The next foundation we need to lay is that of Biblical Interpretation. What principles do we need to follow when interpreting the scriptures?
Theologians call this “Hermeneutics”.
There are three principles of interpretation, that for me are crucial in understanding biblical prophecy.
- Scripture should be interpreted literally unless the context indicates otherwise.
- Scripture must be interpreted by scripture.
- Scripture can only be interpreted by the Holy Spirit
Let us look at each of these principles in turn.
Scripture should be interpreted literally unless the context indicates otherwise.
I guess for most people this is fairly obvious. Let us take an example.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” 2 Chronicles16:9 KJV
Now, this passage is teaching something about Gods omniscience rather than the fact that there are physical eyes roaming the Earth.
Scripture must be interpreted by scripture.
An idea or thought or phrase should be interpreted by using the definition in scripture. For example, when we look at the seven churches in the Book of Revelation and read the phrase concerning “works” it would seem to imply that Jesus is teaching that we need to have works to be saved.
“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God” Rev 3:2 KJV
However, when we look at Johns Gospel we see that Jesus Himself, defined “works” for us.
“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” John 6:28-29 KJV
So plainly, the “works” in Revelation 3:2, is defined by Jesus to mean “believe on him whom he hath sent”
Scripture can only be interpreted by the Holy Spirit
I have heard some people refer to this as “spiritual things are spiritually discerned”. To me it means that we cannot understand scripture by just using our intellect. When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus he described the prayer that he made for them
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints..” Eph 1:17-18 KJV
As we move on in our studies of biblical prophecy, my prayer for each person reading this is exactly the same as Paul prayed for those believers at Ephesus and is described in Ephesians chapter one.