Date: December 2, 2021 ()

Bible Text: |



As history has proven, scripture can be made to say just about anything. How is this possible? The issue is primarily not the scriptures themselves, but rather the method used to interpret them. Consider the two methods of scripture interpretation.

The Allegorical Method


“This method of Bible interpretation treats the literal sense as the vehicle for a secondary, more spiritual and more profound sense. The emphasis becomes on the secondary sense, so much so that the original words or events have little or no significance.” Ramm


  1. It does not interpret scripture.
  2. The basic authority ceases to be the Scriptures, but the _______ of the interpreter. We are left without any means by which the conclusions of the interpreter may be _______.


"The allegorical method (Philo, Origen, Augustine) was not born out of a study of the scriptures, but rather out of desire to unite philosophy and the Word of God.  It does not present the truths of the Word, but rather perverts them." Pentecost

The Literal Method


“The literal method is the method of Bible interpretation that gives to each word the exact same basic meaning it would have in normal, ordinary usage – in writing, thinking, or speaking.” Pentecost


“No prophecy which has been completely fulfilled has been fulfilled any way but literally.” Pentecost


It grounds the interpretation in fact.
It has the greatest success in opening up the word of God.
It provides an authority by which interpretations can be tested.

Historical statements regarding the literal method

“Thou shalt understand therefore, that the Scripture hath but one sense, which is the literal sense. And that literal sense is the root and ground of all, and the anchor that never faileth, whereunto if thou cleave, thou canst never err or go out of the way. And if thou leave the literal sense, thou canst not but go out of the way.” William Tyndale

“When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.” David Cooper

To interpret the Bible properly, one should seek to understand:

  • Words
  • Grammar
  • Context
  • Historical interpretation
  • Figurative language

Regarding figurative language, Tyndale stated: “The scripture useth proverbs, similitudes, riddles or allegories, as all other speeches do; but that which the proverb, similitude, riddle, or allegory signifieth is over the literal sense, which thou must seek out diligently.”


Some applications

  • Matthew 13:38 – “The field is the world”
  • Matthew 16:18 – “I will build my church”
  • Matthew 28:19 – “baptizing them”
  • Mark 9:44 – “the fire is not quenched”
  • 1 Corinthians 11:24 – “this is my body”
  • 2 Peter 3:8 – “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years…”

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