Have you ever learned Bible marking? Do you know how to mark your Bible effectively? There is no exact science, nor are there explicit biblical commands to follow around this area of Bible study. But with a better understanding of how Bible marking can help us in our walks with Jesus, our personal time in the Word can be enriched both in the moment and for years to come!
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How I Got Into Bible Marking
As a young believer, I remember being excited to learn that my Bible wasn’t a book that I needed to keep in the most pristine condition. Instead, I could let it get worn from use—and even that I could mark it up! I got started with Bible marking by simply highlighting verses that stood out to me based on what I was going through at the time. But as the months and years passed, I—for the most part—stopped marking up my Bible. It was nice to look back on my highlights from months and years passed and remember how God was working during those times. But I started realizing that when I’d just highlight my favorite passages, the pages would get filled and not much would stand out to me anymore.
But about a year ago, when I was receiving some training through my church on how to lead a small group through the basics of Bible study, there was a chapter on Bible marking. We received a simple key on how to more strategically mark our Bibles. I immediately connected with this training. Unlike my old way of Bible marking, which would change with the seasons, this plan was evergreen. I could gain wisdom from the markings as I was writing them. And I could benefit from them when I looked back, no matter how much time had passed.
Getting Started Again
Needless to say, I was excited to get started with Bible marking again! I even asked for a new journaling Bible for my birthday so I could start fresh. (And add notes in the margins when I wanted to!) I had my eye on this one for years and my sweet hubby got it for me. What a special gift it was when I turned the big 3-0!
So I got my new Bible, but my one issue with the Bible marking key my church gave us was that it was color-coded. I’m a hand lettering artist, so you might be surprised that I’m a minimalist when it comes to pens! I wanted to recreate a key with a similar concept where I could use just one pen. So, I made up my own underlines and symbols to mark similar words and phrases. I wrote my special key on a notecard I kept in my Bible so that I could easily refer to it. As I learned and grew, I even added some of my own underlines and symbols to highlight other key words and phrases I was noticing were important.
As I engaged with God’s Word in this way, I began realizing how my time reading Scripture was deepened. And when I did it alongside the Bible study I was going through with my small group, I could more easily answer the questions, because Bible marking was helping me see key themes and how to apply the text to our lives.
My Bible Marking Essentials
So as Bible marking became more of a consistent part of my quiet time, I decided it would be fun to create a pretty bookmark to share my system with others so that you could benefit from it! Pictured below are my three Bible marking essentials: my ESV journaling Bible, my go-to pen, and of course, my bookmark key.
ESV Journaling Bible
I love the ESV translation because it’s considered an “essentially literal” translation that’s still easy for today’s readers to understand. It prioritizes transparency to the form and structure of the original documents, which is also known as a word-for-word translation. The fact that this journaling Bible is pretty is just an added bonus! (You can learn more about Bible translations in this blog post.)
When I shared with a friend about my Bible marking endeavors, she loved the idea of starting with a new Bible. She, like me, wanted to give it a try but wasn’t ready to start marking up her favorite Bible. But as I mark up this new one, it is becoming my new favorite! If you’re wanting to start Bible marking, you don’t need a journaling Bible. You can use a regular Bible, a study Bible… but don’t let perfectionism be a hangup. Bible marking isn’t an exact science anyway! And if you feel comfortable, go right ahead and start marking up the Bible you’re currently reading from!
Like I mentioned above, I wanted to be able to do my Bible marking with just one pen. So it had to be the right one! Thankfully with my experience as a lettering artist, I’ve tried a lot of them! So I knew the Sakura Pigma Micron Pigment Fineliners were great. I chose the 005 weight so it wouldn’t muddy up the pages in my Bible or bleed through to the other side.
I had so much fun creating my Bible marking bookmark, which is now available in my shop (ships free)! It was a total upgrade from the notecard I initially wrote up for myself. And I even included a little sample passage as a helpful reference. Even if you use the exact same key, your markings will likely vary! As I did this sample passage with others in mind, I realized that there is a slight bit of variation that happens—even when I revisit a passage the next day—and that’s totally okay! All the more reason not to stress about perfection!
More About My Bible Marking Key
You might be wondering, why mark up these particular words and phrases? So, I’d love to briefly break down a few reasons why each prompt is important.
Names of God
God is at the center of the Bible—it’s His revelation to us! So it deeply benefits us to notice where He is mentioned. Circle Father, Son, Holy Spirit, God’s pronouns (He, His, Him), the Lord, etc. And get to know God by His names as He reveals Himself throughout Scripture.
Who God Is / What He Does
Similarly to how beneficial it is to take notice of God’s names and pronouns, it’s also important to notice His attributes, what He does, and what He promises. This shapes our most basic understanding of who God is.
Repeated Words & Phrases
Simply put, noting these can give us a better understanding of what the main point of a passage is or how God is calling us to apply a particular truth to our lives.
Sin, Warnings, Evil, Enemies
Have you ever looked at the mentions of these things in the Bible as an act of God’s mercy? He has so graciously warned us about various sins and how to recognize evil and enemies. He also uses these warnings to point us to Jesus and the gospel!
Application / What’s For Me?
I reference James 1:22 a lot, but it’s so important that we are doers of the Word and not hearers only. Sometimes the application of a passage is more implied or discerned, based on the context and content. But other times, the application is explicitly stated. It’s important as we read to ask God: How are you calling me to respond?
Similes & Metaphors
God often used similes and metaphors to make specific points in the Bible. Many of these examples refer to Christ. It’s also helpful to recognize similes and metaphors for accurate Bible interpretation and application.
Pronouns Referring to Me / Psalmist
Recognizing pronouns like me, I, you, us, and we can better help us understand how a text applies to us.
Romans 1:16 states that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes! These passages are of the utmost importance. They minister to us personally, no matter where we’re at in our walk with Jesus, and they help us witness to others as we carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15).
But / For / Therefore
Transition words are often overlooked. But in the Bible, they can have great significance. Paying attention to transition words can help us better understand ourselves, the character and promises of God, and so much more!
Enjoy Your Time In God’s Word
Are you ready to start Bible marking? I hope that this post has ignited a similar excitement in you as learning this did for me! As you read, take your time, go at your own pace, don’t worry about perfection, and discover how marking your Bible will benefit your personal studies and grow you in your understanding of who God is, who you are, and how He is calling you to respond. Blessings!