As a pastor, I am asked, quite often, for advice on how to mark in a Bible. Finally, after answering more than 2 dozen times, I decided to share this advice with all of you, my beloved readers.
You will need:
- A new, unmarked Bible (As it happens, the writing of this article coincides with my beginning to mark in a new ESV Large Print Bible in top grain leather.) There are a number of excellent choices available, but I recommend avoiding the ones with artwork already in the margins; you want your markings to be your own.
- A set of marking tools (For highlighting, I recommend Bible Hi-Glider from GT Luscombe, for underlining, I recommend Prang colored pencils, and for your annotations, I recommend Pilot Brand Better Retractable Ball Point Pen in fine point). You can use any or all of the three.
- A plan for how you will study (Chapter and Verse, Topical, Systematic Theology)
- A journal (Moleskine is nice as is Picadilly Essential Notebook)
- A Bible Dictionary. a Concordance, and a single volume commentary (I recommend either the MacArthur Bible Commentary (Single Volume) or the Wycliff Bible Commentary. (Warren Wiersbe has an excellent 2-volume set if you like)
Before you begin, Pray. You want to be sure that you are being guided by the Holy Spirit. Ensure that you have decided on if/how you will color code before your first session. Will you simply highlight verses you want to commit to memory (ideal for 1st time students of the Bible) or will you have a more detailed approach.
Here is my approach for this new Bible:
I will be using the GT Luscombe Hi-Gliders. There are 6 colors and I will be highlighting Six Essentials of Christianity
- Orange = Sin
- Yellow = Grace
- Pink = Salvation
- Green = Fruit of the Spirit
- Purple = the Kingdom
- Blue = New Heaven and New Earth
Here are the steps I recommend following:
- Choose your topic. For our example we will choose sin.
- Look up your topic in your concordance and turn to the first passage.
- Read the passage the 1st time without making any marks
- Read the passage again with your journal handy. Write down any words you are not familiar with and leave room to note definitions. Also make note of any questions that you may have as you are reading.
- Read the passage for a third time, this time underlining or highlighting as you go.
- Make any marginal notes that will help jog your memory about what you have learned so far.
- Consult your commentary for further insight. Read any cross-references you find and mark the passage address (John 1:1) in your journal
- Pray for the 2nd time, ensuring that you thank the Holy Spirit for His word and to ask him to illuminate His truth to your mind.
Repeat the process as often as you have planned for your study. Some people stretch this process out for a week and others repeat daily. There is no correct or incorrect option; follow the pace best suited to how you learn. A quality study is what we are after, not a quantity of verses studied.