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Digital Versus Physical Bibles

by Daniel Arroyo |  | 1 comment

Pager. Calculator. Fax machine. Notepad. Encyclopedias. Stationary. Calendar. Camera. Watch. Almanac. CD player. Atlas. Store. Dictionary. Radio. Cookbook. I could go on.

What do all of these things have in common? They are all things that can be found on your smartphone. This doesn't mean you couldn't buy a United States Atlas for your next cross country trip, but chances are, you've already downloaded a Map App that will almost guarantee a smooth journey.

The smartphone has replaced so many things that we were still using just 15 years ago. Is the Bible going to be added to the list?

There are over 50 different Bible apps available in the App Store. Some include many translations, others focus on one. Some are made for women, children, or various languages. Some are made for studying and others for a quick, daily bite. With so many options, you can easily find something that fits your needs. Because it is an app, you also have the convenience of one less book that you must take on your next trip. You have the advantage of all of the knowledge stored on your phone, accessible whenever you want.

Thanks to search technology, you no longer have to remember where every verse is. Finding the perfect verse for your sermon is as easy as searching for a few keywords in your Bible app and the applicable verses will pop up. To make preparing for a sermon even easier, most apps have a place to take notes and make highlights. All of this information can then be stored in an account that you set up within the app.

The digital Bible definitely has a place in our lives. The convenience and options provided are hard to pass up. But is it always the best option? Could there be something better than a digital Bible? Does it even have any drawbacks?

  1. Distraction Central

We all know the challenge of staying focused on one thing while on your smartphone or tablet. Pop-ups, notifications, someone calling you or receiving a text message. The word of the Lord says “be still, and know that I am God”[1] and this is challenging with a mobile device. Not only are you distracted but many around you could also be distracted by your usage. We might become a stumbling block to fellow church members and even to our children. What does the next generation think when Dad is on his phone for the entire church service? Would they see any difference if mom and dad read the Bible as a physical hard copy instead of on their phones?

  1. Unreliable

Have you ever had an app fail you? Has your phone ever run out of battery and you are without a charger? Phones, and the apps they hold, can be unreliable. Once you run out of battery, you're out of Bible. Is your study time relying on the workings of a device that could stop at a moment's notice?

  1. Do you really take notes?

Even though you can highlight and make little notes in today’s Bible apps, it isn’t the same as being able to write it directly in your Bible. Few things are more comprehensive and satisfying than seeing that you’ve really worked with a passage of Scripture through notes, highlights, and comments in the margin. It helps your devotional life grow as you can look back on revelations that God has shared with you.

  1. Evangelistic opportunities

Carrying a Bible on a plane or a train easily invites conversation and opportunities to do evangelism. You have the best tool to encourage others and share what God has revealed to you. Having a Bible on your smartphone invites no conversation at all, but rather the opposite. You appear more closed off, absorbed in a digital world.

  1. In your heart

God promises to write His word, His law, in our hearts and our minds [2]. With something written in your mind, you should probably remember it, right? With a rise in digital Bibles, there is a fall in Bible memorization or even remembrance. What is the point of memorizing texts or locations of important passages when you can look it up in the blink of an eye? There will come a time where you might not have your phone. It might be dead or simply not on you. How can you share God's Word if you don't know His Word? How can it transform your life, if you aren't taking the time to learn it? A physical Bible forces you to remember the locations of those important verses. It encourages study and makes it more real because you must work for the knowledge. It doesn't just show up after you hit "search".

Humble Lamb Bible

      6. The Bible is a living, breathing, respected book

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Bible is the living, breathing Word of God. Having a physical Bible brings a level of reverence that can't be matched by using the same device where you play games or shop online for toilet paper. You can touch, smell and feel the weight of a physical Bible. A physical Bible is a timeless, cherished part of the Christian household. It carries a legacy and history that is lost in a digital app that could be replaced when updated. This is a legacy and family history that can be passed down to the next generation and the next generation after that. Passed down until Christ comes and the Word of the Lord takes physical form among us.

What do you use in your studies? What is your habit? What type of Bible will renew and bring to life your walk with God? Let us know your preferences and why in the comments below!


[1] Psalm 46:10  [2]Hebrews 10:16

Comments (1)

  • Ed d. on January 30, 2019

    I went to a church where the pastor was reading scripture from his phone. In the middle of his reading his phone died! He didn’t have a bible on hand to finish the scriptures. My mother leaned over and said to me as she held up her bible," that’s why I carry the real thing"! It’s sad that hardly anyone carries the bible to church. I love feeling and holding the Holy Bible in my hand. I hold it during worship….can’t do that with a phone. I love the humble lamb bible for as I pass it down to my daughter she will know I held this word during my life….a handed down phone will not be able to do that. Good topic. Thanks for sharing.

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