“It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ ” (Jesus Christ, Matt 4:4)




Biblical Interpretation ‘approaches’ below concerning whether any belief, teaching or practice is true or current in relation to the Scriptures. These comments refer to Bible passages which provide a basis for the truths of God of which there are both biblical and legal consequences.

EXTENDED EXCERPT from ‘concluding comments’ at the very bottom: In ascertaining and concluding whether any thing is biblical or the Will of God, ‘the question that is not to be asked only is whether it is ‘found’ or ‘written’ in “black and white” in the Bible, but properly whether there is a true ‘basis’ for it drawn from the Bible’.

First, number 1 below is concerned with examples where a statement expressly and ‘directly’ “overturns” or ‘cancels’ an Old Testament law or teaching. 2 explores commands or instructions concerning a matter or topic without such ‘directly’ commanding an act or practice to be done. 3 deals with the obtaining of meaning relating to a matter from an “unwritten rule” perspective, and, 4, examines the important factor of ‘precedent’ in biblical and legal interpretation. This study asserts that the Bible does not abolish teachings found in the Old and New Testaments irrespective of whether they were taught ‘before’ or ‘after’ the ‘Cross’ in the absence of irrefutable biblical evidence to the contrary.

For this study, the words ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ are intentionally and personally used respectively to differentiate between command or instruction scriptures that call for a direct and literal interpretation and those indirect ones that may require a deeper examination of their meaning or contexts to enable understanding.

Critically, the Bible tells us that there is a crucial first step to take in seeking to discover whether or not something is biblical. It comes from the Saviour Jesus Christ Himself and is found in Matthew 4:4:

The Temptation of Jesus:
4 ‘Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. 3 The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread”. 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” ‘.

The first Law of biblical interpretation above is that every basic and (relevant) Word that comes from the mouth of God’ relating to a topic and all things needs to be known and obeyed.

In this verse, Jesus reveals that, in order to ‘live’ and be ‘sustained’ in life as a whole, it is critical to obtain and obey the knowledge of the Word of God. It is important to note that Jesus establishes this truth and principle in the context of how the issue of His hunger may be resolved. That is, Jesus in effect is saying that if people require the truth or understanding of an issue, practice, or topic then they need to know and apply the full Word of God. Therefore, relatedly, at the very least, in order to properly ascertain whether or not something is biblical then all the relevant Scriptures concerning that thing must be investigated.

In this regard, the examination of ‘wider’ Scripture relating to any topic reveals the revelation of God’s own ‘voice’ to man. That is, as the Bible is God’s Word expressed to and for man, it is properly and always interpreted ‘exegetically’ which involves a plain reading of the Text without the imposition of one’s subjective interpretations and beliefs upon it which is an ‘eisegetical’, incorrect approach. This means that it is critical that readers allow the biblical authors to convey the plain meaning that they intended through the Spirit of God (2 Pet 1:21; 2 Tim 3:16), because, as mentioned, God’s Word ‘exegetically’ “speaks out” to the reader and therefore does not permit an ‘eisegetical’ “imposing into” it by one’s subjectivities and personal persuasions.

(4 Biblical Interpretation Approaches):

1). ‘DIRECT COMMAND/TRUTH’ (express/explicit words that are direct, clear and unambiguous, plainly expressing a command, and normally carrying their ordinary or literal meaning).

A ‘direct’ Command Example From The New Testament That Abolishes An Old Testament Practice:

(Eye for Eye):

Matthew 5:38-42
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth’ (Exod 21:24). 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

(Love for Enemies):

Matthew 5:43-46
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour (Lev 19:18) and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.

In these passages above, Jesus Christ abolishes specific Old Testament laws by expressly stating that they need not be followed in current New Testament times. The first, which in the Old Testament required an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for Eye, and Tooth for Tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, DO NOT resist an evil person…”

Second, 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and Hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, LOVE your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

These two examples are evidences of the cancellation or “overturning” of these specific laws from the Old Testament (from The Torah – first five books of the Bible) by the use of the words “do not…” and “love…” in place of the original law. These words express the redeeming work of the Cross of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness of sins which emanates from the love of God.

2). ‘INDIRECT COMMAND/EXPRESSION OF TRUTH THAT DIRECTS’ (words that indirectly and clearly express a reality, or truth, which call for acceptance or adherence to that reality or truth, and possibly requiring a deeper examination of meaning for proper understanding).


(John Testifies About Jesus):

John 1:29
29 ‘The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A Man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel” ’.

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”–

John ‘the Baptist’ explicitly states that the ‘Sacrificial Lamb’, Jesus Christ, is the One who takes away the sin of the world. In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices could not take away the sins that people committed, but rather merely covered them.

This statement by John reveals the New Testament teaching that the Blood of Jesus Christ, and not the blood of bulls or goats (Heb 10:4), completely removes sin from a believing person’s life by the grace of God through faith (Eph 2:8-9). Thus, it is clear that while John’s statement does not ‘expressly’ state that there should no longer be animal sacrifices nor directly that people should put their trust in Jesus, the statement nevertheless categorically identifies Christ as the Saviour, and therefore, that people should ‘act’ and put their faith in Him for Salvation and no longer continue animal sacrifices ‘after’ the Cross.

The ‘Indirect Instruction’ above permits an understanding and acceptance of a truth or reality that is readily observable. It also does not necessarily contain words that specifically command something to be done.


‘INDIRECT/DIRECT COMMAND’ (a combination of indirect and direct commands/instructions)
Almost everything that Jesus Christ ‘directly’ and ‘indirectly’ communicated were “terms” “attached” to the New Covenant which require observance and obedience.

The words Jesus spoke in the New Testament “accompany” the New Covenant that He made with His Blood so that His Redemptive Work is premised on His very Words expressed while on earth and which give effect to the establishment of the New Covenant upon His death (see Exod 24:7-8; 3-4; 12 for the instructive features of a Covenant/”Agreement”). These Old Testament Scriptures reveal the necessary “binding” of the Old Testament commands and statements of God to the Old Covenant, and, in the same way New Covenant believers are bound by the “accompanying” ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ words of Jesus Christ and by extension the New Testament to the New Covenant. That is, analogically speaking, principally almost of Jesus’ words essentially represent the existence of the “terms and conditions” contained in an “Agreement” or “Contract” (Covenant “obligations”) that all believers are obligated to ‘after’ the Cross as adherents to Christ.

To further explain, in order for the New Covenant to be instituted by the Blood of the Saviour Jesus Christ, He had to by necessity firstly express and explain to the people and the world what the Covenant’s New Testament “contents” or “accompanying Kingdom righteousness” (Matt 6:33) entailed. This was in order that people have knowledge of the substance and intent of it and therefore appreciate the realities involved in following Jesus Christ of the New Testament. A modern expression of this in the field of politics is where a government firstly explains the rights and obligations of a ‘bill’ or ‘law’ it introduces to its nation and later enacts or effects that bill as official Law by signature. Hence, Jesus Christ firstly “introduced” and explained the “content” of the New Covenant ‘laws’ to the world throughout His ministry which were later “enacted” or established/put into force by His Blood.

In this light, an example of a command that is ‘indirectly’ given is where Jesus Christ talks of the Sabbath. In Mark 2:27 He states, ‘Then He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. This example is used because some may say that Jesus here is not expressly or otherwise commanding that the Sabbath be observed. However, following the ascension of the Lord, the writer of Colossians in chapter 2 verses 16 & 17 makes reference to Old Testament requirements that no longer required observance ‘after’ the Cross which include feasts occurring at Sabbath days though the verses are clearly not referring to the weekly Sabbath at Creation and in Exodus chapter 20 (see Lev 23:24; 32; 39). This truth illuminates Jesus’ indirect yet explicit words concerning the need for man to ‘use’ and observe the Sabbath and which was affirmed by Paul the Apostle’s clear exclusion of the weekly Sabbath in his explanation of certain acts by believers in Colossians 2:16-17 that constituted Old Testament legalism ‘after’ the Cross.

Lastly, an additional example of an ‘direct’ command is where Jesus essentially instructs all believers and His disciples to tithe (Matt 23:23; 1), not only the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. Again, we find in an epistle written after Jesus’ ascension that the command from the Lord that preachers are to make a living from the Gospel (1 Cor 9:13-14) unquestionably instructs that they must receive tithes (and offerings) from believers ‘after’ the Cross unless the preacher personally decides otherwise as an “exception” through the leading of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 9:1-23).

3). ‘IMPLIED COMMAND/TRUTH’ (a truth that is not explicitly found or written in the Scriptures – an “unwritten” truth).

Brief, simple examples. The words, “omnipotent”, “omnipresent”, “omniscient’, and “trinity” are not found in the Bible, by a correct rendering of the Hebrew and Greek texts. However, from the writings in the Bible, it is clear that these words are true of God.

Respectively, the Bible teaches that God is ‘all-powerful’ (Rom 1:20), ‘everywhere’ (Psalm 139:7-12), ‘all-knowing’ (Isa 46:9-10), and is one God (Elohim) with three “expressions” – Father (John 17:5), Son (John 1:1-5;14), and Holy Spirit (Gen 1:2), whom were all present at the Beginning.

Regarding the “trinity” (three “expressions” here), some believers think that, among other reasons, God is not a “trinity” because the word is not found in the Bible. However, the “Let Us” in “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness…” in Genesis 1:26 refers to the ‘tripartite’ nature of God which represents the relational and “family” nature of God. ‘Elohim’ is the plural representation of ‘God’.

In saying ‘Let Us make man in Our image’, God is saying Let Us make man in the image of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit (‘Spirit of God’ – Gen 1:2; Joel 2:28-29; John 14:25-17).

Therefore, an ‘implied truth’ represents a true and biblical basis for meaning, interpretation and understanding of topics even if such is not specifically written in the Bible. It is truth because it derives its meaning directly from the truths of the Bible as above.


Following are some New Testament references/commandments ** (at bottom) from Matthew chapter 4 (vv 4, 7, 10). They affirm ‘Old Testament’ (Deuteronomy commands which naturally are to be obeyed by believers and non-believers alike which therefore the New Covenant did not and could not abolish:

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deut 8:3).
5 Then the devil took Him to the holy city and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple.
6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command His angels concerning you,
and they will lift You up in their hands,
so that You will not strike your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:11-12).
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’ (Deut 6:16).
8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 “All this I will give You,” he said, “if You will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from Me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (Deut 6:13).
Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:32 are examples of teachings in the New Testament that directly follow and affirm an Old Testament teaching.

(Matthew 19:7-9)
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

(Matthew 5:31-32)
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”.

The use of the words “sexual immorality” in both passages stem from the passage in Deuteronomy 24/1:

“If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house”.

The word “indecent” in this verse means sexual immorality of some sort. This is the reason why Jesus used the words “sexual immorality” in the passages in Matthew above. That is, Jesus, while revealing in context that God did not permit divorce from the beginning, nevertheless had to express words that were consistent with the Old Testament teaching on the subject.

To elaborate, Jesus could not contradict what Moses had permitted the Israelites to do, albeit due to the hardness of their hearts, but, had to uphold the teaching and thereby uphold the law of God and glorify God. Therefore, His use of “sexual immorality” explains what Moses meant by “indecent” and, critically, it also attests that the New Testament necessarily adheres to numerous biblical and legal precedents from the Old Testament which require following in order to understand why particular words or reasonings are employed for a related subject occurring at a later time.

Importantly, the use of these examples are not in any way meant to advocate for divorce here and in any event the topic of divorce as well as remarriage is somewhat complex and deserves significant attention. It is merely to show that it unsurprisingly but also tellingly reveals that Jesus Himself could not speak inconsistently with the Old Testament’s rule that the only biblically acceptable ground for divorce in the context of certain acts that constitute adultery (Matt 5:27-28; 9:19) is sexual immorality.

This reveals the importance and worth of the Old Testament with respect to often providing understanding or answers to topics that people seek information and solutions for today. Importantly, it also illuminates the reality that the New Testament writers were significantly informed by the Old Testament which is evidenced by their numerous quotations from it as well as the fact that they almost exclusively only had the Old Testament to refer to in terms of a written record which perhaps some may overlook or forget.

Concluding Comments
As evidenced above, the Bible is to be principally interpreted ‘directly’, ‘indirectly’, ‘impliedly’ and by ‘precedent’ in order for meaning and understanding of matters to be obtained. In doing so, it encompasses the various other and related interpretation approaches such as the ‘literal’, ‘purposive’, and “golden rule” — (word(s) removal) (for e.g. the erroneous “Easter” word inclusion in Acts 12:4 (KJV) which is plainly different from the Greek’s usage of ‘pascha’ (“Passover”), and was thus corrected in the NKJV).

Relevantly, in ascertaining whether or not something is biblical, the question that is not to be asked only is whether it is ‘found’ or ‘written’ in “black and white” in the Bible. Rather, the question to be asked where necessary is ‘whether or not there is a ‘basis’ for it in the Bible’ which approach captures the rich wisdom of God in bringing an understanding of diverse and numerous matters which are not necessarily expressly or otherwise found in the Bible.

In asking this question, one can thus obtain understanding of a topic or a matter even though it may not be found or addressed explicitly in the Bible. This is particularly important as evidently and obviously the Bible does not ‘directly’ or ‘indirectly’ contain nor address every single thing or matter concerned with our Lord Jesus Christ (John 21:25) let alone every single matter that all of humanity can reveal or do.

Lastly, this study concludes that in keeping with the divine and legal principles of God and His explicit purposes in the affairs of man, unless there is clear and irrefutable proof that a teaching found on the pages of the Old and New Testaments is no longer in existence by way of any of the four interpretation approaches above, then it is still continuing to this present time. This principle also applies to situations concerning any particular belief or practice in respect of whether or not clear biblical support exists for such.

** (above) Jesus Christ in Mark 10:19 reveals that ‘do not defraud’ is a Commandment. However, this Commandment is not a part of the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20 (‘Old Covenant’), but is found in Leviticus 19:13.

This is stated because, unlike what many believers think, it is not only the Ten Commandments (which comprise the ‘Old Covenant’) that are regarded as the ‘Commandments of God’. Indeed, the requirements to ‘love the Lord your God…’ (Matt 22:37) and ‘love your neighbour…’ (v 39) are also classed as Commandments, the greatest and second greatest respectively as Jesus said.

Thus, it may be contemplated that certain other relevant teachings in the Old Testament would also be regarded as ‘Commandments’ and therefore as current for the present time such as most of those contained in Leviticus 19 in light of the ‘do not defraud’ Commandment found in this chapter.