Foundational Principles For Understanding The Holy Bible

Our loving God has intended we understand His written Word to us, the Holy Bible. Let us look at some basic things that will help us to understand it.
Foundational Principles For Understanding The Holy Bible
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2015 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete).

Some people do not understand the Holy Bible because they do not follow some basic principles of understanding such a work. If one follows the principles below they will have a good foundation to comprehend what God desires us to know.

1. Personally Know God, the Author

Please do not misunderstand this first point, for there is a theme throughout the Holy Bible that God intended for any spiritually unregenerated person  to understand. That theme is our need of spiritual salvation from self, sin, the wrath of God, and more. But not only does the Holy Bible speak of our need for

salvation, it clearly presents the Answer to that need, repenting of our sin and making Christ Lord, or you could say King, of our life.

"While much of the word of God can be understood without this experience, much of it will necessarily remain hidden," wrote Walter Beuttler{1}. He continued, "Faith is a fundamental attitude toward the word of God without which an interpreter is totally disqualified. This faith must not be a mere intellectual faith, but also a faith of the heart which involves a commitment of ourselves to that which we believe, John 7:l7."  God is a spirit, and so the Holy Bible is a spiritual book. Therefore those who would understand its fulness need to be spiritually alive themselves (1 Corinthians 2:12-16). 

Though men were used to write it, God is the Author of the entire Holy Bible. "Know" in the title above means having a personal relationship with God through Christ (James 2:19, Matthew 7:21-29) being truly committed to God through Christ. Christ needs to be dwelling in us and we in Him—John 15:4a, "Abide in me, and I in you." When one fully commits to Christ asking Him to dwell within, a whole new realm of understanding is opened. 

For years before I came to Christ there was a Holy Bible in our house. I never really cared for it until I heard Billy Graham preach from it, and quite often from the Book Of The Revelation Of Jesus Christ. I decided to read that particular book, reading it four times through before I came to Christ. I did not understand much, but I did understand the judgment of God was coming and I felt my need to make things right with God. When I surrendered to Christ, the Holy Bible came to life for me. It was like things were lighting up in it for me.

And, once you know the Author, the more you read the Holy Bible the more you will understand it over the course of time as you walk closer to God through Christ.

2. Clear Your Mind

From the time we are born we might learn from family and society various things about God and the Holy Bible—but there is nothing like reading the Holy Bible for what it actually says and accepting it as it is. For example, most of us have heard from others that sin entered the world because Eve and Adam ate an apple. When we read the actual account, there is no apple, but the "fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" (Genesis 3:1-6).

Another example is, before I committed to Christ, for some reason I thought Armageddon was the last war and ushered in the end of the world. So after I committed my life to Christ, whenever I would read Revelation I got confused since Armageddon occurs in Revelation 19, yet there is a war with Gog and Magog in chapter 20. The confusion remained until I realized society told me the wrong thing. I then accepted the natural flow of Revelation as written and gained a better understanding of the sequence of some coming events. 

The best thing we can do is to let the Holy Bible speak for itself. If we come across something that seems to be against what others have told us, we need to lay aside what was planted in our mind and by faith embrace what the Holy Bible says.

3. The Holy Spirit

Jesus said in John 16:13, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." 

Remember you are primarily spirit and your spirit is the real you that lasts forever. In the article, The Nature And Purpose Of The Holy Bible{2}, it was shown that the Holy Bible was "given by inspiration of God," which can be said as "God-breathed." The image with that article showed the word “inspired” in the Greek, transliterated and pronounced, so you will see a special connection with the Holy Spirit as well as with you, since you are a spirit.

Since the Holy Bible is a spiritual (God-breathed) Book and we are spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, as noted in John 16:13, guides us into all truth. The Holy Spirit will illuminate a passage for us as we seek God. Also, if we listen carefully, there will be times we will sense God telling us certain things about a passage. So . . . 

4. Be Active in Prayer

Ask God to

help you understand what you are reading and what He wants to say to you personally in a given section of Holy Scripture. You should also ask Him to unravel anything that might appear to you as mystery or contradiction. 

5. Use A Reliable Translation

Please see the link below{3} for an entire article on this point. Hopefully, later there will also be an article that addresses how you can basically tell if you have a pretty good translation in your hands. In brief, use something truly literal like the New King James, the King James 3, or Young’s Literal Translation. If the old King James is all you have then that will do until you can get a copy of one of the above. You can read the NKJ or the YLT at the links provided below{4}.

As stated earlier, I would recommend the New King James (NKJV), the King James Version specifically the Authorized Version (AV) of 1769, and works by Jay Green like the KJ3. The NKJV eliminates much of the archaic language of the KJV. 

6. Go By The Meanings Of The Words Used As Defined In Their Times

There are two levels on this point. First, society teaches us things about certain topics and as a result the meanings of some words change over time. For example, when we today say in English “suffer" we often mean some type of physical or emotional pain or discomfort. Over 400 years ago “suffer” meant permit. So, when using a translation check to see how old it is and then go to a dictionary to find the meaning of a certain word, selecting the meaning that matches the time when the translation was created.

But a deeper, and a more sure way to know, is to check what the words are in the language of the ancient texts. The Old Testament (OT) was written mostly in Hebrew and the balance in Aramaic. The New Testament (NT) was written in Koine (common) Greek. So, the Holy Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. You can easily memorize that fact because by taking in order the first letter of each language you can spell “HAG!” While most people do not know Hebrew, Aramaic or Koine Greek, we do have at our disposal tools like Strong's Concordance and works by W. E Vine, William Wilson, Joseph Henry Thayer, Kenneth S. Wuest, and others to help us. 

7. Recognize Limitations

Our understanding of God and His ways will grow as we read the Holy Bible. However, there are some things we cannot give a definite answer on, sometimes because God purposely does not reveal it. For example, no human alive can actually say what the seven thunders from heaven said in Revelation 10:3-4, nor should we expect God to reveal that to us. It is best in these rare cases to say that only God knows.

Nonetheless, while God keeps some things "secret," there is much that He does not keep secret, but reveals certain things to those who know the Truth and can accept and use, with the wisdom of God, some very deep truths (Deuteronomy 29:29, Daniel 2:22).

God willing, next in this series we shall present general principles of Holy Bible interpretation.


This article originally included a segment that showed how to tell if any Holy Bible is accurate or not, but there seemed to be formatting problems. At the time of publication of this article, I was still working on that problem and it might be I will have to make two articles on that topic, viz., one that deals with checking for accuracy with Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and the other on some simple checks anyone can make. I will try to make that into one article, but if I cannot it will have to be two.

{1} Beuttler, Walter: Principles of Bible Interpretation, Section G, subsection 4.

{2} The article, Nature And Purpose Of The Holy Bible, may be viewed at .

{3} Please see for the article, Holy Bibles Good And Bad.

{4} You can read these translations of the Holy Bible online at or .

Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit

Last updated on 28-07-2016 474 1

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  • nbillett  28-12-2016
    Prayerlessness is one of the great torments of modern times. For decades the time we spend in focused prayer has been diminishing as our lives have become busier and busier. We have fallen into the tyranny of the urgent, which demands that we rush from one urgent thing to the next.
    reply 0
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