Interpreting Scripture


We all know that there are different methods of interpreting Scripture. Some “spiritualize” it and attribute it to allegory. Others, such as me and you interpret Scripture “literally, historically and grammatically.” Is there any place in Scripture where God told us how he wanted us to interpret his Word? How did we come to the consensus that Scripture was to be interpreted “this” way as opposed to “that” way?


From ancient times, people have used allegory to explain away passages they were uncomfortable with or in denial about. They justify doing this because some of the Bible is meant to be taken allegorically, such as Psalm 91:4, “He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.” This is not meant to imply that God is a bird, but rather to evoke the image of a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings to protect them. Jesus applied this image to Himself in Matt. 23:37.

So how do we know when the Bible is meant to be taken literally and when it isn’t? The “golden rule” of interpretation goes like this.

“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise. God in revealing His Word neither intends nor permits the reader to be confused. He wants His children to understand.” (Dr. D. A. Waite)

If a passage of Scripture describes something that could actually happen just as it’s described, then it’s best to assume that’s what the Lord intends to do.