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.

Step One: Open Your Bible

First, you don’t need to write out everything like we will do in this exercise. We simply wanted to show every step of our work for your benefit. Feel free to make the exercise your own!

To begin, open your Bible in the main window!

Step Two: Choose a Passage to Cross-Reference

Read the section entirely. Then, open your cross-reference set by using the Resource Guide. Under the “Related Verses” section you will find a list of all the sets in your library. Below, we selected the Olive Tree Cross References: Expanded Set.

Olive Tree Bible App choose a passage to cross-reference

If you’d like to take notes while you study, switch over to the Notes tab of the Study Center.

opening a note and writing down verse references in the olive tree bible app

Step Three: Choose the Cross References You Want to Read

The main purpose of cross references is to help build context for the passage you’re reading. However, 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. The same book of the Bible
  2. Other books of the Bible that have the same author
  3. Other books of the Bible written around the same time
  4. Any other books of the Bible containing a cross reference

This information is super useful when you are working with a large amount of cross references. But in our study, there are only a few references. So, we copied them all over to our note.

taking note of references

Step-Four: Read and Summarize the Cross References

After you have chosen your references, read through them. If you chose to write the references down in your notes, simply tap them to open a small window with the text.

reading cross references

Next, summarize the reference in your own words. You want to write down something relatively short that can be compared quickly with the rest of your notes.

writing down thoughts on cross references

Step Five: Review and Meditate

Did you end up having new questions about the passage? Write them down! If you have time, do a little digging now and record what you discover.

Then, with all this in mind, reread the original passage you picked to study. As you go through each verse, look to your notes. Meditate on how they enhance your understanding of the topic.

last step of studying cross references in the olive tree bible app

Step Six: Application

Spend some time in prayer, thinking about one step of action you could take based on what you’ve learned from your studies. Or come up with a new goal for the next time you sit down to study. Our understanding of God’s Word is never complete!

Do It Yourself!

These steps were adapted 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!

Check out our cross-reference sets and concordances to start doing this study on your own.

Interested in diving deeper into Scripture without draining your wallet? Gain access to the Olive Tree Cross References: Expanded Set and other helpful tools by subscribing to our exclusive Olive Tree Bible Study Packs.


  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. Too complicated and unintresting…gave up after step 1

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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

        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!