My husband and I recently listened to a sermon in a series on the book of Matthew. I appreciated the preacher’s verse-by-verse teaching from the book. This enabled me to take organized notes as I listened.
For this week’s Bible study tip, I thought I’d talk about this kind of organized study: verse-by-verse note-taking.
Verse-by-verse note-taking is a type of Bible study that helps when you are studying a whole chapter or book of the Bible. It’s a great way to discover the meaning of a verse and passage in its proper context.
Staying focused as you read God’s Word is easier when you take notes verse-by-verse. It also helps you stay organized as you write notes from various Bible commentaries, books or sermons.
How to Take Notes Verse-by-Verse
1. Write the text of the verse you are on followed by the verse address or write only the verse address.
I prefer to write down the phrase or full text of one to two verses followed by the Scripture address in parenthesis on their own line. For example, when taking notes on Psalm 23, I write part of the verse:
”He restores my soul” (23:3)
For a longer verse or passage, I may simply write the Scripture address in bold followed by a hyphen (e.g. “23:3 —”) or just a phrase from the verse with its address. Note that the heading containing the book name would be at the top of the page already so I don’t rewrite this unless I am studying from more than one book or chapter of the Bible.
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2. Write your notes, questions, observations and so forth.
Next, I write notes or questions I have on the line below the verse I wrote, or after the hyphen if using the Scripture address only. For example,
”He restores my soul” (23:3)
restores — Strongs #H7725: to bring back; to restore, refresh, repair; to turn back (to God), to repent, to turn back (from evil).
What does it mean that You restore my soul? Ultimately, the gift of salvation comes to mind—Your great mercy in restoring our souls from sin and its penalty, making us new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Because of this—because of You—I can walk on the paths of righteousness as it states later in this same verse. Thank You for Your gift of grace and Your great love for us in this!
I may write a lot of a little, depending on what I am studying. It also depends on the genre of the specific book of the Bible, the theme or topic, its application, etc. My favorite thing to take notes on is to write observations about God that the verse reveals, such as about His character, actions or promises.
Furthermore, my verse-by-verse note-taking may include historical notes, Strongs Concordance definitions, other related Scriptures, or something to research in greater depth at a later time. Other times, I may write prayers to God that I be able to obey something He is calling me to do.
3. Use Scripture resources.
Scripture resources can help you in verse-by-verse note taking. You want to find out the context of what you are studying, so remember not to just grab a verse out of its context, but read the entire chapter, taking notes as you go along verse-by-verse.
Two resources I recommend are BlueLetterBible and a good study Bible.
BlueLetterBible has free access to Strongs Concordance definitions, cross-references, different translations of the Bible and a handful of good commentaries. They also have daily Bible reading plans and apps for mobile devices and tablets.
Read this next: Why You Need a Scripture Reading Plan
Study Bibles can be purchased both as hard copies and eBook form.
Surprising to some, I prefer the eBook version of study Bibles because they are a lot lighter and the commentary text is bigger! I simply use my physical Bible (that isn’t a study Bible) alongside my Kindle with the study Bible eBook. I then go directly to the footnotes for the book of the Bible I’m reading since I already have the Scripture text open in my physical Bible.
There are two main study Bible categories: interpretation-centered and application-centered ones. Interpretation-centered is best for understanding the meaning of the text, which—ironically—is key to properly applying the text in our lives!
Study Bibles in the interpretation-centered category include:
I hope this article gives you some another helpful way to take notes as you study God’s life-giving Word. Check out more posts from the Bible Study Tips series.