Basic Rules in
There are several ground rules in Bible
interpretation that must be followed before anyone even attempts to study Holy
Scripture. I will show but a few important ones.
The first rule is:
"In what sense am I interpreting a particular
Is it to be taken literally, or
figuratively, or is it a parable? For more on this please read "The Senses of
Scripture", elsewhere on this website.
The next rule is:
"Context, context, context."
Never take one verse out of context in order to try to "prove" a
point. This is the one rule that is broken most often by detractors of the
Catholic Church. Remember this, "A text taken out of context is a pretext, and
nothing more". Verses taken out of context can be made to look like what the
detractor is trying to "prove". Remember this axiom, "A text without a context
is a pretext".
The next rule I will mention is:
"The Law of
When something is mentioned in
Scripture the first time, the same meaning for that verse holds true for
subsequent verses. An example of this law is in Genesis 17:5, where GOD gave
authority to Abram by changing his name to Abraham, and making him "The Father
of a Multitude of Nations".
Next is in Genesis 17:15-16, where GOD gave
authority to Sarai, by changing her name to Sarah, and making her "The Mother of
Then there is Matthew 16:18. GOD changed the name of Simon to
Peter, and gave to him the authority of the Church, and supremacy over all of
the other Apostles.
The "Law of First Mention" functions here, to show that
authority is given when the persons name is changed by GOD.
Another rule is:
"How many times something
If it is mentioned three times
or more, it is certainly to be taken literally.
In John chapter 6, Jesus
emphasized nine times, "This IS My Body".
He also said it in Matthew 26:26,
Mark 14:22, and Luke 22:19. And if that isn't enough, St. Paul said it again in
"THIS IS MY BODY" falls not only under this rule, but
also under the "Law of First Mention", doesn't it, starting with Matthew
"THIS IS MY BODY" also must follow the "Senses of the Bible".
These verses are literal. There is nothing said in these chapters to indicate
any other sense.
How can anyone deny that Jesus meant what He said, when
He said it so many times?
How can anyone break three basic rules of Bible
interpretation, by saying "It is only a Symbol, or a representation of His
Of course everyone is aware of this
"You must take into account the
meaning of the words, in the languages written by the authors at the time, and
not necessarily the English translation of them
For example, the word "brethren" had
many meanings, only one of which is "brother". It meant cousins and other kin,
as well as friend, comrade, fellow believer, etc.
Another rule that should be
"The New Testament lies hidden
in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New."
It takes a little bit of Bible study to realize this, but it is
true. There are hundreds of prophecies about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament,
and a lot of parallels. For more on this, see "100 Prophecies Fulfilled",
elsewhere on this website.
If you break any of the rules, you
are NOT interpreting Scripture properly...
Written by Bob
Stanley, December 12, 1997
Updated September 26, 2001
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