How to Cite and Reference Bible Texts in the APA 7th Edition Style

The Bible is a collection of books with many good principles that are applicable to everyday life. If you are new to reading and citing Bible texts, you may like to read the Quick-Start-Guide on “Introduction to Using and Citing Texts from the Bible” first.  If you’ve been reading the Bible and would like to learn how to cite Bible texts to support your essay arguments in the APA 7 format, this guide is for you. 

Bible texts may be cited in the APA 7 style similar to how we would cite a book. However, here are some points specific to citing and referencing Bible texts. Firstly, Bible texts are treated as not having an author. Instead, texts are cited and referenced based on the English translation version that was used. Secondly, we include the exact location of the text, whether we used the text as a direct quote, in a paraphrase, or in a summary. This is a general rule that also applies to texts from other religious books such as the Quran. 

 

In-Text Citations of Bible Texts in APA 7 

The selected version name is treated as a title and should be italicized (see examples below). Each book in the biblical library has a standardized abbreviation that can be used to indicate the specific location of a verse or a range of verses. For example, Matthew can be abbreviated as ‘Matt’ (see examples below). Check the complete list of standard abbreviations from the website below. The citation may be in a parenthetical or narrative format (see Example 4 below). 

Bible passages are coded by Book Chapter:Verse(s)  

Book  Chapter      Verse(s) 
John  3  16 
Ephesians  3  14-21 


Example: Jn. 3:16 and Eph. 3:14-21 

Basic In-Text Citation Format with Examples 

Basic In-Text Citation Format: 

(Bible Version Name, Year, Abbrev. Chapter Number:Verse number(s)) 

Example 1 (English Standard Version Bible, 2016, Matt. 6:33) – for a single verse  

Example 2 (English Standard Version Bible, 2016, Matt. 6:31-34) – for a range of verses 

If the Bible is a repeat citation, the version title may be abbreviated: 

Example 3: (ESV, 2016, Matt. 6:33) 

If you would like to paraphrase the reference in a narrative format, you may write it as follows: 

Example 4: In Matt. 6:33, Jesus encourages people to prioritize God’s kingdom in their lives (ESV, 2016). 

Basic Bible Reference Format with Example 

Basic Reference Format: 

Bible Version Name. (Year). Publisher. URL 

Example: International Standard Version Bible. (2014). Bible Gateway. https://www.biblegateway.com/ 

 

Classical Texts with Original Publication Dates 

If the text is cited is a reprint from a classical version of the Bible, for example the King James Bible that was originally published in 1611, the format is: 

King James Version Bible. (1987). Bible Gateway. (Original work published 1611). 

Online Bible and Complete List of Abbreviated Names for the Books of the Bible 

https://www.biblegateway.com/ 

https://www.esv.org/resources/esv-global-study-bible/list-of-abbreviations/ 

 

Some Helpful Websites for APA 7 Formatting of In-Text citations and References 

Books and eBooks – APA Writing Guide – Research Guides at Liberty University 

https://libguides.up.edu/apa/biblical_sources  

Test Your Understanding 

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