Ways to Worship | Verse Mapping

This is the third post in the Ways to Worship series, where we look at different ways to read the Bible.





Google Maps is a blessing for directionally-challenged people like me. Yesterday, my husband and I were driving to a suburb so recently built, it wasn’t on our GPS. We turned, therefore, to Google Maps. At first, we needed to zoom out and look at the big-picture map, to see how we could get from one side of Sydney to the other. As we got closer, though, our focus shifted and I zoomed the map in to look more closely at the details – the street names, any surrounding landmarks. Two different approaches to the same map. Reading the Bible can be the same. We can look at the big picture, or we can zoom in and focus on the smaller details. Our method today – verse mapping – is all about the details, about observing close up.



Verse mapping as it’s presented here seems to first come up in a blog post by Heather Bleier in 2012. I only discovered this method while researching for Ways to Worship, so I’m still getting to know it.

Although this specific method might be fairly new, people have been doing detailed verse-studies for years. Many of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons focus on a single verse.


What do I need

  • a Bible (two or three translations is best)

  • a piece of blank paper

  • pens, highlighters, etc.

  • dictionary (just a regular English language one)

  • Bible dictionary

  • Greek or Hebrew dictionary

  • concordance

If you don’t have access to all of these resources, thankfully they’re all also online. Makes it a bit easier than having big heavy books all over your desk, too.




How to do it?

1. Choose a Bible verse

  • It could something that stood out to you in a sermon or quiet time, or maybe it’s an issue that’s relevant to you at the moment

  • Write the verse out on the paper – maybe in the middle of the page or at the top, like a heading, but make sure it’s the focal point of the page.


2. Find the basics

  • Highlight the key words in the verse. Look them up in the dictionary and note down their meanings.

  • If you can find the original Hebrew or Greek translation, does this add any depth of meaning?

  • Read the verse in a few different translations. Are any words or phrases expressed differently?


3. Look deeper

  • What are the main themes of the verse? Using a concordance, find a few other verses that speak on the same themes.

  • Is there anything in the historical context that adds deeper meaning to the passage?

  • How does the verse fit in to the rest of the book? How does it fit in the big picture of the Bible?


4. Pull it all together

  • Write a summary statement of the verse’s meaning – what does it say about its main themes?

  • How do the principles of this verse relate to your own life?


This is just a basic outline. Depending on your artistic style and abilities, there are many different ways to note down your findings. Look up verse mapping on Pinterest for some inspiration!


Lectio Divina


Potential pitfalls

The temptation with this one is to get distracted by all the creative ways to verse map, especially if you’re an artistic person. Or for those of us who aren’t so artistically inclined, you might be hesitant to even start something like this. By all means, be creative with your presentation but remember the main thing is finding truth from the Bible – even if it doesn’t look pretty.



My attempt in verse mapping on one of my favourite verses


Why do it?

Verse mapping is a great way to zoom in and focus on one verse – or even one word – of the Bible. Instead of getting a big-picture view (which is helpful too), it allows us to glean as much truth from that one verse as possible, looking at it close up from many different angles.


Helpful resources

Verse mapping, Heather Bleier

Verse mapping 101: Steps to study the Bible like never before, Kristy Cambron

Bible study skills: Verse mapping, Sarah Travis

Verse mapping for beginners: How to unlock the Scriptures, Arabah Joy


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