Maybe you would like to do your own study after participating in the Summer Study, or maybe you are studying on your own for the National Bible Bee Competition. But for whatever reason you are studying, I wanted to make this post to help you study the Bible more deeply using cross-references, so that you will gain more insights from God’s Word.
When using the Discovery Journal, many of the cross-references were already included in it, so you didn’t have to find them, but when studying by yourself, you are starting from scratch. So where do you begin with finding cross-references? In my experience, the first step is to identify key verses and key words. When you identify these two, it helps to understand what the core of a passage is, and when you have that understood, you can then move on to the cross-references, which helps to better understand what a passage means. I have heard it said “that the Bible is the best commentary on itself”, and that is so true.
So for this tutorial, I will be using a tool called the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge from blueletterbible.org, which is an excellent resource, and if you have done the Discovery Journal, you should be familiar with the website. And the verse I will be using for our example is in Isaiah 40:3, it says “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.’” This is an important passage, because it is a prophecy about John the Baptist, and it has many connections to other parts of the Bible in the New Testament. But how would you find different cross-references for this verse?
Here’s a few steps to be able to find cross-references:
- First look up the verse in the search bar on blueletterbible.org (Circled in yellow)
- Next click on the button that says “Tools” right next to the verse (Circled in black)
- Then click on the section that says “Cross-Refs” (Circled in blue)
- After that, you can find cross-references related to each phrase from the verse (Circled in Red)
And like that, you are able to find many different verses related to each different phrase! For example, here are some of the ones related to John the Baptist from this passage in Isaiah:
Matthew 3:1-3 NKJV
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’ “
Mark 1:2-5 NKJV
As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.” John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
Luke 3:2-6 NKJV
while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ “
John 1:23 NKJV
He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD,” ‘ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
And like that, you are able to research the Bible more deeply, and have a greater appreciation for how God ties everything together in His Word so beautifully!
Written by NBB Alumnus: William Saunders