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Teacher Training : Lesson 5


· Teacher Training Blog

The “Teacher Training” blog is designed to enhance the Bible teaching skills at our church. Lessons #1 and #2 dealt with the characteristics, prayer life, and knowledge of the teacher. At Lesson #3, we began a study of 17 principles of hermeneutics that guide our interpretation of the Bible. Lesson #3 and Lesson #4 went over two principles each. Here are the next two principles:

5. Scripture interprets Scripture:

This is a principle where we see how verses in the Bible help explain other verses. Some verses are difficult to understand but by using another verse to gain understanding then the initial verse can be understood with greater clarity.

Per Dr. James Rosscup, this is defined as “One or more Scripture passages help interpret the right meaning in another text.”

For example, Rosscup states: John 3:5 is obscure when it refers to being “born of water and of the Spirit” (sic). Some suggest that the water refers to water baptism. Others say the reference is to the water of the Word, i.e. a figurative idea for the cleansing ministry of God's Word (cf. Ephesians 5:25, 26). This has some support in such passages as Psalm 119:9-11, where the Word is active in cleansing a man's life. Still others suggest that John 3:5 refers to being born of water in the physical birth when a woman's water sack is involved, and then later being also born of the Spirit in the new birth. A fourth group explains John's 3:5 by cross reference with Ezekiel chapter 36:25-27, where three of the same essential elements are a focus of emphasis--the work of the Holy Spirit, new birth, and water that effects cleansing. They say, properly correctly, that Jesus had Ezekiel 36 in mind and meant that a person needs to be born of water in the sense of the cleansing ministry of God in his life, in close association with the Holy Spirit. The Word of God and the Spirit could work in harmony here in the new birth. This enables the interpreter to explain John verse 3:5 in its relation to the Old Testament, a natural background the Jews would have in mind. It also has the advantage of relating at least three essential, vital elements in view in Ezekiel 36 with three in John 3. In addition, the interpreter can point to Titus 3:5, later in the process of God's revelation, where a similar idea is meant. Scripture interprets Scripture. Cross reference helps. [1]

Therefore, in studying the Bible in one verse, one chapter, one book can be helped from another verse in the Bible. This help can come from the next verse, another chapter or another book of the Bible.

6. Analogy of the Faith

Analogy of the Faith is very close to Scripture interprets Scripture as the two principles overlap to a certain extent, but there is a legitimate distinction. Analogy of the Faith says there is one unified, consistent, harmonious system of faith (belief) in the Bible. That is, to put it in negative terms, no point then correctly understood will contradict another.

Two passages may not teach the same essential thing, as in a cross-reference; still, the two things two different passages teach will fit harmoniously within a system, in unity; they will coordinate and not contradict. [2]

For example:

  • Romans 4:1-5 and many other passages claim justification by faith without works of merit. Romans 4:1-5 does not interpret James 2:14-26 in the manner discussed in “Scripture interprets Scripture” section above. However, whatever James 2:14-26 does really mean, this will not contradict the other point in Romans 4:1-5. The two passages will complement each other in harmony.
  • Romans 4:1-5 shows that men are justified by faith apart from works of merit (works have no place).
  • James 2:14-26 shows that those who are saved by faith (without works of merit) will have works that are the fruitful manifestation of real faith. [3] 

Hence, the Bible all works together and does not contradict. This is because of the very nature of truth. So, since the Bible claims it is true, and logically two opposite views cannot be true, no two or more verses can contradict one another.

Thus, if in interpreting a passage, the expositor thinks he has found a contradiction then he must reassess his conclusion. This is because a consistent harmony of the Bible’s unity is foundational to its very nature.

[1]  James E. Rosscup, Hermeneutics class notes, Fall 1988, The Master’s Seminary, 58
[2] James E. Rosscup, Hermeneutics class notes, 58-59
[3] James E. Rosscup, Hermeneutics class notes, 58-59