Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Marking Key Words: Read, Mark Repeat!


The Big Idea: Find key words in a Bible passage and mark them in a consistent manner.

Read, Mark, Repeat

Key words appear repetitively. Synonyms too. Repetition is important. The Bible was written in an oral society and repetition was useful to remember key principles. Pay attention to them!

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7 NASB 95

I like the way the New Living Translation starts this verse. Repeat them again and again to your children.

Key Words can summarize the lesson. They may not be repeated but they are the obvious point. You don't need to look for deep hidden secrets. The God's truths are often evident in a passage. Ask yourself, what is being described?


Some Marking Guidelines:

Precept offers specific recommendations that many follow. If it is useful to you, great. If another color works for you or another symbol, that's OK. Keep a log somewhere of your symbols and colors so you can be consistent.

1. Mark people or groups. Often blue for the author or main character and orange for the audience.

2. Places double underlined in green.

3. Time references, circled in green, simple clock in the margin. 

4. Key words often have both colors and symbols. Circles and squares around words used. Slashes or Xs for opposites. 

  • Yellow often used for God, holiness, heaven, etc.
  • Black used often for sin, bondage, death.
  • Red for blood, sacrifice, atonement…
  • Green often for words on spiritual growth, money...
  • Blue used especially for the nation and the land of Israel

It is useful to consult the Precept List Kari Dent for useful lists, even by books of the Bible. There are some variations. That's OK. This is meant to be a helpful guide on what works for you.

If you are using a Precept study guide, it will give recommendations. For usefulness, consistency helps through the Bible so keep a record of what you use.


Chaotic or constructive?

A friend confessed marking up the text for Inductive Bible Study feels it is a bit confusing and messy when the whole page is marked up.  Kay Arthur of Precept agrees that marking every word in a passage can get difficult to follow. All markings are not necessary for each chapter. Some words are more valuable to mark than others.

My husband marks less. I mark more. I begin on a worksheet rather than directly in my Bible. Why? I find it helpful re-reading the text to see something fresh each time.

This exercise must be useful for YOU! Some photocopy the Bible passage. Some make a fresh worksheet for key words and another fresh worksheet for correlations and contrasts. Some people doodle the text or draw charts in the margin. For others, Bible mapping or extensive outlines help. It will come more easily as you practice a method of recording.

What's important is that you are reading the Bible, examining it carefully.


This is tenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: Comparisons and Contrasts
Previous post: Identifying God

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1. Practice looking at a paragraph or a chapter and find repetitive words/synonyms. At this stage is this easy or hard for you?

2. Do you think the repeated words are important to the passage?




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