6 Feb 2018

10 Things to Write in Your Bible [Podcast Episode 23]

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When I first started taking notes in my Bible, I mostly marked words and phrases that grabbed my eye. I then read somewhere, that you should never highlight something unless you write a note about it. I did not do this all the time, but I started underlining, highlighting and adding a few notes here and there.  Often times, I added asterisks with footnotes.

Pictured to the left is a Bible from this phase of my life. This was a paperback New International Version Bible handed to me by a stranger on campus as I headed to class. My first read of the entire New Testament was in this Bible. I literally wore its cover off. Now I mark my Bible in one of two ways: General Notes or Kay Arthur Inductive Bible Study Technique.

General Notes

I often read with a pen or pencil in hand. I mark my Bible the way I use to mark text books in college. A key concept or some phrase pops out at me and I mark it. Usually, I underline or circle it. I might make a note in the margin. This is my norm during my devotional reading and basically looks like what I did to the Bible pictured to the left.

Systematic Symbols and Colors–Kay Arthur’s Inductive Study Technique

When I study a book of the Bible more intensively, then I use a very systematic method of marking the text. Note that this is what I do when I am studying a book of the Bible.  It’s not the only study I do, but it is one method for taking a rather intensive look at a text. What I am about to describe is not what I do when I am just doing devotional reading nor is it what I do when I am looking at individual passages. When studying a book of the Bible I first read an introduction in a study bible, bible dictionary or bible handbook. I familiarize myself with the book before reading. Specifically, I learn details like when was it written, by whom, to whom and what seems to be the central purpose. I also like to know who the principle people are and core themes.

What I mark

  • Any divine references, i.e.  God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Spirit, etc.
  • Principle characters
  • Great memory verses
  • Contrasts and Comparisions
  • Lists, for example: fruits of the spirit, characteristics of love, commandments, etc.
  • Core themes, like praying, rejoicing, forgiveness, wisdom, etc.
  • Add arrows, boxes, or other ways to tie together related materials
  • Time references
  • Geographic Locations
  • Headings for new sections



Overtime the method becomes second nature. At that point, color codes and marks aid insights. I recall passages and understand them much better now. I retain lessons longer.  Also, contrasts and comparisons leap off of the page. One the biggest benefits of marking texts, regardless of the method you choose, is that you train your mind to be far more attentive to what you are reading. You will mentally note details even if you are not marking the text. You will stay more focused.



In my next post, you will learn four do’s and don’t of how you should mark you bible. These are lessons I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to.  Until then select and action step below and start marking that bible.


  • Read with a pen or pencil in hand
  • Designate or purchase a Bible to mark
  • Bring your Bible with you to worship and insert sermon notes


  • Purchase The New Inductive Study Bible and some colored pencils
  • Mark a Gospel using an inductive method
  • Purchase a Kay Arthur inductive bible study and complete it

The 40 Day Gospel Challenge

Read through the four gospels in just forty days. This isn’t an overly burdensome challenge to take on. You only need to read two to three chapters of scripture a day. I am putting together an easy-to-follow reading schedule for you, plus some supplemental resources to help you have a more profitable time reading the gospels. You will receive…

  • A daily reading chart so you know EXACTLY what to read to complete all four gospels in just 40 days.
  • Quick notes alerting you what to watch for as key themes in each of the gospels
  • Encouraging emails with tips to help you along the way so you aren’t going it alone

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Would You Like to Read the Bible in One Year?

The resource below will give you step-by-step instruction on how to over come the most common problems that prevent someone from reading the Bible in the year. If you’re serious about reading the Bible in a year, I would encourage you to also listen to my podcast episode, “How to Read the Bible in a Year.”

FREE Bible Reader’s Resource

Have you needlessly struggled to read the Bible? You’re not alone, but with a few simple strategies anyone can read and enjoy studying the Bible for his or herself.

I’ve put together a Bible Reading Bundle to make daily reading and study ridiculously simple.

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What’s in the Bible Reading Bundle

The One Year Bible Reading Tool Kit – A collection of 13 proven daily bible reading schedules to help you know exactly what to read everyday. Plus, the easy-to-follow tips I’ve used to successful read the Bible everyday for over thirty years. Never miss a day again with these prevent tips.

SOAP Bible Journaling Cheat Sheet – A step-by-step guide for quickly and easily gathering insights from your reading and applying them to your daily life. Literally, just fill-in the blanks and learn. The SOAP Bible Journaling Technique has been used by thousands of people to take their faith to the next level.

Don’t miss out download these FREE proven resources today!

Download Your Bible Reading Bundle

–This post is revised and expanded from a post originally written October 28, 2009–

2 Responses

  1. Barb Hildebrandt

    John…I needed this. My devotional life is OK right now but my study life stinks. Needed a push so thanks. Seems hard to keep them both on keel – easy to veer one way or another. Devotional time more easily aligns with my ‘random number generator’ tendencies that sometimes shun structure. Thanks again!

  2. Pingback : Creating Sacred Space While Traveling | The Practical Disciple

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