Online Bible – Robertson’s Word Pictures – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

These are two Classic reference books that are included in Online Bible. At the end of this blog I have quoted a sample entry from each of them.  Although they are both very extensive sets of reference material, Online Bible treats them quite differently.  RWP as a Commentary (Note) and ISBE as a Dictionary (Topic).

archibald_robertsonRobertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament is a classic word study on the entire New Testament. The author, A. T. Robertson, a renowned scholar takes us through the New Testament verse by verse, painting word pictures from the Greek to bring to light the words and actions of Jesus and the early Christians. He focuses on key words in each verse explaining delicate shades of meaning that are implicit in the Greek text but often lost in translation. Originally published in six volumes from 1930 to 1933, this electronic version provides Robertson’s work in its entirety.

Robertson wrote these volumes primarily for “…those who know no Greek or comparatively little and yet are anxious to get fresh help from the study of words and phrases in the New Testament.” Rather than discussing the entire text of each verse, Robertson’s comments focus on key words important to the passage. His comments vary from lexical to grammatical to archaeological to exegetical, depending on what is most helpful to the reader in understanding the verse.

Robertson was born at Cherbury near Chatham, Virginia. He was educated at Wake Forest (N. C.) College (M. A., 1885) and at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Louisville, Kentucky (Th. M., 1888), where he became an instructor and professor of New Testament interpretation. He remained in that post until one day in 1934, when he dismissed his class early and went home and died of a stroke.

Robertson’s books are still consulted today, particularly his Word Pictures in the New Testament and his landmark volume A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research. In all, he published 45 books, several of which are still in print today. Robertson helped found the Baptist World Alliance in 1900. He was an important Southern Baptist and a well-respected scholar in his day. Robertson sought to equip his students with the proper tools for good preaching.

Robertson’s Word Pictures is not a formal commentary, but rather a discussion of Bible words selected for their richness and usefulness to the average student of God’s Word. In such discussions, he uses a number of methods. At times he investigates the lexical or grammatical meaning of a word, and at other times he brings insight gained from archaeological discoveries. He then may examine a word’s contextual meaning, picking apart every nuance surrounding a word or group of words, even analyzing what the mood of the passage might suggest, all to better understand the word’s meaning in the original Greek.

Robertson’s ultimate desire was to take the “word pictures” of New Testament Greek and make these pictures of the past alive again today, thus leading the modern reader closer to an understanding of the Living Word of God.

isbeThe International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) is an authoritative reference encyclopedia which explains every significant word, subject, place, person, and doctrine in the Bible and Apocrypha! In scope, the ISBE covers literature (apocalyptic, apocryphal, sub-apostolic, etc.), archeology, ethnology, geography, topography, biography, arts and crafts, manners and customs, family life, natural history, agriculture, ritual, laws, sects, music—whatever, in short, may throw light on the meaning and message of the Bible. It provides detailed information on the language and literature of the Bible world, its cultures and the historical and religious environments of the people of the Bible. Over two hundred scholars and teachers contributed to this encyclopedia—including Archibald Alexander, H. C. G. Moule, B. B. Warfield and A. T. Robertson.

Praise for the ISBE

ISBE is the most complete and adaptable instrument now available for pastors, teachers, and Bible students generally. One of the most important features in the construction of this encyclopedia is due to the requirement, laid upon every contributor, to furnish an exhaustive commentary on the Scripture passages involved in each subject under consideration.
—The Biblical Review

The best of the larger Bible dictionaries.
—Union Seminary Review

Terry Allen wrote this on the web site

OK, so it is mostly the theological types who need an entire
encyclopedia of the Bible, but I think there is a very strong
case to be made for every Christian household having at least
one comprehensive reference tool at their fingertips.

There seems little doubt that the ISBE is the industry standard
when it comes to Bible encyclopedias. It has stood the test of
time and it is in wide use at theological colleges across the

Reformed theologian Dr Kim Riddlebarger said it was
“indispensable” adding, “I use this set more than any other
reference work I own.”

Great articles on every major doctrine, person, place,
and event in the Bible.

With 10,000 individual articles, the ISBE covers everything you
can think of in the Bible. And I mean everything.

Think of a word, term or place you have heard of in Scripture:
the ISBE has an article about it. It is absolutely comprehensive.
In fact, many of the articles are about things you didn’t even
know were in the Bible!

Where else can you find out about the Viol, the work of the
Atetas or how to identify Ziv?

Trivia aside, there are also valuable articles on what you might
call Bible related issues such as the Mishna, Targums, Apocrypha,
the era between the Testaments & many more.

Personally, I still prefer to have a book to lay out on my desk
when I am doing some research, but it is hard to resist turning
to the ISBE now that it is computerized.

If you like to study the Bible, you must put this one in your
list of favorites. If you don’t consider yourself a student,
have a go anyway. The articles are alphabetically listed so you
can think of a topic & search for it, or simply scroll through
the index alphabetically & read what takes your interest.

The ISBE is one of the greatest literary contributions to the
Church in the modern era. How can you resist using it?

The ISBE is particularly characterized by the following features:

Fullness: It has been the design of the editors that every word in the Bible and the Apocrypha having a distinct scriptural meaning should appear in this work; and also that all the doctrines of the Bible, the principle terms of biblical criticism, and related subjects of history, biography, geography, social life of the peoples, and the industries, sciences, etc., should be included and given proper treatment.

Authority: In order that those who use such a work may be assured of its trustworthiness it is necessary that the subject matter should be identified with its authors. Every article in the ISBE, of sufficient length to be regarded as more than a mere definition or notice, appears over the signature of its author. It will be noted that the authors responsible for all the major subjects were selected and requested to write upon those particular themes because of their marked ability and recognized authority in the special departments of biblical learning to which their articles belong.

This mammoth reference work is ideal for students, scholars, pastors, laypersons, and anyone seeking a comprehensive starting point for exploring the people, places, and topics in the Bible. Easily discover important information you wouldn’t find otherwise. Searches in Online Bible will pull results from the thousands of articles and images in the ISBE. Scripture references within the encyclopedia link directly to the original language texts and Bible translations in Online Bible. Research that would normally take hours of page turning can now be completed with only a few clicks of your mouse! This makes the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) more powerful and easier to access than ever before for scholarly work or personal Bible study.

Matthew 1:1 from RWP

The Book (biblov). There is no article in the Greek, but the following genitives make it definite. It is our word Bible that is here used, the Book as Sir Walter Scott called it as he lay dying. The usual word for book is a diminutive form (biblion), a little book or roll such as we have in #Lu 4:17, “The roll of the prophet Isaiah.” The pieces of papyrus (papurov), our paper, were pasted together to make a roll of varying lengths according to one’s needs. Matthew, of course, is not applying the word book to the Old Testament, probably not to his own book, but to “the genealogical table of Jesus Christ” (biblov genesewv ihsou cristou), “the birth roll of Jesus Christ” Moffatt translates it. We have no means of knowing where the writer obtained the data for this genealogy. It differs radically from that in #Lu 3:23-38.

One can only give his own theory of the difference. Apparently in Matthew we have the actual genealogy of Joseph which would be the legal pedigree of Jesus according to Jewish custom. In Luke we apparently have the actual genealogy of Mary which would be the real line of Jesus which Luke naturally gives as he is writing for the Gentiles.

Jesus Christ. Both words are used. The first is the name (ihsouv) given by the angel to Mary #Mt 1:21 which describes the mission of the child. The second was originally a verbal adjective (christov) meaning anointed from the verb to anoint (chriw). It was used often in the Septuagint as an adjective like “the anointed priest” #1Ki 2:10 and then as a substantive to translate the Hebrew word “Messiah” (messiav). So Andrew said to Simon: “We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, Christ.” #Joh 1:41 In the Gospels it is sometimes “the Anointed One,” “the Messiah,” but finally just a proper name as here, Jesus Christ. Paul in his later Epistles usually has it “Christ Jesus.”

The Son of David, the son of Abraham (uiou dauid uiou abraam). Matthew proposes to show that Jesus Christ is on the human side the son of David, as the Messiah was to be, and the son of Abraham, not merely a real Jew and the heir of the promises, but the promise made to Abraham. So Matthew begins his line with Abraham while Luke traces his line back to Adam. The Hebrew and Aramaic often used the word son (nb) for the quality or character, but here the idea is descent. Christians are called sons of God because Christ has bestowed this dignity upon us. #Ro 8:14 9:26 Ga 3:26 Ga 4:5-7 Verse 1 is the description of the list in verses. 2-17. The names are given in three groups, Abraham to David #Mt 1:2-6, David to Babylon Removal, #Mt 1:6-11 Jechoniah to Jesus. #Mt 1:12-16 The removal to Babylon (metoikesiav babulwnov) occurs at the end of #Mt 1:11, the beginning of #Mt 1:12, and twice in the resume in #Mt 1:17. This great event is used to mark off the two last divisions from each other. It is a good illustration of the genitive as the case of genus or kind. The Babylon removal could mean either to Babylon or from Babylon or, indeed, the removal of Babylon. But the readers would know the facts from the Old Testament, the removal of the Jews to Babylon. Then #Mt 1:17 makes a summary of the three lists, fourteen in each by counting David twice and omitting several, a sort of mnemonic device that is common enough. Matthew does not mean to say that there were only fourteen in actual genealogy. The names of the women (Thamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba the wife of Uriah) are likewise not counted. But it is a most interesting list.


la’-ban: The person named Laban, labhan; (Laban, possibly connected with the root meaning “to be white,” from which in Hebrew the adjective meaning “white” has just this form) is first introduced to the reader of Genesis in the story of the wooing of Rebekah (Genesis 24). He belonged to that branch of the family of Terah that was derived from Abraham’s brother Nahor and his niece Milcah. The genealogy of this branch is traced in #Ge 22:20-24; but, true to its purpose and the place it occupies in the book, this genealogy brings the family down to Rebekah, and there stops without mentioning Laban. Accordingly, when Rebekah is introduced in the narrative of Genesis 24, she is referred to (24:15,24) in a way that recalls to the reader the genealogy already given; but when her brother Laban is introduced (24:29), he is related to his sister by the express announcement, “And Rebekah had brother, and his name was Laban.” In this chapter he takes prominent part in the reception of Abraham’s servant, and in the determination of his sister’s future. That brothers had an effective voice in the marriage of their sisters is evident, not only from extra-Biblical sources, but from the Bible itself; see e.g. #So 8:8. In #Ge 24, however, Laban is perhaps more prominent than even such custom can explain (compare 24:31,50,55), and we are led to see in him already the same forcefulness and egotism that are abundantly shown in the stories from his later life. The man’s eager hospitality (verse 31), coming immediately after his mental inventory of the gifts bestowed by the visitor upon his sister (24:30), has usually, and justly, been regarded as a proof of the same greed that is his most conspicuous characteristic in the subsequent chapters.

The story of that later period in Laban’s life is so interwoven with the career of Jacob that little need here be added to what is said of Laban in JACOB, III, 2 (which see). By the time of Jacob’s arrival he is already a very old man, for over 90 years had elapsed since Rebekah’s departure. Yet even at the end of Jacob’s 20 years’ residence with him he is represented as still energetic and active (#Ge 31:19,23), not only ready for an emergency like the pursuit after Jacob, but personally superintending the management of his huge flocks.

His home is in Haran, “the city of Nahor,” that is, the locality where Nahor and his family remained at the time when the rest of Terah’s descendants emigrated to Canaan (#Ge 11:31; 12:5). Since Haran, and the region about it where his flocks fed, belonged to the district called Aram (see PADDAN-ARAM; MESOPOTAMIA), Laban is often called “the Aramean” (English Versions of the Bible, “the Syrian,” from Septuagint 5 ho Suros); see #Ge 25:20; 28:5; 31:20,24. It is uncertain how far racial affinity may be read into this term, because the origin and mutual relationships of the various groups or strata of the Sere family are not yet clear. For Laban himself it suffices that he was a Semite, living within the region early occupied by those who spoke the Sere dialect that we call Aramaic. This dialect is represented in the narrative of Genesis as already differentiated from the dialect of Canaan that was Jacob’s mother-tongue; for “the heap of witness,” erected by uncle and nephew before they part (#Ge 31:47), is called by the one Jegar-saha-dutha and by the other Galeed―phrases which are equivalent in meaning, the former Aramaic, the latter Hebrew. (Ungnad, Hebrdische Grammatik, 1912, section 6 puts the date of the differentiation of Aramaic from “Amurritish” at “about 1500 BC”; Skinner, “Genesis,” ICC, argues that #Ge 31:47 is a gloss, following Wellhausen, Dillmann, et al.)

The character of Laban is interesting to observe. On the one hand it shows a family likeness to the portraits of all his relations in the patriarchal group, preeminently, however, to his sister Rebekah, his daughter Rachel, and his nephew Jacob. The nearer related to Laban such figures are, the more conspicuously, as is fitting, do they exhibit Laban’s mingled cunning, resourcefulness, greed and self-complacency. And, on the other hand, Laban’s character is sui generis; the picture we get of him is too personal and complex to be denominated merely a “type.” It is impossible to resolve this man Laban into a mythological personage—he is altogether human—or into a tribal representative (e.g. of “Syria” over against “Israel” equal Jacob) with any degree of satisfaction to the world of scholarship.

J. Oscar Boyd


2 thoughts on “Online Bible – Robertson’s Word Pictures – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia”

  1. Dave, was very pleased to see that Online Bible is now “online”. Just downloaded the iOS app as well. Extremely pleased to have this valuable resource made current.
    I use Logos most of the time because of extra languages. Will you be able to put in the Thai Bible?
    Just happy to have this back in my repertoire of bible tools


    1. I’m afraid we have no one looking at the Thai Bible at present.

      If you have access to an electronic version and can get permission to convert it to Online Bible format, our support web site has help files to guide you through the conversion process.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *