Verse mapping is a way to drill down into a verse to better understand its meaning using historical context, definitions, word origins and cross-references.
Last month I started posting verse maps on Instagram (#CRversemapping) and several of you wanted to know how I do it. First, let me say that I am no expert and my method isn’t perfect, but it works for me! You can, of course, make it your own.
Here are the steps that I take, and my corresponding color codes, to map a verse:
- SELECTION. The first thing I do is select the verse I want to dissect!
- I read (and re-read) the verse plus the ones before and after it to gain CONTEXT. I dig in to my study bible to find out things like: Who wrote it? When was it written? Who was the original intended audience?
- TRANSLATIONS: I use the Blue Letter Bible app to see translation comparisons at a glance. Here, I find similarities and differences between translations. Alternative translations can give better context for a word or phrase and give it fullness. And because I certainly do not know Greek, I watch Daily Dose of Greek videos to give me a deeper understanding of the Greek translation, too!
- I PERSONALIZE it, where possible. For example, if the apostle Paul writes “I” then I replace that word with his name. If Jesus says, “you” then I replace that word with “me” or my own name. I use magenta for this step.
- I look for KEY PHRASES and block them out in blue.
- Any direct reference to GOD, JESUS or the HOLY SPIRIT I mark in green. It’s amazing what patterns are revealed with this step!
- Any words that can be enhanced with a Webster-style DEFINITION, I add those in yellow.
- Secondary phrases that have CROSS REFERENCES, I mark in orange. Read those referenced verses. They can often be found in a study bible either in the footnotes or margins. In my imperfect mapping, this “orange” category sometimes becomes a catch-all for additional biblical explanation!
- Lastly, I re-read the verse, noticing the color-coding. What connections, if any, appear? I SUMMARIZE my findings in my own words.
Check out the completed example below!
What stood out to me in the verse above was the presence of the trinity. Here we see God initiates this “good work” of sanctification, made possible by the gift of His Son, and executed by the Holy Spirit within us. It’s all His doing! And He cannot, by His perfect nature, leave a work unfinished. ♡