As originally set down the Bible texts did not have chapter and verse divisions. These were added later, around the twelfth century for the Chapters and the sixteenth century for the verses, for convenience of reference.
The drawback to this is that we get used to pulling out verses with no reference to their context, i.e. what went before and what came after. The Baptist preacher and teacher David Pawson speaks of our bibles being ‘damaged’ by being divided up into chapters and verses. He has a point.
I did notice recently some coincidences thrown up by the chapter and verse system. My starting point is this famous verse in John’s Gospel;
John 3:16 – For, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.
When it comes to memorising verses this is a good one to memorise.
I began to notice that there a number of other 3:16(ish) verses in other books of the bible which also say very important things. Could this be a useful way of memorising verses and opening up the bible?
Genesis 3:15 – I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offsping and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
In this verse God pronounces a curse on the serpent for deceiving Eve and also promises a future saviour. This is called the Protoevangelium or First Gospel. This is also a good verse to memorise.
Exodus 3:14-15 – God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘ I AM has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to you’; This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.”
God reveals His name to Moses. This name is regarded as so Holy that it shouldn’t be said and Lord is substituted for it. For a time us Catholics said the name as Yahweh, but we are now told to use Lord out of respect for the Jews. Some bibles put Lord in capital letters so that we know that it is God’s revealed name that is referred to. My Jerusalem Bible has Yahweh and I substitute Lord both when I read it and speak it, but I appreciate that I am being pointed to God’s revealed name. For memorising I would stick to Exodus 3:14 – God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,”
Judges 3:15 – But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The Israelites sent tribute by him to King Eglon of Moab.
The LORD raised up for them a deliverer. This principle, of a deliverer, runs throughout the Old Testament and finds it’s ultimate fulfillment in Jesus.
Matthew 3:16-17 – And when Jesus had been baptised, just as He came up from the water, suddenly the heavens opened to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My Son, the Beloved, with Whom I am well pleased.”
John 3:16 – John (the Baptist) answered all of them saying, “I baptise you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – For no one can lay any other foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.
Methinks there is something of purgatory in these verses.
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
1 Peter 3:15 – Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone that asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
2 Peter 3:15-18 – Think of our Lord’s patience as your opportunity to be saved: our brother Paul, who is so dear to us, told you this when he wrote to you with the wisdom that is his special gift. He always writes like this when he deals with this sort of subject, and this makes some points in his letter hard to understand; these are the points that uneducated and unbalanced people distort, in the same way as they distort the rest of scripture – a fatal think for them to do. You have been warned about this, my friends; be careful not to get carried away by the errors of unprincipled people, from the firm ground you are standing on. Instead, go on growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory, in time and eternity. Amen.
So there you are, a number of verses on the theme of John 3:16 or thereabouts. If a particular verse jumps out at you have a look at it and what came before and what comes afterwards. The verse then becomes a springboard for personal bible study.