Four "rules" for understanding the Bible

During a recent Bible study my friend Allen Dvorak mentioned three “rules” that he uses to help him understand the Bible. I had not heard them before and they made a lot of sense to me so I thought I’d share them.

1. Observe context. Interpret verses/passages in light of their immediate and general context.

2. Harmonize. Based on the compatibility of every “part” of truth, our understanding of one verse/passage should harmonize with what is taught in other verses/passages which are equally related to the same subject.

3. Interpret the difficult in light of the easier. If you find one verse that appears to mean X, and twenty others that all clearly mean “not X”, then the one verse probably doesn’t mean X.

I would personally add a fourth, which I believe is by far the hardest:

4. Have an open mind. Ask yourself whether this is really true, or just something that you want to be true. I’ve been guilty of this but now understand that what I want is irrelevant, all that matters is what God wants. I don’t think there is any easy way to counter this; just be aware of it.


One Response to “Four "rules" for understanding the Bible”

  1. Pete Says:

    Thanks for adding that fourth rule. It is the best one. I believe having an open mind to truth (or at least trying to) must be the basis for Bible study. Without it the first three “rules” are not of much value.
    A while back I read a comment attributed to C.S Lewis by James Como, founder of the New York C.S. Lewis Society. It has really stuck with me. He said Lewis believed “you have to sneak past the watchful dragons of self-consciousness.” Wouldn’t it be a great thing to be able to think about something without having to think how you are thinking about it? If I could just slay those dragons.

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