Whetting Your Appetite for Correlation
One of the many wonders of the Word of God is how it came into existence. The Bible is a collection of books and documents written by men who were supernaturally enabled by the Holy Spirit to record Scripture.
The apostle Peter wrote:
Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20–21)
How Correlation Works
That’s why this technique of correlation remains so critical for searching the Scriptures. Correlation recognizes that all Scripture is God-breathed, thereby establishing the credibility and value of the whole Bible. So comparing one verse—by highlighting a particularly significant word or truth—to another verse in a different section of the Bible, helps to broaden your understanding and to confirm your interpretation. That’s how correlation works.
By the way, just in case you are skeptical about the value of including the technique of correlation in your study of the Scriptures, take a look at the master Teacher as He uses precisely the same approach!
Jesus Shines the Light of the New onto the Old
Jesus, the Light of the World, broke through the thick veil of four centuries of spiritual darkness which spanned the close of the Old Testament era to the dawn of the New. He came, John declared, as “one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone” (John 1:9).
Just as a handy flashlight brings much-needed clarity to the dark corners of a dusty attic, Jesus, as He taught, shined the light of understanding onto the shadowed, often misunderstood passages of the Hebrew Scriptures.
At times, Jesus went toe-to-toe with the harsh and judgmental religious clerics who routinely presented themselves as the ultimate theological authority. On one occasion, Jesus shone the light onto their erroneous claims regarding the truth of the resurrection when He said, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. . . . Haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead” (Matthew 22:29, 31–32).
Enter Jesus—the master of correlation!
By comparing what He was teaching to a misrepresented passage in the Old Testament book of Exodus, Jesus reversed centuries of bad teaching on what would soon emerge as the bedrock doctrine of the New Testament.
Jesus’ use of correlation literally brought to life—from the damp, darkened tomb of Pharisaic misinterpretation—the wonder and power of the resurrection!
Benefits of Correlation
Consider this list of the values of correlation to your own study of the Bible:
- You will base your interpretation on clear discernment instead of vague opinions.
Everyone has an opinion about what a verse or passage “means to them.” But do any of those opinions matter? Absolutely not! What matters is God’s intent and what the divinely inspired writers were moved to communicate when they penned the Scriptures.
- As your knowledge broadens, your understanding will deepen.
By comparing passages from throughout the whole Bible, just like Jesus did when correcting the Pharisees, you ensure greater accuracy in your determination of what the Bible means.
- You will cultivate a reasonable and balanced approach to the Scriptures.
How easy—and dangerous—it is to become unyielding in your teaching of the Scriptures. Correlation provides a firewall to protect against such unnecessary dogmatism by guaranteeing a balanced and more gracious presentation of truth.
- You will become able to separate truth from error quickly.
Correlation hones your ability to detect subtle errors in the teaching of others who promote incorrect ideas and who handle the Scriptures carelessly.
So . . . don’t wait to get started. You’ll be encouraged when you discover how wonderfully God’s Word fits together as a whole!
To learn more, see the Searching the Scriptures study.