What Are the Most Popular Verses in the Bible?

Running a Bible search website means that we collect a lot of raw data about what verses people are looking at. A few months ago we crunched the numbers and came up with some stats that you might find interesting.

Searches for specific passages comprise about 90% of queries on the ESV site; word searches account for only about 10% of queries.

Query Distribution

The below chart shows all the verses in the Bible plotted against how many times people see each verse. Note the spikes around John 1, 1 Corinthians 13, Genesis 1, and Romans 1.

Chart showing verses on the x-axis and the number of views on the y-axis

Romans Query Distribution

The above chart can appear a little overwhelming. Below is a breakdown for Romans in which you can clearly see that certain chapters (1, 3, 8, 12) and verses (8:28, 1:16, 3:23, 12:2) stand out over others.

Chart showing verses from Romans on the x-axis and the number of views on the y-axis

Chapter Popularity

Prefer to see things at the chapter level? The below chart shows the number of times that people have seen each chapter in the Bible. You can see peaks at Romans 8, Matthew 5, John 1, and Genesis 1. Conversely, you can see valleys at Ezekiel 15, Psalm 134, Jeremiah 47, and Psalm 114.

Chart showing chapters on the x-axis and the number of views on the y-axis

Chapters Seen in Their Entirety

The below chart shows what percentage of the time a chapter is viewed in its entirety, as compared to just seeing a few verses from the chapter. The data range from high (85% of people see Psalm 1 in its entirety) to low (11% of people see Jeremiah 29 in its entirety; almost everyone just looks at Jeremiah 29:11).

Chart showing chapters on the x-axis and the percentage of views looking at the complete chapter on the y-axis

Book Popularity

This last chart shows how popular each book is when controlling for the book’s length (the Psalms get more views than Jude in part because it’s a much longer book). The most popular books by this measure are Ephesians, Philippians, and Romans. The least popular books are Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Hosea.

Chart showing books on the x-axis and the number of views (controlled for book length) on the y-axis

Most Popular Verses

So, what are the most-viewed verses in the ESV? Here are the most popular verses (including complete chapter views):

  1. John 1:1, 1:13, 1:12, 1:14, 1:3, and the rest of John 1 dominate the list
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:4, 13:13 and the rest of 1 Corinthians 13.
  3. Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:1, and the rest of Genesis 1
  4. Romans 1:16 and the rest of Romans 1.
  5. John 3:16

Here are the most popular verses excluding complete-chapter views, which should give a better sense of popular verses:

  1. John 3:16
  2. Proverbs 31:10 and following. We speculate that these verses appear because people often only look at part of this chapter.
  3. Matthew 5:27-30, concerning adultery. Verse 30 is the most popular of the four verses.
  4. Romans 8:28
  5. Romans 3:23
  6. Genesis 24:27

What are the least-viewed verses? Not surprisingly, they’re pretty obscure. At the time of our analysis, no one had looked at the following verses except as part of their complete chapters. (We’re introducing statistical noise by linking to them here.)

  1. Numbers 31:25
  2. Joshua 15:24, 15:40, 15:42, 15:50
  3. 1 Samuel 30:28
  4. 1 Chronicles 8:37
  5. Ezekiel 22:17

Methodology

Some of the above charts include “complete chapter views.” We separated out queries that looked at partial chapters and queries that looked at complete chapters to minimize noise if a chapter were particularly popular.

Download the Excel file (6.6MB) containing the data and charts (including some we don’t show here) and do some exploring yourself.

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