Deacon Andrew’s Bible Study Toolbox

“How Lutherans Interpret the Bible”

Lutherans believe the Bible is the Word of God. We believe that God continues to speak to the community of faithful believers through scripture and that what the Bible reveals about God’s will is authoritative for our lives. To fulfill this role, the Bible must be interpreted from a humble perspective that allows scripture to inform and transform the reader’s own viewpoint.

Here’s a brief summary of key points from this excellent video series featuring Rev. Dr. Mark Allan Powell identifying and unpacking some of the typical and traditional ways that Lutherans approach and interpret the Bible. We will be doing a series of short videos on each of these points to explain these in more detail and posting these videos to our church webpage in 2021 for everyone to access, so stay tuned!

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone): The Bible is the “only rule and norm” according to which doctrines are to be established and evaluated. The Bible has unique authority as God’s inspired and revealed truth to us.

Contextual Interpretation: We ask about the literary context of the book in which individual passages are found and about the historical context of the situation they were intended to address.

Plain Sense of the Text: Scripture passages are to be understood in the sense that would have seemed obvious to their original readers (metaphorical, literal, etc). We do not impose secret messages or codes on the Bible.

Principle of Analogy: We apply scriptural teaching to our present lives by asking how situations in the modern world are comparable to those in the biblical world, even if they are not exactly the same.

Scripture in light of scripture: We try to reconcile what is said in one part of the Bible with what is said in other parts of the Bible, trying to be faithful to the entire Bible. We do not pick some parts and leave others alone.

Scriptural priority: Some things in scripture are more important than others. The goal is to find the “heart” of scripture, the overall message in light of the broader themes.

Law and Gospel: The Bible speaks both law (that which accuses us and judges us) and gospel (that which comforts us and saves us). Law reveals our need for God’s love, grace and mercy. Gospel proclaims those to us.

Theology of the Cross: The death of Jesus Christ is the focal point of scripture, revealing God’s love for us and God’s expectation for how we are to love and treatothers.

Justification by grace through faith: we are reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are saved by God’s grace alone, not by anything that we do or say.

Binding and Loosing: The Church is called to recognize when biblical law applies and when it does not through conversation, discernment, and dialogue. We search the Bible to find God’s justice, mercy and the gift of faith.

Public Interpretation: The interpretation of scripture is a public act rather than a private one. The Bible presents God’s word to the Church as a whole, and the meaning of scripture for each of us as individuals is to be found by seeking application of its universal message to personal situations.

Hopefully considering these concepts will inform, deepen, and strengthen your time with God’s Word!