This post includes one piece of Bible verse art for each of the 66 books of the Bible. Jeffrey has identified a verse that sets the tone for the whole book. I’ve undertaken the project of hand-writing and illustrating each of these theme verses.
You can see all the Bible verse art that I’ve created for the series below, in order of books in the protestant Bible.
The first drawing in the series opens with the concept of covenant—a recurring and unifying theme in scripture. The imagery of the drawing alludes to God’s promise to Abraham about having descendants that number like the stars in the sky.
I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
I used watercolor, illustration pen, and guache paint to create this drawing.
I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
I used a water-based brush pen for the first time on this drawing for the line work and lettering.
Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.
This pair of verses was very conceptually dense. I placed the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob among the roots to play off the family tree concept, and focused on relatively simple symbolism paralleling life + blessing with death + curse.
Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed. Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them.
I went with a very chaotic style because of the turmoil depicted in the book of Judges. The drawing is black and white, also representing the starkness and grim situations of the time. I used illustration pen and sumi ink on watercolor paper.
The theme of 1 Samuel is summed up in two verses (1 Samuel 12:24–25). I used a combination of illustration pen, watercolor, acrylic ink, dye-based ink, and sumi ink on this art piece.
1 Samuel 12:24–25
Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.
The variety of different ink types lent itself to a wider range of textures in the final piece than I would get from using watercolor alone.
2 Samuel 7:8
Now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant.
The theme verse of 1 & 2 Kings are combined for two reasons: first, the two documents were originally written as one book, but were simply divided up because of scroll length. This is true also of 1 & 2 Chronicles and 1 & 2 Samuel, but in this case, the theme of both 1 & 2 Kings was best summed up together (in the other book pairs, each book had a more distinctive theme).
1 Kings 9:4–7
As for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, just as I promised to your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight.
In the 1 Chronicles piece of art, God is speaking about Solomon:
1 Chronicles 17:12
He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.
I made some allusions to what’s popularly called “Solomon’s temple” in this drawing (though there’s just as much reason to call it David’s temple). I tried a different technique with the watercolor, experimenting with some 3D lettering.
Especially considering how hopeful things were looking in 1 Chronicles, this theme verse is pretty depressing. Everything pretty much crumbled apart for Isreal:
2 Chronicles 34:24–25
Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I am bringing evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the curses written in the book which they have read in the presence of the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore My wrath will be poured out on this place and it shall not be quenched.’
I used dye-based and sumi inks for the coloring of this piece of Bible verse art.
For we are slaves; yet in our bondage our God has not forsaken us, but has extended lovingkindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us reviving to raise up the house of our God, to restore its ruins and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.
Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.
Esther’s theme verse comes from a conversation between Esther and Mordecai.
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?
[Job] said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.’
Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
The Psalms theme verse is actually a few different verses. It comes from the very first section of the whole book.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
I used multiple frames in the drawing to communicate the variety of situations, and depicted the evildoers with empty heads.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
I carried over the empty-head motif from my Psalms drawing to illustrate the absence of wisdom & knowledge.
Song of Solomon 7:10
I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.
I made an additional piece of art based on Song of Solomon where I visually represent most of the wacky metaphors used to describe the bride.
Isaiah, the first of the major prophets, makes many references to the coming of Christ.
Zion will be redeemed with justice
And her repentant ones with righteousness.
Knowing about some of the necessary bloodshed that needed to happen for redemption, I poured on the blood imagery. I experimented with a more minimalistic color scheme in this verse illustration, which turned out (in my opinion) quite well.
See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to tear down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.
I created three horizontal layers in the drawing for the three blocks of text.
The LORD is righteous;
“For I have rebelled against His command;
Hear now, all peoples,
And behold my pain;
My virgins and my young men
Have gone into captivity.”
In the Lamentations drawing, I used acrylic ink (the blue), dye-based ink (the red), sumi ink (the black), watercolor (the skin tones), and illustration pen (the lettering and line work).
Say to them, “As I live!” declares the Lord GOD, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?”
It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
Hosea is one of the more fascinating minor prophets; one that has an interesting underlying story. God commands Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman as a metaphor for God’s relationship with the nation of Israel.
Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’
I’m still not sure why raisin cakes were such a big deal.
This pen and watercolor illustration depicts Obadiah 21:
The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion
To judge the mountain of Esau,
And the kingdom will be the LORD’S.
I used dye based ink, sumi ink, and watercolor to create the Obadiah theme verse illustration.
I used a combination of inks and watercolors in the Jonah Bible verse art to experiment with a different texture.
Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.
I kept the fish rather vague and sea-monster-ish, but gave a little allusion to a shark. I sometimes imagine that Jonah was swallowed by a basking shark (which is technically a fish!).
I will bear the indignation of the Lord
Because I have sinned against Him,
Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me.
He will bring me out to the light,
And I will see His righteousness.
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.
Seek righteousness, seek humility.
Perhaps you will be hidden
In the day of the LORD’S anger.
Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the LORD.
Like in the Esther theme verse, I employed some speech bubbles to distinguish spoken words. The drawing consists of a simple landscape: the destroyed temple at the base of a mountain. I actually looked up models depicting what Solomon’s temple may have looked like, and drew a deconstructed version.
‘Return to Me,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘that I may return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts.
Usually when I’m brainstorming my illustration for these verses, I come up with several ideas. The first one I come up with usually leans a little scarier than necessary. I’ve tended to hold the more dark imagery back, but in this case I just went for it.
For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
I pulled in some white guache to offset the lettering from the background.
The theme verse of Matthew is verse 1:21, which reads as follows:
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
The art for Mary and Jesus was inspired by Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, Pieta.
The theme verse of Mark is verse 10:45, which says:
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
Jesus performed lots of miracles, but the one appealed the most to me for a drawing was the iconic scene where Jesus turns water into wine.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
The theme verse of Romans is verse 1:16–17, which reads as follows:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘but the righteous man shall live by faith.’
I tried a different technique with this drawing, using a calligraphy pen dipped in sumi ink instead of my usual illustration pen. The process went a lot quicker, but I had less control over fine detail. The color was rendered primarily with watercolor, but with some sumi and dye-based inks.
I took a simple approach to the short theme verse of 1 Corinthians, which comes from chapter 10 verse 31:
1 Corinthians 10:1
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
I drew the line art with my usual illustration pen, and used a combination of watercolors and dye-based inks for the coloring. To get the marbled texture, I sprayed heavy amounts of water on the paper.
2 Corinthians 7:16
I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.
1 Timothy 3:15
But in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
I took my first go with a brush pen in this verse illustration, using a pillar to represent the universal Church.
2 Timothy 1:13
Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Philippians has many quotable verses, not the least of which is the verse which represents its theme:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
1 Thessalonians 4:1
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.
2 Thessalonians 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
This was the first drawing I created in the series. This theme verse is actually “theme verses.” It spans two verses.
Hebrews 10: 23–24b
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
The drawing is made with illustration pen and dye-based inks. I used a thinner paper I had for most of the other drawings, and hadn’t yet learned that I needed to smash the paper down between two flat planes to get it to dry completely flat, so the final piece is a little wrinkly.
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
1 Peter 4:16
If anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
2 Peter 3:2
Remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
1 John 3:23
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
The theme verse of the shortest book in the Bible is the fourth verse in the 13-verse book:
3 John 4
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
Jude is the second-to-last book of the Bible, and only one chapter long. The theme verse for the book comes from verse 3:
I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
I used primarily acrylic inks on this drawing, along with illustration pen and a dash of watercolor.
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