Posted by: Ety W. | April 5, 2008

How To Do A Word Study

I think word studies are one of the things that make Bible study so exciting. When we approach the Bible with a deliberate and reasonable process, then word studies are an important part in how we accurately interpret a book or passage. Remember, interpretation asks, “What does it mean?” Word studies help answer that question.

I believe it is fairly common knowledge that the Old Testament was originally written primarily in Hebrew (with some Aramaic), and the New Testament in Koine Greek. Any translation into another language is therefore somewhat subject to the translators’ interpretation of the meanings of the words and how they are being used. To understand the author’s intended meaning, we need to do a word study. This enables us to determine the meaning of the original Hebrew or Greek word. From this and the context, we can better understand what the author wants to say.

Tools: Word studies do require tools. The basics are a concordance and a dictionary.

A concordance gives an alphabetical listing of all the words used in the Bible. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is probably the most well known, but there are others. Strong’s should be available at any Christian bookstore. A Strong’s Concordance is included in an Online Bible Study Tool at, you simply need to select one of “Strong’s Versions” from the drop-down “using” menu.

By dictionary I mean a language dictionary for Greek or Hebrew. While a concordance will give a brief definition of a word, a good dictionary will give an expanded definition. Good choices are:

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. The old standby. Most editions are keyed to Strong’s. Available at most Christian bookstores, there is also an online version of Vine’s.

The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates (1992, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN). This is the one I use most. Companioned with The Complete Word Study New Testament, which features the Greek section of Strong’s concordance, it combines quite a few word study tools.

Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament; Harris, Archer, and Waltke; 1980; Moody Press, Chicago. Often abbreviated TWOT, this is two volumes. An index in the back of the second volume keys all words to Strong’s. It should be available from most Christian bookstores.

The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament. Also from AMG Publishers. This is the companion volume to The Complete Word Study Old Testament. I don’t have the OT dictionary yet, but it is at the top of my “must get” list.


1. Start with your concordance. It is divided into three sections: English, Hebrew, and Greek.

2. In the English section, find the word you want to look up. Strong’s uses the King James Version. If you’re using Strong’s and another version, you will need to find the same word in KJV first.

3. In the middle column, find the scripture reference for the word you’re researching.


Using “likewise” from Titus 2:3 as an example, we find it in the alphabetical English section, and then look for our scripture reference in the middle column. (In the listings, “likewise” is abbreviated as the letter L.) In the right hand column is the Strong’s number. You can see from this brief excerpt that there are several different numbers listed for “likewise.” This tells us that more than one Greek word was translated thus.

4. Note the Strong’s number and turn to the Greek dictionary in the back.

5. Look up that number in the dictionary.


Here is “likewise,” found in the Greek section of Strong’s. Note that it gives us:

a. The Greek word, the English transliteration (Greek characters translated into equivalent English ones), and the pronunciation.

b. “from ….. ;” tells us something about the origin of the word.

c. A brief definition is in italics.

d. After the punctuation mark, :– , are other ways in which the same Greek word has been translated in the KJV.

TROUBLESHOOTING – If the definition makes absolutely no sense, check to make sure you are in the correct section (Greek or Hebrew)! 🙂

6. For an expanded definition, use your Vine’s or other dictionary. Most of them are coded to Strong’s numbers, so it is easy to look up the correct word.

I also looked up “likewise” in the Bible Study Tool at

I typed in the word I was searching for and made my selections from the dro-down menus. Then I clicked “Find.” My results are below.


This online tool appears to combine concordance, dictionary, and lexicon. Additionally, it enables the viewer to hear the word pronounced in Greek. It offers 13 standard translations to choose from as well as Strong’s in either King James or New American Standard. I have to admit however, that I am a hard copy book person when it comes to Bible study, even though this online tool offers a lot of easy access information.Content copyright 2008 by If you find it anywhere else, it’s been stolen.
If you have any questions about this, please ask. I’ll answer them the best I can.

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