Volume 1 No. 2

Keys to Research

The Word of God interprets itself.

To understand God's Word certain keys to research must be understood and applied when working the Word to avoid private interpretation and maintain the integrity of the original text.

These studies are provided to outline some of the simple keys to understanding God's Word.

Michael Cortright

Keys to the Word's Interpretation

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The Scope of God's Word

The Subject of God's Word

When attempting to understand a verse of scripture it is important that the verse be viewed in its immediate context, the immediate context or passage understood in the greater context of the book in which it was written and each book in the Bible understood in the scope of the entire Word of God.

God has a purpose for everything He says, when He says it, where He says it, why He says it, and to whom He says it. An understanding of God's purpose for the whole Word must come first in our study of His wonderful Word.

Ephesians 3:11 According to the eternal purpose [the purpose of the ages] which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ is the one great subject of the Word of God.

From Genesis 3:15 where God promised that the seed would come and man would have a redeemer to the book of Revelations when "cometh the end, when he [Jesus Christ] shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;. . ." the subject of God's Word is the Lord Jesus Christ.


Within the overall scope of understanding Jesus Christ as the one great subject of God's Word there are seven time periods or administrations that need to be understood in order to rightly divide the Word of God.

The Original Paradise Administration - When Adam and his wife lived in paradise in the garden of Eden without sin in perfect fellowship with God.

The Patriarchal Administration - After the fall of Adam and Eve, and before the written word (the law) was given to Moses, the Word of God and the promise of a redeemer to come was passed from father to son.

The Law Administration - The written Word of God was delivered as law to the children of Israel. The law, the prophets, and the rest of the writings of the old testament define this administration and record the record of the bloodline and hope for the coming Christ.

The Christ Administration - The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John describe the life and times of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth. While the gospels also contain information regarding future administrations they complete the old testament as Jesus Christ fulfills the law and brings about the redemption of mankind.

The Grace Administration or the Administration of the Mystery - The present administration where believers have regained all that Adam lost plus much more by the work of Jesus Christ. The seven church epistles: Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians specifically outline doctrine (right teaching), reproof for wrong practice and correction for wrong doctrine for this current administration.

The Appearing Administration - When Jesus Christ returns to gather the church and bring all into subjection to God.

The Final Paradise Administration - When once again man lives in perfect fellowship with God in paradise.

To Whom Written

I Corinthians 10:32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews (Judeans), nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.

All of the Word of God is written to one of the three groups identified in I Corinthians 10:32. Some passages are written to the children of Israel (the Judeans); Some passages are written to the Gentiles (any one not of the children of Israel); And some passages are written to the church of God. The church of God is made up of those born again of God's spirit. Once born again there is neither Jew nor Gentile but all are God's children and part of the church of God.

When reading and studying God's Word you must recognize to whom the passage is written if you are to rightly divide and (more importantly) rightly apply that which you are reading.

Doctrine, Reproof, and Correction

II Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

The entire Word of God is profitable. It is God's Word! The Word is profitable for doctrine which is how to believe rightly. The Word is profitable for reproof which tells us when we are not believing rightly. The Word is profitable for correction which brings us back to right believing. All three are needed for instruction in righteousness which is right believing or right living.

In looking at the scope of the epistles written to the church today they never vary in order in any original text. The order of the epistles has a God given design.

Romans presents the foundational doctrine that tells us how to believe rightly. The two books of Corinthians reprove wrong practice in the church of God. The book of Galatians corrects doctrinal error in the church due to failure to respond to the reproof in the books of Corinthians.

The book of Ephesians presents the church with the greatest doctrinal revelation ever given. The book of Philippians reproves practical error due to a failure to adhere to the doctrine of Ephesians. Colossians corrects the doctrinal error in the church due to failure to respond to the reproof in Philippians.

The two books of Thessalonians stand alone as the doctrinal revelation of our gathering together at the return of Christ.

The scope, structure and order of these epistles is vital to our understanding of that which is written to the church of God.

The Church Epistles
Doctrine Reproof Correction
Romans Corinthians Galatians
Ephesians Philippians Colossians
Thessalonians No reproof or correction. Thessalonians tells of the return of Christ. No more possibility of wrong practice or wrong doctrine.

Keys Index Page

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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
II Peter 1:20

Keys to the Word's Interpretation
Volume 1 No. 2

URL http://www.cortright.org/key2.htm
© Copyright January 1998; 2010 Michael Cortright