Chain references provide a great way to perform a topical study. Most Bibles that have references do not have chain references. Instead, they have cross references. Cross references are great, but it can get very confusing when you have to flip back and forth over the same verses over and over. Some Bibles do not have the verses linked to the reference, so there’s no easy way to know which reference will go with which portion of the verse. If your Bible has any room for writing at all, you can greatly expand the study quality of your Bible by adding your own chain reference system.
Chain references do not work like cross references. With cross references, the reference might refer you back to an earlier verse, forward to a later verse, or both. If you have five verses, each referring back to the other, it can take you a lot of time and frustration to flip back and forth until you’ve found the verses you need. If your Bible has lots of references (some have 100,000), this process gets even more confusing and time consuming- especially if you want to study a specific topic.
Chain references are topical based and provide a link to the next verse in the topic. Instead of five verses that connect back to all five verses and leaving you not knowing which to choose, the first verse provides a link to the second verse. The second verse provides a link to the third verse, and so on.
Creating your own chain references is a great way to perform a topic Bible study. When studying a topic, write down every major verse within that topic. You will use this list to create your chain reference system. Do not try to find every verse. Instead, find the major and most verses. These will come from sermons, class-room teaching, coursework, books, tracts, other chain reference systems (such as Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible), and even cross references. Here’s where you have to decide how detailed you want to break up the topics. You can keep them general, for example “The Armor of God”, or you can get more specific within the major topic, for example “The Helmet of Salvation”.
Next, place the verses in Biblical order. This helps keep the order and flow logical and you can move through the Bible in one direction.
Once you’ve decided what verses go under what topics, it’s time to write them in your Bible. I recommend using Pigma Micron markers to write in your Bible. You can write them in the margin if there’s room. There are a few Bibles that have a blank center column for writing in. I recommend a wide margin Bible if possible. With a wide margin Bible you have enough room to write the name of the topic with the next reference. If you don’t have enough room to write the name of the topic, you might want to write a number for the topic, an abbreviation, or even a symbol to represent the topic. You could even use different colors to represent the topics. You could have the last verse to reference back to the first verse.
Last, write an index in the front of your Bible that contains the topic names and the first verse in each chain.
The chains are a great tool for Bible study, Scripture memory, and witnessing. They can be expanded to as many topics as you want. I recommend making your chain reference system even if your Bible already has chain references or cross references because it will make your Bible a better tool for you.