Interpretation of God's Writings
God has revealed Himself through events and teaching that has been written into forms of literature that are common to the cultures of the ages. As we have different kinds of literature in our modern world, so also the Bible reflects God's teaching through different kinds of literature from the days of its writing. Our task in understanding that literature involves the process of, not only translating the literature from its original language, but also interpreting the meaning and style of the literature from past cultures.
Don't form a doctrine on one verse. Bring them all together and understand the complete teaching. If there are many passages on a subject, it is an important subject -- get all of the passages together. If there are very limited passages on a subject, don't give that as much significance compared to other more important teachings.
Such a mistake is shown in Scripture itself. In John 12:34 the multitude is interpreting only second coming prophecies as found in Daniel 7:13, 14 and they completely missed first coming prophecies such as Isaiah 53.
Parallel Words (comparing words)
Find other passages by the same author using the same word.
See how other writers of the same period used the word.
- Enduring Kingdom: 1 Samuel 2:35 and 1 Samuel 13:14
- Put on: Galatians 3:27 and Colossians 3:10
- Temptations: James 1:2 and James 1:13
- Works: Romans 4:1-5 and James 2:20-24
Parallel Ideas (comparing ideas or the same topic)
Example -- Image:
- Our created image by God and its subsequent destruction -- Genesis 1:26-27; 2:17; 3:22; 5:3
- Our own image substitutions for God -- Exodus 20:4; 32:19; Romans 1:23
- Jesus is God's perfect image -- we see Him, we see God -- Colossians 1:15; 3:10; Hebrews 1:3
- Through Jesus our original perfect image is restored -- Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18
The general tenor of Scripture
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 -- the general teaching according to the Scriptures
- Galatians 5:14 -- All the Law
- Acts 3:18 -- All the prophets and general prophecies
Doctrine from the general teaching of Scripture: God is Omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient.
Anthropomorphism: God pictured in human form. God is spirit, but spoken of in human terms.
Isaiah 6:1 (I saw the Lord); Exodus 33:11 (face to face); Exodus 33:18 (wants to see His glory); Exodus 33:20 (cannot see His face)
Compare Genesis 6:6 with Numbers 23:19 -- Cannot be literally interpreted, but must be understood in comparison to the general tenor of Scripture.