Eisegesis – “the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that the process introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text. This is commonly referred to as reading into the text.” As I’ve come to be more of an astute “studier” of the Word, I’ve done my best to avoid this style of subjectively determining what the text means, but letting the text tell me what it means. A good friend once told me that the best way to interpret Scripture is with Scripture. In other words, if God is the Word as John 1 states, and you don’t understand something He said, then let Him explain things further to you by searching through all of what He has to say, rather than jumping to your own conclusion and assuming what He’s saying. If I see a verse I don’t understand, I look for another verse on the same subject, or I look at the verse prior or after that verse to get the understanding of what the meaning of the text is.
Verses that appear to condemn subjective interpretation
There appear to be numerous verses that suggest that we should be careful in not reading what we want to see or what we want to believe in the text, and believing and following strictly what the text is stating to us, and just leaving it at that. Scripture never seems to instruct followers of Christ to create too much of their own subjective meaning beyond the words of what’s being stated. It seems instead it indicates we should understand whatever events are occurring and whatever things are being stated in the context of what all of Scripture tells us. It warns us of false teachers who are going to twist the Word in exactly that manner of creating their own ideas that please other’s desires. But let me not just tell you all of this, let me let you read the Word and determine for yourself. Now I acknowledge that not all of these verses are specifically directed to the Body of Christ, but what I’m offering you in showing you all these verses is a continuing pattern of God wanting His people to be careful to stick to what He says, and watch out for people who twist what He says to their own desires.
Deuteronomy 4:2 “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
Deuteronomy 12:32 “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.”
Pro 30:6 “Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.”
Mark 7:6-9 “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
7 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”
1 Cor 4:6 “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.”
Gal 1:9 “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”
Col 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
2 Thes 2:15 “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”
2 Thes 3:6 “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.”
2 Thes 3:14 “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame.”
1 Timothy 1:3 “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,”
1 Timothy 4:1 “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,”
2 Timothy 1:13 “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”
2 Peter 2:1 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”
2 Peter 3:16 “as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
1 John 2:24 “As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”
2 John 1:9 “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”
Rev 22:18 “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;”
Are these verses strong evidence?
In this writer’s conclusion at least, these verses appear to be strong evidence against Eisegesis, or at the very least telling us to be highly cautious of using subjectivity to interpret scripture. Apostle Paul gives Timothy a warning in 2 Timothy 2:2-4, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.…” If all of God’s word is right as 2 Timothy 3:16 seems to indicate, then I don’t think we have to come up with our own ideas to understand it. We can just go by what it states being that all of it is right, and all of it will rightfully explain itself.
May we all be careful to keep our understanding of Scripture solely based on all of what God tells us in His Word, and not based on any particular bias or desire of what we want to see or hear in His Word.
Peace to all those who are in Christ.