ESV Bible Web Service


Want to use the text of the ESV on your website?

Crossway allows you to access the ESV Bible text from our server and include it on your website, free of charge for non-commercial use.

How does it work?

This service, like most web services, requires that you have access to a programming language on your web server, such as Perl, PHP, or ASP, as well as basic knowledge of how to program in that language. You won’t be able to access the service using only HTML, although you can access some of it through Javascript or RSS without obtaining an access key.

To access the service, you will need to make an HTTP-GET request like the following:

Going there with your browser, you see that it is a partial XHTML 1.0-Transitional page without any <html>, <head>, or <body> tags, allowing you to integrate the text easily into your website. You will need to write or use a program to integrate the text. We have a number of code samples on the API page.

IP-based (keyless) access

You can access the ESV text using the key "IP" (without the quotes). This key limits you to 5,000 queries per day from a single IP address. You are bound by the below conditions of use, including the non-commercial aspects.

Key-based access

You may run into access limits if your website shares an IP address with other servers. See below for how to obtain an access key, including all information necessary to qualify as a non-commercial user.

What are the conditions of use for the text?

Can I cache the text locally?

You can cache up to 500 consecutive verses. We encourage you to periodically clear out your cache to ensure that you always have the latest version of the text, and that any bug-fixes we’ve applied to the service will be reflected in the content you receive.

Can I change the text?

You may not change any of the words in the text. You may choose to omit certain features, such as headings, footnotes, cross-references, and verse numbers. You may also omit portions of verses or sections quoted if you include an ellipsis (…) indicating that you are omitting them, and only if such omissions do not change the meaning of the verses or sections being quoted.

Does my access key expire?

Yes. Your key is good for one year and needs to be renewed every year for continued access to the text. We will contact you before your key expires.

What if I want to use the text of the ESV in an email devotional? Can I do that?

Yes, if the text amounts to fewer than 500 verses or 50% of any book of the Bible, and if the text comprises less than 50% of the email. For example, you could not have a "read through the Bible" email unless you also included other text.

Can I perform word searches?

Yes. See the API page for details. In our experience, passage lookups comprise 85-90% of queries.

What interfaces are available?

Currently, we have a REST interface at We chose REST because it’s easy to use and to implement. If we find that demand warrants other interfaces, we may implement them in the future.

What formats are available?

The ESV is available in HTML, plain text, and the XML format we use to store the text. If you write a script or stylesheet to transform our XML format into OSIS format, we would be interested in seeing what you have created. To keep current with offerings from the Bible Gateway, we anticipate making the text available in OSIS format. However, we do not have a timetable for doing so.

On pages that use the ESV text, you must include any copyright notice that is sent with the text. With each quotation, include the letters "ESV." (These letters are included by default with each request. They do not have to be a link.) On a "copyright" page of your website, you need to include one of the following:

What if I want to use the API in another way?

To request information on including the ESV in your mobile app or for other usage, please describe your application in the sign-up form.

What do you mean by “non-commercial website” and “non-commercial purposes?”

A non-commercial site does not charge for access to any part of the site. Further, no charge is made for access to the ESV text.

In contrast, a commercial website is primarily designed to motivate visitors to buy something, to pay for a service, or to give a donation, or it accepts advertising or sponsorships.

This service is designed to be used for personal, church, and ministry organization use.

If I just want to link to the ESV text (to display a passage, for example), and don't want the text to appear integrated into my website, should I use this service?

Although you can use this service, it's much easier simply to link to us. See the For Webmasters page for details on how to link to us.

Do I need an access key to use the RSS Feeds on my site?

No. You are free to use the RSS feeds as you desire, within the standard ESV copyright restrictions.

What could I use the text for?

Some possibilities:

What guarantees do you offer?

We guarantee that the text we send you is the official version of the ESV Bible. We do not guarantee that the service will always be available, nor are we responsible for any damage to your computer systems as a result of this service. You are responsible for maintaining the security and integrity of your systems.

Can I terminate my access key? Can you revoke it?

You are free to terminate your relationship with us at any time. Please email to have your access key and contact information removed from our system. We will contact you to renew your access key every year.

We can revoke your access key if, in our sole judgment, you do not abide by the terms of this agreement or we decide to discontinue the service.

What will you use my email address for?

We will not share your email address with any organization. We will only use it to contact you about your account and to keep you informed about any news about or changes to the service (e.g., scheduled maintenance or API changes).

I’m interested. What do I do next?

First, test your server configuration using the testing key (?key=TEST or ?key=IP). Some sample code is available. You can probably simply use the "IP" key unless you start getting error messages about running out of queries.

Next, fill out this form. It asks for your name, email, and some basic information about how you intend to use the service.

What is the API (Application Program Interface)?

For details on the API, please visit our API page.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.