The Bible has the essential information for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15), which is faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior (Romans 5:1), and the principles of a Christian life, – the Ten Commandments (Mark 10:17-19; Revelation 14:12). These are the basic principles that most Christians agree upon (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
The Lord promised that the Holy Spirit will be given to the believers to lead them to all the truth (John 16:13). But the Holy Spirit is given only to those that obey God (Acts 5:32). So, only the obedient will obtain the true understanding of scriptures.
As you mentioned, there are Bible verses that different Protestant denominations have different interpretations for. This is because some churches have not allowed the Bible to interpret itself. Some churches rely on church traditions rather than “thus said the Lord.”
There are many factors to consider in interpreting the Bible. Here are some:
A-Historical Context- It is very useful to understand the historical context of the books and verses of the Bible so that it can make more sense.
B-Literary Context- When trying to understand what a verse says, it must be read in the literary context (2 Timothy 3:15). Bible verses must be studied in relation to the other verses in the passage before drawing a conclusion. And its important to understand the type of literature that we are reading. The Bible is made up of many types – historical narratives, poetry, prophecy, wisdom sayings, law codes, apocalypse, parables, gospels, and letters. Each has a different purpose and focus.
C-Consistency with the rest of the Bible- We can’t interpret a verse to have a meaning which is totally out of context with what is taught in the rest of the Bible (Isaiah 28:9, 10).
D- Inerrancy- This means that every word of the Bible (in the original languages) is inspired by God, and is completely true. Since God does not lie (Titus 1:2), He could not inspire error, and would not allow error in something as important as the Bible.
In addition, there are some common mistakes that should be avoided in interpreting the Bible:
1- Eisegesis- This is where someone has a preconceived idea or bias, and they impose that into the Biblical text, even if the text doesn’t specifically support that.
2-Allegorizing- This is where someone tries to link the text and application in more than one way to find extra meaning.
3-Spiritualizing- This is when someone will try to find a “spiritual” application or meaning outside of the actual text.
4-Misquoting- Sometimes people will misquote a Bible verse by changing a word or two or leaving out half of the sentence.
5-Imitating Bible Characters- Just because something is written in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s a good example to follow. Many of Bible characters did evil deeds, even though they repented and were God’s children like David, Noah, and Lot.
Thus, we see that there are many factors to consider before trying to interpret the Bible. Sadly, many people do not apply these principles, and hence, the different interpretations.
In His service,
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