How To Study And Interpret Scripture
Bible students continue to debate about how Scripture should be interpreted. Let me offer some thoughts on biblical interpretation.
- Approach Scripture without a point to prove. Those who believe the Bible is the final (Jude 3), complete (2 Tim 3:16-17), authoritative (1 Pet 4:11), inspired (1 Cor 2:10-13) word of God allow Scripture to interpret Scripture and accept it as the voice of God.
- Ask 7 questions when reading Scripture: Who said this? To whom was it said? Under what circumstances? What did the passage mean to the first readers? What does the passage say? What do the words mean? How does it apply today?
- Ask 5 more questions: Does the passage contain a fact to be believed? Is there a command to be obeyed? Is there a promise to be enjoyed? If there is a command, is it generic (general) without details, or is it specific with details? What is the context (the verses around it; the chapter in which it is found; the book as a whole)?
- Take a passage literally unless there is good reason from Scripture that it should be taken figuratively.
- Make sure your interpretation of a passage does not violate other plain teaching in the Bible.
- Remember that one has not arrived at the truth on any subject until he has studied everything the Bible says on that subject.
- Avoid dismissing any teaching of the Bible because your personal thoughts or preferences or desires contradict that teaching.
- When something is learned from Scripture that we are to do, resolve to put it into practice at once.
- Give careful attention to what is taught either in Bible class or sermon.
- Remember that the message of Scripture is the very voice of God.
- When the Bible is taught, learn something.
- “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
- Remember that the best translation of Scripture is the one, which is translated into your living it.
- Ask God for wisdom and understanding as the Scriptures are studied in order that you may live right, bear good fruit, and get to know God better (Col 1:9-11).