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Scripture Reading:  Matthew 22:23-33

Using Necessary Inferences


1.  What is a necessary inference? Do they have any part to play in understanding God’s word and establishing divine authority for doctrine and practice?

2.  Or, is NI to be relegated to purely human logic and reason that cannot establish definitive authority?

3.  NI is not only under attack but rejected as patternism and self-defined legalism.

4.  We want to know what NI is and see it is a proper method of knowing and teaching God’s authoritative will.



   A.   Definition of Necessary Inference.

   B.   Jesus Endorsed and Used Necessary Inference, Lk 12:54-57.

   C.   Reasoning, Discerning and Arriving at Scriptural Conclusions, Isa 1:18; Mk 12:28; Acts 19:8.

   D.   Without NI, Many Issues Left to Personal Interpretation of Bible.



   1.   Necessary inference (NI) is a matter of judging “righteous judgment” (that is derived) from revealed truth, Jno 7:24.


      a.   NI deduced from what God has said in Scripture, Matt 22:31-32.

      b.   Every inference is not a necessary inference, Jno 21:20-23.

      c.   NI is not deduced from subjective sources such as feeling, personal conviction or conscience, Acts 26:9, 23:1.

      d.   Knowing NI is knowing the Scriptures. Matt 22:29, 31-32


   2.   NI will harmonize with all that is revealed and previously known to be true.

      a.   Example of an inference that was not necessary (that led to perverting truth) is found in 2 Pet 3:4-9:

         1)   Some said Lord was not returning because they inferred everything was as it has always been (3:4).  Their inference was flawed…they willfully failed to take into account:

            -The flood (3:5-7), and the nature of God (3:8-9).

         2)   Peter exposed their error, noting that they were “walking according to their own lusts” rather than from a determined resolve to do the will of God (3:3; Jno 7:16-17). 

         3)   When one is driven by his own lusts he is likely to draw unnecessary inferences that twists Scriptures (2 Pet 3:16).


   3.   NI is the only conclusion that can be inferred from what is said or done. 

      a.   Gen 1:1“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  We necessarily infer that God existed before the creation, although it is not stated; it is the natural and only conclusion inferred from what is said.

      b.   Gen 12:10; 13:1: Although Scripture does not overtly say that Lot went to Egypt with Abram, we necessarily infer it from the information that is provided:

         1)   Lot had traveled from Haran with Abram (Gen 11:31).

         2)   Lot traveled into Canaan with Abram (Gen 12:5).

         3)   Abram went down to Egypt (Gen 12:10).

         4)   When Abram left Egypt, Lot was with him (Gen 13:1).

              -(Hermeneutics, Dungan, 91-92)

      c.   Matt 3:16:  We necessarily infer that Jesus went down into the water before he “came up…from the water.”


   4.   NI is a conclusion or judgment that is inferred (discerned) from what is known, Luke 12:54-57.

      a.   They inferred “a shower is coming” when there was “a cloud rising out of the west”, Lk 12:54.

      b.   When they saw the south wind blow they inferred, “There will be hot weather” and were correct, Lk 12:55.

      c.   Jesus expects us to use NI to arrive at truth! – Lk 12:56-57

      d.   John 3:2: Nicodemus necessarily inferred that Jesus was a “teacher come from God” because:

         1)   Jesus was working miracles (signs)

         2)   Miracles only occur with the power and presence of God

         3)   Therefore, Nicodemus necessarily inferred that God had sent Jesus and was with Jesus.


   5.   NI is a decisive way of establishing Bible authority, Acts 15:12.

      a.   Illus. Authority for frequency of LS is based on NI, Acts 20:7.

      b.   Illus. Authority to allow remarriage is based on NI.

         1)   Matt 19:9: We necessarily infer from what is said that when fornication is the cause for putting away, the innocent does not commit adultery when he remarries.

         2)   Without NI there would be no scriptural remarriage.



1.  To conclude that NI is based merely on human logic and therefore we must accept differences is NOT a NECESSARY INFERENCE – it is ERROR.

2.  Develop spiritual discernment through using the word of God to be able to rightly apply it, Phil 1:9-10; 2 Tim 2:15; 1:13.





1.  “That which, though neither expressly stated nor specifically exemplified, [yet] is necessarily implied by the clear import and meaning of the language used.” (Walking by Faith, Cogdill, 14)


2.  “By ‘necessary inference’ we refer to truths that are not directly or expressly stated, but must necessarily follow as a logical conclusion from what is stated. But the term ‘necessary inference’ sometimes confuses people, so we will also refer to that same concept by other terms, such as ‘Scriptural reasoning’ or ‘necessary, logical conclusions.’” -David Pratte, The Authority of Scriptural Reasoning,





The Legalistic Leap of CENI
(May Human Deduction = Divine Decree?)


For those unfamiliar with the term in the title of this article, CENI merely refers to a specific hermeneutical theory, largely embraced by those who have a tendency toward legalism and patternism, the major tenets of which are: Command, Example, Necessary Inference. The primary problem with this one particular interpretative theory is the inherent tendency toward inconsistency with regard to application, especially with respect to the establishment of religious authority. Few disciples have any real argument with the use of divine commands contained in Scripture to ascertain the will of God. The problem arises with how, and to what extent, one employs biblical examples and human inferences to determine and establish binding decrees applicable to all of mankind throughout the ages. Does such selective, subjective use of examples and the accrued assumptions of fallible men have the right to assume the status of regulatory LAW over the disciples of Christ? And just who gets to determine which examples apply? Who’s assumptions and deductions are to be equated with divine decree, and who’s are not? And who gets to decide? Each group of patternists and legalists, of course, insist their deductions from Scripture are TRUTH, and that which is inferred by others is FALSEHOOD. It doesn’t take a genius to see how such a hermeneutical approach to the establishment of one’s Faith leads far more frequently to the establishment of Factions-Al Maxey,