How To Highlight and Color Your Bible Effectively

This is a guest post from Jenna Marie Belcher

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Have you ever thought you knew an entire song and the meaning by merely listening to it a few times? I can remember one Friday night, while out with my friends, I got up to sing karaoke thinking I KNEW the words backwards and forwards- to “My Heart Will Go On”.  As the music started I walked up to the stage full of confidence, grabbed the mic, closed my eyes- not even looking at the queues- and began to sing… 

“Every night in the “light beams”

I see you, I feel you

That is how I know you go on.

Far across the distances

And ”spaceships” between us

You have come to show you go on… Near…Far…

I had just belted out the alien revised version of a well-known heartthrob song! As Christians we sometimes tend to do this when referencing scripture. While it is with good intention, and perhaps a bit of over zealous confidence, we belt out a snippet of scripture without knowing the exact words, the reference, or the context it was given. As someone who has worked in a Christian setting for some time, I experience “scripturese” conversations by those who have committed their lives to studying and pursuing Christ’s living Word. Much like my alien experience, I thought by merely listening to those people and spending some time in my devotions, the Scriptures would roll off my tongue.  I found out quickly that I can obliterate a Bible verse and take it so far out of context that it could do some serious harm. Therefore, in my zeal to make scripture my first language and not morph it into something it is not, I found that:

The Bible, the living breathing Word of God, is a book that is not merely for reading; it is the best textbook for life applications. Becoming a student of the Word is vital.

I have applied several techniques I have found helpful for me as I study scripture.

    • I pray over the verses before I read them.
    • I read the entire section and sometimes the chapter in order to know the context.
    • I then use my color wheel as a way for me to think through the categories that will easily help me identify the context and purpose of each verse.

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What is a color wheel? Much like color psychology (the study of color as a determinant of human behavior), I think through which colors I can easily use to identify the “behavior” or character/type in Scripture. Each color needs to be easily identified with its descriptor. Such things as:

  • BROWN: Science/Evidence: This includes anything used in evidences studies of the foundations of the earth- the Bible’s validity, or scientific references that would have been unknown at the time of writing.  (Reference of the migration of birds, the sphere of the earth when everyone thought the world was flat, the rain cycle, the paths of the sea, etc.) Why brown? Brown is the color of dirt/sand/clay-Foundations.
  • TAN: Character: This is used to note the traits of a particular person, such as when you’re doing a Character study. (Patience of Job, the dignity of Jacob, the honor/respect of Joseph) Why Tan? I used the skin color because it refers to humans.
  • ROYAL PURPLE: Deity/God: Why Purple? Purple is a symbol of Royalty, use this that reference Deity/God/the Almighty King.
  • ROYAL BLUE: Salvation/ Justification: anything referencing to how one is saved or justified in Salvation. Referring also to faith, confession, repentance, baptism, and salvation. Why Blue? It is said blue gives a feeling of distance. It reminds me that without Jesus’ sacrifice I would forever be distant.

I also use similar color schemes if the “behavior” is similar but I’d want to know they are not exactly the same.

GREENS HUES:

  • Dark Green: Authority/Supremacy:This has anything to do with the authority of God over His creation, Jesus over His followers, and the Bible as the final say in our lives. It includes warnings against adding to, taking away or changing what God’s said, and warnings. It also is used to refer to the human “think so’s” compared to the Almighty’s ” I say so’s”.
    • Military Green: Doctrinal Defense: This ties closely to authority. It is for verses mostly used for defending (like the military) Bible doctrine over controversial issues, like faith vs. deeds, defending the challengeable/misunderstood/misinterpreted aspects of Christ’s resurrection, etc.
    • Light Green: New Testament Church & Worship: includes examples of the New Testament church/”commands”- how it operates, the internal and external organization, membership, character, work, and worship. It also references: communion, prayer, giving, teaching, and singing all of which are means of worship.
    • GREEN: Woman/ Wife/ Mother: Green=Growth. Growth in my personal walk (also my favorite color). It ties to the Authority, Doctrinal Defense’s, New Testament Worship/Church that can apply to my work, personal, and teachings.

**I use erasable colored pencils because the Word is living and can mean something at different seasons of life. **

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So why is studying the Word in great detail so important?

The bible tells us to study the word: 2 Timothy 3:16-17. There are so many questions that philosophers and people of all generations ask that God has already answered in Scripture:

“Where do I come from? (Psalm 139:1-24 ); Life after death- truth or fiction? (John 11:17-27); Why do bad things happen to good people? (John 9:1-41 ) ; Why am I here? (Matthew 28:16-20); How do I get to heaven? (John 3:16-21) 

In addition to these “life-altering“ questions, the Word of God even gives us practical advice in areas such as:

“What do I look for in a mate? (Proverbs 31; Ephesians 5);  How can I have a successful marriage? (1 Corinthians: 7); How can I be a good parent? (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6; Titus 2:1-15 ); How can I change? (Romans 12); What really matters in life? (Philippians 1)”

Studying the Scriptures helps us gain perspective and a deeper level of intimacy with Christ. My hope is that when I’m on the stage of life my song is the Word of God sung with accuracy, understanding and pleasing to Him.

For further examples of how I use and chose my color keys download My Color Key for Bible Study.

2015-12-29T09:32:29+00:00