So, you want to find a specific passage in the Bible? Don’t know where to start? Need to find it quickly? Not sure how to find just the right passage? Many times, the names of reference books can be confusing and it’s easy to give up when we feel overwhelmed by numbers and terms. Knowing one Reference book from another can often help from getting lost. Having a quick, reliable source can also help when you are challenged to find a specific verse.
- Know what the numbers mean. Books of the Bible = The Bible is divided into 66 books, all of which can be quickly found by looking in the Bible’s table of contents. Thirty-nine of these books are in the Old Testament, or the first “half.” Twenty-seven books are in the latter, the New Testament. Each book has a number of chapters in it ranging from one to 150 chapters. And each chapter has any number of verses. When referring to a specific Scripture reference, you would use the book, chapter and verse. For example, when quoting the Lord’s Prayer, you would refer others to Matthew 6:9-14.
- Know where to find a specific word. Concordance = A concordance is often found at the end of the Bible, though not in every one. Check the purchase label or the Bible’s spine or inside cover to see if it contains a concordance. This resource is used to look up a specific word you might be looking for. For instance, if you want to look for a passage about locusts, you could look in your Bible’s concordance under “locusts” and you will likely find a number of passages listed, all of which will contain the word. Most concordances will also list a small part of the verse to give you a little detail of that passage. When you find the verse listed, you’ll be able to read the entire passage. Be aware–not all concordances contain every verse and each version of the Bible might have a different listing as well. It is best to look under a few concordances, to look in a separate concordance resource (such as Where to Find It in the Bible, by Ken Anderson) or to look online (see information below) to find the exact passage you’re looking for. Some other great concordances would be Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Nave’s Topical Bible.
- Know where to find more information. Commentary = A Commentary is a separate resource used to expound on a Bible passage. A few good commentaries include Scofield Reference Notes and the Matthew Henry Commentary. Theologians and experts over the centuries have given further insight to Bible passages. These are terrific resources when there is confusion about the history of a passage or the meaning of a verse.
- Know where to find specific meanings. Dictionary = A Bible Dictionary works the same as the English one we’re used to. This is a resource used to define the meanings of words used in the Bible. You’ll find dictionaries focusing on language differences, Bible names and cities, Bible history, version differences, etc.
- Know where to find help. There’s never anything wrong with admitting you’re lost. Know where to go and whom to ask to find what you are looking for. See the links listed below for great online resources. These sites not only have Bible resources, but they also have forums or links where you can fellowship and link to other people. If you’d rather find someone in person, check your local phone book for a church and ask to speak to the pastor or elder. You can also look at www.redletter.com to find a local church listing. Red Letter Publishing annually publishes a Christian Business Directory in over 26 US cities and it also has a listing of local churches and organizations that may be of some help.
Finding the exact passage you are looking for can be challenging. But it is also very rewarding to find that there is a verse for nearly every topic imaginable. Many Bibles also have Cross-References at the bottom of the page. These are verses that relate to what you are reading. They may also be the “link” to an Old Testament verse that is referenced in the New Testament. Browse around your Bible to become more familiar with it. Memorize verses to find what you need quicker the next time. But don’t be intimidated by the number of passages, for diving in can be extremely rewarding.