How To Interpret the Bible

The following article is an excerpt from "A Book of Bible Study",  

by Joseph F. Harwood.


To download the book in PDF format, visit our home page at


The Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to be diligent in correctly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). In order to correctly handle God’s word, we must interpret the Bible considering not only the words in the verses under consideration, but we must also consider the context of the passage in which the verses appear. In addition, we must consider who is being addressed in a particular passage. We must also interpret the verses considering the teachings of all the rest of the Scriptures as a whole.  When we interpret the Bible in this way, by letting “Scripture interpret Scripture” in such a way that our interpretation is not contradicted by other teachings in the Bible, then we can have confidence that we have correctly handled the word of God.


Many skeptics and even some believers will say that there are contradictions in the Bible. However, when the word of God is correctly handled or interpreted by letting the Scriptures themselves interpret the meaning of other Scriptures, we will find that passages in the Bible which once seemed to be contradicted by other passages can be demonstrated to be in agreement with one another.


When we interpret a Scripture passage in the light of other Scriptures, and the teachings and understanding that we derive from our interpretations are in no way contradicted by other teachings in the Bible, then we can be confident that we have correctly handled the word of truth, as Paul exhorted Timothy.


Biblical interpretations that are not contradicted by other passages of Scripture can be accepted as God’s word to us on a particular subject, as given through several different authors of various books of the Bible. However, if we encounter contradiction and confusion in our interpretation, then we can be sure that there is some degree of misunderstanding in our interpretation, because God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). When we are confused about what we have read in the Bible, we should ask God to reveal His truth to us, which He will do in His time for all believers.  


Jesus Christ is called the “Word of God”, and He is also called “Faithful and True” (John 1:1, 14, Revelation 19:11-13). The Bible itself is the word of God revealed to man, and it contains all that God intended to communicate of His plan for the salvation of men through His Son Jesus Christ, and through Him alone. The word of God as revealed to us in the Scriptures is faithful and true, and every prophecy, teaching, precept, and promise contained therein will be made to come to pass in the lives of believers, and in God’s creation as a whole. 


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