Keys to Understanding the Bible
by Rob Armstrong
As much as possible, use the New Testament Letters to explain and interpret what you read in the Old Testament, the four Gospels, and the Book of Acts.
As a general rule, the New Testament (N.T.) letters are instructional and interpretive. Because of this, they explain the meaning and purpose of the Old Testament (O.T.) and the Old Covenant (the Law of Moses), as well as the four N.T. Gospels and the Book of Acts. For this reason, it is important to keep in mind the following three general guidelines as you read and study the Bible.
1. The Old Testament foretells the events of Christ’s coming through ceremonies, sacrifices, types and prophecies. The events that are foreshadowed and predicted in the O.T. include Christ’s birth, His death on the cross, His resurrection, and His future reign on the earth.
2. The four Gospels and the Book of Acts record (tell the story of) the events of Christ’s coming through eye-witness accounts, first-hand historical narratives, and biography. The events that were foretold in the O.T. were fulfilled and documented in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. Note: A great deal of O.T. prophecy also has to do with Christ’s second coming (His second advent). The fulfillment of these particular prophesies is yet future.
3. The New Testament Letters explain (interpret) the meaning and purpose of the events of Christ’s coming through the teaching and writing of the Apostles. The events that were foretold in the O.T. and recorded (documented) in the four Gospels and the Book of Acts, are expounded and made clear in the N.T. letters.
This principle is especially true of the Book of Romans and the other letters written by the Apostle Paul who was given special revelation and unique insight into the Gospel of Christ. For example, although the events of Christ’s death and resurrection are foretold in the O.T. and recorded in the N.T. Gospels, they are not fully explained until the Book of Romans.
The following N.T. letters are primarily instructional and interpretative.
Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, Hebrews
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, I encourage you to make it a priority to become familiar with these books and what they teach, because they are foundational for understanding the meaning of the entire Bible, as well as the great truths of the Christian faith. Personally, I have found these books to be life-changing.