How to Color Code Your Bible When You Need Help Organizing Your Bible Study

Learning how to color code your bible can be a great way to enhance your time studying scripture.

You are studying your Bible, but you’re not sure what’s important, or what to pay attention to. You don’t have a system for organizing your notes or being able to go back at a later date and remember what it was that you were studying and why you thought it was important.

What if I told you that an easy way to do this is to simply use colors when you are digging deep into scripture? Today, I’m going to share everything that I’ve learned about color coding your Bible to help you stay organized during your study time.

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When I was in high school, I learned how to color-mark a passage. It was something that we learned in English class starting with learning to color-mark poetry and then color-marking passages from novels. Some of my favorite color-marking was done with Shakespeare.

This is something that helped me when I was in high school and college to keep track of themes and keywords (things that were being repeated in the reading). I have found the same method to be super helpful for me when it comes to studying scripture.

Today I want to talk to you about how you can color code your Bible when you’re studying on your own, to help you stay on track, stay organized, and dig deep into God’s word. 

What is a Bible Color Coding System?

As a simple definition, a bible color coding system is a way to keep track of keywords and themes throughout scripture. This can be through a book of the Bible, one chapter in the Bible, or it can be the Bible as a whole. You’re just going to use this color coding system to help you keep track of the things that are jumping out at you and that you’re seeing over and over again as you are digging into the pages of scripture. 

Benefits of Color Coding Your Bible

There are a lot of benefits to color coding. The first one is that it can be kind of fun having your colors out and marking things up and highlighting. You can get creative and make it as unique to you as you want to, and that can be really, really fun and really kind of new and exciting. 

Think of it like going on a treasure hunt through the pages of scripture, looking for keywords and themes. It also is going to help you focus because the only way that you’re going to find the themes and keywords is by paying close attention while reading.

The act of using colors to keep track of keywords and themes is going to help you focus on what you’re studying and when you can focus more on what you’re studying, that leads to more understanding and better retention of what you are learning. 

The other reason that color coding can be beneficial is because it enhances what you are doing with the word of God. It’s not boring when you’re color coding. It’s a way to use creative expression and interact with the text differently.

Sometimes that new and exciting or slightly different thing can enhance what you’re doing because your brain’s going to be excited, and you’re going to feel a little bit more motivated because it’s not the same old thing that you’re used to doing. 

Preparing to Color Code Your Bible

When it comes to color-marking there are a few things you’ll need. The first thing is your Bible, and I always recommend a physical copy of the scripture. If you don’t want to mark up your bible a printed copy of the passage works well too.

The other thing is an index card. Index cards are inexpensive and come in handy for all kinds of things with your prayer life and bible study. You’ll also want some pens, highlighters, markers, or colored pencils, anything that has more than one color in it. 

Before you start coloring in your bible and marking keywords, I want to encourage you to take time to pray. Pause before digging into the word of God to pray, to ask God to open your eyes and soften your heart.

You want to be able to see and hear from him through the pages of scripture and getting into the heart posture and mindset of receiving and hearing from God as you study the word is very helpful. Then, take note of the type of passage that you’re reading. 

A little Bible 101. There are 66 books of the Bible and the books are written in many different styles: historical books, prophecy, the law, and poetry to name a few.  You must understand what kind of passage you are reading, what the style is, and what the message is that the author is trying to convey because that’s all crucial to having enough context as you find keywords and themes to keep track of.

Now you can start looking for keywords. If you have a study bible, it will often give you little notes at the beginning of each book of the bible, and sometimes they will also give you themes and keywords to keep your eye out for while you are studying. 

Keep track of those words as you find them. As you’re reading a passage, if you keep saying the same word over and over again it’s probably a keyword. If you notice a theme that you remember from another book of the Bible, that’s probably something to keep track of.

There are many themes and keywords you can trace through all of scripture. As you’re reading different books of the Bible you’re going to learn something different from each writer. You also want to use a commentary to help you with context.

It’s important to know where what you are reading is placed within the historical context of the scripture: where you are in bible history, what are the current events,  what’s going on in the world around the passage, who’s in charge, is there a battle going on, who is this book or this passage directed to, and what’s happened leading up to this point. 

The more context you can have the easier it is to dig deep into the word of God. Finally, anytime that you are digging into the word of God, please take some time to look up definitions for the words that you are reading.

The Bible was not written in English, it was translated from Hebrew and Greek. Many times you can limit your understanding of scripture by focusing just on English definitions. Take a moment to grab a Bible dictionary and look up the meaning of the words you are studying because it’s not going to serve you well to have a list of keywords and not fully understand what they mean.

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How to Color Code Your Bible

Now you are reading to get started color coding your bible. The first thing is to read whatever passage of scripture that you’re planning to mark up. Read it without marking anything. Don’t have a pencil in your hand or a marker or a highlighter.

Just read the passage to familiarize yourself with the text and see if there are things that jump out at you. Once you’ve read it through without marking anything, it’s time to begin to make a list of keywords. Look for repeated words and phrases, locations that are repeated, and times that are referenced over and over again.

Keep track of all of these keywords. If you get stuck on these keywords, I have two recommendations for resources that will help you. The first one is the Inductive Study Bible because at the beginning of each chapter, there’s a list of keywords to look for.

There’s also a book called Discover the Bible For Yourself that will give you a list of keywords for every single book of the Bible. Another great resource that I love is The Bible Project. They have a video for every single book of the Bible, and do a fantastic job of giving an overview of each book.

If you pay close attention, you can pick up some of the keywords and the themes that you can expect to find in the passage or the book of the Bible that you’re reading. After you’ve read the passage and have your list of keywords, it’s time to grab your handy dandy index card and make a key.

The key is really simple, simply put a mark of color on the card, and then next to it put the word or phrase that you’re keeping track of. You might have a green line that marks the word gospel, a red heart for love, or a clock for time. Anytime you’re reading a passage and it mentions a word on your list mark it with the color on your key.  

When it comes to your key, you need to be able to look at it and understand what it’s telling you. I like to put mine on an index card because I can use that as a bookmark and I just stick it in my Bible. Then it’s there anytime that I go to study. 

Now that you have a list of keywords and a key, it’s time to dive in and begin to color-mark the whole passage. Mark your keywords as you go. Don’t think this entire process is done in one sitting. It’s not. I often take an entire week to prepare to study a book of the Bible.

During the first week, I will pray, get context, read commentaries, and look at maps to figure out where things are and what’s going on. I’ll work on making my key and create a list of keywords. This is all prep work that I’m doing to prepare myself to study.

Once that’s finished, I’ll go slowly through a book of the Bible from start to finish marking keywords as I go. I like to pick short passages because it makes it easier to read the passages more than once.

You’ve already read through a passage you chose to start identifying and finding themes and keywords. I like to read more than once because I can read one time and get a few keywords, and then a second time I find different keywords.

As you continue to read, you might add to your list of keywords, and that’s okay. This is why I encourage you to get something that’s got a lot of colors in it. Color-coding is a great way to dig deep into scripture because it forces you to slow down and focus on the themes that are reappearing throughout scripture.

You will be amazed not only at the themes that are specific to different books of the bible but also the themes that run through all of scripture in totality. Being able to keep track of those words and make connections across scripture helps illuminate the word of God.

Other Helpful Resources:


Now that you know how to color code your bible it can become a regular part of your bible study routine.

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