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Don Stewart :: What Is the Clarity of Scripture? (Perspicuity)

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Don Stewart

One of the most important doctrines of Scripture is its clarity. This is also known as perspicuity. Basically this means that the message of the Scriptures can be understood by the great masses of people who wish to understand it. God's Word has been revealed in such a way that everyone, who is willing, can understand it.

The Bible Says It Is Clear
The idea of the clarity of Scripture is something that the Bible often teaches about itself. We find this taught in the Old Testament, the teachings of Jesus, and the New Testament letters.

The Old Testament Assumes God's Word Is Clear—Moses wrote to the people of Israel.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:6,7).

Notice that Moses not only expected the adults to understand what he had written he also expected their children to understand it. This emphasizes the fact that the truths can easily be understood.

The Simple Become Wise Through The Scripture— The Bible says that the simple become wise through reading and applying God's Word.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple (Psalm 19:7).

The psalmist also wrote.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130)

Jesus Testified To The Clearness Of Scripture — We find the same emphasis in the New Testament. Often we find Jesus often answering a question with the question, "Have you not read?" The idea is that the Scriptures have the answer to their question if they would only read what it said. In a dialogue with the religious leaders He said.

But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying (Matthew 22:31).

On the other hand, we never find Jesus saying the Scriptures were unclear about any subject. To the contrary He always assumed the problem was failure to accept what the Scripture clearly said. On the same occasion, Jesus said to the religious leaders.

But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God" (Matthew 22:29).

Whether speaking to the multitudes, His own disciples, or the religious authorities, Jesus assumed all of them could understand the Scripture.

There Were Letters Written To Be Read To Churches — The New Testament letters that have become part of Scripture were, for the most part, written to congregations. Many of the people were Gentiles with little or no background in the Old Testament Scripture. Yet there was the assumption that they could understand the things that were written to them. The letters Paul wrote were to be read out loud to the churches.

Greet the brothers and sisters who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. And when this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans (Colossians 4:15,16).

This assumes everyone, including the children, would be able to understand.

We Need God's Help In Understanding These Truths — There is also a spiritual dimension in the understanding of Scripture. Paul wrote.

Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

While the Bible is written in such a way that it can be clearly understood, those who are not willing to accept its truth will not appreciate the full import of what it says. Jesus said.

If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own (John 7:17).

Summary — The clarity of Scripture is also known as perspicuity. This means that the basic message of Scripture has been clearly revealed so that everyone can understand it. The Bible is a book to be understood by the masses — it does not contain secret or hidden messages from God. We find the clarity of Scripture taught in the Old Testament, the teachings of Jesus, and the New Testament letters. The letters were written to churches where Gentiles, untrained in the Scripture, were assumed to be able to understand the teachings.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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