What Does the Bible Say?

Does the Bible "Say" Anything?

A lot of people wonder what the Bible says about a given topic, hoping that they can find some insight into a religious question. Others may want to solve a problem in their lives, and they wonder about the insight of the Bible on that particular topic.

John VersesWhen we ask "What does the Bible say?" we have to keep a few things in mind.

First, the Bible is a book, not a person. Thus, the Bible might not "say" anything about a particular topic, or may only address it in vague terms. Sometimes, we may have to examine general verses or verses about other topics to guess what the Bible conveys about a particular topic. For example, the Bible doesn't mention stem cell research, but we can gather what the Bible does say about the value of every human life.

Second, even when the Bible does say something about a topic, we must remember that it was written in a particular context. Thus, if we wonder about the Bible's view of a topic, and find a verse or two about it, we should read the other information around the verse. Taking a verse out of context could have disastrous results!

Finally, we must remember that the Bible is interpreted by people and communities. Just because the Bible says something about a topic doesn't mean that people believe it today. For example, someone asking what the Bible says about rebellious teenagers will find that, in the law of Moses, parents are advised to stone their wayward children! Christians and Jews would obviously reject that view today.

The Catholic Church believes that the Church has the authority to determine what the Bible says. This is because Catholic bishops, through Apostolic Succession, have the same authority of the Apostles. Along with the Pope (the bishop of Rome), the Church sets certain standards of reading the Bible. This way, the Bible is read in the same way the apostles would have read it.

To access what the Bible may say about a topic, there are several resources. First, you can do an online Bible search of one or two keywords. Second, you can consult Biblical dictionaries and commentaries, which will explain exactly what the Bible may say, not only in one verse, but throughout the whole book. Finally, determining what the Church says on the topic is important.