In this article you will see an example of how to apply the practical steps, previously mentioned, to memorize Scripture. Before proceeding, however, I would like to mention two different types of Scripture memorization. The first, and most common, is the memorization of selected verses that deal with and meet specific needs. The first “selected verse” I memorized as a child was John 3:16. Later, I memorized the verses of “the Romans’ Road.” In vacation Bible schools and Bible college it is common to memorize selected verses.
The second type of memorization involves long, consecutive passages of Scripture. At one point in my life, I decided to memorize an entire epistle, little by little. It was a way for me to “meditate day and night” on the Scripture and also a very worthy challenge. Eventually, I memorized the book of Philippians and was amazed at how much more I understood the heart and teachings of this epistle after committing it to memory, than when I had just read and studied it. This has been my main purpose for memorization ever since.
Both types of memorization are worthy, necessary and valuable. However, there is one major difference between the two types. If you memorize selected verses, it is essential to memorize the reference of the verse. On the other hand, when memorizing large portions of Scripture, it is not practical or even helpful to memorize the reference except for the first and last verses, or the chapter number.
Now, let’s see how to apply the four steps we looked at in our last article to Colossians 1:16. I chose this verse randomly, trying to avoid the most common verses in order to have a “fresh” memorization experience.
1. Carefully Read the Verse Four Times
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1:16
2. Meditate on the Message
Who wrote these words and to whom?
Why did he write this to them?
What message does God have for us in this verse?
Colossians 1:16 speaks of Christ as the Creator of all, both above and below. Nothing in creation exists, either physical or spiritual, without Him. No power or authority exists that is not under Him. The more you learn about this verse, the more it will strengthen and profit you.
3. Look at the Structure of the Verse
There are eight commas. More importantly, did you notice two main divisions separated by a colon?
The first part is much longer, so how can we “divide and conquer” it? Notice that there is a declaration “For by him were all things created.” Following the declaration is a list of four “pairs” of things He created.
Let’s organize the verse here as we would look at it in our mind. You do not actually have to re-write a verse, although it would be very helpful to do so. The first main division is bold.
For by him / were all things created, (two phrases)
that are in heaven, and that are in earth, (first “pair”—heaven and earth)
visible and invisible, (second “pair”—visible and invisible)
whether they be thrones, or dominions, (third “pair”—thrones or dominions)
or principalities, or powers: (fourth “pair”—principalities or powers)
all things were created by him, / and for him: (two phrases)
4. Look at the Curiosities or “Nails” in the Verse
The structure provides a useful pattern: two phrases—four pairs - two phrases.
Within the four “pairs” the first two fit together “that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible,” and the last two fit together “whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.”
Notice the words that are in are repeated in the first pair.
Do you see how the word or is repeated in the last two sets of pairs?
It may also help to notice the similarity of the beginning “For by him,” and the end “for him.”
Since the bulk of the verse consists of the four “pairs” we could even invent a “nail” by forming an odd sentence using the first letters of each word in the four pairs: heaven, earth, visible, invisible, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers (h, e, v, i, t, d, p, p). Would this stick in your mind? “Happy elephants vacuum in their dark purple pants.” Try making your own, and remember, the stranger the better.
In the next article, we will actually apply these steps and memorize this verse. Again, please understand that although it seems like it takes a lot of time to analyze a verse, when you become accustomed to doing so, it will not take much time at all. In reality, it will save much time by making memorization much easier.