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.

See Matthew 15:14-15 as an example; it could be a story or just a proverb -- the use varies.

A Parable is a narrative constructed for conveying an important spiritual truth.

A parable is possible -- a fable is not possible (see Judges 9:8-15 and 2 Kings 14:9).

Use of parables by Christ.

  • Parables illuminate teaching
  • Parables test the hearts of hearers (Luke 20:19; Matthew 13:11-17)
  • Rules for interpreting parables.

    Determine the scope of teaching, seize that one central truth, make all details fit to that truth.

  • Compare with context and other scripture. What was the parable intended to illustrate?
  • Some meanings are given at the beginning, some at the end, some at both.
  • Luke 13:1, 9; 19:11: (beginning)
  • Matthew 25:13; Luke 16:9: (end)
  • Matthew 18:21, 35; Luke 12:15, 21: (both)
  • Check parallel passages.
  • Luke 15:4-7 compared with Matthew 18:12-14
  • No conclusion should be gathered from any part of the parable.

    Parables should not be made the first source or the sole source of doctrine.