On the Meaning of the Passage

In other words, on interpreting Scripture:

Is it proper/appropriate to interpret according to our own wishes or standards? No, arbitrary interpretation does not generally extract the meaning of a passage, it merely reflects the reader’s biases, not the author’s intentions. The notion that we are free to interpret a text by our arbitrary wishes is self-contradictory; anyone espousing such a view would have to assume that his statement would itself not be subject to arbitrary interpretation. The “correct interpretation” is defined to be the one that matches the meaning of a passage — the author’s intentions. The one-meaning principle is the fact that a given proposition generally has exactly one primary meaning, and thus exactly one correct interpretation.

Dr. Jason Lisle Understanding Genesis: How to Analyze, Interpret and Defend Scripture


5 thoughts on “On the Meaning of the Passage

  1. This practice should be restricted to a Christian’s infancy or early childhood. It’s kind of like being a child and misapplying something you overheard Daddy saying. You know for certain what you heard but you haven’t yet become a “listener.” You haven’t gotten to know Daddy well enough to understand all of his ways and the contexts of some of what he has to say.

    “God said it. I believe it and that settles it!” That thinking can be reduced to a simpler and more revealing statement: “I’m right!” The person who approaches life with that “understanding.” doesn’t yet know Abba (Daddy) well enough to know His ways, higher thoughts, deeper wisdom or the fact that He can speak volumes in silence. Doses of humbling experiences should be helpful in remedying the notion that any of us have God “all figured out!” Listening to what God has to say goes much further than looking at scripture like it’s a fortune cookie.

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  2. How would you respond to someone who insists that we can’t know the author’s intentions, and thus it is arrogance to insist one has the “correct” interpretation?


    • I would respond by asking them, “is it arrogance for me to properly understand what you just said?” Words have meaning and the authors wrote with the intention of their word conveying that meaning. Everyone assumes this the moment we speak or write. So for someone to make the claim that your friend did is a suicidal argument. Hope that helps.


      • Yes, it does help (or at least I hope it will), and no, he is not my friend…he’s a long-time blogosphere opponent who finds the clear intention of many passages to be inconvenient to his preferred worldview.

        I’ll be checking out the post below to see if it is relevant to my situation.


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