Westminster Confession, Chapter 1, Paragraph 9
9-The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
Scripture interprets Scripture. This principle is so simple and profound that even a lay person like me can be convinced of a proper and accurate interpretation. The cross-references that are laid out in most Bibles are so helpful with this practice. Also, using R.A Torrey’s TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) is a more exhaustive and complete way to learn your way around the Bible.
I recall sitting in a Adult Sunday School class that was being taught in a previous church by a pastor. The Pastor was telling us that it was alright for us to use vulgar forms of expression in certain situations. His proof for this was the Apostle Paul. In the book of Galatians, Paul is very upset because certain people were teaching the Galatian Church that they needed to be circumcised in order to be Christians. Paul was justly angry. The Church was being hindered from running well (Galatians 5:7). And in verse 12 Paul lays out his statement, I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! Then (like I said earlier) the Pastor taught we are justified to copy Paul’s vulgar expression.
As I listened to this, and having never studied it before, I glanced down at my NASB bible and saw a cross-reference. Deuteronomy 23:1 No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD. Huh? I thought. I raised my hand, read the verse, and said, “doesn’t it seem more justified to say that Paul had Deuteronomy 23:1 in his mind as he is penning Galatians 5:12.” “What do you mean,” asked the Pastor. “Well, if Paul’s wish came true that the false teachers in Galatia emasculated themselves, then they wouldn’t be allowed into the Church. If they were not allowed in the Church, they would not be able to teach their false doctrine. Doesn’t this seem a better interpretation then Paul was on a rant and it is alright for us to as well.” He said, “have you studied this before?” I said, “no, I just saw this little cross-reference here in my Bible.” He said that he did not think that is what Paul was thinking about. I asked him if we couldn’t default in believing that the New Testament writers (Paul in this case) had the Old Testament Scriptures filling their minds as they wrote. He told the class “NO.”
This is actually one of the reasons we began to question basic biblical hermeneutics of a church. We soon learned we were in a dispensational church that has a totally different set of interpretation glasses on then say the reformed covenantal glasses our current church has. We found we see much clearer with these prescription lenses on.
Scripture interprets Scripture. You can be confident in the Lord that he wrote a book which interprets itself.