Remember, the books listed are considered reliable references, but they are NOT in any way equal to God's Word. Therefore, never replace your time in the Word with time in one of these books. God does not promise to bless your time in any other book but His Own. There is a danger, even an unhealthy tendancy today in the church, to spend more time in books about the Bible than in the Bible itself! All of these are written by fallible people and therefore, all conclusions and application must be compared to Scripture. A good perspective is to see these books as aides to help you gain insight and understanding of the Word, which you have already read.
Always remember, our goal is to teach the Bible, not teach a Bible study, and the difference can be eternal.
Reference Category Definitions:
These books are great for looking up specific topics, definitions, aiding in determining context, and cultural references. These are recommended to be used to look up specific information as opposed to leading a Bible study from them. Many of these are used as textbooks at various seminaries.
Of the categories, these books are the most in depth in studying the Bible. These are focused on the text. Typically, these are direct studies of specific books of the Bible. These books break Scripture down and have various levels of questions and comments. Typically, a small group study guide accompanies these books if they are not included in the book itself.
This category is the second most focused on Scripture. These are typically topic based, such as suffering or marriage, etc. These books typically take a broad look at Scripture about a specific topic and bring conclusions and applications by looking at several Scripture references. These books vary in depth and complexity. Typically, they have a study guide to accompany the book which are developed with small groups in mind. Also, these books can be used by the leader to help teach a certain topic, even if the book itself is not being taught.
These books are similar to the category above, but typically a little less in depth and/or do not have a study guide to accompany it. These books typically take a broad look at Scripture about a specific topic and bring conclusions and applications by looking at several Scripture references. These books vary in depth and complexity. These books can be used by the leader to help teach a certain topic, even if the book itself is not being taught.
Practical BookThese books are not considered Bible studies and may not even reference any Bible verses, but their teaching is in line with Biblical principles and we believe they are accurately applied. A good general example is "Bringing Up Boys" from Dr. James Dobson from Focus on the Family. This category is not recommended to lead a SG study on, but great resources to refer people to who need some practical advice concerning a specific subject.