Bible study is an integral part of the Christian life. And seeking the knowledge of God should be our lifelong commitment. In seeking to interpret and understand what the Bible says, the approach used in studying it is crucial. 

There are two contrasting hermeneutical methods used in biblical interpretation namely: exegesis and eisegesis. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the depths of these two approaches. We’ll explore their definitions, differences, and the impact they have on our understanding of Scripture.

Exegesis: Drawing Out the Meaning of a Text

Exegesis means “to draw out” or “to explain.”  It is an approach to Bible study that focuses on understanding the author’s intended meaning of a text by taking into consideration the text’s historical, cultural, and literary contexts. Simply put, exegesis is all about allowing the Bible to say what God intended it to say. 

Exegesis upholds the text’s integrity by recognizing that the author intended to convey a certain message. And that each book was meant to serve a particular purpose. It acknowledges that the books of the Bible were penned within certain historical and cultural circumstances. And the authors sought to address the difficulties and problems of that day. 

Therefore, the goal of exegesis is to not only uncover the author’s intended meaning but also, to understand the message of a text as the original audience would have interpreted it. It is by striving to grasp the intended meaning of the biblical text, that we are able to apply the scriptures correctly in our context. 

Eisegesis: Reading Meaning Into the Text

On the other hand, eisegesis means “to lead in” or “to import.” It involves reading one’s own interpretations and preconceived notions, biases, and opinions into the biblical text. Rather than allowing the text to speak for itself. Often, eisegesis is used when one begins with a belief or a topic and looks for Scriptures to support it.

“The fact is, we sometimes read scripture, thinking of what it ought to say, rather than what it does say.”
Charles Spurgeon

Eisegesis can be problematic since it ignores the text’s historical and cultural context as well as the author’s intended meaning. It instead focuses on cherry-picking verses to support one’s personal viewpoints, often neglecting the broader context of the passage.

This approach runs the risk of causing misinterpretation, misapplication, misrepresentation, and the creation of false doctrines.

An Example of Exegesis Vs. Eisegesis at Play

To help us understand these two approaches to better, we are going to apply them to a verse that Christians throughout the world hold dear: Jeremiah 29:11.

It says,

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

While Jeremiah 29:11 holds a valuable promise, it’s one of the most eisegeted verses in Scripture. Here is how:

An eisegesis of Jeremiah 29:11

Many people interpret this verse to mean that God has an easy and smooth life planned out for us.

More often than not, this verse is seen as a guarantee to good health, wealth, and prosperity. According to this understanding, pain, and suffering are not to be expected in the Christian life. All we are to expect are good things from God. After all, suffering is a form of evil, isn’t it?

When taken out of context, it’s not hard to see why this verse would be interpreted this way. However, this interpretation of Jeremiah 29:11 is fundamentally flawed because it ignores the context of the verse. As a result, it’s ME-centered.

It’s concerned about what God can and will do for us and our comfort. But Jeremiah 29:11 is not intended to be taken as a general promise of material prosperity. At least not according to its broader context.

An exegesis of Jeremiah 29:11

So, what is the intended meaning of Jeremiah 29:11? Well, for us to know, we have to ask ourselves the following:

  • Who wrote the text? 
  • What was the historical setting? 
  • What was the subject being addressed in the passage of the text? 
  • What did the text mean to the people who first heard it?

Please check out our blog post on “ 6 Principles for Interpreting the Bible Correctly” for more tips on how to interpret the Bible correctly.

Jeremiah 29:11 was written by the prophet Jeremiah to the children of Israel (Judah) who were being held captive in Babylon at the time. Prior to that, Jeremiah had pleaded with them to turn from their idolatry and wrongdoing warning them of God’s impending judgment. But they turned a deaf ear and insisted on their sin. As a result, God punished them by sending them into exile.

Therefore, Jeremiah 29 was God’s message to the Judahites through the Prophet Jeremiah. At the time, there had arisen false prophets proclaiming that God would soon set His people free. But these were lies because God had a different message.

Instead of setting them free, God tells His people to build houses and settle down in Babylon for they would not leave Babylon until 70 years were complete. As you can imagine, this must have been a bitter pill to swallow. 

Furthermore, this must have been a huge blow to those who knew that they would not live to see this freedom. It was in the middle of this not-so-good news that Jeremiah 29:11 comes in to comfort God’s people.

Considering its context, it’s safe to say that Jeremiah 29:11 is not a specific promise addressed to us. Rather, it was written to people who were going through extremely difficult circumstances. That although their exile would be prolonged, there remained a glimmer of hope; after 70 years, God would bring them back home. 

It was a gentle reminder to the Israelites of Judah that God’s purpose for them was still good even in their punishment, even though things may not have made sense at the time. And later on, in the book of Nehemiah, we see that God kept His word.

So, does that imply that we as Christians can in no way apply this verse? Not at all. The application to us is very beautiful but indirect. 

First, this verse provides a profound insight into the nature of God. It reassures us that even when we are going through difficult and dark times, God still has a good plan for us and He will work everything for our good (Rom 8:28).

It also reminds us that even when circumstances seem out of hand or they don’t make sense, God is still in control. This insight instills a sense of confidence and trust in the fact that, regardless of external uncertainties, God’s providence remains unwavering.

Furthermore, the verse reinforces the reliability of God’s promises. Therefore, in light of these truths, we are prompted to anchor our hope in God.

Clearly, this scripture does not assure us of material prosperity or that life will be simple for us and we will have whatever we want. It doesn’t guarantee a suffering-free existence. In fact, the reverse is true. We are certain to experience difficulties on this side of eternity (1 Peter 4:12-13; John 16:33).

But we are to trust in God knowing that His plans for us are for our welfare and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope.

The Impact of Exegesis Vs. Eisegesis on Bible Study

The distinction between exegesis and eisegesis significantly influences our understanding of the Bible. Exegesis allows us to comprehend the scriptures in their original context, honoring the author’s intended meaning, and fostering a more accurate understanding of God’s Word.

In contrast, eisegesis can result in a subjective interpretation based on the reader’s biases rather than the Bible’s actual message. By reading one’s own ideas into the text, readers risk distorting the true meaning of a text and potentially propagating teachings that deviate from what the Bible teaches.

Not only do readers run the danger of distorting the text’s meaning, but they also risk missing the richness of its intended message and limiting the transformative power of the Scriptures altogether.



In summary, exegesis and eisegesis represent contrasting approaches to Bible study. Exegesis seeks to draw out the original meaning of the text while eisegesis involves reading personal interpretations into the text.

By embracing exegesis, we uphold the authority of the Bible and provide ourselves access to a deeper understanding of God’s Word. Exegesis fosters humility, intellectual growth, and a dedication to the pursuit of truth. Let’s make an effort to exercise exegesis in our Bible study, allowing the scriptures to illuminate our minds and transform our lives.

While exegesis should form the bedrock of sound biblical interpretation, it doesn’t mean that personal insights and reflections are of no value. By grounding our understanding in solid exegesis we can then incorporate personal reflections in light of the intended meaning of the text. Hence, enriching our ability to apply the Scriptures.

That said, as we seek to understand the Scriptures, it’s crucial to acknowledge that understanding their actual meaning requires a complete reliance on the Holy Spirit; the author of God’s word.


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