Let’s not mince words, reading the Bible isn’t easy. It’s rewarding, informative, comforting and inspiring but definitely not easy. There are so many translations and scholarly texts related to each verses, it’s sometimes hard to get a handle on the meaning.
In most circumstances, it makes things simpler to just break down each verse one at a time to get a clearer understanding of it’s meaning. This breakdown is called Verse Mapping. And the best part of Verse Mapping is that it is an individual exercise. There are no right answer and best of all, there are no wrong answers.
To start, you will want to gather a hot cup of tea and a few supplies to have a successful mapping session.
- Bible – The best way to do this is either using your Bible app or an online bible. The reason this is better than your written Bible is because we will be looking at different translations as the mapping progresses.
- Paper on which you will print the mapping document (download below)
- Dictionary – again, an online version is just fine.
To help with your Verse Mapping exercise, here is a template which will guide you through the process. Print template then move on to the next steps.
A Proper Start to All Verse Mapping Sessions
Every Verse Mapping session should begin with a prayer that your mind will be opened to accept the Word of God and gain a deeper respect and understanding of the Word. Here is a sample prayer you could use:
“Heavenly Father, thank you for this time to open our minds and hearts to your holy scriptures which are a guide map for our lives. We pray that we would diligently study Your word and that it might become alive in our minds as we read, mark, learn, define and inwardly digest all that You have graciously provided for us so that we may come to a deeper knowledge of salvation and Your will for our lives…”
Steps to Verse Mapping
1. Pick a Verse
Do you have a verse you just can’t get a grasp on? Did your Pastor quote a bit of scripture in his sermon you want to examine further? Or do you have a favorite bible verse you would like a deeper understanding of? These are all great candidates for Verse Mapping.
For our study today, let’s pick an easy one: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 NKJV
2. Write the Verse
Sometimes the act of simply writing the verse down will bring you closer to the Word.
3. Read the Surrounding Verses
Head to your Bible to find the verses surrounding the verse you have chosen.
12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.
If this does not give you the context you need for your chosen verse, feel free to read further. You might have to read the entire chapter or even the entire book, if necessary.
4. Find Historical Context for the Verse
Who is the speaker of the verse you are mapping? Who wrote the verse? What is happening while this verse is being spoken or written? This might take a little internet search, an annotated bible or study bible to accomplish but it will be well worth the time when you can put this verse into proper historical context.
Who is speaking writing this verse: Apostle Paul
What is happening when the verse is being spoken/written: This is from a letter written by Paul while he was in prison and addressed to the Christian congregation he had established in Macedonia.
5. Read the Verse Aloud Emphasizing a Different Word Each Time
Starting with the first word in the verse, read it over and over emphasizing a different word each time you read it.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I can DO all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.
I can do all THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.
I can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens me.
I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me.
I can do all things through Christ WHO strengthens me.
I can do all things through Christ who STRENGTHENS me.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens ME.
6. Read Different Translations of the Verse
The bible has been translated hundreds of times. Each translation is a tiny bit different. By reading the different translations there is a chance you might get an alternate understanding of the verse.
“I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.” – ASV
“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” – AMP
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – NKJV
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – NIV
“for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” – TLB
7. Circle the Word You Feel is the Most Important
Another step which is highly personal is finding what you feel is the most important word in the verse. There are several great choices in the passage: “I”, “things”, “Christ”, and “Strengthens”. For purposes of this exercise, let’s choose “Strengthens”.
“I can do all things through Christ who me.”
8. Define the Word You Circled
Using your dictionary or Dictionary.com, define the word you feel is most important in the passage.
verb (used with object)
to make stronger; give strength to
Phonetics. to change (a speech sound) to an articulation requiring more effort, as from fricativeto stop or nongeminate to geminate
verb (used without object)
to gain strength; grow stronger
No surprises here, right?
9. Define Any Other Words You Are Unfamiliar With
If there are any other words in the verse which you don’t understand, use this step to define them in hope of giving you a better understanding of the verse.
10. Rewrite the Verse in Your Own Words
It’s time to rewrite the verse in your own words now that you are clear on the meaning, context and definitions within the verse. Using your new understanding, write this as if you were talking to a close friend. Remember, this is one of those steps which will be different for every person. Just as each person comes to their study with different life experiences, each person will glean a different understanding of a verse.
11. Call to Action: How Will You Apply This Verse to Your Life TODAY
I know I am sounding like a broken record but our final step in yet another which is a very personal. What will you do as a result of what you learned? How will a deeper understanding of this verse guide you TODAY?
Good luck in your future mappings and please feel free to post pictures of your mapping template on Twitter and tags us, @JazzinDisneyMom. I love when we can all learn from each other.
Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms Panel. She is a team mom extraordinaire who has filled her time serving as secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist for her daughter’s travel sports team for over 15 years before becoming a team owner. She is also a travel consultant for Looking Glass Travel specializing in Disney destinations. You can follow her on Twitter at @JazzinDisneyMom.