Rules of Interpretation
To understand the Bible properly it is necessary to approach and interpret its contents in a sound and consistent manner. To assist you in this process, the following guideline is recommended:
First. Intend to be a student. No lesser intention will ever produce any good result.
Second. Concentrate on the details. Note what the words say, and not what you suppose they say or would like them to say.
Third. Ask yourself questions! And don't expect all the answers right away! (This requires a healthy dose of humility.)
"Where'er you look within this book, Five things observe with care: OF WHOM it speaks, and HOW it speaks, And WHY, and WHEN, and WHERE."
Fourth. Put the parallel narratives together: not just the four gospels, but also Kings and Chronicles.
Fifth. Always have the question in mind: "What does this remind me of? " Have an eye out for "types" everywhere (but be careful not to get carried away to the exclusion of the plain lesson).
Sixth. Distinguish the difference between "true principles" and "uncertain details". Don't major on minors, or vice versa.
Seventh. Let the Bible define and explain its own terms, figures, and symbols.
Eighth. Give every passage a literal construction, unless its own connection and phraseology render such a course ridiculous, by bringing it into collision with truths elsewhere established by clear and positive language.
Ninth. When reading articles and books that use portions of Scripture to support their views, give careful consideration to the complete Bible context in which the extracted passage has been taken.
Tenth. No doctrine should be built upon one isolated text of Scripture. Any true doctrine will be found scattered through the whole Bible. Select all the related texts in the Bible, put them together, and you will have all the truth revealed on that particular subject.
Eleventh. Never be afraid of results to which you may be driven by your investigations.
Twelfth. Pursue your study of the Scriptures with as much independence as if you were the only one concerned. In other words do not let others discourage you from doing what you know is right.
Thirteenth. Rely on no authority less than Divine.
Lastly. Prove all things: hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
It Shall Greatly Helpe Ye To Understand Scripture
If Thou Mark... Not only what is Spoken or Wrytten
but of Whom and to Whom with what Words at what Time
Where to what Intent with what Circumstances considering
what Goeth Before and what Followeth. John Wycliffe
The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture, it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly. Westminster Confession, 1647
The Bible should be studied at least as laboriously and exactly as any other book which has to be completely mastered. Every expression, every word, must be weighed; patiently, thoughtfully, systematically, reverentially. John William Burgon
The Bible does not yield its treasures to its critics. John Carter
A BIBLE COMPANION copyrighted shareware software Version 5.0
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