Topical Chain Reference Project

One of my favorite Bibles is the Thompson Chain Reference. I like chain reference studies because they are topical, and they allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. I like the Thompson, but I wanted to add some chains, combine some topics, add my own topics, etc. Basically, I wanted to make my own version of the Thompson. This is one of the reasons I wanted a wide-margin Bible

I’ve been working on my topical chain list to add to my Bible. The list is mostly doctrinal based, since that is what I study the most, and where I differ the most from other study Bibles, including the Thompson. As one example, try finding a chain on the Rapture or the Millennium. Some Bibles have them, such as the Prophecy Study Bible by Tim LaHaye and the Life in the Spirit Study Bible, but they are missing other reference chains that I want, so I am continuing my topical chain reference project.

I felt that the chains themselves would make a nice Bible study, so I’ve decided to publish my chain reference system here on Studies in Scripture. The chains will not be exhaustive and they can be modified. Also, the chains can be added to any Bible with enough writing space, so it is something that I can still use when I move from one Bible to another.

The next several week’s worth of posts will include my chains (and chains I’ve borrowed). I am starting with a study on the end times because it is so relevant to us today. These posts will be Scripture only- no commentary from me. Feel free to use them in any way you like, such as devotionals, personal studies, group studies, preaching, teaching, etc. If you see something that you think should be included or changed, please let me know.


  1. I’m really intrigued by the idea of doing my own chain but I’m timid about writing it in the Bible (what if I forget something? what if I wanted to add a reference in the middle – it would be all messed up then…)
    Do you work it out on paper first and then transfer it to the Bible? How would you add something to the chain later if you wanted to?
    And, thanks for all the tips on Bible marking – you’ve unlocked a whole new world for me. *smile*

  2. Lynn,

    I have the same problem. I do try to write out my list before I start, but I’ve discovered that it is inevitable that I will miss something. I’ve had to decide that it is OK to not have an exhaustive list. I’ve also decided that it is OK to add a reference so that the chain leads to two verses instead of one. I would rather make a ‘small’ mistake than not start, which says a lot for me because I want everything in my Bible to be perfect. I’m trying to get out of that mentality and just do my best. I do recommend starting with a cheaper Bible (like a NoteTakers or wide-margin from LCBP) before you write in an expensive Bible or a Bible that means too much to you to make a mistake in. You can always decide what you like and don’t like about what you’ve written and make your improvements in a better Bible next time. Even then, one thing is for sure: I will forget something and want to add a verse…


  3. I came across your web site and was very impressed. It has been some time since i have really gotten into God’s Word and was wondering if it would be at all possible for you to E-mail me directly? Like you a also enjoy the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. God Bless Brother. In Jesus Name.

  4. Hi Will. You can contact me directly by using the Contact page. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


  5. I have a Thomas Nelson Study Bible, which doesn’t give wide margins to make notes, so I have to make do with what I have. I have a Color Code for selected topics that are important to me (The Cross and Repentance, Marriage, Blood of Christ/Sabbath, Christian Living, Sin..etc.). Each color has a letter and/or symbol associated with it (Sabbath (S), Christian Living (CL), Sin (pitchfork/gravestone).

    Whatever the Scripture that starts the chain will be the color and letter with the second reference by it, so the 1st Sabbath would be Red with an S2 by it and the NEXT reference to the Sabbath. At the second reference I place S1-(previous Scripture) and S3-Next reference. The 3rd would have 2nd and 4th…etc for as many links you would like to have to chain your re-proof for witnessing and classes.

    EXAMPLE: Sabbath #1 Gen 2:1-3 (Red) with S2-Exodus 19:8-11. At Ex. 19:8-11 (Red) with S1-Gen 2:1-3 and S3-Exodus 31:12-17 etc…

    I try to have BOTH OT and NT chain links. Time consumming? Probably, but I have the rest of my life to absorb my Lord God’s word… I am in no rush…the important thing to remember is keep the plan you set so it makes sense to YOU. We all learn differently, find what works BEST for you.

    Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis

  6. Hi Randy,
    Just curious about this… I just purchased the new Schuyler NKJV (WONDERFUL BIBLE!) but it doesn’t have cross-references. I really wanted one without references so it would force me to study, discover, and create my own. I like the idea of a chain reference but I am not sure how you know what verse ‘comes next’? How do you decide on a chain topic and then FIND the verses if the next verse doesn’t actually have the same words (thus being able to use a concordance)? IE… How do you find the verses with the same TOPIC?

  7. Hi Dave. The easiest way is to use other resources such as references from other Bibles and chain references like the Thompson, references in software, Bible studies, Scripture lists, etc. I like to look up the references in several different Bibles and see how they compare. I then write all of the verses down that I want to use in my chains and place them in Biblical order. The advantage in this is that you get to choose your references and you’ve done the study yourself, so you know if it actually fits the context of your topic. I’ve always wanted my chains to be complete, but I’ve never been able to find every single verse on a specific topic. No matter how hard I worked on it I would always leave something out. For that I recommend either not trying to be exhaustive, have more than one verse per reference, or not try to find every possible verse. I started with the first one, went to the second, and then went to the third. If you don’t have access to any of these tools then I recommend keeping a notebook and write down the verses and topics as you read the Bible. This allows you to categorize each Scripture and becomes inductive study. Your notebook would become your journal. In the long run this one might be the best option but it also takes the longest. Let me know how it goes. I’d love to see some pictures.


  8. Thank you for this! One question, how do you keep track of your chains? do you number them in the back of your Bible? I was thinking alphabetically would be nice but Im not sure how to set that up in a clean way in my “notes” section. I love the Thompson Chain Bible. However Kirkbride does not seem interested in updating their translations. I too do not like to make mistakes in my Bible so this has hindered me from starting but I am thinking I will copy some of my favorite chains right out of my old Thompson. I have the Key Word Study Bible. not the widest margins but good enough.

  9. Hi Brandon. I use a wide margin Bible. I don’t number mine. Instead I make a list of the topics in the back and write the topic name and the first verse for that topic. It gets difficult when I want to add a topic because I like to have mine in alphabetical order. I separate the topics according to a primary topic and place subtopics under the main topic. If I want to add topics I write the primary topic again and call it ‘2’ and then write ‘1’ after the first one (that way I know there’s another listing for that topic). Then I know how to fix it in my next Bible. In the margins I write out the topic name and give the next reference. Since I also write notes, section headings, and definitions in the margins, I use a specific color just for my chain references. I also copy topics from my Thompson. That’s a great way to get you started. I’ve also considered using the Key Word study Bible. It’s margins are good enough for making your own chains. That one might require numbering or lettering the chains. I like using the topic name because I forget what topic the numbers or letters are for. That’s OK though. It’s better than nothing. Another option is drawing a symbol or using an abbreviation. I’ve tried both and I like them about the same. Abbreviations are usually more useful if you have a lot of topics. Symbols are harder to draw, but they’re much easier and faster to use. You can also color-code. That way you know the primary topic before you take the time to decipher the abbreviation. I like to color over the topic name with color pencils (I do this in my Thompson too). This way I can identify the primary topic quickly and then only look at the topics I’m looking for.

    Good luck,


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