Strong’s Concordance is an index of every word in the English Bible. That’s why you’ll often see it titled as “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.” Originally compiled in the 19th Century for the King James Version, it has since been produced for the New American Standard Bible (and other translations as well). This Wikipedia article on Strong’s will give you more background on the man (James Strong 1822-1894) who produced it long before the computer age made such tasks easier. As well, this article will give you some descriptive information which will help you better appreciate this tool’s benefits and limitations. Nevertheless, I hope you will use it for yourself before you make a final decision on its worth.
My introduction to Strong’s was a watershed moment in my life. I was a new Christian in the late 1970’s when I found myself in a large discount Christian bookstore in Atlanta, GA. Bookcases lined the walls of this huge single-room strip mall location. The floor was filled with table after table of books. Things weren’t busy that day, and after a while the elderly sales clerk on duty behind the cash register walked over to where I was browsing.
We made a little conversation and in a few minutes he puts a Strong’s Concordance in my hands and says something to the effect of, “This is THE book you NEED to get.” His point was that with the Strong’s, I’d be able to have one part of the Bible teach me about another part…and that Strong’s Concordance would thereby become the most important book besides the Bible that I could buy. I had a sense that I should heed him, but I had no idea of just how profoundly true his words actually were.
Over the years, I have gained so much from using Strong’s to let the Bible be “a commentary on itself.” While other people were reading innumerable commentaries and theology textbooks which often led them away from Scripture, I was being taken by Strong’s deeper into Scripture itself. That’s the great value of the tool. It helps you study a word from one end of Scripture to the other. It keeps you in the Scripture, closer to God’s word. Instead of reading endless stacks of books about other people’s interpretations of Scripture, you learn to read it for yourself.
Strong’s does not enable you to know Greek or Hebrew. I would never think that I could translate a single sentence of either. But it does allow an English speaker to find his way around an ancient text in a way that would otherwise be impossible to him.
Of course, Strong’s works best on a literal translation like the New American Standard Bible. Paraphrastic translations lack the discipline of translating words consistently to make a Strong’s beneficial.
If I were allowed to own only two books, it would be the NASB Bible and a Strong’s Concordance. Print editions are still valuable in our age, even though you can find Strong’s Concordance as well as Bibles online, too. The NASB site has a Strong’s concordance built into the searchable NASB text, so it is very, very helpful. I use it constantly, as well as the print versions of both.