Balancing the Sword - A comprehensive study guide to life's manual
Perfect to frame the discussions of your family worship or a church-wide study.


Buy Now


Reading Planner

Vocabulary Tool





Study Support








Tell a Friend


Bookmark and Share


Definition of word.

reader's point of view
read-er's point of view

The reader's point of view is the point of view (i.e., opinions and emotions) held by the audience or the reader.  (The narrator communicates to the narratee or narratees.)  How does the reader view the topic?  Every person has a mental grid and emotional undercurrents through which literature is viewed.  The reader’s or narratee’s conscience and subconscious presuppositions influence his interpretation of an author's entire work.  The reader's background knowledge substantially shapes the reader's point of view.

A writer might publish his work for the benefit of all and with no one in particular in mind.  In such a case, all readers of the same language living contemporaneously with (and sometimes after) the writer are members of the originally intended audience.  In distinction, if an author writes for or to a specific individual or group (e.g., a 2012 congressional report for members of the 112th U.S. Congress), readers become divided between the original audience and the secondary audience.  Therefore, the reader's point of view is appropriately divided into two classifications:  the original reader's point of view and the secondary reader's point of view.  A skillful author, who writes with a foreknown audience, crafts words to best communicate with his intended audience.  The author will presume upon the reader’s background knowledge and the reader’s opinions and emotions (or, point of view).  The mature writer will harness the reader’s agreements and persuade the reader’s disagreements.

Many books in the Bible and sections within biblical books were for or to special classes or subgroups (e.g., priests, Levites, kings and princes, prophets, church elders, men, women, children, masters, slaves, etc.). The apostle Paul's letters are clear examples of writings authored for named audiences. 

  • Romans was written "[t]o all that be in Rome" (Ro. 1:7).
  • 1 Corinthians was written "[u]nto the church of God which is at Corinth" (1Co. 1:2).
  • 2 Corinthians was written "unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia" (2Co. 1:1).
  • Galatians was written "unto the churches of Galatia" (Gal. 1:2).
  • Ephesians was written "to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 1:1).
  • Philippians was written "to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons" (Php. 1:1).
  • Colossians was written "[t]o the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse" (Col. 1:2).
  • 1 Thessalonians was written "unto the church of the Thessalonians" (1Th. 1:1).
  • 2 Thessalonians was written "unto the church of the Thessalonians" (2Th. 1:1).
  • 1 Timothy was written "[u]nto Timothy, my own son in the faith" (1Ti. 1:2).
  • 2 Timothy was written "[t]o Timothy, my dearly beloved son" (2Ti. 1:2).
  • Titus was written "[t]o Titus, mine own son after the common faith" (Tit. 1:4).
  • Philemon was written "unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house" (Phm. 1-2).

Original audiences have obvious advantages over subsequent readers who are at risk for lacking important background knowledge or distant opinions and emotions. Generally, the secondary reader’s point of view diminishes in quality with increased estrangement (i.e., distance by ideology, ethnicity, gender, time, culture, etc.). To clarify, the unbelieving female reader from a modern Western culture is at greater risk for misunderstanding an Old Testament passage written to ancient, Near-Eastern Hebrew men than the originally intended readers. 

Today's readers hold one distinct advantage of a canon of sixty-six books.  It is reasonable to assume that most individuals who lived during the days of the Old Testament and the New Testament authors owned no personal copies of the biblical books or owned limited collections.

Apostolic letters were intended for circulation:   "And when this [Colossians] epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea" (Col. 4:16).  Furthermore, Hebrews 1:1 opens stating that "God ... spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets...."  The Old Testament prophets were not accounted, by the apostle Peter, as the principal author of their works.  "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2Pe. 1:20-21).  The Jews held an advantage above all nations in that "chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God" (Ro. 3:2).  Although entrusted to the Jews, according to the apostle Paul, the Old Testament canon was also for the benefit of the New Testament faithful.  "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning..." (Ro. 15:4; cf., Ro. 4:23-24; 1Co. 9:9-10; 10:6, 11; 2Ti. 3:16-17).

Bear in mind that the normal purpose of reading is to understand the writer's meaning; therefore, all readers should constantly ask, What purpose, point of view, and background knowledge did the author have?  The reader who is unconscious of his point of view is in danger of imposing his emotions and opinions onto the words to the obfuscation of the writer's meaning.

See the following links to learn more:

  1. point of view
  2. author's point of view
  3. narrator's point of view
  4. character's point of view

Author: Allen B. Wolfe

Buy Balancing the Sword!

Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.