DIY Red Letter Bible

Open any of my Bibles and not a single one is a Red Letter edition.

Red Letter Bibles are printed with Jesus’s words in red ink. I won’t get into the argument of whether or not they are quotes of Christ, but I respect context and honor its value for studying Scripture.

A major component of understanding the Bible is knowing who is speaking and to whom. When it comes to Jesus, particularly in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), there is great benefit to marking because some traditional translations (i.e. King James Version) do not have quotation marks. Thou shall always use punctuation marks!

The idea of creating my own Red Letter Study Bible stemmed from conversations I had recently with my friend Amy and in a women’s group. I can’t help but laugh at the inadvertent challenge issued by these faithful friends to dig deeper into Scripture!

Last January, Amy committed to studying Psalms for an entire year. A week into her reading, she noticed two words repeating again and again. So, she dug a little deeper. Now, halfway through 2017, she has highlighted every “I will” statement in Psalms and writing each verse in her devotion journal. For the record, I think this is a fantastic idea and I plan to mark the “I will” statements in my Bible too. This simple task is also an easy way for someone to dip their toes into the Bible marking pool without jumping off the high-dive platform!

During last week’s women’s study, Red Letter Bibles were mentioned. We veered off topic (that’s nothing new!) to discuss WHY we study the Bible and HOW the spiritual discipline makes a difference in our day-to-day discipleship journey. It was an incredible conversation with four generations of women (matriarchs of the faith!) exploring curiosities, asking questions, sharing experiences, and gleaning contextual understanding with one another. When a young tween asked an older lady nearby why her Bible had red letters and hers did not, I saw an opportunity to introduce Bible Journaling.


  • Bible
  • Colored pencil or highlighter
    I prefer colored pencils because they don’t bleed through the ultra-thin pages. I also suggest using the same color for marking a person’s quotations. Create your own color guide that you will consistently use – it will make future reading and studying easier!

I’m not an artist, but I really enjoy Bible Journaling. My journaling style is more reflective as I tend to write notes in the margins and color text passages. This works for me, but it might not be your preference or style … and that’s okay!

Time spent reading, studying, reflecting, praying, or illustrating Scripture is never wasted. I think it’s important for us to slow down, escape the mundane, step out of our comfort zone, and scratch below the proverbial surface of Scripture to find new meaning and application. If circling “I will” statements or highlighting quotations of Jesus (or Moses or Ruth or Paul or anyone else in the Bible) are meaningful to you, mark them. This is another reason I’m a strong proponent of using an actual Bible instead of an app or electronic device. Sure, I appreciate the convenience of having Scripture available with the swipe of a finger, but there is something special about printed words on a page and bound together.

If you’re new to Bible Journaling or feel intimidated by Scripture, get a set of colorful pens or colored pencils and start reading. Thou shall use a Bible translation thee can understand or thou will cease altogether!

From Genesis to Revelation, God is continually revealing himself through men, women, and events all pointing towards His infinite love and desire to be in relationship with us. Scripture’s tapestry is brightened when we add our own colors and thoughts to the margins!

There are many ways to study Scripture. If I’ve inspired you to open your Bible, leave a comment. I’d love to know how you’re exploring God’s Word and applying it to your life.