Posted in Bible Studies

Mark Your Bible

How do you mark your bible? A member of a church I once attended asked the minister this very question. The minister related this story during a sermon. His answer was surprising. He said, “How do you mark your bible? You mark your bible.”

As simplistic as it sounds, he was right. Sometimes we tend to overanalyze a rudimentary task and place a process around it when, in fact, all we need to do is do what comes naturally.

I say this because I am one of those people who needs structure and cannot start a project until I have all the pieces in place of where I want to go, what I want to do, and with whom I want to do it. Some tasks are meant to be organic, in that what we are doing at the moment is what should be done.

However, that is not to say that if you have a bible-marking system that works for you that you ought to abandon it. On the contrary, keep doing what you are doing. If it helps you learn the scriptures, there is no need to change something that is working. My advice is for those Christians who are wondering what to do when they buy their first bible and want to make notes in it but have no idea how to do that.

Again, I will say it: mark your bible.

How I used to mark my bible

How I marked my bible thirty years ago

I once had an elaborate marking system that enabled me to visually look at certain passages of the bible and know instantly what it was about. My color categories where:

  1. Blue—God
  2. Red—Angels and demons
  3. Brown—Humanity
  4. Orange—Civilization
  5. Purple—Israel
  6. Yellow—Church
  7. Green—Kingdom of God

In addition to coloring the verses, I also placed red-pen boxes around words I would want to define; and if something really stood out, I would underline phrases and words with a red pen. Of course, thinking I would need to differentiate what I learned at home with what I learned at church, I would carry around a blue pen and mark my bible that way during sermons.

For a long time, this system suited me. I appreciated it, and I enjoyed reading through marked sections again, gleaning tidbits of truth as I went along. I found, though, as the years went on, my understanding had grown and what I had believed twenty-five, thirty years ago, is not what I believe today. Several fundamentals are the same, but through diligent prayer and bible study, scriptures I had once marked as one thing suddenly had taken on a different meaning.

How I mark my bible today

Nowadays, I simply mark my bible. If a thought or a verse really stands out for me, affects me in a way that it has never affected me before, I mark it with whatever pen I have in my hand. I agree, it is a simplistic approach, but ultimately God through the Holy Spirit reveals what we need to remember when we read our bibles:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25)

It is not how we mark our bibles, but what we gain from those passages we have marked.


Jack Flacco is an author and the founder of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching.

34 thoughts on “Mark Your Bible

  1. I used a system of my own design. Fairly meticulously defined but then I’m an engineer. Then I started using a tablet app and haven’t marked in an actual Bible in several years.

  2. Also (sorry, should have added this to my original post haha) I use the Bible App a lot now, and did the same thing – bookmarked and color-coded passages, and then I couldn’t remember which color was for which. =) Now I just bookmark and add a tag so I have a reference when I’m really needing a particular type of encouragement. But sometimes, the Spirit leads me to an unexpected verse or passage that helps way more than my bookmarks.

    1. With my bible app, in terms of marking it, I really do not do that as much anymore, choosing to read it and meditate on the words instead. And I also bookmark my favorite passages, too.

  3. I love this! Sometimes we need a reminder to stop making things so complicated. Even Jesus wanted us to “travel light.” That applies to the things we do as much as the things we have. Thanks for a great post!

  4. Great you found your comfort zone for learning. Over time I developed my own also. What works for one person may not for another. Took me three Bibles later to find my niche.

  5. You’re so right! It’s easy to forget that the Bible is a living thing. No matter how many times you read it you’ll get something new out of passages you’ve read many times over. I still use different colors that highlight different aspects of God’s word but something that has helped me is reading a bible study aid along with my bible reading. It adds a lot of context and modern day application to what I’m reading and helps me remember better.

  6. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    Those who do find it helpful for them. If overmarked–so the original text gets hard to read–or you have my kind of handwriting–it could it unsuitable for the used bible market (even if given away)! Well-done post!

  7. I have been marking up Bibles for over 30 years. Recently, the idea occurred to me to change the color of my Bible marker about once a year. That way I can locate my most recent markings. I’ll have to let you know in a year from now how this is working out! LOL!

  8. The verses that for my attention stand out, I copy to the window’s notepad.
    And those verses who I reread frequently also help me adjust my focus.
    I do not feel free to take notes in the Holy Bible; I only keep the marker of the Book in the LORD’s Prayer in Matthew 6.

  9. I will inherit from my mom a very marked up Bible. She overcame so many trials of life when I was in middle school and high school. She lost both parents and my father was emotionally unfaithful. The Bible got her through it all. Her simple, white-covered Bible will be mine one day and I will cherish it. She underlined many key scriptures and wrote some of her struggles in the notes section. Next to the “struggle” she wrote a helpful verse. I will cherish this Bible, and it means more than diamonds to me.

  10. The Bible on my night stand, I do not mark. When I read, I want the Holy Spirit to speak and not have old thoughts interfere. But in my study/church Bible, I mark it.

    1. I, too, keep a bible on my night stand that I read just before going to bed. And yes, I, too, have it unmarked and pristine. My main bible, though, is pretty marked up.

  11. For the longest time I wouldn’t even dare make a mark in my Bible- the rules were the Bible was treated with more respect than any other book(which I wasn’t allowed to write in)… so I don’t know when but one day a little yellow highlighter would mark my Bible through verses that stuck out. Then someone suggested a journal so I could make notes, well I began that in 2005 or 2006 and I’d write the verse that stuck out- but none made sense for nothing was going on that would make them make a hill of beans sense… well 2007 my life was turned upside down as my husband confessed to an affair- which turned out to be much more- but those verses are what held me up, knowing that even though I didn’t know what was coming- God did and He had already paved the way to help me through. Well today my Bible is marked and notes written- I am trying the color coding thing but it just doesn’t seem to always work… (purple for God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, green for life/salvation , Brown/Gray for sin, Red for warnings, blue for promises…. yellow just everyday verses… but as you said there isn’t a right or wrong way- but just mark it with what works for you… oh and it’s not sac religious to do so…

    1. God is so merciful, knowing what we need during those low moments in time, and us having the opportunity to capture it in a note or a marking in the bible, makes his love for us, shown through scripture and in miracles, all the more real.

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