Scripture interprets Scripture is built on the belief that all Scripture is from God. Essentially, if all of the Bible is from an unchanging God then it must also be inerrant and without contradiction – being from one, divine author. Therefore, the goal should be to let Scripture interpret Scripture as much as is possible. We like the way it was put by Answers in Genesis:

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.

Incidentally, the Bible Study Framework is built specifically for the purpose of “forcing” we humans to let Scripture interpret Scripture. Of course, there comes a point where we have to draw a conclusion. “What is this passage telling us?” We can still go wrong here, but the steps of the BSF are intended to keep us pointed in the right direction for the best possible conclusion…

Hopefully, we can deal with Scripture honestly. Looking at what it says. Putting it in the proper context. Gathering any, only, all passage(s) that might apply without Scripture weighting or disqualifying any part of God’s word because “it doesn’t fit” our pre-conceived belief or doctrine. So what does Scripture say about the interpretive standard that Scripture interprets Scripture?

how Scripture answers "Should ‘Scripture interprets Scripture’ be our standard?"

an answer short on commentary and long on Scripture as footnoted1 | please contribute with your comment at the bottom

We should have full confidence in Scripture interpreting Scripture since all Scripture is divine and perfect (from God)1, its entirety forms a complete picture2,8,9,10,12.

The very idea that God is the sole author1 forces the conclusion that Scripture cannot contradict itself5 and must also interpret itself – literally, God interprets God6. Of course, this doesn’t abdicate the need or necessity for drawing conclusions and/or teaching/explaining as needed7,9 – it’s the very thing Jesus required from the lawyer10.

Scripture is the sole source for morality and obedience…it was this way for those under the Law3,4,7,8,10 (“Scripture” for that time) as well as for those (like Timothy and us) under the Gospel1,9,11.

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following passages and their BSF application

1

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

All Scripture is from God (e.g. holy, inspired) and necessary for teaching, for rebuke, for correction and training in righteousness so that a man of God would be spiritually equipped and ready for any good work.

Paul is writing to the younger Timothy and giving general advice about his work in preaching the Gospel.

How does it inform?

Scripture is the only thing authorized for Godly teaching and training. If it’s not complete and interpreting unto itself, then God has lied.

Does it apply? Yes

2

If he called them gods to whom the word of God came — and Scripture cannot be broken —

Since Scripture cannot be “broken” (GR. “loose”, “unbind”), it is like a completed puzzle – if one piece is missing, the picture is not complete.

In [another] confrontation with the Jews, Jesus makes a declarative statement of fact and truth.

How does it inform?

Similar to, and even building on the 1 Timothy passage1, since Scripture is all equally important and comes from one source (God), Jesus adds the idea of “entirety” and “completeness.”

Does it apply? Yes

3

And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

When the king sits on his throne, he will write a personal copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests.  He shall keep it with him and read it all the days of his life.  By doing this, he will learn to obey God by adhering to the words and doing them.  It will also keep him humble, not thinking better of himself over others, keeping on the narrow path and living long in his kingdom.

Moses is re-telling the law to the people before they enter in to the Promised Land.

How does it inform?

Gives us a principle of how God expects us to know Him and the means by which we know and understand. Scripture’s care, preservation and studying are demonstrated.

Does it apply? Yes

4

when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law,

When everyone comes before God [to worship] at the place He will choose, you shall read this law for everyone to hear.  Assemble all people – men, women, children, and the foreigner – that they may hear and learn to obey God, being careful to do all the words of this law.

Moses is giving this instruction of public reading to occur every seven years when they are together for the Feast of Booths.

How does it inform?

The reading of the law (all of it) was to be the source (single) for not just the kings but for all the people.

Does it apply? Yes

5

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

God is orderly and therefore not contradictory. (GR. “confusion” – instability, a state of disorder)

Paul is writing to the church in Corinth about orderly worship. In this immediate context he’s applying this truth to discourage everyone speaking at once in worship.
How does it inform?

Paul is making a universal statement about God’s character that can be applied to the inerrancy of Scripture (since it comes from God).

Does it apply? Yes

6
And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
What the prophet’s spoke was not of their own but from God – His words and at His instigation. It was likewise not their’s to interpret but God’s alone. He gave them the interpretation just as He gave them the words.

Peter is warning all Christians about false teachers and goes on to compare them to false prophets.  His overarching message is encouragement to hold fast to his and the apostles’ teaching as they “were eyewitnesses” (vs 16) of Jesus Christ.  In addition to their eyewitness testimony, he is suggesting they pay attention to the prophecies that serve as confirmation of their faith.

How does it inform?

Because the message was God’s alone, so was the interpretation.

Does it apply? Yes

7

They read from the book of God’s law, explaining it and imparting insight. Thus the people gained understanding from what was read.

God’s law was read aloud and explained.  As a result, the audience understood what was read.

God’s people have returned to the land from captivity (the “remnant”) and have gathered publicly to worship.  Ezra is reading aloud and other Priests are mingling among the people explaining (“interpreting”) what is read.

How does it inform?

God’s law (Scripture) was the only source of the people’s knowledge of God’s will. It’s reading and hearing didn’t eliminate the need to explain or teach it meaning as needed for everyone’s understanding.

Does it apply? Yes

8

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. But he answered, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you, and On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.  Jesus said to him, Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.  Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by Satan. After fasting for 40 days and nights, Satan tempted with three appeals: hunger (physical nourishment), pride and glory.  Jesus responds with “it is written” in every case. 

Jesus has just been baptized by John the Baptist and has not yet begun his public ministry.

How does it inform?

In each temptation, Satan either uses direct scripture or a scriptural principle to justify his claim. On the surface, Satan’s statements are not false except when Jesus expands the thought or principle with additional Scripture. In each case, Jesus applies the ‘Scripture interprets Scripture’ principle.

Does it apply? Yes

9

When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

After appointing a day, they came to his quarters in greater numbers. He preached all day, giving witness to the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them about Jesus using the Law of Moses and the Prophets.

Paul has finally arrived at Rome (as a prisoner).  He has greeted the brethren (fellow Christians) and is calling for an audience with his Jewish brethren (vs 17) to share more about the “hope of Israel” (vs 20). Some believed and others didn’t, but Paul ended up staying two years “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (vs 31)

How does it inform?

Paul preaches the gospel message (kingdom of God and Jesus) using the Law and Prophets.

Does it apply? Yes

10

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it? And he answered, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. And he said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.

A lawyer tested Jesus by asking him a question.  Jesus replied with two questions about what he understood to be written in the Law. The lawyer gave an answer based on two passages in the Law (from
Deuteronomy 6:5
and
Leviticus 19:18
).  Jesus said he answered right and that if he practiced them he would live.

Jesus is in the midst of His public ministry, teaching the people while gaining notoriety.

How does it inform?

This exchange demonstrates the Scripture interprets Scripture principle. At Jesus’ behest, the lawyer correctly concluded what was required to inherit eternal life, not from any explicit passage but from the full body of work in the Law and Prophets.

Does it apply? Yes

11
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

As each has been given, use it to serve your brethren in order to be good stewards of God’s grace: whoever speaks, as one speaking God’s words and whoever serves, as one strengthened by God’s rich supply – doing all to the glory of God through Christ Jesus, to whom belongs all glory and dominion forever. Amen.

Peter’s first letter to the “elect exiles” (brethren) faced with “various trials” to strengthen and encourage them.

How does it inform?

In the broader context of serving each other, Peter is counseling Christians that they speak encouraging words being mindful to stay within the authority of God’s word.

Does it apply? Yes

12
The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
All of your word is truth, and all of your commands endure forever.

A great Psalm (119) dedicated to the merit and beauty of God’s word.

How does it inform?

All of God’s word, together, equals truth.

Does it apply? Yes

Do you agree? If so, share this question and the Bible Study Framework with others.

If you know of some other verses or you have something to add to the verses already listed for this question please leave a comment below! We welcome the public discussion and will incorporate your input into the Framework above. We have nothing to hide and invite your help in considering all that God’s word has to say.

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