to memorize whole books of the Bible to benefit from Bible memorization. You should always be learning new verses that God can use in your life.

Aids in Spiritual Growth

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

God’s Word will help you grow spiritually mature when you allow it to permeate your thinking.

Helps When Fighting Temptation

Matthew 4:1-10

Our Lord Jesus quoted verses from the Old Testament to resist the various temptations of Satan.

Fills Our Mind With Spiritual Thoughts

Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8

Our minds are transformed by thinking on the pure Word of God.

Shows Our Love for the Lord

John 14:15, 21

We show our love by obeying His commands. We must learn God’s Word and make them a part of our life so that we know what it is He expects of us.

Keeps Us From Sin

Psalm 119:9, 11

Hiding God’s Word in our heart will keep sin from staining our hands.

Prepares Us to Speak for the Lord

1 Peter 3:15

The world is seeking an answer for the hope that we have. It is transmitted when we are able to share God’s Word with them.

Teaches Us to be Mature Christians

2 Timothy 3:15-17

The list started with spiritual growth and ends with spiritual maturity. God’s Word in our hearts and minds is what brings that transition in our lives.

Ask the Lord to help you in memorizing verses. Learn what they mean and you will be surprised as to how often the Holy Spirit gives you opportunity to apply those verses in you life.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16

I’ve been reading The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee lately. It is a very readable commentary of the book of Romans, though it is not intended to be comprehensive nor verse-by-verse. Nee has practical illustrations which make biblical principles of living the Christian life come alive. After each illustration (of which some people complain are too numerous in Nee’s writings) I sit back and think, “why haven’t I seen the simplicity of that before?”

To give you a taste of the book, here are a few passages that stood out to me as I read chapter 8 today. The chapter is about the indwelling and empowering on the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.

Because the Lord Jesus died on the cross, I have received forgiveness of sins; because the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, I have received new life; because the Lord Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of the Father, I have received the outpoured Spirit. All is because of Him; nothing is because of me. Remission of sins is not based on human merit, but on the Lord’s crucifixion; regeneration is not based on human merit, but on the Lord’s resurrection; and the enduement of the Spirit is not based on human merit, but on the Lord’s exaltation. The Holy Spirit has not been poured out on you and me to prove how great we are, but to prove the greatness of the Son of God.

Book cover, The Normal Christian LifeSome time ago a young man, who had only been a Christian for five weeks and who had formerly been violently opposed to the Gospel, attended a series of meetings which I was addressing in Shanghai. At the close of one in which I was speaking on the above lines [Acts 2:32-36], he went home and began to pray earnestly, “Lord, I do want the power of the Holy Spirit. Seeing Thou hast now been glorified, wilt Thou not now pour out Thy Spirit upon me?” Then he corrected himself: “Oh no, Lord, that’s all wrong!” and began to pray again, “Lord Jesus, we are in a life-partnership, Thou and I, and the Father has promised us two things—glory for Thee and the Spirit for me. Thou, Lord hast received they glory; therefore it is unthinkable that I have not received the Spirit. Lord, I praise Thee! Thou hast already received the glory, and I have already received the Spirit.” From that day the power of the Spirit was consciously upon him.

As soon as we see the Lord Jesus on the cross, we know our sins are forgiven; and as soon as we see the Lord Jesus on the throne, we know the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon us. The basis upon which we receive the enduement of the Holy Spirit is not our praying and fasting and waiting, but the exaltation of Christ. Those who emphasize tarrying and hold “tarrying meetings” only mislead us, for the gift is not for the “favored few” but for all, because it is not given on the ground of what we are at all, but of what Christ is.

In the same way, you can pray and wait for years and never experience the Spirit’s power; but when you cease to plead with the Lord to pour out His Spirit upon you, and when instead you trustfully praise Him that the Spirit has been poured out because the Lord Jesus has been glorified, you will find that your problem is solved. Praise God!

It is wonderful to know that my relationship with God does not depend on my ability. Rather, the benefits He has promised are mine because of His faithfulness.

This is the first Watchman Nee book that I’ve read (as far as I remember). I have been pleased with his ability to explain things in a simple manner. You can find many more Watchman Nee titles at the Amazon author page for him.

[Some of the word capitalizations have been changed in the quotes above to reflect my preference capitalizing pronouns for deity and not capitalizing certain nouns.]

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