Bible Study Faith

How to Verse Map and a Free Verse Mapping Template

Grab this free printable verse mapping template to help you dig into God’s word by studying the context, keywords, translations and cross references in a Bible verse.

Several years ago, I read through Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word for the first time. It’s a short, straightforward book about how to read the Bible, but I’ll tell you that it’s had such an impact on my Christian walk. Since that first read through, I’ve read, referenced or listened to it a few more times, each time pulling out more tips about how to correctly and effectively study the Bible.

Women of the Word resources: paperback | kindle | short video playlist | podcast

Early on in the book, Wilkin tells it like it is. And as much as we don’t like the discomfort of being called out, it also offers us the chance to face our own issues head on so that we can work on correcting them.

Women of the Word unearthed my slanted reading tendencies and showed me a better, more thorough way to approach scripture. It outlined how to study the Bible with purpose, patience, perspective, process and prayer. For me, it was a game changer. I was able to put these tips into practice as I began studying my Bible on my own, not merely relying on a Christian study written for women. (More about my past tendencies in this post.)

As I was studying my Bible, I would jot down notes and scribbles in my journal with lots of annotations and pointing arrows to connect thoughts when diving deep into certain passages. I would hone in on one verse and dissect its structure, word usage and meaning. Little did I know, I was doing a form of what has now been popularized as “verse mapping.”

What is Verse Mapping?

Verse mapping is a way to study scripture—one verse at a time—by taking a deep dive to honor the historical context, connect cross references, extract word origins, define keywords and highlight eternal truths.

Verse mapping requires nothing but a Bible, pen and paper, and a willingness to do the work of discovery. It encourages this same idea of scripture excavation that Women of the Word teaches, but on a smaller scale.

Every single time I verse map a portion of scripture, I’m amazed that God’s word will yield so much insight from a single verse of scripture.

Though I may choose to verse map a Bible verse I’ve heard again and again for years, breaking it down in this way has opened up my eyes to see so much more about who God is as well as the amazing literary components of his Word.

Why Verse Mapping in an Amazing Tool

As I continue on my journey of scripture memory that I began last summer, verse mapping my memory verses has helped me tremendously. Besides the obvious learning styles of writing and reading a memory verse, breaking it down piece by piece helps me to truly understand it as I am hiding God’s word in my heart (Psalm 119:11). I’m not only able to recite it, I’m able to unpack the meaning to relay with someone else.

The Bible commands us in Colossians 3:16 to “Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly…” and, for me, this process of verse mapping has unearthed a richness in the foundational soil of God’s word beyond my wildest expectations. Seeds of faith sown decades ago have sprouted as scripture I learned as a child has rebloomed and I’ve seen it with fresh eyes.

Connections from verses spread all over the Bible come to mind during my mapping sessions, oftentimes, substantiated by the same cross references listed in my study Bible for that verse.

It’s been a slow process, but I feel that every time I verse map, one more piece of the Puzzle of Understanding God is put into place.

Who Should Try Verse Mapping?

But when I think about my own spheres of influence, verse mapping is for the busy, rushed mom who wants to study God’s word as much as it is for the woman who can devote hours of time to scripture.

Verse mapping is for the new Christian as much as it is for the mature believer. Verse mapping truly is for everyone.

This idea of digging deep into God’s word is a practical way to let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to God (Psalm 19:14).

When I verse map, my mind continually goes back to that verse throughout the day or week. As I meditate on it, God continues to show me insights as I go about my day-to-day responsibilities. Through verse mapping, I’m not only able to make connections within the historical framework of Biblical times, but I’m also able to see the timelessness of the verse’s application to modern-day life.

Micro and Macro Verse Mapping

Though there are many articles online with tips and instructions for verse mapping, my favorite way to approach scripture is to combine some of the concepts I learned from Women of the Word.

Besides breaking down a verse of scripture word for word at the micro level, I also find much value in zooming out to the macro level and walking through the process of comprehension, interpretation and application that Wilkin outlines in her book.

I find this helps me to be true to the context of the verse by taking the extra time to paraphrase it, note it’s meaning and, lastly (intentionally), determine how it applies to me.

Free Verse Mapping Template

Though there are many verse mapping journals on the market, I wanted to verse map consistently in a way that wove together the micro and macro aspects of Bible study. So I developed my own verse mapping template to remind me not to skip over certain aspects when I begin to take deep dives into God’s word.

In this free verse mapping template, you’ll find the space to unearth the richness of the text on a micro level, as well as zoom out to get the bigger picture.

My heart is for more women to feel equipped to study God’s word on their own, and I’m praying this verse mapping template is one more tool in their arsenal.

How to Use this Template to Map a Bible Verse

Step 1: Write Out the Verse

Fill out the top portion of the template, including the book and verse reference, as well as the abbreviation for the translation used. Write the entire verse in the square box in a large font. And be sure to fill in the date, because the timing of when you verse mapped influences your insights, especially your application of the verse. You’ll better understand how God was working in the context of your own life when you look back at your verse maps in the future.

Step 2: Research the Context

Before you begin marking up your template and making tons of notes, do the work of discovery to determine the context of this single verse.

  • Read a couple other translations for better understanding. Note relevant translation alternatives in a circle surrounding the verse.
  • Read the Bible verses preceding and the following the verse—or even read the entire chapter—to understand the framework of the verse. Note relevant background in a circle surrounding the verse.
  • Answer the questions in the Context box regarding authorship, audience, timing, genre and purpose.

Step 3: Pull Out the Keywords

Highlight the keywords in the verse in different colors.

  • Use a dictionary to define keywords and note alternatives for keywords in other translations.
  • Look up word origins using a Hebrew or Greek lexicon resource such as biblehub.com or blueletterbible.org.
  • Devote a circle to record your keyword findings, highlighting each circle with the same color as the keyword in your square to connect them.
  • Also, feel free to mark up the text in the square box as you see fit. Besides highlighting, try underlining, circling, boxing or starring words that jump out to you. And consider connecting related thoughts or similar themes in your circles with lines, arrows, dots, etc.
verse mapping example using free template

Step 4: Let Scripture Interpret Scripture

Take note of cross references for this verse.

  • Using a study Bible, concordance or online resource such as biblehub.com or blueletterbible.org, look up the cross references and note any that stand out to you. Record the references and short notes in a circle, if room, or between circles in the white space.
  • Jot down how the cross references tie into your understanding of a specific keyword or the verse as a whole.

Step 5: What Does It Say?

Now that you’ve done your research, use the What Does It Say? box at the bottom of the template to record your observations of the text.

  • Connect the dots and think about the bigger picture from all the observations you made in the circles.
  • Add more notes from other Bible translations if needed.
  • Not the big ideas presented in the verse and any important details you find by zooming out to view the text as a whole.
  • Consider the sentence structure and word or idea emphasis, including word repetition, transition words, sequential ideas, etc.

Step 6: What Does It Mean?

After you’ve observed the verse, move on to interpret the meaning or intention of the verse.

  • Paraphrase the text by answering what it means.
  • Consider the historical context for your interpretation, including the original audience and the author’s purpose.
  • Use cross references to let scripture interpret scripture.
  • Consult commentary last after the process of discovery plays out.

Step 7: What Should I Do?

The final step is to apply the verse. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom in determining how to apply the verse to your life and remember that God does the changing.

  • How should the verse change me?
  • What does this verse teach me about God or Christ?
  • How does this aspect of God’s character change my view of self?
  • What should I do in response?
  • What action do I need to take to obey God?
  • How do I apply this truth to my Christian walk?
  • What promises of God does this verse show me that I can apply to my own life?

Printable Instructions for Verse Mapping Template

For an easy reference for how to verse map, I’ve noted verse mapping instructions within the free verse mapping template.

free instructions on a verse mapping template
Click here for printable instructions for the Verse Mapping Template
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Haley

I'm a full-time wife and semi-stay-at-home mom to four young kids. Day to day, I help my husband with his small business, but when I have any extra time, you can find me cooking or being active outdoors with my family. We live at the foothills of the North Georgia mountains and are embracing modern homesteading month by month.

12 Comments

  1. Thank you for the template. We’re just getting into this type of study and so the process is the first step. I’ll look up the book you mentioned!

  2. This is exactly what I was looking for!! Thank you for the clear example of steps and template to start my journey on verse mapping. I am excited to start a more in depth study of verses and so appreciate your post and guidance. Thank you!

  3. What a clear and generous explanation you have given us. I really appreciate not only the template, but the template that includes your instructions. You’ve done fellow believers a real service.

  4. Thank you for sharing this valuable information to help us understand and scrutinize the word of God. I am excited to start, at 66 years old, I am sure that this method will help me understand and explain certain verses to others, including my grandchildren. Blessings for all. Thank you

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