General Study Guidelines
Some Principles of Interpretation
- Pray to God for wisdom (Jam 1:5; Mat 7:7), believing 2Ti 3:16.
every chapter in the book for yourself, thoroughly; it is essential that you
familiarize yourself with the contents.
- Allow the book to explain itself;
several definitions are given, and similar descriptions recur, implying the same
or similar happenings.
- Use clear, simple passages to aid in unraveling the
meaning of less clear, more complex passages.
- Be consistent in your
interpretation; don't force two different meanings upon a symbol or time period,
in the same context.
- Remember that any conclusions must be in harmony with
known basic principles of God's truth as revealed in the rest of the Bible.
- Follow up the Old Testament and New Testament cross references, which can
be especially enlightening, with due regard for context.
- Consult other
books and commentaries for their suggestions and conclusions, but make sure that
your own research is objective and critical.
- Discuss your own conclusions
with others, but remember that your ideas and arguments must find solid support
- Attend Bible classes or seminars on the subject of the
Revelation; be willing to change your thinking if something better is
demonstrated -- after all, you are looking for the right understanding.
- The Book of Revelation is understandable, because God gave it as revealed
Scripture, not concealed.
- There is nothing in Revelation for which God did
not set up the groundwork and background in the rest of the Bible.
meaning of any symbolism can be (indeed, must be) found in OT and NT source
- The text should be allowed to interpret itself, and this should
take precedence over other contending interpretations.
- Any interpretations
should be consistent with what has already been understood or determined to be
- Any interpretation must be in harmony with well-established
principles of God's Truth.
- There can be more than one "application" of a
passage, as long as it has valid Biblical support.
- Reference to history as
confirmation to an interpretation is allowable, and ultimately necessary to
prove the accuracy of any interpretation involving the future.
unless there is a plain directive from Scripture to look at any particular date
or event, historical evidence must be regarded as assumptive and speculative.
- Any interpretation that involves future events cannot necessarily be
confirmed until such events take place; but that does not mean that one has a
totally uncertain interpretation, since the Return of Christ, a future event, is
- God has placed more importance, and consequently has given
more details, on the coming of Christ (both first and second) than any other
Biblical event. Therefore we can expect the Revelation to have a great amount of
detail about events in and around the Second Coming of Christ.
ignoring prophetic patterns and applications to past ages, the Revelation is
particularly relevant to the faithful living in "the last days" and contains
information that can/will have a direct impact on the 20th century.
- No one
can work out an exact timetable of what God has said He would do, even though
"God reveals His secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). However, a
general framework is both reasonable and possible.
- The book is not
necessarily in chronological order; it will be apparent that some events are
concurrent, and may even include "gaps" of time, ie, whole periods are skipped.
- Correct interpretation is not an end in itself, but the means to an end,
namely, the personal preparation of the Bible student for the coming King! (NF)