Scripture has four “senses” or “ways of being understood”. Each passage has a literal meaning, can be an analogy to unlock deeper truths, can be understood as relevant to morality today, and can comment on the final glory of God. Understanding thes senses of the Bible allow for entering much more deeply into God's Word than just a quick reading would allow.
It's easy to sit down with the Bible and read it like a story or like a history book. The various books of the Bible can seem disconnected and even contradictory to one another. It's easy to see God's mighty deeds as fantastical events that happened long ago to people long passed away. Reading the Bible this way can lead to thinking “that's nice; but it doesn't apply to me”.
While the narrative of the Bible tells a story—and it's an incredible story of God's love that we should be overjoyed at reading—there's much more to be had. Every book, chapter, and verse is packed with meaning that may not be immediately obvious. When we understand how the earliest Christians, including many of the authors of New Testament books, understood Scripture we can open a whole new world for hearing the story God has recorded for us.
As our familiarity with the Bible grows, keeping these “senses” in mind will shock you at how cohesive, intertwined, and utterly relevant the Bible is. Over the next few posts we'll look at the literal, analogical, moral, and anagogical individually. This isn't just fancy theology talk; understanding these can turn your time with the Bible from reading as a spectator to participating in the very Word of God.