Scripture Accessible to all Believers


Table of Contents | Hermeneutics — Overview |
Scripture Accessible to all Believers | The Nature of Communication | False Principles of Interpretation | Good Principles of Interpretation | Scripture Quoted in Scripture | Symbolism

   Why I Became Catholic

Popular topics: Symbolism | The Role of the Spirit | Uses by the Holy Spirit | Prophecy | How to Interpret the Bible


As believers, we are each one fully capable of understanding scripture. For as the Psalmist says:

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7b)

Understanding the word of God is, therefore, a simple matter for those who diligently seek Him. We should read and meditate on scripture often.

While we are to look to teachers to assist us in our study of God's word, we must not fall into the trap of assuming that every Bible teacher teaches the Bible correctly. We must validate their teachings by comparing them with the scriptures as the Bereans did:

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

The Bereans compared the teachings of the apostle Paul with the Old Testament writings to ensure that Paul was, indeed, a trustworthy spokesman of God's word. Now that we have the New Testament, we can use that in addition to the Old Testament to verify whether or not a teacher is teaching truth. For more, read my articleof various popular teachings compared with the New Testament.

Just as the Bereans did, we must examine the scriptures to verify that what the teachers of our day teach is true. If it is not, then we must not hesitate to reject their teachings and to reject them as teachers of truth.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3,4)

Each one of us should, therefore, become grounded in our knowledge of the sacred scripture. Then, as we hear the teachings of those who claim to be anointed of God, we may be able to determine whether or not they are teaching the truth. In the words of Jesus:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15,16)

Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:21-23)

I should mention that taking the topic of this section to heart resulted in my conversion to Catholicism.


The Role of Teachers

Many Christians think only the most learned scholars can rightly divide the word of truth. (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15b) For this reason they avoid studying the sacred scriptures, preferring to leave this up to those who are supposedly better equipped. They listen to teachers and accept whatever they are taught without checking it in the scripture for themselves.

There are various reasons people lean so strongly on teachers:

We, each one of us, ought to be able to defend from scripture what we believe. We ought to have a strong understanding of scripture, and to not believe something merely because a teacher said it from the pulpit. It is dangerous to depend too much on these teachers. That being said, I must stress that we must depend on the Churchto guide us into truth.

You will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

This passage states that it is the Church that is the pillar and foundation of truth.

Every believer is fully capable of understanding the Bible for himself, with diligent study and direction from the traditional and historical Church. Paul tells Timothy:

You have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)

Yet Timothy is never referred to as a great scholar but rather as a young man (cf. 1 Timothy 4:12) with sincere faith (cf. 2 Timothy 1:5) who followed good teaching (cf. 1 Timothy 4:6). In fact, Timothy is nowhere referred to as a great scholar or theologian even though much is written about him.

But we must not overlook the fact that Timothywas trained in true doctrine and teachingby Paul and others so that he was, therefore, qualified to teach the truth. Timothy faithfully passed-on to others what was passed-on to him.

I should mention that taking the topic of this section to heart resulted in my conversion to Catholicism.


The Role of the Spirit

God has given us the Holy Spirit to open eyes of our understanding. (cf. Ephesians 1:18) Paul acknowledges that God gives wisdom and understanding to those he loves:

I [Paul] keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit [a spirit] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians 1:17)

We require the presence of the Holy Spirit working within us in order to understand the truth:

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

God has given us sacred scripture to bless us:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Notice that this passage does not say that scripture is all that is needed.

In order for us to receive God's intended benefit from the sacred scriptures which he provided for us, it must be possible for each one of us to understand the meaning by reading or hearing it. As Paul states in his letter to the Corinthian church, it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to understand scripture:

This is what we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught us by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. (1 Corinthians 2:13)

Unfortunately, as history demonstrates, each of us will come up with a different interpretation unless the Holy Spirit guides our understanding of scripture from a central source.


Table of Contents

Hermeneutics — Overview

The Principles of Interpretation of Scripture

How to Interpret the Bible

Scripture Accessible to all Believers

The Role of Teachers

The Role of the Spirit

The Nature of Communication

Human Communication

Good Writing

Divine Communication

False Principles of Interpretation

Bringing Together Unrelated Passages

Altering the Translation

Improper Use of Language

False Meaning of Words

Ignoring Related Passages

Quoting Out of Context

Who Said It?

Limiting the Meaning of a Word

Literalizing a Figure of Speech

Good Principles of Interpretation

The Theme of the Bible

The Theme of the Old Testament

The Theme of the New Testament

The Themes of the Books of the Bible

Scripture Quoted in Scripture

Uses of Prophecy

Misuse by Satan

Spiritual Warfare

Prayer and Worship

Support of Gospel

Discussions on Truth

Uses by Holy Spirit

Symbolism

Typology

Allegory

Parables

Figures of Speech

Simile

Metaphor

Personification

Synecdoche

Hyperbole

Analogy

Irony

Literal Interpretation