“what is truth?”

The Apostle John writes that on the night of Jesus’ trial He was standing before Pilate. Jesus testified that His purpose for coming to this world was “to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37-38)

Pilate answered, “What is truth?” — and left the room, not waiting for an answer. It’s as if he said it with a scoff and a wave of his hand, cynical and frustrated. Maybe because in his political world he had witnessed so little “truth” – if any at all. Sound familiar?

Apparently, Pilate thought it was a question with no answer and yet ironically – standing right before him was the very truth he was asking about – the full embodiment of God’s word – truth incarnate! (John 1:14)

scripture interprets scripture

We have attempted to gather some of the most pertinent questions from the BSF library and arrange them according to broad topics/doctrines. There are just a few questions for each topic, and each answer is linked back to the question for a full accounting of scripture-blocks that are footnoted in the answer.

If Pilate were asking us, here’s what we would highlight…

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

letting scripture interpret scripture

Together with Scripture blocks, following our “any, only, all” rule is the only way we know that a God-inspired interpretation of Scripture can happen. For any passage to be “in context” means we are looking at any Scripture, only Scripture and all the Scripture together.

What could stand in the way of letting Scripture interpret Scripture?

letting commentary interpret scripture

Man’s commentary, whether from internet posts or from published works (e.g. Barnes, Matthew Henry, etc.), is not our source for interpretation. This includes the theology of our favorite pastor or preacher. These may be helpful at times, but “the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Pr 2:6).

letting culture interpret scripture

It seems for certain texts (in particular the Old Testament, Paul’s letters, etc) it is popular to force a pre-requisite knowledge of “their time” in order to make an application. Sadly, this is used to marginalize or even remove completely any modern-day application. However, God’s word never lays this out as a requirement.

letting vocabulary interpret scripture

Of course vocabulary is important to communication. “Word-studies” and knowing words in their original Hebrew or Greek language can be helpful to understand a passage better. However, the ultimate definition belongs to God, not to man. “Words not taught by human wisdom” (1 Co 2:13). Scripture defines words like “joy”, “fear”, “glory” and “love” very differently from Webster or Vines.

letting think-sos interpret scripture

What we “think” can be shaped by lots of things including tradition and dogma/doctrine. In fact, tradition and doctrine form the very basis for what we believe and practice. It’s here where what we “think” (or worse, “feel”) has no place…and this may be the hardest to decouple from letting scripture – and only scripture – shape our understanding of God’s will for us.

To be clear, none of these are wrong in and of themselves. Knowing the cultural norms in which Jesus lived can enrich our understanding of His walk on earth. Paul commends the Christians in Corinth for how they were, “maintain[ing] the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Co 11:2). However, drawing conclusions and making applications about Scripture based on any one of these is to do so without God’s authority and potentially to our own eternal peril.