Interpretation of Scripture

As we study Scripture, it is necessary for us assert our need to begin to understand what we are reading. Some of the Bible is obvious, of course. But even when a story is included in the Bible, we must ask ourselves why God considered this story so important that it had to be included in His message to us?

Ask questions for understanding:

Why is this included in Scripture?
Why is it included in this particular place in Scripture?
Is there an added meaning because of who said it?
To whom is it said?

To guide your questions, you may use:

  • Definition. Is a word or idea defined in the text? What is the definition of the word, literal or figurative?
  • Substitution. Can the text be replaced with another word-paraphrase? What is the underlying tone (in its choice of words)? What emotions does it arouse?
  • Indication. What does this show about the character? What are the reasons that the character responded in the way he/she did?
  • Identification. What must this experience have been like? Feel it, taste it, hear it, see it, live it!
  • Implication. What does this happening, message, action imply?
  • Generalization. What principle can I find in this passage? Is this principle/passage consistent with the whole counsel of God? 

Three dangers:

Misinterpretation: Wrong Meaning
Sub-interpretation: Less than full meaning

Super-interpretation: Attributing more significance than is implicit.*


*Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. 

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