Can We Understand the Bible Alike?
Sometimes when people disagree with one another about what the Bible teaches, they just dismiss the problem as though a mutual understanding is impossible or unnecessary. They may say, “It’s just a matter of interpretation.” But can we understand the Bible alike? What does the Bible itself say?
John 17:17 tells us that God’s word is truth. Yet, everyone realizes that truth does not contradict itself. Since the Bible is truth, it necessarily follows that two contradictory views of the Bible cannot both be right. If one man teaches one thing and another man teaches the opposite, it must be that one or the other does not know the truth. Yet, Jesus promised in John 8:32, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” So, we can know the truth, and when we do we will not contradict one another.
Suppose one man said “two plus two equals four,” and another said “two plus two equals three,” and another said “two plus two equals five.” Would we say, “Oh well, it’s just a matter of interpretation, and all of them are right”? Of course not. What has happened is that one man understood that answer correctly, and the other two misunderstood differently! So it is with the Bible. We may misunderstand differently; but when we understand the Bible, we will understand it alike.
In 1 Corinthians 1:13 Paul wrote to men who were becoming divided religiously. He asked them: “Is Christ divided?” Does Jesus contradict Himself? Of course not! If He did, He would be a hypocrite! How then can two men contradict one another about what Jesus’ taught and both be right? The answer is they cannot. If they contradict one another, one is wrong and the other is right, or else both are wrong!
Our purpose in studying he Bible must be to learn the message God intended for us to learn. We might misunderstand that message differently; but when we understand it, we will understand it alike.
For more information on this subject, please visit www.gospelway.com/instruct/ and study our in-depth articles there about the importance of Bible study, how to study the Bible, and the danger of human authority in religion.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 4/2007