The Christ in Prophecy Journal

The Inbox: Should Bible Prophecy Be Interpreted Literally or Symbolically?

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Hello, I’m Eschatologist Nathan Jones, and here at Maranatha Labs, we research day and night to fight the deadly disease known as Symbolically. Those infected with this inhibitive condition are at first difficult to spot, for they look like any other Christian. Show them a symbol out of everyday life, and they can identify it with ease.

But, show them a symbol taken from the Bible, particularly Bible prophecy, and the Bible translation portion of their brains are quickly overcome by Symbolically.

When it comes to the interpretation of the Bible, patients with this debilitating affliction often struggle over the question…

Should Bible Prophecy Be Interpreted Literally or Symbolically?

In 9 out of 10 cases, those afflicted with Symbolically will intentionally spiritualize the Scriptures, choosing whatever interpretation that suits their fancy, and then argue automatically that the plain sense meanings found in the Bible are not their true meanings.

90% of those suffering under this inhibitive interpretive condition may experience…

  1. A disturbing inability to believe that God knows how to communicate.
  2. Compulsive desires to strip Bible verses away from their context.
  3. Sudden spasms of detective work, searching for hidden meanings.
  4. Manic mythologizing of the Genesis Creation and Revelation end times accounts.
  5. And, delusions of grandeur, playing God by deciding what the Bible truly does or does not mean.

The Cure

If you are suffering from Symbolically, there is hope. Ask your local Eschatologist about the fast acting Golden Rule of Interpretation. Yes, the Golden Rule of Interpretation is the cure that will guide you to a literal interpretation of the Bible. Just generously apply this motto every single time you read the Bible — “If the plain sense makes sense, don’t look for any other sense, lest you end up with nonsense.” — and you, too, will be cured from spiritualizing Scriptures.

If the plain sense makes sense, don't look for any other sense, lest you end up with nonsense. Click To Tweet

Treatment Options

Once you’ve started implementing the Golden Rule of Interpretation, keep the Bible study portion of your brain healthy by applying the following eight treatments:

  1. The Right Approach — Always approach the Scriptures with a childlike faith and an honest heart.
  2. Be Filled By God’s Spirit — Before you open your Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to provide clear understanding.
  3. The Inspiration of Scriptures — Because God Himself inspired the writers of the Bible, accept the truth that what they wrote must be without error.
  4. Plain Sense Symbols — Let the Bible be its own best interpreter as to the meaning of its own symbols.
  5. Context, Context, Context — Meanings of words in the Bible should always be determined by their context.
  6. The Principle of Searching — All verses on a particular topic should be searched out, compared, and then reconciled. Never hang a doctrine on one isolated verse.
  7. The Problem of Prefilling — Allow that some Bible prophecies are prefilled in symbolic type first before being completely fulfilled later on.
  8. Telescoping Prophets — Understand that prophets often looked into the future and saw a series of prophetic events, not realizing they’d be separated by long time intervals.

Side Effects

There are side effects from using the Golden Rule of Interpretation.

  • a deeper understanding of God
  • a new appreciation of the Bible
  • mental acuity
  • a richer faith
  • unbelievable hope
  • spiritual enlightenment
  • and, an inexpressible joy.

So fight the dreaded Symbolically with the Golden Rule of Interpretation — “If the plain sense makes sense, don’t look for any other sense, lest you end up with nonsense.” Why live with the heartbreak of confusion? Take the Golden Rule. Because He’s worth it.

No prescription necessary. Available to all ages.

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ABOUT AUTHOR View all posts Author Website

Dr. Nathan E. Jones

As the Internet Evangelist at Lamb & Lion Ministries, Nathan reaches out to the over 4.5 billion people accessible over the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ. He also co-hosts the ministry's television program Christ in Prophecy and podcast The Truth Will Set You Free.

11 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • I am sorry, but that was a waste of time and I try to use my learning time well. I like your program but please don’t send me this kind of stuff. If you are yearning for Christ’s appearance as I am, reading that you sent out this week is a waste of my reading time, especially since my eyesight is terrible and after having to read that missive, I began to have the oncoming blindness in one eye from reading so much.

  • Great article, Dr. Eschatologist, on curing Symbolically! Haha! When I first got immersed in spiritualized interpretations and proof-texting at an Orthodox Presbyterian Church, I didn’t know what hit me! I found that I was gradually losing my understanding of much of the Old Testament, then the New Testament, too. My mind’s screen was going blank, like a computer with a virus.! I now realize Reformed interpretations of the Bible ARE a virus! When you are infected by it, it makes its way all around your understanding and disables it little by little. Eventually you think you don’t even know the Lord- at least the One you think you know is not the “right” one! It’s a horrible disease! I went into a vacant spiritual desert during my time at the OPC (around 3 years). I cried to God, whoever He was, to please help me, and He did! Like a flood His Truth poured out to me and cured me! I’m grateful to the Lord for taking me through that “disease”- it caused me to grow tremendously, and it sharpened my discernment. I’m inoculated now; never again will I be attacked by the Symbolically virus! 😊

  • Excellent article! Pertains to folks like Calvinists (followers of John Calvin) who tear up the Bible in a lot of places to make God conform to the cruel thoughts and ways of John Calvin. They even pervert non-symbolic Bible language, i.e., like saying that the several times God talks about the ‘thousand years’ in Revelation 20 doesn’t really mean a thousand years. Oh my…….

    Thanks for those 8 tips on how to interpret the Bible accurately. I remember one time when I just stopped and prayed that God would keep me on track. (Yes, I perceived I might be drifting a little off-kilter :). And I know how the devil wants us to deceive us into perverting God’s Word so we’re not getting the truth, but the devil’s lies instead.

    Thanks again for this very necessary article.

  • WOW! this article is wonderful and taught differently LOL something to get one’s attention to be sure. not the same ol same ol type of format! I have copied and pasted this in my files for teaching for I am constantly running into these false strippers LOL and Your article is perfect to put in their face. Thank you for it I ENJOY your messages and the show Keep up the good work, for the day is coming when these messages will be a moot point for those that have been left behind…

  • What a shame Noreen that you can’t ‘see’ the importantce of this message. You ‘see’ there are so many false teachers out there that can’t seem to understand the symbolic passages and be able to interpret them correctly. The Bible is written many times with symbolic referencing to events, and times. Christ himself was a ‘master’ at symbolic stories IE the wayward son, or the virgins and the lamps or the thief in the night, etc.The rapture and the second coming is full of symbolic references that yet tell those that understand the differences of these two events will understand the time sequel of Christ 2 returns in the end times. So, mayhap if you were to take a paragraph at a time and really study what is being said, and go see for yourself the truth of this article mayhap you wouldn’t be so judgemental on how this piece was being written.

  • Dr. Reagan and Nathan: I think it boils down to the heart and true acceptance of Jesus Christ, his words, and the truth of his life, death, and resurrection. If people truly believe and accept him,he sends a Wonderful Counselor, the The Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and discernment, there are no doubts, but firm resolve in his truth. John 14:25. The Holy Spirit Gives Peace.

  • Thank you for the article, Nathan. It can be so frustrating sometimes when trying to help someone see the truth when they make everything symbolic instead of the literal and vice versa. Like a SDA that says that the 1260 days of Rev are really 1260 years. Wow!

  • Nathan: Having a hard time with “prefilling.” Not sure of what you really mean.

    Wouldn’t “symbolism” been more fitting that “symbolically” in the text of your message? Otherwise, a great article. As a retired minister, I tried teaching to read literally not spiritually, meaning: don’t spiritualize every passage in then Bible. It means what it says.


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