Bible Study · Cross Reference

The Whole Counsel of God, Bible Study Part IV

This series is aimed at helping you study the Bible. Parts I-III cover: how to read the passage, how to study the context of the passage, and how to understand the meaning of the words of the passage. Step four will look at the whole counsel of God.

In Acts 20:27 the apostle Paul speaks to the elders at the church at Ephesus. He tells them, “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” In other words, what Paul is saying is that understanding all of God’s Word is important. He leaves nothing out. 

When we study a passage of Scripture, we should be looking at other passages of Scripture as well. The reason for this is NOT to say one passage is right and another is wrong, or one passage is more important than another. The purpose in looking at other passages is that we can use them to make sure that we are not misinterpreting the passage we are studying. It’s not that anything with the text could be wrong, but that we, as the reader, could be confused.

This does not need to be done all of the time. If we read “thou shalt not murder” we don’t need a cross reference for something like that. But there are many passages we may be unsure of what is being said, and we can look at other passages which may be clearer, or speaking on the same idea, from a different context that can help us out. 

Here are two questions to ask of the passage: Is there part of this verse or passage that can be taken different ways? Or, is there anything about this verse or passage I do not understand? If there is not, just move on. If you answer yes to either of those questions, that’s when we can look for other counsel in God’s Word to shore up our knowledge of the passage.

The best tool to have on hand is a Study Bible. It may be a little more expensive, but it will be used for years and well worth the content. I personally currently use the ESV study Bible, which you can get here: (

These Bibles will provide you with verse references of other passages which deal with the same subject. This will help you clarify what you are studying. 

The suggestion would be to look up at least two cross references. This would just be to make sure that we understand the passage. Usually this gives us the solid foundation we need to make sure we understand the text of the passage that we are studying.

Looking at other passages can provide a fuller knowledge of what you are studying. For example, in this series on how to study the Bible, our passage has been Romans 8:28. The end of the passage says that things work for good for ‘those who are called according to His purpose.” A question we might ask is, what is His purpose for those who are called? This we can do through other passages as well.

When you study the Bible, do you ever run into things you don’t quite get? Do you take time to look up other passages on the same subject that are clear to hear the whole counsel of God? It takes work to study Scripture. Your time and effort will be blessed as you discover truths from God’s Word.

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