Rule #3- Five Rules for Bible Interpretation
“Compare Scripture with Scripture”
Of the five major rules, none can claim superiority. They are equally important for an accurate understanding of God’s Word. However, if there was one essential rule, I believe it would be #3.
With that said, I ask why #3 is likely the most misused, under-used or abused of the Five Major Rules? I could give examples. Instead, I will cite a few misinterpretations related to Matthew 24 and Rule #3.
First, I need to mention an important tool that aids in the application of Rule #3. I am speaking of a concordance, and the more “complete” the better. A Bible Concordance listing words in alphabetical order and showing where they are located in Scripture is most helpful in comparing parallel passages. By “complete,” I am referring to the volume of words. The range of concordances is from “abbreviated” as in some words, to “exhaustive,” as in every word in the Bible. Limitations exist. For instance, concordances are not available for all translations.
Pick a key word like “abomination” from Matthew 24:16. Ten other times the singular, plural or the related “abominable” appear in the earlier NIV. The NIV concordance cites each so students can compare Scripture with Scripture.
So why do we have teachers who have concordance access but do not use them? Is it because of a bias against the Old Testament. (Remember: The Old Testament provides the background for the New.)
When verses such as 2 Timothy 2:15 were written, the New Testament did not exist. So, to what “Scripture” was Paul referring? The same as Jesus when he spoke of the Holy Scriptures: “The Book of the Law and the Prophets” to Jews or “The Old Testament” to Bible readers.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)
Couple the above reference with 2 Timothy 3:15.
…the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:15)
Again, Paul cannot be referring to the New Testament. So what is the issue? Why the reluctance to compare Old Testament parallels with the New?
I have often referred to the Bereans of Acts 17:11. They had no reference tools. They relied on their Scripture knowledge to judge whether the Apostle’s teaching was accurate or not. They understood a principle God submits to for confirmation–two or three witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1, Deuteronomy 17:6, and 19:15). If Paul used multiple references as support for his teaching and the Bereans tested them for accuracy, then the truth was established. (In the books The Prophets, Priests and Kings series and Lifesaver, I follow this pattern of providing Scripture witnesses. It is up to the reader to test them using The Rules of Interpretation.) If the Old Testament is ignored, teachers can present anything using one “out of context” passage, Matthew 24:36 (ex. “The Any-Moment Rapture” Doctrine).
Perhaps now we see what is behind the unwillingness to compare New Testament passages with those in the Old. Is it because showing the perfect unity between the Old and New Testament threatens false doctrine that Paul warred against and infest most “New Testament Churches.”
In Part 2, we will illustrate Rule #3 by comparing Matthew 24:9 with the Old Testament Daniel (7:21-27 and 8:23-25).