My Grace-Full Life

6.24.22 Weekly Blog: Verse Mapping

TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• For the word of God is  living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This week, My Grace-Full Life did a new thing. It started on Tuesday with a verse presented with blanks. I called it “Personalize the Word.” Every day this week, I’ve included a disclaimer: This is not meant to re-write Scripture. The Bible is clear that we are not to add or takeaway from it. However, if you’re a new believer — you may struggle to figure out how these verses apply to you… or if you’re a seasoned believer, you may have grown numb to the words from familiarity.  This exercise isn’t meant to alter or change God’s Word or the context of the verse.  Instead, the goal is to remind us how personal His Word is. The Bible is God’s love letter to you and me. As one person put it, “The Bible is the only book, where the Author is in love with the reader.” 

That disclaimer is hugely important to me because I never want to be accused of mishandling the Word of God. But this step in personalization can lead to verse mapping — a really effective tool for diving deep into Scripture to gain a more robust understanding.

It’s a great exercise because of this truth: there is a difference between reading your Bible and studying your Bible. 

Verse mapping gives us an opportunity to meditate on the Word. Not meditation as the world says (getting quiet and emptying our minds).  Biblical mediation is about filling our minds with what God says.

James 1:23-24 addresses this — “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”

That’s the person who reads the Word and then — walks away but didn’t necessarily get anything out of what he read.  And if we’re not getting anything out of our Bible reading — then we can end up being spiritually malnourished.

With verse mapping, we are not just reading / swallowing the Word…. We’re savoring it and meditating on it. It’s a way of studying individual Bible verses for the purpose of:

  • Personalizing them
  • Understanding them in cultural and historical context
  • Doing a deeper dive into the original languages of Greek and Hebrew
  • It’s a way to meditate on Scripture
  • It allows us to slowly uncover richer and deeper meaning — carefully avoiding reading into the Scripture to degree of making it say what we WANT it to mean or adding to the text, but we search to uncover more of what God can teach us.
  • It opens up the door for cross-referencing Scripture

The specific steps of verse mapping include:

  1. Prayer
  2. Choosing a verse
  3. The mapping itself

Some of the tools needed include:

  • Bible
  • Pencil / Pens
  • Highlighters
  • Sticky notes
  • Ruler
  • Paper
  • Commentaries
  • Access to Bible resources such as BibleGateway.com, OpenBible.info, GotQuestions.org, and Timeline.BibleHistory.com.

Verse mapping instructions are:

  1. Ask God to direct you as you begin verse mapping.
  2. Choose a verse and read the context of the verse — read the verses before and after it. 
    • How do you choose a verse?
      • Some verses will naturally come to you and you know it’s the one you need to study.
      • I love verse lists:  i.e., Fervent, I Can Only Imagine, Sin Lists
    • What do you think the verse is about?
    • What is going on in the history or culture?  
      • I.e., Psalm 54 when David wrote “against You, and You alone, have I sinned,” we know this was in response to his confession of his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah.
      • Make note of what’s happening in this specific passage.
  3. Write out the verse in your preferred translation.
    • What is the value of writing a verse out? Writing helps us process to memory better than typing.
  4. Personalize it.  Where the verse references “you,” “your,” “we,” “him,” or “her” — insert your name.
    • Say it out loud.
  5. Highlight words or phrases that pop out and seem to carry great meaning to you.
    • Read the verses out loud.
    • Adjust the inflection.
  6. Write out the verse in at least two other translations.
    • What translations are reliable?
    • What types of translations are there?
      • Literal: word-for-word translations
      • Dynamic: overall meaning in modern language, but not necessarily word-for-word
    • According to Got Questions — these are the best / most accurate translations:
      • King James Version
      • New American Standard Bible
      • New International Version
      • New English Translation
      • The Message and The Living Bible
      • New Revised Standard Version
    • Of course — this is the writer’s opinion…. They even state that it’s a subjective opinion.  And personally, I disagree with their choice of The Message translation.
      • I agree it’s an interesting translation and I reference it periodically.  But it’s not a study Bible.  It’s a reading Bible.
    • On BibleGateway.com, you can research version information about each translation to learn more about them.
    • All that said — for study — ESV, NLT, and NKJV are all great translations to use.
      • ESV is a literal translation
      • NLT is a thought translation
      • NKJV is a literal translation, mirroring the KJV with more modern wording.
    • Okay — getting back on track, What information do you glean from looking at the different translations side-by-side?
  7. Are there stand-out words that you want to better define?  
    • What are the original words used?  
      • The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, some Aramaic, and Greek.  While there’s some exceptions — primarily, the translations break down to:
        • Old Testament — Hebrew
        • New Testament — Greek
    • Do the words you’re emphasizing mean the same as we understand them to mean?
      • Love is a primary example.  
        • We have one word for “love.”
        • But the New Testament was originally written in Greek.  And in Greek, there are four different words for love:
          • (1) eraō for ‘sexual passion,’ a word not found in the New Testament
          • (2) storgeō for ‘family devotion,’ a word used in a negative sense in 2 Timothy 3:3 as ‘unloving’
          • (3) phileō for ‘friendship,’ a word appearing frequently in the New Testament; and
          • (4) agapaō for ‘loving-kindness.’… In the New Testament, the word agapē took on a special meaning. It was used by the New Testament writers to designate a ‘volitional love’ as opposed to a purely emotional love, a ‘self-sacrificial love,’ and a ‘love naturally expressed by God,’ but not so easily by men and women. It is a word that speaks of compassion, regard, kindness, and true love. It is an unselfish love that transcends natural affinities. In short, it is a love that we don’t naturally have. It is divine.”
        • And since we know that in the King James Version, “love” was used 179 times, and we know there were four possible meanings of the original word, we need to know what we’re looking at…. https://www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_WordCount.htm 
          • This step is going to be the most challenging and even if you skip it — you still need to know why it’s important.
          • I have the Logos Bible software that does this for me — but I also spent $1800 on it.
          • You may want to invest in Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew Words Explained and Defined — it’s not expensive.
  8. How can you cross-reference the verses to other promises and passages in Scripture?
    • This is crazy easy if you’re using Bible Gateway on your computer.
      • Pull up the scripture.  
      • Select the tool icon.
      • Check Cross-references
      • Then, hover the mouse on the letters to see how the verse cross-references.
      • Look up those verses.
      • Write them down.
    • What is the value of doing this step?
  9. Pray again.  
    • What have you learned?
    • Re-read your notes.
    • Ponder the words.
    • Make notes about what God has shown you.
    • Identify your next steps.

Next — you just practice.  You keep doing it.  You get more proficient at it.

The purpose of verse mapping is to grow closer to God and gain a more personal understanding of His Word.

We are carefully guarded that we’re not adding to it or taking away from it.  But simply looking for ways to enrich our understanding of The Word through the Word.

Verse Mapping really helps us understand the truth of Hebrews 4:12 — “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Today, as you pray, thank God for His Word and the incredible resources we have to do these kinds of studies. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you dive deeper and to teach you. Ask Him to give you a teachable heart that is eager to learn.

SHARING ••• My Grace-Full Life is written by Denise Heidel. You are welcome to share anything I write, but please credit my writing and graphics accordingly. Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. Subscribe through my website to have My Grace-Full Life delivered to your email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the NKJV translation.

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