How Do You Quote Bible Verses In An Essay

Note: Classical religious texts, like the Bible, do not require a citation in the reference list in APA style. However, you must include an in-text citation anytime you reference these texts in your writing.

In-text citations

When quoting or paraphrasing specific excerpts from the text, include the “relevant names and/or numbers of chapters/verses/lines” in your in-text citation (Lee, 2009).


The Bible extols the virtues of love; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Cor. 13:4 New International Version).

Note: Remember, you only need to cite the version of the Bible used in the first general reference to or in-text citation of the source. In all other instances, leave it out.

  • 1

    Understand when to use underline and when to use italics. There are certain times when you should use underline and italics when referring to the Bible, and other times when you should refrain from doing so.
    • When you refer to the Bible itself throughout your paper or presentation, you should not set it apart in any way except by capitalizing the word Bible or capitalizing the book you are referring to, such as Matthew, Mark, or Luke.
    • When you refer to a specific edition of the Bible, italicize the title like other books. For example, The NIV Study Bible.
  • 2

    Include the Bible on your works cited page only when referencing editorial content. Using Scripture verses in your paper does not warrant the need to cite the Bible as a source on your bibliography. However, referencing specific notes or commentary within a specific study Bible does. List specific study Bibles like other books on your works cited page. Include title, edition, publisher, location, and year.

  • 3

    Use book abbreviations. When you reference specific passages in the Bible, use the abbreviation given for the book. For example, instead of "Matthew 5:16," you would write "Matt. 5:16." Find the appropriate abbreviations for books of the Bible by using a guide provided in many Bibles or by searching online.

  • 4

    Use Arabic numbers. Some traditional writing uses Roman numerals for books: II John. Instead of Roman numerals, stick to the Arabic form: 2 John.

  • 5

    Identify the Bible translation you are using. Most research papers stick with one translation of the Bible (e.g., New Living Translation, New International Version, English Standard Version). Simply reference this in your first citation and leave it out of the others. However, if you are constantly changing from one translation to another, include the translation in every reference.

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