rules for interpreting scripture


First – Let the Bible define and explain its own terms, figures and symbols.

Second – Give every passage a literal construction, unless its own connection and phraseology render such a course absurd, by bringing it into collision with truths elsewhere established by positive language.

Third – The proper connection of any given passage is not always that with which it stands immediately connected, but those bearing on the same subject found recorded anywhere in the Scriptures. Select all these texts from where they stand, put them together and you will have all the truth revealed on that subject.

Fourth – All passages belonging to any particular subject must contain one or more of the peculiar features of that subject, by which it may be identified as belonging to that subject.

Fifth – The Truth in relation to any doctrine must be established by those passages which speak of it in positive and unequivocal language, and those texts belonging to the same subject but which only admit of inferential testimony, no inference should be drawn from them at variance with the truth already established by positive texts.

Sixth – No doctrine should be predicated upon mere inference, neither upon one isolated passage of Scripture. Any true doctrine will be found interspersed though the whole Bible.


First – In any doctrine taught by types or shadows, the anti-type must always correspond with the type, and the shadow with the substance.

Second – In studying the Scriptures, consider that the New Testament is a commentary on the Old.

Third – Never be afraid of results to which you may be driven by your investigations, as this will inevitably bias your mind and disqualify you to arrive at ultimate truth.

Fourth – Investigate everything you believe: if it is the truth, it cannot be injured thereby; if error, the sooner it is corrected the better.

Fifth – Pursue this course with as much independence as if you were the only one concerned.

Sixth – Rely on no authority less than Divine in so momentous an undertaking.


Bro John Thomas, 1859