Should We Understand the Bible As it is Written?

For the Bible to have any meaning at all, the plain meaning must be the true meaning unless it cannot be.This applies equally to prophecies as to the rest of the Book. If God said there are ten of something, He means there are ten. Seven sevens means “7 x 7” of whatever is being described. If “the tribes of Israel” is written, the tribes of Israel is meant. And so on.

Yes, some prophecies incorporate symbolic representation of concepts: John saw a woman riding a scarlet beast, holding a cup filled with abominations and filthiness. This is a symbol of a specific wicked system; a wicked woman riding a peculiar animal is not the subject of the prophecy, which is clarified later in the book.

But John also reported that 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel were sealed with a seal on their foreheads. To suggest that this does not refer to 144,000 individuals, or does not pertain to the tribes of Israel, or that no “real” seal is placed, is to render the text meaningless, particularly when God had John specify every tribe by name.

If none of the Bible can be read and understood as it is written, then it cannot be understood at all, and this is impossible. God led John to write that, “But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name.” (John 20:31) And again, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:13.

If we cannot understand the words because they do not mean what they say, we have no sure mechanism to know what they do mean, and therefore cannot “KNOW” that we have eternal life, nor can we “believe that Jesus is the Christ”, nor believe on His name. God Himself ensured that, possessing the Scriptures, which are declared to be His word and the means by which His saints are set apart (John 17:3) we are able to “know the truth” and be “made free” by the Son. (John 8:31-32) We cannot possibly know the truth, if we cannot comprehend what He has said, or if we have to guess and surmise what He may have meant by it. Paul addressed this principle when writing to Corinth about speaking in tongues: if the sound is uncertain, the hearer has no way to recognize what is being said. (1 Cor 14) Indeed, he told Timothy that the Scriptures, inspired by God, benefit the reader for knowing doctrine, for correction and instruction in righteousness, in order that the man of God may be perfect – complete – and completely equipped for doing what is good. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)This is impossible, if the words do not convey a clear, specific, and consistent message that any reader may easily discern and understand.

In fact, Jesus Christ is declared to be named “The Word of God” (Rev 19:13) and to be “The Truth” (Jn 14:6), and His word to be the basis of judgement of sinners (Jn 12:48) In fact, Jesus condemned all who refuse to receive His words, saying those words will be his condemnation. We are to receive them as He has given them; otherwise we are not receiving His words at all, but as the serpent in the garden, we are arguing, “Yea! Has God truly said…” (Gen 3:1)

If anyone comes to you, claiming that the Bible does not mean what it says as it is written, is deceived or a deceiver. God declared that curse through His Old Testament prophets as well as to His apostles. (Rev 22:18-19; Deut 4:2; Pr 30:5,6; cf Deut 12:32) We must never allow one who perverts the word of God to influence what or how we believe. We must show from His Scripture why they are obligated to accept His words as He has given them, and if they refuse, we are obligated to disfellowship with them. (Titus 3:10)


2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”