Using BibleGateway.com (BG) for personal study of the Scriptures gives you an equivalent situation for effective Bible study – ways to open up the subject and reveal more that you might not have otherwise seen. BG has a host of features you can use in daily Bible study, and many of these work like lenses you would use on a fine camera:
Standard Lens: Photographers use standard lenses for general use. They are quick and give a clear overview when special effects are not needed. In the same way, just calling up a Bible verse, chapter or book on BG can give you quick access to its basic message. And that’s a good perspective – it’s the primary way the Bible was designed to be read and should never be neglected. Besides, BG gives you some useful bells and whistles to help with this: you can highlight sections for future study (and, unlike printed Bibles, change the highlight whenever you wish) and also add and save notes as thoughts come to you in your reading.
Wide Angle Lens: That’s what photographers use when they want to get a wider view – get more details into the picture by “stretching the screen.” You can do that in BG study by setting up the page with a number of translations side by side to see extra details that you would have missed using just one translation. Simply click the “Add parallel” button (looks like two pages side by side) above and to the right of the scripture to add more translations – it’s as easy as clicking a shutter button!
Close-Up Lens: You have doubtless seen some of the amazing pictures people take of flowers and insects using a close-up or macro lens. Once you enter a keyword, topic or Bible passage in the BG search box, you can click the blue “STUDY THIS” button at the top right of the scripture to take a close-up look at a verse or chapter in some of the available commentaries. You may be amazed at the details and insights a good commentary can add that you wouldn’t have seen without that close-up “lens.”
Telephoto Lens: Photographers use these lenses not only to bring distant objects up close, but also for taking portraits. On BG use the “Keyword search” feature (under “BIBLE” on the black drop-down menu tab at the top left of the page) to see scriptures on specific topics from the beginning of the Bible to its end. Or, just like focusing a lens, you can set this feature to “focus” on the Old or New Testament or specific books or groups of books. You may be studying the Book of Acts, but the keyword search will pull up a relevant scripture that may be quite distant from where you are studying. This feature is also good for “portraits”: use the keyword search like a telephoto lens to give a good view of all the scriptures on a biblical person you may want to see more clearly.
Zoom Lens: These lenses are so popular because they give many of the benefits of the individual lenses – you can let the lens show close-up details or a wide view depending on what is appropriate. That’s great when you don’t want to have to change lenses all the time and don’t need to focus on just one part of the “focal range.” With BG you do this simply by selecting and using some of the devotionals (under the “STUDY” tab at the top left of the page). The devotionals are carefully selected and many have done much of the preliminary work for you, so they may move quickly from a small detail such as the meaning of a word to wider, overall concepts.
So take advantage of the different “lenses” BG makes available to you to enhance your personal study of the Scriptures. And remember, unlike expensive camera lenses, BG is free. Photographers are known for telling people to smile, but BG’s free and varied features are something to make you smile.