AW Pink on Bible Interpretation, part 4

Analogy of Faith


All our interpretations must conform strictly to the Analogy of Faith. As John Owen observed, “Whilst we sincerely attend unto this rule, we are in no danger of sinfully corrupting the Word of God…” For example, when we learn that “God is a spirit” (John 4:24), incorporeal and invisible, that prevents us from misunderstanding those passages where eyes and ears, hands and feet are ascribed to Him; and when we are informed that with Him there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jam. 1:17), we know that when He is said to “repent” He speaks after the manner of men. Likewise, when Psalm 19:11, and other verses make promise of the saints being rewarded for their gracious tempers and good works, other passages show that such recompense is not because of merit, but is bestowed by Divine grace.


No verse is to be explained in a manner which conflicts with what is taught, plainly and uniformly, in the Scriptures as a whole. This requires from the expositor not only a knowledge of the general sense of the Bible, but also that he takes the trouble to collect and compare all the passages which treat of or have a definite bearing upon the immediate point before him, so that he may obtain the full mind of the Spirit thereon. No doctrine is to be founded on a single passage, like the Mormons base on 1 Corinthians 15:29, their error of members of that cult being baptized for their ancestors; or as the papists appeal to James 5:14, 15, for their dogma of “extreme unction.” Care is to be taken that no important teaching is based alone on any type, figurative expression, or even parable; instead, they are to be used only in illustrating plain and literal passages.


Let it, then, be settled in the mind of the expositor that no scripture is to be interpreted without regard to the relation in which it stands to other parts. Adherence to this fundamental rule will preserve from the wresting of many a verse. Thus, when we hear Christ saying, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), attention to His previous declaration, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:31), will preclude any idea that He was, in His essential person, in any wise inferior; therefore the reference in John 14:28, must refer to His mediatorial office, wherein He was subservient to the Father’s will. “Must,” we say, for the Son is none other than “the mighty God” (Isa. 9:6), “the true God” (1 John 5:20). Again, such words as “be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16) must not be understood in a way that conflicts with “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “To reconcile all things unto Himself” (Col. 1:20) cannot teach universalism, or every passage affirming the eternal punishment of the lost would he contradicted.

Material drawn from:


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