How to Interpret the Bible

By Bridget Sengu

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The Bible is God’s word. But some of the interpretations derived from it are unrelated.  There are many Christian groups that use the Bible–claiming their interpretations are correct.  Too often, however, the interpretations not only differ dramatically but are clearly contradictory.  This does not mean that the Bible is a confusing document. Rather, the problem lies in those who interpret and the methods they use.

This also does not mean that accurate understanding of God’s word is impossible.  But it does mean that we need to approach His word with care, humility, and reason. After all, the Bible is inspired by God and is addressed to His people.

On the human level, to lessen the errors that come in our interpretations, we need to look at some basic biblical interpretive methods.  The following list of questions can affect how a person interprets any verse in the bible.

  1. Who wrote/spoke the words in the verse and who was it addressed to?
  2. What does the verse say?
  3. Are there any words in the verse that need to be examined?
  4. What is the broader context in the chapter and book?
  5. What are the related verses to the verse’s subject, and how do they affect the understanding of this verse?
  6. What is the historical and cultural background?
  7. What do I conclude about the verse?
  8. Do my conclusions agree or disagree with related areas of scripture and others who have studied the verse?
  9. What have I learned and what must I apply to my life?

The above questions gives a direction and foundation for interpreting the word of God.  These questions entails looking into the scriptures as best as one can with as much understanding and skill as is possible.

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