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A concordance - such as "Young’s Analytical Concordance" or "Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance" - contains the location of every use of every word of the Bible; or most major words in the case of smaller concordances. Most Bible software include similar capabilities which are often extended to include logical and phrase searches; greatly adding to the value already found in the concordance. A sample entry from the book version of "Young's Analytical Concordance" appears below:


1. Love, hbha, ahabah.

Gen. 29:20 (but) a few days, for the love he had to her

2 Sa. 1:26 thy love to me was .. passing the love




5. Love, agaph, agapé

Matt 24:12 because iniquity shall abound, the love of

As can be seen each word entry in this particular concordance is catalogued by language. Item 1 above lists entries for one of the Hebrew words for love; Item 5 lists entries for one of the Greek words for love. Following each item is a transliteration of the actual word in the original language prior to its translation which is in turn followed by a phonetic rendering showing how the word should be pronounced. Below each entry is listed a line from each verse that contains that variant of the word. Other concordances vary how the words are listed but the basic concept is the same in that verses are listed which contain the word being studied.

A concordance is an excellent tool to use when performing a word study as it allows us to follow the usage of the word in question in both negative and positive contexts. Were we to use a cross referencing system to follow a particular word through the Bible we might find that in general only usages of a certain type would be included since the cross reference is an edited listing of related verses. When studying the meaning of words such as faith, love or sin the concordance is the best tool to use gain an appreciation of the Bible's understanding of the word.

How to use this tool

1 - As there are many different translations of the Bible available it would be cumbersome to have a concordance for each one. A very practical way of using one concordance with multiple Bible translations is to look up the verse you are studying in the translation for which you have a concordance and see what word in that verse most closely matches the word in the translation you are using as your study Bible. This has the added benefit of letting you see how the word was treated in different translations of the Bible and how it was translated elsewhere in the Bible you are using.

2 - Keep a bookmark or two in your Bible and use them as you could be looking up a great number of passages. Keep one or two in your concordance as well.

3 - Keep in mind that the meaning of words is determined by their context. For example, the words translated as "He has turned me back" in Lamentations 1:13 can be interpreted in multiple ways, such as: "lead away," "turn toward" or "repent of sin" and it is only by reading the phrase in the context of the passage that we see that Jeremiah is not describing Israel's return to a forsaken God but the punishment Israel suffers for her rebellion. Reading the words in their context they can be more reasonably taken to say "He has turned me around so that my back is exposed to my enemies;" especially since, in the context of Lamentations as a whole, Jeremiah concentrates more on the justice of Israel's punishment than on her repentance because of it.