The Perspicuity of Scripture

The Perspicuity of Scripture

Photo Credit: © Amy Walters – Fotolia

Perspicuous. adj. 1. Clearly expressed or presented; easy to understand. 2. Ex- pressing oneself clearly and effectively.

Pastor Martin has just begun a series on the book of Revelation. The book is notoriously difficult to understand, interpret, and apply. As one witty saying goes; “A famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed all that he knew. The revealing is done by the commentators, who know nothing.” Everyone seems to agree that it’s tough to work out.

One important, and oft neglected, aspect of the doctrine of scripture is it’s perspicuity. The scriptures are perspicuous. The Bible is clearly expressed, and easy to understand. Do you believe this when you read Revelation? I humbly submit that we should assume that we can understand Revelation. We may have to work harder to understand it than, say, the Gospel of Mark. It may be in a genre which we are not familiar with. However, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If we really believe this very perspicuous statement from Paul, then we must believe that “all scripture” includes Revelation.

We should humbly admit that understanding Revelation is difficult, that there are many different interpretations, and that we may never know for sure what is intended by each part of it. We should also submit ourselves to the scriptures, and to the doctrine of the perspicuity of scripture. According to this doctrine, we must believe that what is contained in Revelation is helpful, understandable, and even clear. We should be prepared to dig for the treasures within the book, and try to understand it. We should seek to understand what it means. I think that this is what God wants us to do. Why else would he have included it in his Word? To freak everyone out about the European Union? To entertain conspiracy theorists? To give Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, and Hal Lindsay a decent income?

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3)

He gave us the book of Revelation to bless us.

UPDATE: Click through here to watch a helpful discussion of perspicuity between Carl Trueman and Greg Beale. (HT: Justin Taylor)


  1. Tim

    Thank you brother. What a simple and truthful approach to Scripture, and how much more we glean from it by taking it as the Word of God, written for us, with the intention to bless us. We too easily foil ourselves with self-fulfilling ‘prophecies’ of complexity and difficulty. Let’s hear it for perspecuity!

    • Simon (Author)

      Hi Tim. Thanks for your encouragement. Of course, I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said, there! We do foil ourselves very easily, don’t we? Up perspicuity (as some might say)!

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