Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 HCSB
Speaking as someone who has a large number of Study Bibles, I cannot stress enough that, while I don’t agree with every piece of commentary I read in any of them, I do count most of them as a very valuable resource.
Some of them leave me wondering why they call themselves “Study Bibles.” Those are usually eventually found heavily discounted on sites like christianbook.com. Once purchased, it becomes painfully apparent why they’re on sale!
So what are some favorites? I have loved the ESV, NIV, Nelson KJV, Scofield KJV and HCSB Study Bibles for some time. However, if I could only have one, I believe I would choose the Thompson Chain Reference Bible as my principal study tool. It is available in KJV, NKJV, ESV and 1977 NASB. I’m not sure if the NIV is back in print, but Zondervan is planning a new NIV edition for next year. (Zondervan has purchased the publishing rights from Kirkbride, who was having serious issues and forced by circumstance to give it up).
I have an old Thompson KJV that is well constructed. Recently I acquired a new copy from Zondervan for not much over half what the Kirkbrides cost. The bonded leather is nice as is the paper. The Bible has a sewn binding and is expected to wear well. A feature of the KJV edition I love is that they retain the self-pronuncing text that is so hard to find in modern KJV Bibles and virtually unseen in any other translations. I find it a great help in pronouncing some of those Old Testament names! Both the handy size and normal size can be had for less than $50 online from sellers like Christian Book. Amazon also carries the line for around the same prices.
So, I give the Thompson Chain Reference Bible 5 out of 5 stars, no matter which translation you pick. The KJV is my favorite for the self-pronouncing text, but I use the ESV a lot as well.