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How did the Bible get divided into chapters and verses?

When the Holy Spirit inspired the words of Scripture to human authors, they wrote without dividing it up into chapters and verses. The chapter and verse divisions were added much later to make it easier to find certain portions of Scripture. A man named Stephen Langton, who was a professor at the University of Paris, was the first to divide the Bible into chapters. He did this in the year 1227 AD. He eventually became the Archbishop of Canterbury.

A different individual named Robert Stephanus (Stephens) then divided the verses for his Greek New Testament. This work was published in 1551 AD. It was four years later in 1555 that the first version of the Bible with complete chapter and verse divisions was printed. This was Robert Stephanus (Stephens) edition of the Latin Vulgate. It would be four additional years before there was an English translation that had complete chapter and verse markings (The Geneva Bible, 1560).

It is important to remember that while the distinction between chapters and verses is quite helpful, it is not part of the inspired text. We should also keep in mind that the writers of Scripture intended their works to be read in its entirety, from beginning to end. It is important to strive to read through books of the Bible to have a clear understanding of the what is being taught and to study the biblical text in its proper context.


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