Types of Cross-references


Yesterday we talked about the importance of studying cross-references. Today we’ll discuss the various kinds of cross-references you can look for and where you’re most likely to find them.

Types of Cross-references


The same word or phrase is used in another passage.

The cross-reference may not have any relationship to the passage you are studying.

Example: “Old man” in Colossians 3:9 and Genesis 25:8.

“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” (Col 3:9)

“Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.” (Gen 25:8)

As you can see, this kind of a cross-reference isn’t very useful. But it’s the kind of thing you’ll run into often if you use a tool like eSword’s verse search to look for cross-references. You either have to wade through the rubbish to find what you need, or use a more efficient tool to locate cross-references.

If you use The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, one of the cross-references it offers you is Ephesians 4:22.

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;” (Eph 4:22)

This is a more useful cross-reference than Genesis 25:8, because it talks about the same concept and gives extra facts about it.


The cross-reference says exactly, or nearly, what the passage you are studying says.

Example 1:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” (Eph 5:22)

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Col 3:18)

Example 2:

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Pro 22:3)

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Pro 27:12)

Now you don’t get any more parallel than that!


Records the event referred to by the passage you are reading.

Example: You read 2 Peter 1:17-18:

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” (2Pe 1:16-18)

Among the cross-references The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge offers, you find this historical cross-reference.

“While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” (Luk 9:34-35)

Here Luke records the event to which Peter refers – the Transfiguration.


Gives the source of a quotation or paraphrase.

Example: You read Luke 4:

“And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luk 4:17-19)

You wonder what Old Testament Bible passage Jesus was reading, so you check Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible and find this concise comment:

The place where it was written – Isa. 61:1-2.

Which is the source cross-reference for the text that Jesus read.


The word or phrase used in the cross-reference may be different, but the idea talked about is the same.

Example: Let’s say you read this passage in Ephesians:

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4)

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible points to Colossians 3:21 as a cross-reference.

“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” (Col 3:21)

Both verses talk about child rearing, but the Ephesians passage doesn’t mention the motive of not discouraging our children.


The cross-reference has a word or phrase that means the opposite of the word or phrase in the passage you are studying.

Studying a word’s antonyms helps you understand what the word means by understanding its opposite. The book of Proverbs often uses this technique to contrast ideas – the fool and the wise man, the sluggard and the diligent, etc.

The Thompson Chain Reference Bible often classifies topics by using a word – antonym pair. For example, its topical section has an entry entitled Faith – Unbelief.

Example: Fools and the wise in Proverbs.

“The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” (Pro 3:35)

“The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.” (Pro 10:8)

“In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.” (Pro 14:3)

Read More About It

The Old and New Man

What follows is a short exercise in using cross-references. If you have some other topic or passage you want to use instead, please do so. If not, here is sample passage from Colossians:

“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; (10) And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” (Col 3:9-10)

And here are some cross-references from various sources. Take a few minutes to look them up, identify the type of cross-reference, and make a note of any additional information you discover.

Verse 9 cross-references
Crudens: Gen 25:8; Isa 65:20; Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22
TSK: Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22
Verse 10 cross-references
Bible: Eph 2:14; Eph 4:24; Rom 6:18
TSK: Eze 11:19; 18:31; 36:26; 2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 2:10, 15; 4:24; Rev 21:5

New Man {2582-2586}

Psa 40:3; Eze 11:19; Rom 6:4; 7:6; 2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15

Spiritual Renewal

Eph 2:15; 4:24; Col 3:10

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