The 4 Main Themes People Engaged With the Bible in 2020 on Bible Gateway
Critical news events of 2020 corresponded with extreme spikes in keyword/keyphrase searches of the Bible over 2019 on Bible Gateway—the world’s most visited Christian website—and can be grouped into the four main themes of social, pandemic, political, and end times.[Read the Bible Gateway post, 2020 in Review]
Searches in each of the four areas occurred at least ten times more in 2020 than last year, with social-related terms searched more than 100 times following the death of George Floyd. With the ensuing and ongoing protests, Bible search terms included such topics as racism, justice, equality, and oppression, and notable Scripture verse results included “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers” (Proverbs 21:15) and “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Latest Bible-Related Research]
“Pandemic” is the Word of the Year for both Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com, and it was the second major search theme on Bible Gateway—especially around the time of quarantine lockdowns in the USA—including key topics such as disease, pestilence, and plague. Notable verse results included “Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you” (Exodus 23:25) and “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security” (Jeremiah 33:6).
Governmental response to the pandemic, as well as the US presidential election, increased interest in what the Bible says about social order. Key topics included praying for government and obeying government authority. Key verse results included “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) and “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1).
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And the fourth theme involved people wanting to know how the present fits with Bible prophecy and Jesus’ second coming. Key topics included signs of the end times and end of the world. Key verse results included: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) and “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).
The overall most-popular Bible verse read and shared on Bible Gateway in 2020 was John 3:16, followed by Jeremiah 29:11, as they both have been for at least every year of the last decade. And the top two most-popular keyword searches in 2020—as they’ve been year after year—were love and peace. This year, however, hope moved up to the third position, from being number five in 2019 and 2018.
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