A Study By
Gary Ray Branscome

“We speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual // line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (1Corinthians 2:12-13, Isaiah 28:10)

    Because both of the verses that I just quoted are telling us how the Holy Spirit teaches, they explain each other. In short, The Holy Spirit teaches us doctrine as we compare what the Bible says here, with what it says there, “line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little” (compare 1Corinthians 2:12-13 with Isaiah 28:10). Moreover, I have just given you an example of how that is done.

    In the same way, the Holy Spirit explains the words, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility,” by comparing that passage with the story of the Pharisee and the publican (Proverbs 8:12, Luke 18:9-14). The haughtiness of the Pharisee led to destruction, while the humility on the part of the publican preceded heaven.

    By comparing Ephesians 2:8 (“by grace are ye saved”) with Titus 3:5 (“according to his mercy he saved us”) the Holy Spirit reveals that “grace” is a synonym for “mercy.” In other words, to be saved by God’s grace, is to be saved by His mercy.

    By comparing 2Peter 1:20 (“no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation”), with Isaiah 8:20 (“If they speak not according to this Word it is because there is no light in them”) the Holy Spirit teaches us that any interpretation that contradicts what the Bible says elsewhere is a “private interpretation.”

    Because the word “regeneration” means “rebirth,” by comparing John 3:5 (“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”), with Titus 3:5 (“he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost”) the Holy Spirit tells us that the water spoken of in John 3:5 has to do with rebirth (regeneration), not physical birth. [Note: Both passages are speaking of repentance (the baptism of repentance) coupled with the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to faith in Christ (1Corinthians 12:3). We are born again through repentance and faith.]

    By comparing John 6:40 (“every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day”), with John 6:54 (“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day”) the Holy Spirit lets us know that when Christ said “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood” He was talking about believing on Him, not physical eating. [Note: Because the Jews believed that the Messiah would give them manna from heaven, Jesus made it clear that He was the heavenly manna, and that they could only receive life through His death.]

    By comparing (John 6:40) (“every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day”), with John 12:48 (“the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day”) the Holy Spirit tells us that Christ will raise up believers and judge the world on the last day. [The day that He returns (2Timothy 4:1).]

    By comparing Romans 3:28 (“a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”), with Galatians 3:6 (“Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness”) the Holy Spirit tells us that the faith by which we are justified, consists of believing God’s promise (just as Abraham did).


    By comparing various statements in the Book of Revelation with what the Bible says elsewhere, the Holy Spirit unfolds the meaning of John’s vision. For example: By comparing Revelation 12:1-2 (the woman “travailing in birth”), with Isaiah 66:8 (Zion in travail) the Holy Spirit lets us know that the woman is a personification of Jerusalem.
    Then, by comparing Revelation 12:16 (“her seed… have the testimony of Jesus Christ”), with Galatians 4:26 (“Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all”) the Holy Spirit tells us that He is speaking of the heavenly Jerusalem, not the earthly Jerusalem.

    In chapter seventeen (Revelation 17:7-18) an angel explains part of the vision to John. Thus, by comparing verse one (“the great whore that sitteth upon many waters”), with verse fifteen (“The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues”) the Holy Spirit teaches us that the waters symbolized peoples and multitudes, not literal water.

    By comparing verse three (“I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast… having seven heads and ten horns”), with verse nine (“The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth”) the Holy Spirit teaches us that the heads of the beast symbolized mountains.

    By comparing verses three to five (“I saw a woman… And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT”), with verse eighteen (“the woman which thou sawest is [present tense] that great city, which reigneth [present tense] over the kings of the earth”) the Holy Spirit tells us that “Mystery, Babylon the Great” is the city that was reigning over the kings of the earth at the time the angel was speaking, namely Rome.
    And, by comparing those same two verses [Revelation 17:5 and 18] with Revelation 14:8 (“Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city”), the Holy Spirit teaches us that the anti-Christian system described in Revelation 13:1–14:8, has to do with the city of Rome.

    The explanation provided by the angel makes it clear that John was not seeing actual historical events, but a vision that used earthly pictures to depict the spiritual realities behind certain events of history.

    By comparing Revelation 20:6 (“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power”) with Colossians 3:1 (“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above”) the Holy Spirit tells us that the “first resurrection” is the transformation from being dead in trespasses and sins to new life in Christ. [See also Ephesians 2:1, 6, Colossians 2:12.]

    By comparing John 18:36 (“My kingdom is not of this world”), with Revelation 20:6 (“they shall… reign with him a thousand years”) the Holy Spirit tells us that those who reign with Christ will not be reigning on “this world.”


    As you compare each passage with what the Bible says elsewhere, it is important to stick to what is written and resist the temptation to read more into the text than what is actually there. Those who read their own ideas into the text, interpret passages in the “light” of their own private interpretations, and make up explanations that are not in the text are serving Satan, not God. In fact, false prophets often wax eloquent in doing just that. Nevertheless, you can recognize them by the fact that they read unscriptural ideas into the text, change the meaning of the words, and explain away anything that does not agree with their ideas (2Peter 1:20).

    Because the Holy Ghost has forbidden private interpretation, if He gave you your own private explanation of a passage, He would be leading you to go contrary to His written Word, and that is something that He will never do (Isaiah 8:20, 2Peter 1:20). Therefore, those who assume that every idea that pops into their mind (when they are reading the Bible) is from the Holy Spirit, open themselves up to satanic influence (Ezekiel 13:17). Moreover, because God has included in Scripture everything that we need to know to be saved, any addition to what is written only serves to obscure the gospel.


    We live in an age of great spiritual wickedness, an age in which false prophets grow rich by passing the imagination of their own heart off as the Word of God. Blatant deceivers fleece God’s sheep while imagining that they will escape His judgment. Nevertheless, they are without excuse, for deep in their heart they know that what they are saying is their own opinion, not what the Bible says. In contrast, bind yourself to the words of Scripture, shun private interpretation, and let Scripture interpret itself by allowing the clear passages to cast light on those that are less clear.