How the Bible Interprets Itself
In Its Context
According to God's Word Series
Read Time: 7 Minutes
We stand approved before God as workman that need not to be disappointed in our expectations rightly dividing the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2:15). Therefore, we must rightly divide it. We come back the essential truth in II Peter.
II Peter 1
:20 Knowing this first,
that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
I cannot say what I think the Word of God means. I must teach what God had written as holy men of spoke as they were inspired by God. We have already learned that the Word of God interprets itself:
- In the verse where it is written
- Verses must be understood in light of their biblical meaning
- Verses must be in harmony with other verses on the same subject
- Narrative Development
Another integral part of understand God's Word is understanding the context. We must examine the scripture surrounding the verse(s) we are reading. Sometimes we cannot just read one verse and understand its meaning, we must pay attention to the context. Here is an example:
:8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance,
and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
That sounds great. We should go out and convert them all. Isn't that what this verse says?
But, verse nine says:
:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Wait a minute. That sheds more light on the subject. We cannot just take verse 8 and run with it. We must understand the context. Here is another example:
:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying,
The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Can you tell me what the good seed is? This is a parable, the good seed figuratively represents something else. Do I know what it stands for? I could guess. Let us continue.
:25 But while men slept,
his enemy came and sowed tares [weeds] among the wheat,
and went his way.
Do we know what the tares represent yet? No.
:26 But when the blade was sprung up,
and brought forth fruit,
then appeared the tares also.
Have we found out what the good seed and the tares are yet? No.
:27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him,
Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field?
from whence then hath it tares?
:28 He said unto them,
An enemy hath done this.
The servants said unto him,
Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
:29 But he said,
Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
:30 Let both grow together until the harvest:
and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers,
Gather ye together first the tares,
and bind them in bundles to burn them:
but gather the wheat into my barn.
:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying,
The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed,
which a man took,
and sowed in his field:
Now Jesus has started another parable and we still don't know what the good seed and the tares are, nor the enemy or the field. There is no disgrace is saying, "I don't know." We stand approved before God by rightly dividing the Word of Truth. If you are guessing and you don't really know you are not doing the will of God. Ask God and search the scriptures to find out. If you still don't know you can ask Him when we are face to face with Him after the return of Christ. Until then you say, "I don't know."
Fortunately, Christ explains the parable to the disciples.
:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house:
and his disciples came unto him, saying,
Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
They knew better than to guess.
:37 He answered and said unto them,
He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; [there, now we know]
:38 The field is the world;
the good seed are the children of the kingdom;
but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
:39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil;
the harvest is the end of the world;
and the reapers are the angels.
:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire;
so shall it be in the end of this world.
:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels,
and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend,
and them which do iniquity;
:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire:
there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
:43 Then shall the righteous shine forth
as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Now we understand why the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. As in this case sometimes we must read further to understand the meaning. Always look before and after the verse(s) being studied.
God's Word is rich with truths set like precious gems on a royal tapestry. It is up to us to immerse ourselves in His Word and reap the benefits thereof.