The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Three

The EssentialGuid toVerseMapping3

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word.

In my previous posts on Verse Mapping, you learned Step One: Context–discovering the context of your chosen verse and Step Two: Other Translations–looking up your verse in different versions and translations of the Bible.

The EssentialGuide to VerseMapping3

Step Three: Cross-References

Now you’re ready for the third step in the Verse Mapping process–finding cross-references. A cross-reference is a verse that relates to your verse. It may use similar words or be on the same topic. The cross-references shed additional light on the topic as other authors teach on it.

Martin Luther wrote that “Scripture is its own expositor.” When we have questions about a verse, the best place to go for answers is the Bible. Other passages in the Bible can explain places that are difficult for us to understand. The more we read the clearer Scripture will become. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word and illumines our comprehension.

One way to find cross-references is to use a study Bible. Often a study Bible will list the cross-references in the middle of the page between the two columns. To find a cross-reference, look for your verse number. The letters indicate cross-references for different parts of the verse, different concepts.

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Using Bible Gateway for Cross-References

Or you can use online Bibles for finding cross-references. On Bible Gateway, once you have found your chosen verse, you click on the gear symbol for “Settings,” and then on “Cross-references.” You will have to make sure that the version you are looking at has cross-references. For instance, the English Standard Version, the New American Standard Version, the New International Version have cross-references available. The New Living Translation and the Amplified Bible do not.

In the screenshot below, note the gear symbol (green arrow). Once you click the gear, the drop-down menu is visible. You can see that the cross-reference box is checked.


To find the cross-references, I look at my verse–John 15:5–and look for the letters in parenthesis. I can click on one of the letters and a little box with the cross-references will appear:


Or I can remember the letters in my verse–in this case, J and K–and then scroll down where all the cross-references are listed. You can click on the references and the verses will be displayed.


Some verses will have many cross-references. Others only a few. Write your chosen cross-references into your Verse Map Template.

Verse Mapping Step 3

From the cross-references for John 15:5, I notice that abiding in Christ is possible because we are united with Christ through His death and His resurrection. John 15:16 tells me that Jesus chose me so that I could bear fruit–lasting fruit. This is amazing to me! First of all, I’m astounded at being chosen and second, that part of my calling is to produce something lasting for God’s kingdom.

Through His Word, God continually teaches me more about being His child. Verse Mapping helps me see things that I might not otherwise notice.

Next Step: If you haven’t done so already, give Verse Mapping a try. Download a Verse Mapping template here. Look up cross-references for your chosen verse.


The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Two

The EssentialGuidetoVerseMapping2

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word.

In my previous post, we discussed choosing a verse to study, assembling supplies, and Step One of examining the context of the verse.

The EssentialGuide to VerseMapping2

Verse Mapping Step Two: Other Translations

Now you’re ready for step two–looking at your chosen verse in other translations or versions of the Bible. This simple step can shed new light on the verse because a different version may translate the original Hebrew or Greek words with different English words that allow you to look at the verse in a new way. You gain new insight, a fresh perspective.

You can do this step with additional Bibles you own. Bible nerd that I am, I own English Standard Version (ESV), New International Version NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), Amplified Bible (AMP), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and The Living Bible (TLB).


You can also look up your verse in different translations with a parallel Bible which contains several versions side by side.

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But the easiest way to do this is to use an online Bible site. My favorite site for this is Bible Here is a screenshot of John 15:5 in ESV, NIV, NLT, and AMP.

John 15-5 in parallel translations

My go-to version is English Standard Version because it is one that stays very close to the original languages. NIV is a little more readable. New Living Translation often makes verses easier to understand. And I love the Amplified Bible because it expands certain words, giving additional meaning derived from the original languages.

With my chosen verse of John 15:5, I started out with ESV. But from the other versions, I can see that abide can mean remain. Abiding in Christ is remaining connected to Him. Perhaps remaining is more passive than abiding, reminding me that Christ is holding me. My role is simply not to wriggle away. From NLT I can see that bearing fruit is the same as producing fruit. And the Amplified Bible gives a little more meaning to “apart from Me”–“cut off from vital union with Me.” All of this helps me understand the verse a little better.

Using Bible Gateway

To look up your verse in multiple versions, go to and enter your verse in the search bar.

Then click on the “Add parallel” icon (note green arrow below):


You can look at up to five versions at a time. To change the version, click on the little gray arrow next to one of the versions and a menu of over 100 versions will pop up (note yellow arrow in picture below.) Click on the version you want to look at.

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Now write your favorite versions into your verse map. I chose the Amplified Version and also The Message because they both added new insights. The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible, not a direct translation. Sometimes I think it is way off from the true meaning of the verse, but for John 15:5 I thought it did a good job of catching the meaning and expressing it in a new way.

Verse Mapping Step 2

These versions remind me that apart from Christ, I can do nothing. But joined with Him, I can have an abundant fruit. Even in this process of Verse Mapping, rely on the Holy Spirit to teach and guide you. We cannot do it on our own. But, God loves to reveal Himself in His Word.

Next step: Look up your chosen verse in different translations or versions of the Bible. Choose your favorites and write them in your Verse Map. You can download my Verse Map template here.



The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step One

The Essential Guideto VerseMapping

You love Scripture. You read it. You listen to it. You meditate on it.

Through it the voice of God speaks to your heart.

But sometimes you wish you could get more out of it.

Enter Verse Mapping.

What exactly is Verse Mapping?

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word.

In Verse Mapping, you look at the individual parts of a Bible verse and then put it back together with the new understanding you have gained. It incorporates all the things I usually do to dig into God’s Word in a systematic way. Through this method, you will grasp the meaning of the verse in a new way that will help you apply it to your life.

Getting Started

To start the Verse Mapping process, you will need to:

A. Grab your supplies for your Bible journey.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all these tools. With each step, I will show you how to use online Bible tools.


The EssentialGuide toVerse Mapping

B. Select a verse to diagram

  • Begin with prayer: ask God to lead you to the verse you need right now.
  • Consider a verse from your daily Bible reading plan.
  • Or pick a favorite verse that you have questions about or want to understand better.
  • Copy your verse from your favorite translation of the Bible to the top of your verse map.

To illustrate the process, I will be mapping John 15:5 on my Verse Mapping template:

VerseMapStep 1Verse Mapping Step 1: Context

Now you’re ready for Step 1 of Verse Mapping–discovering the context of the verse. Look in your Bible and find out what was happening before and after the verse. If the verse is part of a story or narrative give a summary. Note who said or wrote the words in your chosen verse.

Context is very important to understanding the big picture. It will help you avoid making applications of the verse that were never meant by the original author.

Verse Mapping Step 1a

Now grab your supplies and start your own verse map. Whenever we open God’s Word, the Holy Spirit speaks to us and teaches us the mind of Christ. Verse Mapping can help us pay attention to His voice.

Download a copy of the Verse Mapping template here.

Next week we will explore Step 2.

Next step: Ask God to help you choose the verse that He wants you to study–the verse you need for spiritual growth. Ask Him to guide you through this in-depth study process.