How to Use a Pickaxe

The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance and The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge are the shovel and pickaxe of bible study: helping you in dig into the scripture. We have already provided you a guide on, ‘How to Use a Shovel’. Here is the companion guide on how to use a pickaxe.

The pickaxe of bible study is the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, originally published in 1830. The TSK has over 500,000 cross references, more than any other bible study tool in existence.

There are two main tasks necessary to interpreting a passage of scripture: performing word studies and mining cross references. the Strong’s Concordance helps with the word studies while the TSK provides a wealth of cross references for every scripture in the bible.

Cross referencing is essential to bible study for two reasons. 1. They allow the bible to interpret itself. 2. They shed light on a passage to help you understand what it says. So how do you use this tool?

1. Hard copy or Online version?

The hard copy is great, but the only drawback is it can be hard to read for some as the text can be small. There is an online version of TSK which is very user friendly. You should use the one that works best for you.

2. Layout & Dates

The layout of the TSK follows the same layout as your bible, so everything is easy to find. Also, At the top of each page there are two dates. The date over the left column is from the Christian Calendar showing the date the book may have been written. The date over the right column shows the number of years since creation, which is based on the date of creation being 4004 B.C.

3. Chapter Introductions

One real benefit of the hard copy is that each chapter begins with a helpful intro. Before each chapter it provides a brief summary and an outline of the chapter (see illus. above).

Important Note: It is important to remember that all these helps and cross references are good but not God-breathed. They are insightful but not inspired – just something to remember.

4. Verse breakdown

I’m using John 3:16 as an example in the illustration below. The TSK does not give you the whole verse but breaks it down by key lead-in words. These lead-in words represent the entire phrase up to the next lead-in word. The cross references that follow each word apply to the entire phrase, not just that single word. This is much clearer in the online version as it provides the entire verse with the lead-in words highlighted. For example in John 3:16 the TSK begins with the word, “God”. This is your lead-in word. It represents the entire phrase, “For God so loved the world”. The cross references that follow apply to entire phrase. The next lead-in word is, “Gave”. This represents the entire phrase, “That he gave his only begotten Son”. (See illus. below).

5. Progression

The cross references that follow each lead-in word are listed in a progression to show you how it unfolds throughout scripture. This can be very helpful as it will lead you from an example in the Old Testament up to an explanation in the New Testament. Sometimes the cross references will only be in the NT and some only in the OT, but even in these cases there will still be a progression to the order of the cross references.

With your Strong’s Concordance (your shovel) and your Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (your pickaxe), you will have all you need to analyse any passage of the bible and walk away with a reasonable certainty that you know what is says. Just remember, the scriptures do not yield their hidden treasures to lazy students. You are going to have to dig for them. I hope these two tools will help you do just that.

Happy digging.

Leave a Reply