We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: the Bible provides the best interpretation of itself. So, when you have a question, doubt, or an inkling of curiosity, the best action you can take is to cross-reference the passage you’re reading.

But how?

In this blog post, we’ll not only describe how to do cross-referencing well, but we will also show you a fun, easy way to keep track of your findings.

Lastly, we’ll talk about applying the Bible to your daily life. In our examples, we will be using the Olive Tree Cross References Expanded Set.


With the new update in our app for iOS, you can use the Study Center to keep your cross-references and notes easily accessible. Here’s how:


Read the section entirely. Then, make headings for each verse you are going to study.


Next, write down as many cross references as you would like under each verse heading. Only list the reference, not the verse itself.

The main purpose of cross references is to help build context to the passage you are reading. However, we must remember that the Bible is written by many different authors over a big chunk of time. So, the cross references that will give us the most context will be those found in the same book as the passage we are studying. Here is a good order to look in for cross references:

  1. Look in the same book of the Bible
  2. Look in other books of the Bible that have the same author
  3. Look in other books of the Bible written around the same time
  4. Look in any other books of the Bible containing a cross reference


After you have recorded the reference, go ahead and read the verse again. This should be really simple to do in the app, since verse references are hyperlinked in notes!

Then, summarize what the cross reference is saying with a brief phrase. You want to write down something short that you will be able to compare quickly with the rest of your notes.


Reread the original passage you picked to study. As you go through each verse, look to your notes in the Study Center and reflect on the phrases. Meditate on how they enhance your understanding of the topic.

Do you end up having new questions about the passage? Write them down! Next time you study God’s Word, start by trying to tackle those questions. A great method to use is the Exhaustive Questions method.


Spend some time in prayer, thinking about one step of action you could take based on what you’ve learned from your studies. Write out this goal in your notes!


These steps were taken from Andy Deane’s book, Learn to Study the Bible. This is a fantastic resource for learning new methods of engaging with Scripture. We also used our own Olive Tree Cross References Expanded Set!

We also have a lot of other titles on sale right now to help you learn how to study the Bible better. Click here to visit our website.


  1. While I commend your motive and intent, however, the system seems needlessly complex. The system seems preoccupied with its own technology. Frankly, I see little improvement over the cross-referencing systems traditionally used in printed text of Scripture.

  2. I like this system a lot! When I study my Bible I frequently use my paper copy but open the app just to hyperlink to the references. Thanks for the ideas to write summaries & application questions/responses. As a teacher I can see this being a more effective way to learn versus just thinking about what I read. I also had not considered the “priority” of each cross-reference before this article. Thanks!

  3. First of all, the first step wasn’t where you showed it to be. After searching for ten minutes I found where it really was. Going to second step I found it vague and unclear with a repeat of being not where or how it was shown. It looked to be the beginning of a very complex and confusing travel taking way too much time to find and replicate. No thanks, to not an option at all.

  4. Thanks this looks good. I found study center quickly and could add a note without any difficulty. I will find this useful.
    However the screen shots don’t look like what I saw as they show a completely separate block to the right of the Bible text while mine opened below. Not sure if this is due to ios

  5. Enkay

    I appreciate the efforts and time you put to offer this supposedly useful tips but it is more complicated than offering the needed help. It is unnecessarily rigorous, couldn’t match most of the cross-ref fences made.

  6. I like using cross references to learn more about a passage. I was hopeful this article would help me, but it didn’t.

    Also, often, when I press the superscript in an Olive Tree passage, I can’t get it to work. What am I doing wrong?

  7. I could’t get this to work in the Windows app, but after re-reading I see that it only mentions this working in the iOS. . . any plans to expand this to us Windows and Android users?

    • Well. . . I guess it took me commenting on this for the Windows desktop app to create the hyperlink. . .LOL.

      • Cierra Klatt Reply

        Ha, yes the hyperlinks will work! For the tabs at the bottom of the Study Center — those will be coming to Android devices. We don’t have a specific timeline yet, but the hope is soon!

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