Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the Week: Perspicuity of Scripture

By Elizabeth Prata

Knowing and understanding our historical theological words helps the next generation continue the thread of common understanding of our great faith. Hence the Word of the Week.

I’ve been asked for the list of all the essays I’ve written of the Word of the Week. The list is below the picture at bottom. You can also search category “Word of the Week”.

This week’s Word is Perspicuity of Scripture. Do we need “Bible codes”? Is scripture unclear enough so that only a few, more intelligent or higher-up, can understand it? It is too much to expect that the layman study it?

No. No. And no.

The perspicuity of scripture means that the Bible can be understood by anyone. The Holy Spirit illuminates it to us. For the most part, scripture is clear, if one studies it properly (and is saved, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” 2 Corinthians 4:3, also 2 Corinthians 3:14).

Yes, Peter said that Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, (2 Peter 3:16), but scripture itself can be understood clearly, without codes, mystics, or pretzel logic.

The Lord gave the word to Nicodemus, The Teacher of Israel and to the brilliant Paul, and He also gave it to fishermen and shepherds.

Larry D. Pettegrew
Professor of Theology

The basic doctrine means that the Bible can be understood by people through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and that people need to search the Scripture and judge for themselves what it means. Scripture itself attests its own perspicuity, but not to the point that it cannot be misunderstood or is in every point equally simple and clear. The doctrine does not rule out the need for interpretation, explanation, and exposition of the Bible by qualified leaders.

The doctrine does mean that Scripture is clear enough for the simplest person, deep enough for highly qualified readers, clear in its essential matters, obscure in some places to people because of their sinfulness, understandable through ordinary means, understandable by an unsaved person on an external level, understandable in its significance by a saved person through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and available to every believer whose faith must rest on the Scriptures.

Further reading

Grace to You: The Clarity of Scripture part 1

Ligonier: The Clarity of Scripture

bible with glasses

Previous and future entries in the Word of the Week Series:






Perspicuity of scripture 










Fruit of the Spirit, Love

Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness

Fruit of the Spirit, Faithfulness

Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit, Kindness 

Fruit of the Spirit, Patience 

Fruit of the Spirit, Joy

Fruit of the Spirit, Self-control 

Fruit of the Spirit, Peace 


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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