Considering my previous post on Bible study software and Bible study sites, I will now post the follow-up as promised with an evaluation of Bible study software. (Actually, this subject was the original purpose of the previous post with its contents intending to preface/footnote this, but you saw how that turned out).

What is the best Bible study software? This is not an easy question since it is loaded with the big question of purpose. I always answer this question with another question: What are you going to be using it for? This is the key, because not all Bible study software is equal to every task. To boil it down, there are a few types of software that I find valuable and worthy of consideration depending on your level of expertise and your purpose.

1. Bibleworks | Cost: $349

Strengths: Original language tools and search engine
Weaknesses: Not many works available and high learning curve

One out of ten:
User-friendly: 2
Original Language: 10
Library Building: 2
Search Engine: 10
Basic Bible Study: 8
Relevance of Reference Material: 9

Bibleworks is the program that I use the most. It is extremely powerful and can be intimidating to the new user. If you are computer savvy and able to figure out what all the buttons can do, then you will be fine. But if you are easily frustrated, wanting just some basics with essential navigation only, then you will find Bibleworks to be frustrating. Bible works is normally thought of as software for the most serious student of the Scriptures and for good reason. It has the most vestal, fastest, and most powerful search engine available outside of Accordance for Mac. It can do the most complex searches you can imagine or with a simple double click you can search any version of the Bible for a particular word. Once the navigation structure is mastered, you will not ever want it closed. All the most important versions of the Bible come standard and the original language lexicons (dictionary) are very good. It is almost worth the price the way it navigates the Louw-Nida Greek lexicon. I do wish that with a price tag of $349 it came standard with BDAG (the most important Greek Lexicon), but it does not. BDAG will cost you an extra $125. It will cost you $197 to purchase the BDAG and HALOT modules together.

Here is a look at its interface:

Don’t expect to build a library on Bibleworks. There will be no commentaries, self-help books, or even reference materials outside of those that contribute to the original language purpose. This is a pure study engine. I don’t know what I would do without it. In fact, I think that if I lost it, I might also lose my salvation.

If it is important to you, I know many of the people at Bibleworks and they are committed to the cause of Christ.

2. Logos | Cost: $149-1379.95

Strengths: User-friendly, mass resources available, and longevity in market (will be around for a long time)
Weaknesses: Search engine is slow and original language tools are clumsy

One out of ten:
User-friendly: 7
Original Language: 7
Library Building: 10
Search Engine: 4
Basic Bible Study: 8
Relevance of Reference Material: 9

Logos is the Microsoft of Bible study software . . . well kinda. In reality it is hard to believe that anyone else has stayed in business with the success and ingenuity of Logos. I also know the people at Logos and they are doing the right thing for the right reasons and doing it really well. Let’s cut to the chase. Logos is the best software for those who desire to build an online digital library. I really like Logos because it helps me save room in my office! Most publishers (besides Zondervan) publish their material in Logos format. You can build a library of thousands of good books and keep them on your computer. Late night studying and can’t find a commentary on 1 John? No problem. With Logos you can simply download one. It will cost you as much as the paper copy, but this sure does come in handy. It is also great to search for particular words or phrases. This is significant when you consider the time it saves when searching the dozens of commentaries or reference works for phrases like “slavery in the Old Testament.”

Here is a look at the interface:

The difficulty comes in knowing which version to buy. The cheapest does not have much but the free works that I expressed caution about in the previous post. You are going to have to spend some money here, but, in the end, it is really worth it. If money is a concern, I suggest you purchase one of the base versions like the Christian Home Library and adding The Essential IVP Reference Collection Version 2. As well, when you get a chance, I would add what I believe to be the most valuable resource in electronic format, The Complete Theological Journal Library. It costs some money, but when you consider that you get over 450 Years of theological, archaeological and apologetic journals, it is worth it. You can then build your reference and commentary library as needed.

Logos is not the best in dealing with original languages. The search engine while versatile is slow and difficult to navigate. It is simply not in the same league as Bibleworks. That is why I have both!

One final item that needs to be mentioned about Logos is its longevity. When spending this kind of money, you don’t want to have the possibility that the program will be bankrupt without any update in a year or two. This will not happen with Logos. They will be around for a long time.

3. PC Study Bible | Cost: $49-$899

Strength: User-friendly
Weakness: Original language and library

One out of ten:
User-friendly: 10
Original Language: 2
Library Building: 3
Search Engine: 6
Basic Bible Study: 8
Relevance of Reference Material: 2

I include Biblesoft’s PC Study Bible because it is the most user-friendly of the options. For those who are afraid that the learning curve for Bible software will be too high, I suggest you begin with PC Study Bible (although Logos has become more user-friendly). The biggest problem with PC Study Bible is that most of the reference materials are out of date and not too relevant. Most publishers are not looking to publish their works in PC Study Bible, therefore, I would not expect to expand your library too much here. In order to get PC Study Bible with some of the more important works, you have to spend quite a bit of money. If you are going to do this, I would just purchase Logos and have the expandable platform.

Here is a look at the interface:

In the end, unless you are incapable of learning how to use the software, I suggest that you start with some version of Logos as described above. For serious students of Scripture, I suggest that you add Bibleworks to your library next. From there, you can continue to build your library as Logos continues to expand. This way, with both Bibleworks and Logos, you will have the best of both worlds. Yes, it will take some investment, but it is very worth while if you are going to use it.

Please feel free to add your evaluation of the various software available. I certainly don’t have all the information and can only offer my opinions.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    11 replies to "What is the best Bible study software?"

    • Carrie Hunter

      Oh my. So much to choose from. Can i just stick with my Matthew Henry Commentary please? 😀

      Seriously though Michael. Thank you for taking the time to give such a detailed explanation of the software available. I think this will help those who desire to go deeper in the God’s Word.


    • C Michael Patton


    • richards

      i have wesley’s notes in pdf. Is that ok? 🙂

    • stevemoore

      A bit of a tangent, but somewhat related…

      I have seen and heard the comments about Matthew Henry’s commentary and have heard that it is not quite up to date in the latest thinking and research as well as that it is downright incorrect on some topics. At some point, would it be ok if you pointed out what these were? I’m not in any way doubting that they are wrong, but when I go and talk to a friend that’s relying heavily on MH, I’d sure like to be a bit more informed and confident in stating why that might not be the best choice of a study tool. Again, I realize that this ediscussion is about software – and so if you prefer to answer it elsewhere that’s perfectly fine.

      Ok, actually I’m just worried about Carrie – she really seems to like Matthew Henry and that concerns me. ;^)


    • bnelson


      How do you think BibleWorks stacks up against Accordance?


    • C Michael Patton

      Bill, that is an interesting question. In 2000, I was in my advanced Greek grammar class with Dan Wallace. One of his assignments was that we spent a few hours on Accordance. I told him that I used Bibleworks and asked if that would be sufficient. He told me that it would not because Bibleworks could not produce the complex searches that Accordance did. I disagreed and challenged him to check out Bibleworks more closely. Now Dan endorses Bibleworks as a great program. He even has his Greek Grammar offered on Bibleworks!

      In short, Bibleworks and Accordance are very similar. I don’t think that there is anything that one can do that the other cannot (at least anything significant).


    • C Michael Patton

      Nice Richard.

    • C Michael Patton


      I would not necessarily say there their are “errors” in Matthew Henry’s Commentary per se, in fact, I would agree with most of what he says. It is just the context, language, and issues with which he is dealing may be nuanced according to his culture and opponents. This will be very difficult for people to understand unless they know that this is not an up-to-date representation of current issue and scholarship. As well, while his tone may have lent well to his day, it can be misrepresentative of the Evangelical tone today.

      In other words, we would have to approach older works such as these as we do the Scriptures, understanding the audience and the situation of the author. This would require quite a bit of work that the average person may not know how to do and may not desire to do.

      Again, I think Matthew Henry is great, but he must be understood in his own context. This is hard to do.

    • stevemoore


      Fair enough – I guess I mis-understood some of the concerns regarding MH. I’ll go fetch my copy from the fire. ;^)

      Thanks for clarifying,


    • C Michael Patton

      lol. Sorry Steve. I guess it is hard when I lump Matthew Henry together with Charles Finney. That needed some clarification. Don’t burn your hand. While Henry’s is OK, it is not worth the scar.

    • DanielFoster

      Thanks for including Logos and complimenting the software. It’s always great to see the efforts of the team here at Logos appreciated. 🙂

      I would, however, challenge you the same way you challenged Dan Wallace…show me something BibleWorks can do that Logos can’t. I could point to a few things related to original languages (syntax searching comes to mind) that Logos alone can do. But I can’t think of any areas where the reverse is true.

      There are also some important considerations for the biblical-languages-only guy to consider, such as “How useful are core lexical resources such as BDAG or HALOT within this system?” Logos offers unmatched richness and functionality for resources such as this. (For some vivid illustrations, see the Digital Sword blog which is a bit out of date but communicates the basic idea.)

      Then we could go on to look at the integration of corpuses such as Ugaritic or Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.

      I hope you don’t feel like I’m intruding on your discussion but I just wanted to challenge the notion (once true but no longer) that Logos offers a digital library and naught else. Today the platform delivers both a sophisticated exegetical toolset and loads of books!

      Daniel Foster
      Logos Bible Software
      [email protected]

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