How Does Scripture Interpret Scripture?

Biblical Authority Devotional: Infallibility and Inerrancy of Scripture, Part 7

by Steve Ham on July 16, 2010

Scripture itself is our best theology professor in helping us understand and apply Scripture.

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:11)

Today’s big idea: how does Scripture interpret Scripture?

Today, we will look at our text less in relation to what it is saying and more in relation to what it is actually referring to. All through Scripture, we see Scripture quoting Scripture. In the New Testament, the prophets are quoted numerous times, showing the truth of God’s authority over history as it applied to the life and works of Christ. Jesus also quoted Scripture in an amazing show of the Word (John 1:1–5) quoting the Word. Not only this, but we often are able to find a clear understanding of a text and historical context by looking at different accounts of Scripture. We get a thorough understanding of the life of David by looking at the accounts of his life from the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, as well as many Psalms.

Scripture also helps us to understand the very narrative of Scripture. Take for example our verse today. Many people consider the book of Genesis to be poetic in genre or allegory in nature. But this is not how Scripture itself interprets the book of Genesis. In Exodus 20:11 God is giving the commandment to rest on the seventh day (the last day of the week). In doing so, He refers to how He originally created. God made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them in six days and rested on the seventh. This set the platform for the six-day work week with one day of Sabbath rest for Israel. If the account of Genesis was allegory and the days of creation were simply a literary device to indicate long periods of time, there would be no historical significance to the command God gave Israel for Sabbath rest. Only when Genesis is taken as a historical narrative—giving us a correct account of creation—can this command in Exodus to Israel make any sense. Scripture interprets Scripture.

The text of Scripture must be interpreted by taking into account its literary forms and devices—and in understanding these forms, Scripture is still our guide. The inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture is so profound that by studying it carefully, we can not understand only that we are reading truth, but learn how to know truth. This takes careful study and application, but it does not require a Bible college degree. Scripture itself is our best theology professor in helping us understand and apply Scripture.

Today’s big idea: if you want to understand Scripture, read it . . . carefully.

What to pray: seek repentance in your life for times when the words of men—even good men—have become more important to you than the Word of God.


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