Inside Publishing

Behind the Scenes of The Swindoll Study Bible

I hope the words and stories in this Bible are helpful as you continue to walk closer with Jesus and become more like Him. I hope these pages become part of the daily rhythm of your life, as they have for me.

by Sarah Johnson, a member of the editorial team for The Swindoll Study Bible

One of my college professors was nearing the age of retirement, so he came up with an idea: He would buy Bibles for all of his grandchildren and fill the margins of each one with his personal notes and reflections. What better gift could you get from someone who had not only spent his years studying this book but who had also faithfully maintained a close walk with the Lord throughout that time?

What my professor did for his grandkids, Chuck Swindoll has done for you and me.

Chuck is a warmhearted pastor and author, as well as a radio teacher, scholar, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and longtime servant/follower/proclaimer of Jesus. He’s spent over five decades in ministry, including thousands of hours spent in his study reading God’s Word and finding ways to communicate what he’s found there.

So imagine all of the good stuff he had learned that was just waiting to fill a study Bible.

To the great benefit of the rest of us, Chuck has kept the fruit of his lifelong engagement with Scripture in a massive sermon archive. When he was ready to let all of his research and teaching culminate in this magnum opus of a project—what we know now as The Swindoll Study Bible—he shared his archive with us, the editorial team at Tyndale House Publishers.

One editor spent days without number combing through the sermons, tagging them topically, and organizing them into what we call “features” (that’s the extra content in the Bible that isn’t the Scripture text itself—things like notes about specific verses or passages, full-page articles, and introductions to each book).

After that process was well underway, another small group of editors started shaping these features, making sure they were as clear, cohesive, and well organized as possible. They determined where they would be laid out around the Bible text, how to make them most useful for readers, which ones needed to be kept, and which ones could stand to be cut (half a century of Bible study generates a lot of notes!).

Enter me, the copyediting coordinator. I was the person who got to read the whole thing from start to finish, keep track of every detail I could think of, and essentially work my very hardest to make sure each word was as perfect as possible. Are the page numbers present and in order? Good. Are we abbreviating the names of books of the Bible? If they’re in parentheses, yes; if they’re in the main text, no. Is the word “mind-set” supposed to be hyphenated? Yes, but I learn that halfway through the New Testament, so then I go back and fix it everywhere it’s already appeared. Are there any typos? Perish the thought.

I also worked alongside a few other editors and copyeditors—bless them!—who read various portions of the content and submitted their suggestions and fixes to me to be collated into a single file for the general editor to review. When the galleys (printed pages) were ready, we sent them off to Chuck, who gave us his handwritten comments in red pen and sent them back with his initialed approval on the front page of each section. Meanwhile, our extremely talented team of designers, tirelessly patient typesetter, and the rest of the Tyndale team put their strengths to use in creating the precious blue and white (dare I say?) masterpiece that just released this month. Let me tell you—when the first box of the printed Bibles arrived a few weeks ago, there was much rejoicing throughout the office.

A friend recently asked what it was like spending over a year so fully devoted to this project and so entrenched in Chuck’s Bible teaching. What comes to mind at first is the wall in my office collaged with sticky-notes of quotations from Chuck that I couldn’t resist writing down while I was working. I think of the list of names on the contributors’ page and how it represents the people who walked through that year with me—friends who shared laughter and lunches and exegetical discussions and colleagues who gave me in-depth personal training in how to edit well. I think about how three of us often debated theological nuances off the clock over barbecue or stuffed pretzels or Chinese food. The time I was sitting on my friend’s floor at eleven o’clock at night and suddenly figured out how to tweak a study note in Revelation. The time another copyeditor and I cooked fried okra because Chuck mentions it in a feature and we’d never eaten it before.

Sarah Johnson with fellow editors and the completed Swindoll Study Bible

But more importantly, I also think about how Chuck’s words (and the way they always fall alongside God’s Word) were the steady rhythm that played in the background of everything going on in my life that year. “I don’t make the Bible relevant, understand,” Chuck once said. “I help people realize how relevant it is. That’s always been my goal.” One of the things that struck me the most while I was reading Chuck’s notes for the second, third, and nineteenth time is that this is the guiding impetus behind all that Chuck does. In his commentary on the book of Acts, he describes this mission as trying to “make the connection between Scripture and people” (page 52). This is a driving desire of my own life and one of the main purposes of the New Living Translation and of Tyndale as a whole. The Swindoll Study Bible fits right in, and in my opinion, in it, Chuck achieves his goal. How? Glad you asked.

First, Chuck is accessible. For those to whom the Bible has ever felt overwhelming or confusing: I’m happy to announce that those days are over. Paired well with the easy-to-understand NLT text, Chuck’s notes are conversational in tone, practical for everyday life, and often entertaining. For those who have listened to his sermons and radio broadcasts over the years: I think you’ll be delighted by the way Chuck’s familiar voice comes through as he tells stories and offers insights. And for those with theology degrees who work at Christian companies and attend church every Sunday and—in Chuck’s words—“were practically born in the choir loft” (page 781): There’s plenty here for you, too. These notes are designed to deepen your discipleship whether you just met the Lord or you’ve known Him all your life.

Second, Chuck is genuine. The features in this Bible make up a scrapbook of stories from Chuck’s life, pieces of wisdom he’s gleaned from mentors, and personal confessions from decades of walking with the Lord. He’s honest about his experiences, vulnerable with his readers, and not shy in talking about the time his mother told him as a child that he was “not planned” (page 873) or the time he pridefully refused help from a friend and ended up accidentally smashing his own windshield (page 868).

Third, Chuck has an unmistakable style. All these years in ministry have made him a master of the three- (or four- or more-) point sermon. He’s also an excellent storyteller, and his pastoral warmth is ever present as he covers topics like prayer, money, forgiveness, prejudice, suicide, relationships, addictions, grace, making decisions, the occult, revenge, physical and emotional healing, building a relationship with God, and even “the secret to a rich and satisfying life” (it’s on page 1295).

I hope you find that Chuck’s insights spur you on in understanding, knowing, and loving God’s Word—and therefore, God Himself, even more. I hope the words and stories in this Bible are helpful as you continue to walk closer with Jesus and become more like Him. I hope these pages become part of the daily rhythm of your life, as they have for me.

Sarah and Chuck

I also hope you won’t tell me if you find any errant punctuation marks.

Okay, go ahead and tell me. I have to know.

No—I take it back. Don’t.

Okay, fine. But if you do, would you also send a box of tissues? Thanks.

The Swindoll Study Bible NLT

The Swindoll Study Bible offers the best of Chuck Swindoll’s wit, charm, pastoral insight, and wise biblical study directly to you as you study God’s Word. Chuck’s warm, personal style comes across on every page, and his informed, practical insights get straight to the heart of the Bible’s message for the world today. Reading each part of this study Bible is like hearing Chuck speak God’s Word directly to your heart. It will both encourage readers’ faith and draw them deeper into the study of God’s Word.

Learn more HERE.


  • Excellent article!!! I HAD to order one when I saw the 40% off offer!! Can’t wait to read it cover to cover!!

  • the o n l y thing I was disappointed in was the “no red-letter” in the New Testament. Other than that, this is one of the finest study-Bibles I have seen to date.


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