Best Study Bibles for Preachers and Pastors

Most Preachers and Pastors use basic Bibles for preaching and teaching, but study Bibles are a great resource for sermon and classroom preparation, and counseling duties that Ministers often face… and they can make great preaching Bibles. Here is a list of study Bibles that I find the most useful for these tasks. As always, I cannot give a blanket recommendation on the accuracy of study notes as they all have a bias (even mine would have a bias). I still find them to be great resources. They’re in no particular order.

NOTE- this has become our most popular article. It was originally meant to provide a short list, but due to its popularity we’ve decided to add to it and expand the information. Please be patient as we perform these updates. 


ESV Study Bible (ESV)

Crossway ESV Study Bible 026

25,000 notes, 80,000 cross references, 50 articles, 200 full-color maps, 200 charts, word studies, concordance, 9-point font.

Buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble | See Review

Holman Study Bible (HCSB, KJV, NKJV)

Holman HCSB Study Bible 017

24 essay’s, 408 word studies, 100+ color photos, topical concordance, commentary, etc.

Buy from Amazon| See Review

Thompson Chain Reference (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV)

Thompson Chain Reference Bible KJV 007

Rather than commentary, the Thompson Chain Reference has topical chains that run throughout the Bible. It also has topical lists in the back and an archaeological supplement. I consider it a ‘study Bible’ and not a ‘commentary Bible’ or ‘study Bible with commentary notes’. It still has lots of useful study tools.

Buy from Amazon, Books-A-Million | See Review

Keyword Study Bible (KJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, NKJV)

Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible ESV 011

The primary focus of this Bible is Hebrew and Greek word studies. This is the only study Bible available that I’m aware of that has Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionaries in the back.

Buy from Amazon | See ESV Review, NKJV Review

Holman Minister’s Bible (KJV, HCSB)

Like the Hendrickson, the Holman doesn’t have commentary, but instead has Ministerial helps in the back. This one is giant print with wider margins for notes.

Buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble | See Review

Hendrickson Ministry Essentials Bible (NIV, KJV)


This one has lots of articles throughout the Bible on many ministerial topics.

Buy from Amazon| See NIV Review, KJV Review


Editions to be added

Word Study Bible

Fire Bible

Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

Zondervan NIV Study Bible

Study Bible Alternatives – Reference Editions

These Bibles are excellent alternatives to Study Bibles. They provide reference tools and are great for study, carry, and ministry.

R.L. Allan Longprimer (KJV)

The Longprimer has a great 37-page subject index in the back that I’ve found useful for writing and sermon prep. It has a 10-point font and is a contender for my favorite Bible of all time.

Longprimer 002

Longprimer 025


Click here for full review: R.L. Allan Longprimer (KJV)

Click here to buy from

Click here to buy from

Cambridge Concord (KJV)

The Concord has a 128-page Bible dictionary that I’ve used many times for looking up something when I’m out somewhere. It also has a glossary of words that have changed meaning or are no longer in use. It’s the perfect size for my hands and for carry. It has an 8-point font that nice and bold.

Concord Calf Split 082

Concord Calf Split 061

Click here for full review: Cambridge Concord (KJV)

Click here to buy from Amazon: Cambridge Concord

Click here to buy from EvangelicalBible: Cambridge Concord

Foundation Topical Reference (NASB)

This one has a topical index with 255 pages and 20,000 topics, and a 210-page dictionary/concordance/thesaurus. It’s about a mid-size Bible with an 8-point font that’s sharp and readable.

Foundations Topical Reference Bible NASB 002

Foundations Topical Reference Bible NASB 009

Click here for full review: Foundation Topical Reference (NASB)

Buy from Amazon: NASB Topical Reference

Cambridge Clarion Series

The KJV edition of the Clarion has a combination concordance/dictionary called the Reader’s Companion. It works better as a dictionary than a concordance because it doesn’t give you any snippets of the verses, so you just have to go look them up to see if they’re what you’re looking for. I would still rather have it than just a concordance. This is about my favorite size and layout. I wish it had the section headings and layout of the NKJV edition but it’s still one of the best KJV’s available and the Reader’s Companion is good to have for study and sermon prep. It has 8.75 font and line-matching. The paragraph format is my favorite for reading. The paper could be more opaque, but the line-matching helps readability.

Cambridge Clarion Bible KJV IMG_1786

Cambridge Clarion Bible KJV 131

Click here for full reviews:

Cambridge Clarion (KJV)


Click here to buy from Amazon: Cambridge Clarion

Click here to buy from EvangelicalBible: Cambridge Clarion

Cambridge Pitt Minion Series

The 2nd edition KJV Pitt Minion has the same Reader’s Companion as the Clarion. With a 6.75 font it might not be my first choice for study and sermon prep, but it’s a great choice for carry.

Cambridge KJV Pitt Minion Bible 029

Cambridge KJV Pitt Minion Bible 021

Click here for full reviews:

Cambridge Pitt Minion (KJV)

Click here to buy from Amazon: Cambridge Pitt Minion

Click here to buy from EvangelicalBible: Cambridge Pitt Minion

R.L. Allan Brevier Clarendon (KJV)

The Clarendon has a 324-page cyclopedic concordance that’s great for looking up something and finding it fast.It’s a combination topical index, dictionary, and concordance. There is a lot of archaeological information as well. This is a small hand-size Bible but still has an 8-point font.

R. L. Allan Brevier Clarendon 007

R. L. Allan Brevier Clarendon 012

Click here for full review: R.L. Allan Brevier Clarendon (KJV)

Click here to buy from Bibles-Direct: Brevier Clarendon in Brown Vachetta Calfskin



Compact Minister’s Bible

No Longer in Print

These Bibles are no longer in print but if you can find them they’re worth considering. Some may be available in digital form.

Archaeological Study Bible (NIV, KJV)


This is my favorite study Bible. Rather than notes on Theology, its notes are on history. It does a great job of proving the accuracy and inerrancy of Scripture. 520 articles, 500 color photos, cultural facts, archaeological notes.

Buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble | See Review

Hendrickson Minister’s Bible (KJV, NKJV, NIV)

Hendrickson NKJV Minister’s Bible 005

This one doesn’t have any commentary in the text. Instead, it has Minister’s helps in the back. It has several articles on key Ministerial duties such as funerals (I used it for this), grief counseling, weddings, etc. It’s now out of print and might be difficult to find.

Buy from Amazon | See Review

Did we miss your favorite? Is there something you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments.

Updated 9/16/2017

Updated 11/1/2016

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there's also that author thing.


  1. Don Denison

    Dear Randy:

    The problem with study bibles to me is that the notes are often prejudicial, and tend to set one’s mind in one direction depending on the notes. You would think though ministers could use these aids in preparation and study without falling prey to the agendas of the writers of the notes. Still, the bible itself is its own best interpreter, given a enough cross references, a good concordance, dictionary, time and industry, the results I believe are superior. If one gets really stuck, a few notes in a bible won’t help, a good comprehensive commentary is required, after doing the other work first. Just as the maps in the back of the bible are not sufficient as an atlas, the notes along with the text won’t work as well as first study, comparing references, then visiting a trusted commentary. My opinion.

    Yours in Christ

    Don Denison

    • Ryan

      I believe that the another of the article covered these points. I’m not certain if you thoroughly read this page but I think your comment is confrontational and unnecessary.

    • Betty

      Amen to that. I agree

  2. Christopher Lewis

    I always keep my Thompson Chain Reference close to me.

  3. Pastor Ron Parish

    In my humble opinion, you left our one of the best study bibles I have ever had the pleasure of using. The Dake Reference Bible has been a steady companion of mine for over thirty years, and I never grow tired of looking at the depths of riches it holds.

    You certainly wrote of a good number of excellent study bibles, but the Dake is, by far, at the top of the list.

    I would love to own an ESV Study Bible, but the notes font is entirely too small for me. I don’t want to use a magnifying glass while studying the scriptures and topics.

    Blessings to you.

  4. Scot Schieferstein

    I would suggest the NIV Study Bible should also be close at hand because of its popularity.

    While there is no end these days to study Bibles there is value in being aware of which ones are being used within your congregation. If you are preaching on a passage and a congregant reads the note in their study Bible than it may indeed lead them on a path you don’t wish them to go down (during the sermon anyway). Thus, you need to acknowledge these notes and find a way to use it to refocus people on the Big Idea of your message not someone else’s footnote!!

  5. Pastor Dan Santos

    I must agree with above comment – Dake is one of the top study bibles all leaders should have.

  6. Romina Jules

    would like to purchase a study bible for preacher and paster cause i’m doing diciple course.i’m from seychelles

  7. pst.dominic

    pls,I need the best study bible

    • charles smith

      I would get the Reformation Heritage Study Bible that Joel Beeke puts out. Very Biblical Based Studies without the extra unproven errors of modern editors. Please if you see any Council of Church produced Bible don’t buy it and get out of their Church if they support them.

    • Palemoon4

      John 2:27King James Version (KJV)

      27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. ”
      Why would you need a mere man to teach you when you have the Holy Spirit to teach you? The best study Bible is the Word of God the Holy Bible-King James Version-1611 version!

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