If we interpret something literally that the author intended to be understood figuratively, then we will misunderstand the text. When Jesus said “I am the door” (John 10:9), He did not mean that He was made of wood with hinges attached to His side. Conversely, if we interpret something figuratively that the author intended to be taken literally, we will err. When Jesus said, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up” (Matthew 17:22–23), He clearly meant it just as literally as if I said to my wife, “Karlie, I’m going to fill up the gas tank with gas and will be back in a few minutes.”
when we read anything, we cannot input our own understanding of what the person is meaning when writing, that is to take away the actual meaning and purpose of the text. instead what we need to do, when reading the bible, is look for the literal meaning of everything. even in figurative language, we need to find the literal meaning to the figurative language. see the bible has two authors, humans and diving God. therefore human rules of interpretation and understand must be used, while also seeking the true heart of the divinely inspired work by the Holy Spirit.
when approaching the bible always interpret every word literally except when you come to figures of speech (i.e similes, metaphors, etc.) then seek the literal meaning of the author. there are 5 basic elements with the interpretation of scripture.
1) interpret the bible in light of its historical background
2) interpret the bible in light of the authors purpose and plan
3) interpret the bible verses in light of their context
4) interpret the bible within the authors meaning of words
5) interpret the bible according to grammer
A common question:
Did God create the whole universe, including the original plants, animals, and first two people (Adam and Eve) in six literal 24-hour days? Or did creation take place over millions of years?
To answer that, we should remember that the original readers of Genesis were not scientists or Hebrew scholars. Rather, they were former slaves—mostly uneducated— on their way to the Promised Land. The fathers were commanded to teach their children (Deuteronomy 6:1–7), so the Hebrew language in Genesis 1 must have been very clear to the common people, even to children.
When we look carefully at Genesis 1, in Hebrew or even in English, it is clear that God created everything in six literal (24-hour) days. First, we are told that He created the earth in darkness and then created light. Then He called the light “day” and He called the darkness “night.” And then He said (in the original Hebrew) “and [there] was evening and [there] was morning, one day.” He repeated the same statement at the end of the second day through the sixth day.
Everywhere else in the Old Testament, when the Hebrew word for “day” (םיוֹ, yom) appears with “evening” or “morning” or is modified by a number (e.g., “sixth day” or “five days”), it always means a 24-hour day.
On Day Four God further showed that these were literal days by telling us the purpose for which He created the sun, moon, and stars—so we could tell time: literal years, literal seasons, and literal days.
Then in Exodus 20:8–11 God commanded the Israelites to work six literal “days” and rest on the seventh because He created in six “days” (using the same Hebrew word).
Furthermore, Jesus and the New Testament apostles read Genesis 1–11 as straightforward historical narrative. There are additional good scholarly reasons for coming to that conclusion.1
There is no biblical or scientific reason to be ashamed of believing in a recent six-day creation. God has spoken clearly and truthfully. So we need to trust His Word over the false claims of sinful men.