In Praise of a Paper Bible

Bible, Word of God, logos, bible app, holy scripture, holy book, God-breathed,


I love my iPhone. I have one of the giant 6s models and it is rarely more than five feet from me…ever. Don’t judge. I have two Bible Apps that I use almost every day. So this isn’t a post against technology. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. In fact, it is good to have a mobile version of the Bible—to read when you have a few moments and to quickly open to God’s promises for encouraging a friend. I’m advocating for a print version at home and an app (or two) on your mobile device. Here are a few reasons why:

It has fewer distractions. So often we are pulled from one app to another when an alert pops-up. No matter what we are scrolling or reading, we can’t stand not knowing what was updated or who liked our last post or pic. Unless Airplane Mode is activated while reading your Bible App, alerts will hit your screen. If you resist the temptation to switch Apps, your mind is still distracted—likely wondering about the new item. With a paper copy of the Scriptures, you can separate from your phone (more than five feet) and all the alerts. You can focus and listen and receive and be still, undistracted.

It’s tougher to forget about. On your phone, the Bible is just one of many apps; it can remain unopened. Currently, I have 150 Apps on my phone. Yes—that is too many. And yes—a printed version can also remain unopened, but as the Bible sits on your desk, on your shelf, or in the place where you regularly meet with God, it is more difficult to ignore.

A paper copy adds something official to your time in the Scriptures. We are on our phones all day long. If we aren’t careful, we can scan the Bible apps just like we check other feeds. Sitting down, opening “The Book” makes it official and gives interaction with the Bible a special place in our day. This leads to thinking of the Bible as extra-special…because it is.

A paper copy can become a personal record. It can mark the many passages God has used at different times in your life. You can highlight verses, underline words and make notes in the margins. Yes—modern apps are sophisticated and most have highlighting and note-taking features. Yet there is something different about a paper copy. Flipping through the physical pages lets you stumble across meaningful passages and remember how God met you in those moments.

A paper copy can draw you into further reading. Many paper copies of the Bible come with helpful notes and cross-references. These are great for helping us understand what the verses are saying. And they are also multiple on-ramps to take us to other places in the Scriptures. Think about sitting with your Bible—time fading in importance as you find yourself hopping through reference after reference, reading old stories and discovering new truths.

Yes—it’s just a book of paper and ink and (probably) synthetic leather. But it’s also NOT just a book—the words are the Words of God. They were breathed into the writers, preserved through the generations by God’s power. The words are living and active—they have piercing power, able to touch the deepest parts of our souls. The commands keep us from falling, the promises keep us full of hope and the stories of God’s works keep us full of faith.

The Word of God in digital form is still authoritative and full of Truth. Don’t stop using Apps, I just recommend adding a paper copy to your devotional routine.

Here are two Apps I use most for reading the Bible on my phone:

ESV Study Bible

You Version


Here is a link to a good paper copy of the Bible:

ESV Study Bible



If you can think of other benefits of using a paper Bible in addition to a digital copy, use the comment section to share your ideas.