When you start your study of the Bible God can speak directly to YOU if you ask him. You can understand the basics of His word all by yourself. You do not need a priest, preacher, scholar or church denomination to grasp its fundamental teachings (sometimes called the "milk" of the Bible). Over time, our heavenly Father will lead you into comprehending the "meat" or more spiritually in-depth doctrines of his holy word.
In order for God to speak to you through studying His truth in the Bible, however, you must be ready to put aside your preconceptions and cherished beliefs you may have learned. You must be willing to start your pursuit with a fresh mind and be willing to believe what you read.
Have you ever questioned the traditions various religions state come from the Bible? Did they exclusively come from a study of Holy writ or from another place? If you are willing to approach the Bible with an open mind and a willingness to believe what God teaches you, your efforts will open up vistas of truth that will amaze you.
In regard to Biblical translations to purchase, you can never go wrong with obtaining a King James translation for your studies. Although some of its words are a bit dated, many reference tools such as Strong's Concordance are keyed to its verses. If you do not have the money to buy a KJV, do a Google search for organizations and outreaches that provide free copies to the public. You may also wish to try contacting a local church in your area.
Computer software is a great way to aid your understanding of the Bible. Programs exist that can give you access to countless tools, reference books, maps, charts, timelines and a whole host of other aids all at your fingertips. They allow a person to view different translations at the same time (great for those just starting) and have access to definitions of the underlying Hebrew or Greek text. One free Bible software package is E-Sword. You can also purchase a more robust study program from WordSearch (formerly known as Quickverse).
People today, unlike any other time in human history, have access to a plethora of books dedicated to aiding research into the Bible. There is an every-growing collection of tools that includes dictionaries, commentaries, interlinears, word studies, lexicons, Biblical maps and still more. Although the selection of tools available to the average student is truly amazing, choosing an initial set of basic reference works can seem daunting.
We suggest the following study aids and tools for those who are start to read the Bible. We suggest getting a copy of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, as well as the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, and Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament.
We also suggest dictionaries such as Unger's or Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. For word or topical studies, we recommend Nave's or the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. We also recommend basic commentaries such as Halley's, Barnes' Notes and the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary.
Finally, you may wish to visit our sections dedicated to beginners. Feel free to read answers to questions submitted by those, like yourself, who have started their own studies. The desire to comprehend the truth of God is a lifelong pursuit that is worth your time and effort. Do it with all of your might and you will reap eternal rewards!