How Jesus Interpreted the Scriptures

Written by Drew on August 8th, 2005

After Jesus’ resurrection, He encountered two disciples who were on their way to the village of Emmaus, about seven miles outside of Jerusalem (Lk. 24:13-15). Strangely, they did not recognize their Lord and talked with Him about the events that had transpired in Jerusalem over the last few days (v. 16). Over the course of this unusual conversation, Jesus decided to correct some of their mistaken impressions concerning His own mission and purpose. And so we read, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (v. 27).

Jesus was skilled in the art of biblical interpretation, as this verse shows. Notice some important hermeneutical principles learned from Luke 24:27:

1. Recognize the nature of the document your are studying. Jesus knew He was handling the “Scriptures” (i.e., sacred writings), so He treated them with proper respect.

2. Make the proper distinctions in the text. Jesus made a distinction between “Moses” and “all the Prophets.” Accordingly, there are certain distinctions all Bible students ought to make as they try to understand God’s Word…

  • Between the Old Testament and the New
  • Between merely reported and approved examples
  • Between the temporary and the permanent
  • Between faith and opinion
  • Between custom and law
  • Between what is permitted and what is required

3. Give heed to the context. Jesus did not conduct His study piecemeal, pulling from one proof-text here and another there in order to make His points clear. Rather, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets,” He skillfully led His disciples through a systematic examination of the Scriptures. God’s Word becomes a dangerous tool in the hands of a person who has no respect for the context. Satan himself has twisted the Scriptures to his own purposes (Mt. 4:6; cf. 2 Pet. 3:15-16).

4. Include everything the Bible says on the subject in your interpretation. Notice that Jesus did not take the lazy approach to Bible study, learning only from one section of the biblical record, but He “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

5. Stay focused. On this particular occasion, Jesus just pointed out “the things concerning himself.” This is better than a scatter-brained approach to Bible study. Those who lose their train of thought learn very little.

If anyone knows how to interpret the Bible, it is Jesus. By using His methods, we can maximize our study of God’s Word.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. charles cochran says:

    Drew, this is a good “textual
    study” of Jesus method of interpreting the Scriptures. Surely those who accuse brethren of “legalism” if they exalt the Bible in giving “authority” in what is preached and practiced ought to be challenged by Jesus’ example in this text. This study is very helpful to us in adopting Jesus’ spirit towards the Bible. Charles Cochran

  2. Drew Kizer says:

    Good point, Charlie. What do you think they would say about the way Jesus focused on the tense of one little word in Mt. 22:29-33?

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