The hermeneutical (Bible interpretation) approach we use to study and interpret the Bible holds immense significance. The two commonly known approaches to Bible study are exegesis and eisegesis. Exegesis (the best approach) means “to draw meaning from a text ” while eisegesis means “to read meaning into a text”.

In case you’re itching with curiosity about these two approaches, no worries. I have written an in-depth post about them here. In this blog post, however, we are going to talk about another popular approach known as narcigesis. 

While I do believe it is often used unintentionally by some, narcigesis can be quite problematic, to say the least. As such, we’ll delve into why it’s a wrong approach to Bible study.

What is Narcigesis?

Narcigesis, theologians coined this term to spotlight a rather peculiar habit of interpreting Scripture through self-centered lenses. Also known as narcissistic eisegesis, narcigesis is a combination of the words “narcissism” and “eisegesis”. 

Narcissism can be described as “a self-centered personality where one is excessively preoccupied with themselves and their needs”. Eisegesis, on the other hand, is “the practice of interpreting Scripture by reading one’s own preconceived notions and biases into the text”.

“You can’t insert yourself into any and every verse or biblical narrative and make it about you. That’s not exegesis, that’s “narcigesis”.”
J.E. White

Simply put, narcigesis happens when we inject ourselves into the Scriptures. It usually involves reading oneself into the Bible so you’re the star of specific Bible stories or passages. This happens when you presume that somehow your life’s struggles are hidden between the lines of the Scriptures and every promise made in it is something you can personally cling to, making it about you. It’s a bit like taking a selfie with the Bible, if you will.

Perhaps this explanation of narcigesis by Pastor, Chris Rosebrough will help drive my point home even better:

“The Primary Assumption of Narcigesis is that Every Bible story is about YOU. And, since YOU struggle with setbacks, problems and challenges that keep YOU from achieving YOUR maximal greatness that means that the Bible is really all about giving YOU a road map that YOU can follow to achieve YOUR dreams and god-given destiny.”

As you can see narcigesis, involves entering the Word to see yourself, rather than Jesus. It’s often done to enforce positive thoughts, motivation, personal success, and a sense of heroism in one’s life. In other words, it’s reading the Bible purely for self-esteem. Granted it’s quite the confidence booster, but it does nothing for the soul.

In a culture where the self is revered and self-love is the “gospel”. It should come as no surprise that this is one of the most prevalent methods of improper Bible interpretation in modern churches and Bible studies today. 

Thanks to narcigesis, we tend to hijack the Scriptures to make it so that God exists for us and not the other way around. In so doing, the Scriptures are easily reduced into a self-help book. And that’s exactly what we see happening in pulpits today.

The sacred spaces of the faith are filled with man-centered doctrines and sermons that could very well make for a ted-talk where the spotlight shines on you, your success story, and your general awesomeness.

The Bible is not About You

One of the most “narcigeted” stories of the Bible is that of David and Goliath ( I Sam 17). Too often, we interpret this passage by slipping into David’s shoes (after all, he is the hero). And suddenly our life’s hurdles become Goliaths to be toppled with by faith. 

By doing this, we miss out on the bigger picture; the fact that this story is primarily about God’s unwavering faithfulness. And not just a manual on how to catapult faith at our problems. More than that, David in this account, serves as a type of Jesus, the Messiah, who would one day save Israel and the world. But this profound illustration takes the backseat when we interpret this account through me-centered metaphoric lenses.

In essence, when we “narciget” this story, we end up unintentionally dimming the spotlight on God’s faithfulness and zooming in on our Goliath-sized dilemmas.

But here’s the thing, the story of David and Goliath is not about you. While David’s faith is worthy of emulation, he also provides us with a glimpse of the Messiah. And Goliath isn’t our metaphorical life hurdle; he serves as a backdrop to display God’s faithfulness. 

Likewise, the story of Joseph’s dreams is not a lesson on being careful who you share your dreams with. Jeremiah 29:11 is not a promise from God that nothing bad will ever occur in your life neither is Philippians 4:13 a promise that God will make you good at sports. Unfortunately, these are the conclusions we come to when we “narciget” the Bible.

Who the Bible is About

The central figure of the Bible is Jesus Christ. He is the main character, we are merely playing the supporting role. 

In John 5:39, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “ You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;”. In Luke 24:44, He said to His disciples, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

“The Bible is a book about Jesus. It is the story of free forgiveness and of new life, granted to those who have done nothing to deserve it and who could never in three lifetimes achieve it.”
Alistair Begg

The entire Bible points to Jesus! The entire Bible bears witness about Him! It then goes without saying that the only way to properly interpret the Scriptures correctly is in light of His life, death, and resurrection. When we study the Bible intending to see how it speaks to our personal experiences we end up forming a skewed perspective on God, Christ, and miss the Bible’s message. 

A woman in a black shirt sitting and drinking coffee while reading the Bible using the narcigesis approach

Yet, let’s be honest, when a person’s self-esteem is inflated and their egos are massaged courtesy of Bible narcigesis the fact that sin exists, the necessity of repentance, God’s sovereignty, and the grace of God made available in Christ are all almost entirely ignored. We end up patting ourselves on the back and missing the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

But wait, don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that the Bible doesn’t speak of us. It absolutely does. Since we are involved in God’s story, Scripture naturally applies to us. It is not merely a historical account with no relevance to us. But here’s the thing, to see ourselves correctly in the Scriptures, we have to interpret it in relation to our savior, Jesus Christ.

And guess what? When we do this, the fog lifts. We won’t see ourselves as David slaying the giant, or Gideon defeating the Midianites, or Moses parting the Red Sea, or Daniel coming out of the den of lions unscathed. Instead of reading ourselves into the stories of the heroes of the faith (Heb 11), we learn from the godly examples they set for us. And most importantly, we learn about the nature and character of God who was at work in their lives.


Now that we’ve delved deeper into the problematic terrain of narcigesis, you can see why it’s easy to fall into its trap. It’s an alluring path that promises self-esteem, motivation, and personal success. But in doing so, we sacrifice the true message of the Scriptures.

Yet, the antidote to narcigesis is not to deny our rightful place in the Scriptures. But rather, to embrace it through the lens of Christ. The Bible is an intricate tapestry that beautifully weaves the story of humanity’s redemption through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He is the centerpiece, the culmination of the OT prophecies, and the fulfillment of God’s promise (Gen 3:15).

One more thing, to study and interpret the Bible correctly, takes time and effort. You have to apply sound study methods and let the text speak for itself within its historical, and cultural contexts (exegesis).

Unfortunately, being a microwave generation, instant gratification is the name of the game. And sadly, we’ve allowed this way of thinking to leak into how we approach our Bible study. Hence, narcigesis.

By neglecting the context, authorial intent, and the broader theological framework, we end up with distorted interpretations, shallow understanding, and the reinforcement of personal biases. So, let’s put away the quick-fix mentality and give the Bible the time and effort it deserves,

Wanna approach your Bible study correctly? below are a few articles I have written to help you do just that:

Listen to Pastor Chris Rosebrough speak on narcigesis:


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