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How do I know when to take the Bible literally?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #2

Have you read a verse and not been sure how to take it? Every wonder of something you are studying should be taken figuratively or literally? Some passages are pretty clear. Others are not. Listen in to this 15 minute episode for a few tips to help you move toward a better interpretation (and thus, application) of these tricky passages.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO TAKE THE BIBLE LITERALLY?

  • Keep in mind the genre (type of writing) and the context. This goes back to our three “A”s.
    • Author: Who is writing?
    • Audience: Who are they writing to?
    • Aim: Why are they writing it?
  • When reading prophetic Scripture, know that there are Godly, educated, (way) wise(er than us) scholars who differ on their interpretations … so if you are unsure if a certain passage is literally or figuratively speaking of what is to come, you are probably not going to be able to figure it out either.
  • When it comes to moral issues and daily practice issues, cultural and contextual clues must be considered.
  • When you encounter a teaching that is also taught frequently and clearly in other places in Scripture, then we can apply the Bible literally to our lives.
  • If something is taught sparingly and is unclear, we ought to look at the PRINCIPLE behind the command, instead of the SPECIFICS of the actions.

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

  • Go to your pastor (or small group leader) if you have questions. He will LOVE it!
  • Bible Study Hub online study group

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

Links below may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!

  • Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary – If you do think something is figurative instead of literal, this resource will help you see the meaning of the words through the eyes of the original audience by spelling out the cultural significance.
  • A solid study Bible will also help with some of these tricky passages. Our favs are:

HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

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