Chapter 6 – Principles Of Interpretation


Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

  • Write the Key Verse from memory.
  • Explain what it means to “rightly divide” the Word of truth.
  • List six rules for properly interpreting the Bible.
  • Define each of these six rules.
  • Define verbal and plenary inspiration.


Read the Key Verse again. “Rightly dividing” as used here is taken from the rules for Old Testament sacrifices and means to “cut straight.” In the Old Testament, when a person brought a sacrifice for sin, the animal was divided into three parts. One part was offered to God. Another part was given to the one who brought the offering. The third part went to the priest. From this practice the expression “rightly dividing” developed. It means to “give to each that which belongs to him.”

In Bible study it is important to rightly divide the Word of God. This means you must understand what is being said to whom. You must also interpret and apply the meaning correctly.

There are three major groups to which the Word addresses itself. These are listed in I
Corinthians 10:32:

Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church
of God. (I Corinthians 10:32)

All Scriptures were given FOR us, but not all verses are directed TO us. For example, God told Noah to build an ark. The story is recorded as an example from which you are to learn spiritual truths but it does not mean YOU should build an ark. Some of the Bible is directed to the Jews. Portions are directed to the Gentiles (nations other than the Jews). Other portions are directed to the Church (all those who are true believers in Jesus Christ). 

In order to find the correct meaning from the Bible you must learn to rightly divide it. Another word for this is “interpretation” which means to give something proper meaning. You must learn how to arrive at the proper meaning for each Scripture. Jesus pointed out to the religious leaders of His time:

. . . Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29)

Spiritual error results from not knowing God’s Word. There are certain principles you must follow in order to properly interpret the Bible. There are six basic rules for interpreting the Bible which help to “rightly divide” the Word of God.

Read over the chapter study material and complete the self-test at the end. After this chapter is completed, mark complete and go to the next lesson.