Here is our final three types of figurative language.
(20) Parable: to translate this literally, it means to lay one thing beside another. It’s an extended smilie. Jesus frequently taught this way. It’s a story that has parallels to real life and teaches a moral lesson. You have to be very carful not to push the details too far.
(21) Allegory: this is an extended metaphor. The difference between a parable and an allegory is that with an allegory, one thing is called something else, where as with a parable, that thing is compared to the other.
(22) Phenomenal Language: this is a description of something as it popularly appears. It’s important to note that the Bible does use this kind of language. When John describes heaven in Revelation, he uses terms like gold that is so pure that it’s clear. Does this mean that the streets will really be paved with gold? Probably not, only that what we value most will be as dirt in the kingdom.
It’s vital to realize that it’s not enough to simply state that you believe the Bible “means what it says…” After all, what you mean by that is that the Bible “means what it says… TO ME.” We need to try very hard to avoid subjective interpretations like this. Seek to place a priority on the original language, identify the figures of speech being used, and keep in perspective the other 7 principles of Biblical Hermeneutics (stay tuned…).