There are many methods of studying the Bible. Among
the most popular are the mystical method, allegorical
method, superstitious method, spiritual method, apologetic
method, ecclesiastical method, hierarchical method,
dogmatic method, inductive method, deductive method,
rationalistic method, and literal method.
The method we choose to interpret the Bible changes
the conclusions we reach.
One method will lead us to conclude baptism is
not essential to salvation. And a different method
will lead us to conclude baptism is essential
Choosing the correct method to interpret the Bible
can mean the difference between salvation and damnation.
The solution is not to choose a man-made method
of interpretation, but to study the Bible, as taught
by the Bible. God's word equips us with everything
we need to know, including the proper manner to interpret
His word (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Bible Principles of Interpretation
For the remainder of the article, I want to talk about
basic principles of interpretation from the Bible.
God's Word is Truth
The Lord's church recognizes that God's word is the
only standard of truth. Jesus, when praying to the
Father, said, "Your word is truth" (Jn. 17:17).
In contrast, other churches recognize sources of
authority other than God's word. Some churches have
a catechism, creed, or church manual. Others place
oral tradition above God's word. Some make the writings
of men more authoritative than God's word, and others
have their own Bible.
As Christians, God's word is our standard of truth.
Therefore, our responsibility is to learn it, and
We Can Understand God's Word
To interpret God's word correctly, we must realize
it can be understood (Eph. 3:4; 5:17). We know we
can interpret His word, coming to the correct conclusions,
whereby we can render obedience and serve Him faithfully.
Today, false teachers tell people we can't understand
God's word. They lead people astray, convincing them
they're right with God, as long as they "think" they're
We Must Reason
We must reason to draw proper conclusions from God's
word, forming sound judgments based on the principles
of reasoning revealed in God's word.
God calls making these judgments "rightly dividing
the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV).
For example, God called Israel to repentance, saying,
"Come now, and let us reason together," (Is.
And Paul, when he preached, reasoned with people:
- from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2).
- every day (Acts 17:17).
- trying to persuade people (Acts 18:4).
- persuading them about the kingdom of God (Acts
No Contradictions in God's Word
Interpreting God's word based on the fact it doesn't
contain a contradiction is vitally important. Perfect
harmony of God's word demands perfect harmony in logic
God is not the author of confusion, because it's
impossible for Him to lie (1 Cor. 14:33; Heb. 6:18).
Therefore, His word is harmonious, without any contradictions.
Note: There are a few scribal errors, but nothing
that changes the meaning of God's word in matters
concerning worship, service, or salvation. Copyists
and translators are not perfect, but God's word is
Interpret Scriptures In Context
We can make God's word mean almost anything, if we
take Scriptures out of context.
One common illustration is: Judas "went away and
hanged himself" (Matthew 27:5 ). You "go and do the
same" (Luke 10:37).
When we take Scriptures out of context, we twist
(distort) the Scriptures, resulting in destruction
(2 Pet. 3:16).
Jesus criticized the Jews for taking Scriptures
out of context and twisting them.
On one occasion, the Sadducees used a story of a
woman who had seven husbands. Each husband died without
fathering a child, requiring the woman to marry one
of his brothers, under the Mosaic Law.
The Sadducees tried to use this story, applying
the Mosaic Law to a set of circumstances, thinking
it proved there wasn't a resurrection, because a woman
couldn't be married to seven men in the resurrection.
Jesus told them their conclusion was false, because
they didn't understand the Scriptures.
- "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures
nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they
neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are
like angels in heaven" (Matt. 22:29-30).
Take Into Account The Precise Meaning of Words
When talking to the Sadducees about the resurrection,
Jesus proved there is a resurrection by the precision
of a few words, in context, which they overlooked.
"But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have
you not read what was spoken to you by God: 'I
am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of
the dead but of the living" (Matt. 22:31-32).
Jesus used the words in Exodus 3:6, where God spoke
in the first person, using the present tense, to show
that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob had eternal souls
and were alive (cf. Lk. 16:19-31). Thus, He proved
there's a resurrection.
God's word is absolutely precise. Therefore, we
should understand it and teach others, based on this
- God's word "is living and active and sharper
than any two-edged sword, and piercing as
far as the division of soul and spirit, of both
joints and marrow, and able to judge the
thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb.
An Interpretation Can't Contradict Other Scriptures
I can't think of a case where a false doctrine doesn't
contradict the Scriptures.
For example, Jesus proved the Sadducees' doctrine
of the resurrection was incorrect by presenting a
Scripture that contradicted it, showing it was a false
From this we learn that an interpretation must be
consistent with all the Scriptures. If it's not, the
interpretation is false.
For example, we often hear people teach that baptism
is not essential to salvation, because the thief on
the cross was saved without baptism.
There are many reasons why this isn't true, but
we can simply prove it's false by showing it contradicts
Scriptures like Matthew 16:16, Acts 2:38, and 1 Peter
Jesus never recognized the need to adopt a particular
hermeneutic, as people do today. Rather, He recognized
the need to establish authority (Matt. 21:23-27).
Today, our responsibility is to establish authority
from God's word, and do those things in our lives.
Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth.
Therefore, we must establish authority and do the
things He authorizes (Matt. 28:18; Col. 3:17).