INTERPRETATION RULES FOR UNDERSTANDING PROPHECY AND SCRIPTURE
1 THE GOLDEN RULE OF INTERPRETATION
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, indicates clearly otherwise.
2 THE LAW OF DOUBLE REFERENCE
The Law of Double Reference is the principle of associating similar or related ideas, which are usually separated from one another by a long period of time, and which are blended into a single picture like the blending of pictures by a stereopticon.
A clear cut example of this law may be found in Isaiah 11:1-5. Verses 1 and 2 refer to the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and verses 3 to 5 tell of the second time He comes to earth.
3 THE LAW OF RECURRENCE
The Law of Recurrence involves the recording of an event and the repetition of the account which gives added details. This principle may be illustrated by the artist who “blocks out the portrait” of a person at the first sitting and adds details at subsequent sittings.
Example: Ezekiel 38:1-39:16
Chapter 38 gives a complete account of the coming invasion of Israel by Russia and the subsequent destruction of the Russian army in Israel. Chapter 39 then repeats the account from the beginning giving additional details.
4 THE LAW OF THE CONTEXT
A Text apart from its Context is a Pretext. A verse can only mean what it means in its context and must not be taken out of its context.
Example: Zechariah 13:6
This verse is often used to prophecy of the Messiah. Pulled out of its context, it does indeed sound like it refers to Jesus. But the context in vs2-6 is speaking of ‘false prophets’. Verse 6 cannot refer to Jesus unless Jesus is a false prophet. This is the danger of studying a verse by itself rather than in context. The common saying, “You can prove anything by the Bible,” is only true when this law is violated.
(These 4 rules were formulated by Dr David L Cooper, the late founder and director of the Biblical Research Society.)