Foundation Topic

Is the Bible Clear?

The clarity of Scripture (perspicuity) means that anybody can understand it. No matter the reader’s education, culture, or age, the Bible is clear enough for the reader to make sense of its teachings and to live accordingly.  You can understand it. God wants you to know him, so the most important claims of Scripture are plain.

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What Do You Mean When You Say the Bible Is Clear?

The Clarity of Scripture—sometimes known by the older word “perspicuity” (Which, for a word that means clarity, is not all that clear)—is carefully defined in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF):

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (WCF 1.7)

It’s worth noticing several important nuances in this definition.

First, some portions of Scripture are clearer than others. Not every passage has a simple or obvious meaning.

Second, the main things we need to know, believe, and do can be clearly seen in the Bible.

Third, though the most essential doctrines are not equally clear in every passage, they are all made clear somewhere in Scripture.

Fourth, that which is necessary for our salvation can be understood even by the uneducated, provided that they make use of the ordinary means of study and learning.

Fifth, the most important points in the Scriptures may not be understood perfectly, but they can be understood sufficiently.

The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture is not a wild assertion that the meaning of every verse in the Bible will be patently obvious to everyone.

Rather, the perspicuity of Scripture upholds the notion that ordinary people using ordinary means can accurately understand enough of what must be known, believed, and observed for them to be faithful Christians.

Content taken from Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung, ©2016. Used by permission of Crossway.


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Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach...No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.


Can I Understand the Bible?

The Clarity of Scripture

The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it.
Article: 10 Min

What Is The Clarity of Scripture?

by Don Stewart at Blue Letter Bible

Video: 5 Min
by Kevin Deyoung at The Gospel Coalition

The Scriptures
are shallow enough
for a babe to come and drink
without fear of drowning
and deep enough for theologians to swim in
without ever touching the bottom.

by David Platt, 40 Minutes

The unfolding
of your words
gives light;
it gives understanding
to the simple.

Psalm 119:130 NIV

Believe, That You May Understand

Is it reasonable to take God’s word and believe that he has spoken the truth, even though I cannot fully comprehend what he has said? The question carries its own answer. We should not abandon faith in anything God has taught us merely because we cannot solve all the problems which it raises. Our own intellectual competence is not the test and measure of divine truth. It is not for us to stop believing because we lack understanding, but to believe in order that we may understand.

by J.I. Packer in his book, "'Fundamentalism' and the Word of God" | Source

It’s not hard
to understand;
it’s just hard to swallow.

2 Peter 3:15-16 ESV

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Article: 10 Min

Why Is It So Hard for Me to Understand the Bible?

by Kevin Halloran at Anchored in Christ


Scripture is
clear enough
to make us responsible
for carrying out
our present
to God.

Article: 8 Min

Four Things At Stake If We Deny
the Clarity of Scripture

by Kevin DeYoung, contributed by our Friends at Crossway

1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NLT

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.


God is not
the author
of confusion
but of peace.

1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV