Scriptural Synergy (Analogy of Scripture)

Is a basic principle of Biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) which says that Scripture must interpret Scripture; the scope and significance of one passage is to be brought out by relating it to others.  Typically, this rule is most often useful to help in understanding more difficult passages by first applying easy to understand passages that speak to the same topic, but in much more clear or understood language.  

Practicing this interpretation rule of the “Analogy of Scripture” naturally becomes all the more important before one begins a critical analysis of something like the millennium, or the book of Revelation, where it is imperative that we recognize and utilize this most important hermeneutical rule of Biblical interpretation (The interpretation of unclear, difficult, or ambiguous passages of scripture by comparison with clear and unambiguous passages that refer to the same teaching or event).  The function of this rule is to cause the student of the Bible to carefully interpret Scripture with Scripture; not interpreting hard to understand portions of the Bible apart from the more clear ones.  That is to utilize the easier to understand passages to help with understanding the not so easy ones.

When Scripture is not so clear in one area we are not to form doctrine solely on the basis of these hard to understand passages; rather, we are to instead apply clearly understood passages within the text to help with understanding the other unclear passages.  This is also how proper exegesis is performed (the art of dissecting the Word of God, properly understanding its meaning, and applying what it says in the correct manner).

With the book of Revelation we must at all times learn to interpret Scripture with Scripture and not attempt to interpret Scripture with newspaper headlines (also known as “newspaper exegesis”), or the latest modern theories that do not employ sound Biblical principles.  It is not the book of speculation, imagination, or alteration.  The book of Revelation was written to be revealed with full disclosure and to take the cover off or to “lift the veil” for its contemporary audience and readers.

The word “Revelation” itself literally means “the revealing” or the lifting of the veil.  It is to be seen clearly in light of its genre (it is an apocalyptic work: prophetic literature style composed using highly metaphoric and symbolic language) and its’ symbols and imagery were to be clearly understood by the audience to whom it was written.  The book was not written for a distant audience 2,000 or more years into the future that has no way to understand it until the events begin to unfold. If it were, then the Book of Revelation could not possibly say that anyone who reads and keeps its teachings would be blessed (cf. Rev. 1:3). How could anyone be blessed by it if they can’t keep or apply its teachings if it only applies to a distant generation of readers?  If that were true, then only the final generation who could possibly understand it could ever be blessed by the book!

On the other hand, a more accurate and scholarly approach to understanding the context of the Book of Revelation is to realize that the book can be properly learned when the reader gathers the appropriate information relating to its historical background, its occasional context, and when the reader uses a proper hermeneutical approach which the writer (John) originally intended his audience to use and apply (or “keep”).  By properly interpreting the contents of John’s apocalyptic book, the reader can then truly be blessed by being able to fully understand it.  For the first century audience, understanding John’s warnings and predictions meant that the reader (or hearer) could truly be blessed by keeping what it was saying.

In the book, “Apocalypse Code,” Hank Hanegraaff makes the following observations:

“In terms of a proper end-times paradigm, this principle [typology] is of paramount importance.  Persons, places, events, or things in redemptive history serve as types of Christ or spiritual realities pertaining to Christ.  Palestine is typological of paradise.  As Joshua led the people of Israel into the Promised Land, so too Christ will lead His people into paradise … the principle of scriptural synergy [the analogy of Scripture] means that the whole of Scripture is greater than the sum of its individual passages.  You cannot comprehend the Bible as a whole without comprehending its individual parts, and you cannot comprehend its individual parts without comprehending the Bible as a whole … Nor may we assign arbitrary meanings to words or phrases that have their reference in biblical history.” (pgs. 9-11)

“Biblical scholars have pinpointed several characteristics typical of apocalyptic writings. Central to this literary style is the use of visions as a means whereby a heavenly messenger reveals to the seer knowledge concerning decisively important aspects of the human destiny that had to this point been hidden in heaven but would soon transpire on earth.  The seer often describes the spiritual turmoil these visions produced in the visionary’s own countenance and then draws conclusions from the visions for the faithful to endure under persecution.  The visionary generally employs rich, at times even bizarre, symbols to convey the heavenly message to the faithful community. The use of symbols is advantageous, as they serve to hide the meaning of the vision from the uninitiated eye while communicating clearly to members of the seer’s own community(Grenz, Stanley J., The Millennial Maze: Sorting out Evangelical Options. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992).29.).


For a more in-depth study see the related full “Study Series”:

Study Series 16 Lesson 8 Rev. Chapter 20