The Nature of Scripture and Revelation

How should scripture be interpreted? Is it all infallible and absolutely true? Is it all literal, or is it all metaphorical? Or is it somewhere in between?

My personal feeling is that scripture is a little bit of all that, but I'm trying to iron it all out, so any input you have is very very welcome.

There's a radio station in the Bay Area (where I live) that has an adverstisement for their home Bible study course, and they say bluntly that scripture should interpret scripture.

I can hang with that. But then they go on to say that, accordingly, we don't need to consider the initial intentions, meanings, cultures, or circumstances surrounding the Bible. Something there sounds a little fishy to me. I don't see the Bible making that claim for itself--though in II Timothy, Paul says that all scripture is indeed profitable for many things. Why, if the Bible is infallible, would we need to make the ADDITIONAL claim ON BEHALF of the Bible that it is indeed infallible--would an infallible book not make that claim for itself?

So how should we, as followers of Jesus, approach scripture? Sometimes, I think I see Jesus revering the scriptures he had, the Law of Moses--like during his wilderness temptations. Other times, though, it seems like he dismisses the Mosaic Law--particularly those scriptures regarding the Sabbath, the purity scriptures, and the scripture on divorce. Lots of people I know like to say that because Jesus was God he could do whatever he wanted in regard to the Word--but if God never changes, why did He change his eternal Word?

And, if we must then conclude that the law is just a temporary expression of an eternal Word, and then apply it to the New Testament canon, we have something of a loose standard for interpreting scripture. So, uh, that's where I'm at--how SHOULD we approach interpreting the Bible?


Hey, Michael,

I'm actually pleasantly surprised that you, specifically, replied. Got a question for you:

The first words of your post are "Scripture is inerrant."

Can you explain this passage to me?

Matthew 27.9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

I need your help explaining this verse because Jeremiah the prophet never said that. Zechariah did, though. Matthew references the wrong prophet. Can you tell me where the mistake was made? Was it a translator? A monk somewhere? Was it the original text itself that was infallible, and today's texts are corrupt?

Or, rather, do you contend that there is no error here--that Matthew was quoting perhaps a lost work of Jeremiah's? Maybe Jeremy the prophet is a different prophet than Jeremiah? Or maybe he IS Jeremiah and because he is the chiefest prophet, he represents ALL the prophets?

Those are just a few of the arguments that have been made over the centuries. But the fact that those arguments exist show that scripture isn't inerrant or infallible--if scripture were, there would be no misquoting, there would be no need for fallible humans to "fix" God's Word by explaining what it actually means beyond what it actually says.

But Jesus never said scripture was infallible; neither does scripture ever say it is infallible. Jesus never said, in fact, that God's Word was without error--time and time again he walked all over the existing laws of his day, even those laws which were concretely laws.

You can argue about His authority over scripture because He IS scripture if you want, but John the Baptist did the same thing. So did David--who Jesus pointed to as justification for his actions (Did you never read about the shewbread?) Jesus never said he was in charge of scripture--he said he was the fulfiller, the finisher of scripture. He authority came not from scripture. His authority came from God.

Where does a Christians authority come from, then? Scripture? or God?

"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."

John 5.39-40