I’m a paper and pen kind of girl. I love pouring my creativity into fun planners, pens, and journals. So, when it comes to Bible study I absolutely love verse mapping! It’s so much fun! And, it helps me to go deeper into my Bible study without requiring a lot of time. Combining different colors with my study method helps me to see more of the details while also getting a view of the big picture.

Here are some tips and tricks of verse mapping for beginners!

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What is Verse Mapping?

Verse mapping is a fancy term for doing an in-depth study of any specific scripture or a short passage of scripture. It’s like taking a magnifying glass to a single verse for the purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of the historical setting, biblical context, and the author’s original purpose for writing it.

A Good Way to Study the Bible with Verse Mapping

I love using the inductive method for Bible study. Inductive Bible study is a way to study scripture that uses God’s word as the primary source. Basically what that means is that you wait to consult commentaries or others’ thoughts and opinions until after you have done your own diligent study. It involves a 3-step process of observation, interpretation, and application. 

This inductive method is also a great system to apply to verse mapping. 

How to Use the SOIL Method of Verse Mapping

Soil is an acronym for Scripture, Observe, Interpret, and Life Application. As you can see, it follows the 3-step inductive process. Here is a breakdown of each of the steps in S.O.I.L.

Scripture: Write it Out

The first thing you want to do is to choose your verse and write it out. I like to write the verse in the center of my page. This will leave your space to write additional notes and observations around the perimeter of the verse. I also like to use double-spaced lines for the scripture. That way I have room to circle, underline, and make other annotations on the text.

Verse mapping example

Observe: What Does It Say?

Once you have your verse written out there are a few specific things you want to look for.

  • Are there any people mentioned in the verse?
  • Any repeated words?
  • Any contrasts or comparisons?
  • Any geographical locations?
  • Any terms of conclusion?

Look for these details. Pick a spot on your page where you can write out these observations. I like to write these things out on the top of the page above the verse.

Interpret: What Does it Mean?

After you have made some initial observations, the next step is interpretation. There are two main things that I like to do at this point; which are doing word studies and looking up cross-references. 

A biblical word study is taking a word from the text and looking at its definition in the original Greek or Hebrew languages. 

Cross-referencing is simply looking at other related passages in the Bible to help you gain a deeper understanding of what the specific verse means. I love how scripture interprets scripture. There is so much we can learn as we consider the full counsel of God’s Word.

I like to use Blue Letter Bible for doing both word studies and cross-referencing. I have a video tutorial where I show you how to use this tool.

To start, I circle any words I want to study, then write the definitions along the right side of the page next to the verse. Then, I look up some cross-references and write those along the left side of my page.

Life Application: What Does it Mean to Me?

The final step is application. This is where we ask the Lord how he would have us apply what we have learned to our own life.

The application step is crucial. We can gain more and more knowledge of God’s Word, but if we don’t apply it we aren’t allowing the Truth to transform our lives. The goal of our application is transformation. 

Here are some application questions you can ask yourself:

  • Are there any promises to cling to?
  • Are there any warnings or commands I need to consider?
  • Is there any sin in my life I need to confess and turn from?
  • Is there anything I can praise God for?
  • Does this scripture reveal anything about the character or attributes of God?

Verse Mapping in 4 Simple Steps

Example of a Verse Map

Here is a verse map example from Philippians 2:12-13.

What does it mean to work out your salvation?

Scripture

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:12-13

Observation

There is a contrast between ‘work out’ vs. ‘work in’.

We work out our salvation, but God works in us to desire and to work for His pleasure.

Interpretation

Word Studies:

Work Out – Kakgazomai – to do that from which something results, to fashion or render on fit for a thing

Work In – energeo – to be operative, be at work, put forth power, to effect, to display one’s activity

Cross Reference:

Then they said to Him, “what must we do to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” – John 6:29

Life Application

God has worked salvation, eternal life, and son-ship within me. To work out my salvation means to believe in that work that He has accomplished. If I am truly believing in the work He has done, that belief should be reflected in how I walk. Not only that, but He continues to work in me by giving me the desire to work for His pleasure.

To work out my salvation means to simply walk in the work that He has and continues to work in me.

Gather Your Bible Study Tools

The nice thing about verse mapping is it really doesn’t require a lot of extras. However, there are a few tools you will want to have close by in order to do a successful verse map.

  • Your Bible – make sure you have your Bible close by so you can look up the scriptures you want to map out. You can also use a Bible app to look up the scriptures. I like to keep all my study tools on my desk, so my Bible is always easy to grab.
  • A few colored pens or pencils – I like using a different color pen for each step. I use green for observation, blue for interpretation, and purple for life application. That way when I go back to review my notes, I know exactly what I’m looking at because everything is color-coded.
  • Notebook or Binder – I like to buy the loose-leaf graph paper and keep it in a binder. The graph paper is great because it helps me to keep each section aligned. It’s also helpful for making different markings and notations on the actually scripture that I’m studying.
  • SOIL Method Journaling Template – If you like Bible study worksheets and printables, you can use this SOIL method journaling template for your study.

SOIL Bible Study Journal Template

Find More Verse Mapping Resources

There is a lot of great tips and information about verse mapping that you can find online. Here are a few other places to find verse mapping resources.

Verse mapping is a great way to dig into scriptures and grow in your knowledge of God and His word. This method is great for busy women on the go, or for others like me who love using lots of color and creativity in their Bible study. Give it a try and see if it is a good fit for you.

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