A systematic method of defining a word only by the Scriptures

Now we have received not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit which is of God;
that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God...
comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1 Corinthians 2:12-13

Although, we all probably have an idea of what adultery is. In this article, we would like to search the Scriptures, and define "adultery" by the Scriptures alone. We are looking for verses that define the word. The goal should be to take that word and define it by the Scriptures.

Defining words by the Scriptures

To find the definition, we would like to search for those verses which will give a context. Let's represent the word "marriage" by "x". We would ideally like to find a verse that says:

x = a

where "a" is the definition of "x". However, many times, the Scripture does not give a clear definition. Therefore, our second option is to look for verses such as:

x + b = c

Where "x" is not explicitly defined, but if we know something about "b" and "c", we can infer what "x" is.

Study strategy

Since there are many uses of the word adultery in the Bible, we need to narrow our search to specifically look for two things:

  1. Verses that give context in the New Testament. As opposed to a verse that lists the word with no context whatsoever (such as 1 Corinthians 6:9).
  2. Where is a verse that will send me to the Hebrew word in the Old Testament?

Once we find the Hebrew word in the Old Testament, it is best to systematically start to look at the first place the word is used in the Bible, then go to the second, and so on.

A few comments on understanding the Scriptures...

  • If the definition we derive from the Scriptures is not clear enough to a little child either (1) we have messed up or (2) God does not want us to know what it means.
  • When we come to a verse that we don't understand we should put it in a column with a question mark.
  • In general, if we mess up, we need to do it out of our human frailty, not out of plain ignorance, or that we are just studying the wrong way.
  • You have to start with the context.
  • If there is a verse that is clear, and a verse that is unclear, which verse should we concentrate on? We should always move from clear to unclear. And when we come to a verse that seems to contradict a clear verse, we dare not drop the clear, simple understanding to adopt an unclear explanation to our own destruction (as in 2 Peter 3:16).

This method is used to define the words adultery and fornication.


Know the Truth