Blessings to you, the readers of this page, in Jesus Christ our Lord. May He guide you and protect you always.

Two Kinds Of Truth In The Bible: Literal And Poetic

By Rev. Bill McGinnis, Pastor -
Director - Internet Church Of Christ -

       "Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?" (John 18:38a KJV)
There are two kinds of truth in the Bible: literal truth, which is material truth; and poetic truth, which is spiritual truth.

Literal truth corresponds to material reality as it occurs in the real world of physical matter. Poetic truth corresponds to spiritual reality as it occurs in realm of spirit. We discern literal truth by means of our human understanding, based on the workings of our conscious minds. We discern poetic truth by means of our spirit.

The Bible recognizes these two kinds of truth and the two different ways they are discerned.

      "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:
       for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,
       because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV)
The Bible contains both literal truth and poetic truth: truth of the world, and truth of the spirit. Poetic truth does not depend on a corresponding material reality or event. Material truth does not depend on a corresponding spiritual reality.

All of the parables of Jesus are poetic truth, not literal truth. There never was the one actual particular Good Samaritan who helped the man injured by robbers, as described in the Parable Of The Good Samaritan. There never was the one actual particular father whose lost son came home to him, as described in The Parable Of The Prodigal Son. And so on with all of the parables of Jesus: they do not depend on literal truth. Literal truth is irrelevant to their meaning. The idea does not depend on the actual event. The parables were never intended to be taken as literal truth, but as spiritual truth.

In contrast, the actions of Jesus, as reported in the four Gospels, are literally true. Jesus was born in a stable; His mother was a virgin named Mary; He did teach and preach for several years; He did perform the miracles as described in the Bible; He was falsely convicted of a crime and cruelly executed; three days later He rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples, giving them instructions. All of these things are literally true. They actually happened in the real world and were documented by humans using their natural faculties.

In the book of Revelation, almost everything is poetic truth. Almost the entire book describes a spiritual vision that was received and experienced by John. Visions are by their nature spiritual, not material. Revelation is pure poetry, of the highest order. Revelation can be discerned only by the spirit. You cannot possibly understand Revelation by means of normal human knowledge. Don't even try. It is pure spiritual truth.

Some parts of the Bible are literal truth only, with no poetic content at all. The books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles, for instance, are history texts, literally true in all regards.

In the book of Genesis, literal truth and poetic truth are intermingled. Literal truths -- facts which actually happened -- are expressed in poetic form. The poetic descriptions are not literally true, but they illustrate the various underlying material realities.

Genesis contains important basic ideas which God wants us to have. And Moses expressed these ideas in terms of stories which his people could easily understand and remember: the Creation, the Fall Of Man, the Great Flood, the Tower Of Babel, and the other stories in Genesis.

The literal truth is that God created the universe in six distinct stages, culminating in the creation of Man. The poetical story of Creation in Genesis conveys this literal truth in poetic form.

The literal truth is that earliest Mankind rebelled against God and was cut off from Him. The poetical story of Adam And Eve conveys this literal truth in poetic form.

The literal truth is that God became angry with Man, and killed most people (in the area) in a great flood, saving only a select few. The story of Noah's Ark expresses this literal truth in poetic form.

The literal truth is that God deliberately confused the languages of Man so that Mankind would not become too powerful and arrogant. The poetical story of the Tower Of Babel expresses this literal truth in poetic form.

It is very important for Christians to understand these two kinds of truth in the Bible. The Enemy, Satan is out there constantly, trying to deceive people. Satan tries to make people believe that literal truth is the only kind of truth there is. Then, when parts of the Bible are shown to be not literally true, Satan claims the whole thing is untrue and it should be disregarded entirely! If Christians then try to say the Bible is literally true in all respects, they are dismissed as ignorant crackpots. Thus much of the educated world is kept away from Jesus by our failure to recognize the two kinds of truth in the Bible.

May our Lord Jesus Christ give us whatever degree of understanding we need in order to help lead all people to Him.

Blessings to you in Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are
A Service Of http://Internet Church Of Christ -

Blessings to you. May God help us all.

       Rev. Bill McGinnis, Director -

If you are looking for a spiritual home, please visit our website at => Internet Church Of Christ
*** Bible-Based, Christian, Progressive, Universalist ***

All of our original content on all of our web pages is in the Public Domain. You may link to these pages by any means you choose, including "framing."


"Seeking The Greatest Good For The Greatest Number, With Basic Rights For All."
Search all pages in The Network,
using the search box below . . .

For list of suggested searches, click => HERE!

See what we do => On The Web

To support us, please visit the advertisers appearing on our pages.

We are . . . Internet Church Of Christ - - Teaching the practical Christian life.
"Treat Others As You Would Like To Be Treated."

You can follow Rev. Bill McGinnis on Twitter, at =>

God's One Law For All Mankind: "Love All People As Yourself."