The 7 Most Popular Verses in the Bible

There are more than 31,000 verses in the Bible. If all of these verses were to enter a popularity contest, which one would win? Well, you can probably guess. But I’ll bet you can’t guess which verse would come second. Or third.

Below is a list of the seven most popular verses in the Bible. How did I compile this list? I did it by using the amazing power of technology. (Insert “oohs” and “ahhs” here.)

Inspired by a recent post by Cornel Marais, I came up with the idea of downloading a Bible onto Kindle to learn which verses had been highlighted most often by readers. You may not know this, but whenever you highlight a piece of text on a Kindle book, the Internet tells someone in the Amazon what you did – or something like that. The upshot is that if you read a book on Kindle, you can find out what other people have highlighted in that same book with the click of a button.

To learn which verses are most often higlighted, I chose the English Standard Version provided by Crossway Bibles since it’s the only free Bible available on Kindle. If you have 95 cents, you can repeat my experiment using the King Jimmy version and if you have six bucks, you can do it with the NIV. With my free Bible installed on Kindle for PC (also free), I clicked on the Popular Highlights button and hey presto! Here are the seven most highlighted passages in the Bible:

(1)    John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (729 highlighters)

No surprises here. Not only is this the best news in the world it’s a perennial favorite with sports-fans. Back in the day you could not watch a game of anything without spotting someone in the crowd holding a sign that said “John 3:16.” Then Steve Austin came along and things got a little confusing for a while – any wrestling fans out there? But Tim Tebow has since put things right again.

(2)    Php 4:13 I can do all things do through him who strengthens me. (362)

This is another verse popular with athletes. I’ve seen Fijian rugby players wearing this one. This is surely one of the most practical scriptures in the Bible. At difficult times in my life I have put this verse in my pocket to remind me that I am not alone.

(3)    Mat 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (271)

(4)    Mat 6:34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (264)

In 2000 years, no one has come up with a better remedy for anxiety and worry than this couplet from Jesus. To seek the kingdom is to seek the King and when you are resting in Jesus and His righteousness, the worries of life aren’t so… well, worrisome.

(5)    Jer 29:11 I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (236)

This is the number one verse in the Old Testament and from time to time it is rated the number one verse in the whole Bible. Last year, for instance, Jeremiah 29:11 was the top scripture accessed on Biblegateway.com. And why not – it’s a gem! It is God declaring His good intentions for us. In a world of bad news, this is the good news broadcast from heaven.

(6)    Rom 8:28 We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (199)

Romans 8 is an absolute stunner of a chapter. If I was sent to jail and permitted just one chapter from the Bible, this would be the one I would take.

(7)    Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (144)

This last one’s seems to be an odd choice for me. I can think of about 100 verses I like better but the ESV readers have spoken and for them, this is number 7.

What’s missing from this list?

After reviewing the top scriptures searched in Biblegateway.com (their list is similar to this one), Colin Hansen, the editorial director at the Gospel Coalition, wrote a piece entitled “What’s missing?” In his view, the popular verses have too little emphasis on sin and wrath. This matters, said Mr. Hansen, because unless you know about sin, you won’t understand why Jesus did what He did on the cross.

I take his point, but I am not convinced. In a recent post I outlined what I consider to be the top 12 scriptures describing the new covenant. None of them mentioned sin for the simple reason that sin is a feature of the old covenant. I don’t live under that covenant so I don’t see the need to go around highlighting sin. I would rather highlight Jesus.

But what do you think? What verse do you think should be added to this list of all-time favorites?

Related posts:
- Son, servant, or friend of God?
- A new covenant picture of repentance
- How to walk after the flesh in 20 easy lessons

Comments

  1. Paul, you missed 1 John 1:9 big time! kidding. I know this is no longer popular to us :)
    its good to see you back.
    - grace and peace

    • Haha! Just to clarify any confusion among readers, I have to say that I think 1 John 1:9 is a wonderful and liberating verse. I don’t like how some people change the meaning of John’s words to preach a sin-glorifying message, but I love 100% what John has to say. I have written several posts on 1 John 1:9 including this one here.

  2. jon ong says:

    2 Cor 5:21 For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

    Comment : It totally encapsulates what it means to become a family member of God….The Father sacrificed His son Jesus for Our sake so that we might become His righteousness.

  3. My all-time favorite verses are the ones God writes on my heart! :-)

  4. I’ve gotta say Gal. 2:20 is way up there. It takes all the heat off, because is all rest on Christ alone !!

    cheers, Graeme

  5. keith blond says:

    How about:
    Prov 4:7 Wisdom is the most impotant thing, therefore get wisdom and with your getting get understanding”. If you want to live a life that has the wisdom of GOD, then ask for wisdom, some may call it “divine cheating” Then what about:

    Ps 5:12 “God blesses the righteous and surrounds them with favor like a shield” – Is this not a great promise for a Christian, who walks through life dealing with business issues and life in general?

    Then 1Jn 4:17…. as He is so are we in this world”- powerful stuff, a Christian is seated in heaven with Christ and as He is so are we… perfect with the enemy under our feet like a footstool [ sickness - lack etc] Oh I nearly forgot one:

    Jn 17:3 .. Jesus speaking.. “this eternal life is knowing Him [God] & the one He sent [Jesus]” It talks to a intimate relationship with God and Jesus, this is a gold nugget to successful and victorious living.

    Ps 23: The Lord is my shepherd………….. a sheherd looks after, protects, what a promise.

    We need to “hagah” – mutter/utter these scriptures and any that catch your “eye”- “chew the cud”- chew over the word and extract all the goodness out of it, it will be life changing.

  6. I love that you searched it out the way you did…how cool is technology? Anyway I am Romans 6,7,8 all the way- my book is based on chapter 8. Reading them all in sequence reveals such an awesome message of identity.

    But what other verse could be added? Col 1-4 (and they can’t be separated either). I believe those verses say it all. We are dead! But our LIFE is hidden with Christ in God…woah! That means nothing is impossible and sin isn’t even a factor :)

    Blessings Paul!!

  7. Gal 2: 16-20 I was studying using Andrew Wommack’s online Bible Commentary. He said, “notice it says faith OF Christ” Thank God for the Blue Letter Bible, so many translations. KJV says of but all the other well known versions say IN ??? I looked at Young Literal Tans. and it says OF. This was a revelation moment for me. Jesus’ faith is in my spirit, of coarse it is, my spirit is one with His. I didn’t have the faith to even get saved, God gave it to me as a gift (Rom 10:17). Now I understand why Jesus said we could do all things. Why faith the size of a mustard seed could move a mountain, His faith working through us. What a relief ! Once again I can rest in HIm and not struggle. I problem was my mind and once again, “renew my mind with the Word”.
    It’s ALL, ALL, ALL about Him. Praise God !

  8. Kit Fan says:

    Romans 8 is my favourite chapter in the whole bible.

    Romans 8:1
    There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (NU-Text omits the rest)

    Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

    Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[b] with groanings which cannot be uttered.

    Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

    Roamns 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

    Romans 8:38
    For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Beautiful verses.

  9. keith blond says:

    Prov 4:7 wisdom is the most important thing, therefor get wisdom and in your getting, get understanding.

    Ps5:12 God blesses the righteous and surrounds them with favor like a shield.

    1Jn 4;17 …..as He is so are we in this World

  10. Tom NeSmith says:

    Your forgot 1 Tom 1:1…
    I was minding my own business when I woke up one morning and found myself in heaven.
    Hmm… maybe I should mention I had just booted God out of my life the night before.
    So much God’s seething wrath and anger. He sure showed me! ;-)

  11. #2 Php 4:13
    While in Fiji my Father and I took time to shop for one day, he bought a football (soccer) jersey. The Fijian team has that reference on it, being pastors we both knew immediately what it was; the muslim salesman, who are always entertaining, told us they were ‘lucky Fijian numbers’.

    He made the sale, so maybe he was somewhat right.

  12. Gilda Smith says:

    What a blessing I received today, after reading these scriptures. 4 out of the 7, are my favorite!!! I started weeping with joy that came over me, because these are the scriptures i stand on. And God has work wonders in my life. My other favorite I would add to your awesome list, would be- Isaiah 54:17 No weapon formed against me shall prosper. God bless u for posting this!!!!

  13. Loved your choice for a jail passage. Ravi Zacharias told the story of a former translator he had met on tour in South VIetnam during the war who was subsequently imprisoned by the communists. While cleaning the officer’s latrine, he found a scrap of paper with Romans 8:28 on it that had been used as toilet paper; he had to clean it off to read it! From that day, he volunteered to keep that job and thereby continued his Bible studies! There is much more to the story including a reunion in America.

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