There are four basic rules of interpretation which are keys to understanding the prophetic word.1 The first is called The Golden Rule of Interpretation:
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.
Simply put, this law states that all biblical passages are to be taken exactly as they read unless there is something in the text indicating that it should be taken some way other than literally. If this law is applied consistently, much of the present-day tangents and “newspaper exegesis” can be avoided, as well as other errors, such as Amillennialism. So when the plain sense of Scripture makes sense, no other sense needs to be sought. As in any language, literal or normal interpretation does not rule out figures of speech, but even these have a literal background. The key point is that the Bible should not be approached on the assumption that it is loaded with symbols and hence hard to understand. It is not. The Bible should be approached with the assumption that this book can be understood just like any other book that is taken literally. Besides figures of speech, the Bible does use symbols, but the symbols are usually explained, and they are explained by the usage of literal words. Unless the text indicates clearly that it should be taken symbolically, the passage should be understood literally. This Golden Rule of Interpretation is the first of four basic rules of interpretation and by far the most important.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum "The Footsteps of the Messiah" (Ariel.org)
Published on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 @ 8:43 AM CDT