How the Bible Interprets Itself
In the Verse

Living Abundantly 
According to God's Word Series

Read Time: 10 Minutes

If we are to know the truths of God's Word we must come to the Word of God and read it and study it so that we understand what God is telling us. The first thing we must know when it comes to God's Word is:

II Peter 1
:20 Knowing this first, 
    that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

I may not interpret the Word my own way. I may not teach what I think it means. I must teach what God really means. Why do you think we have so many different denominations and splits in the churches. Because people do not let the Word of God speak. They bring to the table their own understanding. So, if I dare not interpret the Word of God my own way than either there is no interpretation available or the Word of God interprets itself. I say, since God has given us all things that pertain unto life and Godliness (II Peter 1:20) through His Word then the Word must interpret itself. 

Let us examine a few Greek words here to get a more precise understanding of this verse. The word 'private' is the Greek word idios. It means "pertaining to one's self." It appears 108 times in the Gospels and Epistles and 48 times it is translated "his own," 13 times it is translated "their own," 8 times it is translated "privately," 7 times "apart," 6 times "your own," 5 times "own" and 21 times it is variations of the previous translations ("private" included). The sense is "one's own." 

Next Greek word: epilusis. "Interpretation" is this Greek word epilusis. Epilusis is used only once here in the Word of God as a noun. The verb form of the Word is epiluo which means "to let loose upon" or "expound." No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation; it not subject to our own letting loose upon or our own theologies.

The Word of God does interpret itself. It will interpret itself in one of three ways:

  1. In the verse where it is written
    1. Verses must be understood in light of their biblical meaning
    2. Verses must be in harmony with other verses on the same subject
    3. Narrative Development
  2. In its context
  3. By previous usage

Most of the Word of God interprets itself in the verse right where it is written.

Genesis 1
:1 In the beginning God created the heaven 
        and the earth

This verse needs no explanation, in the beginning God created the heaven and earth. 

John 3
:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, 
    that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, 
        but have everlasting life.

The words in this verse are plain as well.

When understanding the Word of God we must also recognize the meanings of words and phrases in light of when they were translated. The meanings of words and phrases evolve over time.

For instance:

Isaiah 1
:13 Bring no more vain oblations;
        incense is an abomination unto me; 
        the new moons and sabbaths, 
        the calling of assemblies, 
    I cannot away with; it is iniquity, 
        even the solemn meeting.

The phrase "I cannot away with" is not common today in American English. It means, "I cannot tolerate". God cannot tolerate their vain oblations, incense, honoring new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies. Israel had walked away from God to the point that they no longer believed in the actions they performed. There was no heart or believing in their actions.

James 5
:1 Go to now, 
rich men, 
    weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Instead of saying "Go to now" today we would say "Come on now."

Another unused phrase is "I trow not." Even my spell checker doesn't know it.

Luke 17
:9 Doth he thank that servant 
    because he did the things that were commanded him? 
    I trow not.

"I trow not" means "I think not," "I imagine not," or "I don't think so."

One more is the specific Old English meaning of the word "prevent."

I Thessalonians 4
:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, 
    that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

In the seventeenth century prevent meant to precede. In the Greek the word is phthano, to precede or come before. In the seventeenth century translating phthano as "prevent" conveyed the message precisely. The dead in Christ shall  rise first and then those that are alive and remain will be caught up in the air with him. Those that are alive will not precede them that are asleep.

In understanding a verse right where it is written the verse must be in harmony with other verses on the same subject. The Word of God cannot contradict itself. If God's original Word contradicts itself than it becomes unreliable. Any apparent contradictions that we notice now would be a translation error, a proof readers oversight or an error in our understanding.

The following is a verse that contradicts many verses on the same subject and the translators have even left the Aramaic words in the verse yet we don't stop and truly understand this verse.

Matthew 27
:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with aloud voice, saying, 
        Eli Eli, lama sabachthani? 
    that is to say, 
        My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?

The English words in this verse are understood right where they are written, however, why were the foreign words left in the translation? Also, this verse contradicts other verses with regard to God's relationship with Jesus Christ His only begotten son. It appears that God has forsaken Christ in his greatest hour of need. If God would forsake Christ, His only begotten son who knew no sin, what makes me think He would stick around for me when I need Him? Let us see what the Word says:

John 16
:32 Behold, 
        the hour cometh, 
        yea, is now come, 
    that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, 
        and shall leave me alone: 
    and yet I am not alone, 
    because the Father is with me.

Jesus is talking to his apostles about his crucifixion. He said the Father is with him. God must have told him that He would be with him. Yet in Matthew 27:46 Jesus asks why was he forsaken. This doesn't make sense.

II Corinthians 5
:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself . . .

God was in Christ, how can he be separated? 

Matthew 26
:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, 
    and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

God must have been right there with Jesus Christ if he could ask for twelve legions (72,000) of angels from Him.

Luke 2
:49 And he said unto them, 
        How is it that ye sought me? 
        wist [know] ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Jesus Christ was doing God's will. He never stopped doing God's will. The only time God ever "left" any of His people was when they walked away from Him. He was always there, the people walked away from Him.

John 5
:30   I can of mine own self do nothing: 
        as I hear, 
            I judge: 
        and my judgment is just; 
        because I seek not mine own will, 
            but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Jesus Christ was doing God's will. He had to be crucified, sacrificed for our sins; the sins of mankind. He was our Passover Lamb.

I Corinthians 5
:7 . . . For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

Matthew 27:46 contradicts the rest of the Word where it says God had forsaken Jesus Christ.

Let us look more closely at the Aramaic words which are called Hebrew in the King James Version. Eli means "my God." There is no Aramaic word for the next word lama in the text except in Mark 15:34 where the phrase is repeated so that we may get a better sense of the word, but there is a word lmna in the Aramaic language and it is always a cry of victory like, "for this purpose" or "for this reason." Sabachthani is not used anywhere else but in Mark 15:34 either. Shbk is the root word of sabachthani and it means to "to reserve," "to leave," "to spare" or "to keep." 

Here is an excerpt from the book, Power For Abundant Living by Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille* that puts all of this together that I would like to repeat here. 

It was about the ninth hour, three o'clock in the afternoon, when Jesus spoke from the cross. Hanging on the cross at that crucial hour, Jesus came forth with this utterance from the depth of His soul. "My God, my God, for this purpose was I reserved, for this purpose was I spared." The last words that He uttered were "It is finished." What was finished? Your redemption and mine. Jesus Christ had given His own life. He who knew no sin had become sin so that you and I might become the righteousness of God in Him. Your redemption and mine was then finished. The next chronological verse of Scripture is John 19:30 "...and he ... gave up the ghost." They did not take His life. It was not the nails driven through His hands that held Him to the cross, nor the rope tied around His midriff nor the nails driven through His feet. Why did He keep hanging on that cross? Because Jesus Christ loved us. He could have walked off that cross: He could have had twelve legions of angels at His command. But He kept hanging on the cross because He so loved us that He gave His own life for us. When He was dying upon the cross He did not cry, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me," but " My God, my God for this purpose was I reserved, for this purpose was I spared."

Jesus Christ was crucified as the sacrificial lamb to redeem mankind and make available everlasting life for us and restore the connection that Adam enjoyed. We can now be sons of God because Jesus Christ died for us. For this reason was he reserved.

Other translations read "My God, my God, for this purpose was I spared," in the Far East. The Occidental or Western translations wrongly read, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Which one is in harmony with other verses on the same subject? "My God, my God, for this purpose was I spared." God stayed with His son in this crucial hour as he gave up his life for us to fulfill all the legal requirements for mankind's redemption and salvation. This was Christ's purpose. Isn't God's Word wonderful?

We are still dealing with the how the Bible interprets itself. Let me repeat the outline:

  1. In the verse where it is written
    1. Verses must be understood in light of their biblical meaning
    2. Verses must be in harmony with other verses on the same subject
    3. Narrative Development
  2. In its context
  3. By previous usage

I have covered 1, 1a and 1b. Next week we will explore an instance of Narrative Development.

God Bless


* Wierwille, Victor Paul. Power For Abundant Living. New Knoxville, OH: American Christian Press, 1979.