Yet, human communication cannot be reduced solely to quantifiable and precise rules. Not going beyond the simple meaning of words is extremely important for biblical interpretation. Scripture is to be interpreted with confidence in and openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Interpret the unclear passages in Scripture in light of the clear. Build all doctrine on necessary rather than possible inferences. I feel the weight and privilege of this calling immensely. The Rule of Univocal Meaning Rule. Category: Articles. It is necessary. The Jews would wash their hands before touching the sacred scrolls, because these scrolls were seen as Divinely inspired. Oct 13, 2014 However, the idea that the Bible can teach anything we want it to is not true if we approach the Scriptures humbly, trying to hear what the Bible says for itself. 8. (1) Approach the Bible believing that it is God’s revealed Word. But it … The passage quoted in the NT is Psalm 82:6. The Next 500 Years: 2017 National Conference, Naming Ligonier the Beneficiary of a Bank or Investment Account, Gifts That Provide Income and Tax Benefits, Practical Principles of Biblical Interpretation. The Bible interprets itself (scripture interprets scripture). Men spoke and wrote the Bible as they were led by the Holy Spirit. But what is true for the preacher is also true for every Christian. God inspired the Bible A. Therefore, before someone stands in a pulpit to preach or teach the Word of God, he needs to make sure he has interpreted the text correctly. Donate Now. Historical Setting (avoid anachronism – trying to understand the past while viewing it wearing 21st century glasses – will not help toward understanding the original meaning of the author). 7. Nor is there any such mystical ability we call “Holy Ghost Greek.” No, the Bible is to be interpreted according to the ordinary rules of language. Let me share my presuppositions about the Bible again.a. If it is the Word of God, one may justly expect the entire Bible to be coherent, intelligible, and unified. The rule of USAGE: It must be remembered that the Old Testament was written originally by, to and … Here are four insightful quotes in this regard: “The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting what an author has written. Always check the immediate context of a verse or passage to determine the correct interpretation. Using Biblical hermeneutics, we can use certain principles to help us not become becoming smoking relativist in our interpretation! Historical narrative is historical narrative, nouns are nouns, verbs are verbs, analogies are analogies). INTERPRETATION. 46:9-10). (2) Aim to discover the meaning of the original text. This is where the art of interpretation enters in. Interpret the Scriptures literally unless you have good reason to believe that they are figurative. pope based on their interpretation of Matthew 16:18. The first and foremost step in the course of interpretation is to examine the language and the literal meaning of the statute. The Bible is a book written by God. No special, secret, arcane, esoteric meaning is poured into a text simply because it’s divinely inspired. Is the verse telling us to do something, or does it describe an action someone does? Though knowing these rules would be helpful, I’m sure we would agree that there’s far more that is needed. At the time of the Reformation, to stop unbridled, speculative, and fanciful interpretations of Scripture, the Reformers set forth the fundamental axiom that should govern all biblical interpretation. Textual Issues – (are there any questions about the earliest or most authoritative manuscripts in comparison with others of a later date – and how does this influence our understanding of what was originally written?). in-tur-pre-ta'-shun: 1. A particular biblical text has a particular meaning. Just having this concept in place would greatly help us in our Bible studies. Referred specifically to the sacred Scriptures, the science of interpretation is generally known as hermeneutics, while the practical application of the principles of this science is exegesis. Jesus, in the preamble to quoting a verse from the Old Testament said, “…have you not read what was spoken to you by God…” (Matt. There are other things I might like to share from my site as well, if you don’t mind. It is seen as a preconceived system, a Procrustean bed into which the Scriptures must be forced by hacking off limbs and appendages to make it fit. General Principles: Is a generic term and may refer to any work of literature. The 10 Principles of Biblical Interpretation There are certain principles that will help us to accurately handle the Word of Truth. 3:16). 3. These are simply a few of the basic, practical principles of biblical interpretation that I set forth years ago in my book Knowing Scripture. When we have two passages in Scripture that we can interpret in various ways, we want always to interpret the Bible in such a way as to not violate the basic principle of Scripture’s unity and integrity. God has gifted others with tremendous insights, not only in our own day, but throughout the history of the Church. But we must always remember that the goal of preaching is the honor and glory of God in accurately proclaiming the word of truth. 14. And that leads us to talk about how we interpret the Bible. Jesusspoke the words, and they were recorded by Matthew. These principles are embedded in the scripture itself. 12. 2. Though we affirm the basic clarity of sacred Scripture, we do not at the same time say that all passages are equally clear. Though the Bible is not like any other book in that it carries with it the authority of divine inspiration, nevertheless, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over a written text does not turn verbs into nouns or nouns into verbs. It is not simply a book giving facts about God. To them it is nothing more important than the reading of any other book, at least in their methodology. A possible inference is something that could or might be true, but not something actually stated by the text. Sproul At that point, they experienced “amnesia of their former animal life” so that they would no longer remember their animal past.How does this line up with the Word of God, which states that God made Adam from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7) and Eve from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:22)? from R.C. We https://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/16.html 16 Bible Study Tools for Interpretation – The List (Details about each of these “tools” are discussed below this list.) Shirley Guthrie, Professor Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary, U.S.A. 1. The Bible is a treasure box. Article ID: DB010 | By: Hank Hanegraaff. It is God’s action (2 Tim.3:16) and God’s will that we have the written Bible. Interpreting the Bible … Syntax – this refers to words and their relationship with one another. The basic sense of a passage is the single sense evident to any reader who allows the words their ordinary meanings and who expects the grammar and syntax to shape and combine these meanings in a normal fashion. Handling the word of God is a priceless duty and delight, not a trivial passion or pursuit. 10. Though we do not need to become superstitious about the physical book called the Bible, so as to wash our hands before picking up or opening the book, the text of the Scripture is the very word of God Himself. Here we come face to face with the subject of the original languages of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek. Jesus believed (and held people accountable for doing so) that when someone read a verse from the Old Testament, they were reading something spoken to them by God. A necessary inference is something that is definitely taught by the text. This particular rule of interpretation is violated constantly. Closely related to this point is the principle that the implicit must be interpreted by the explicit, rather than the explicit interpreted by the implicit. _____, the entire field of Biblical interpretation. Obviously this requires an understanding of basic interpretation and the use of key Bible references. Parables are interpreted as parables, symbols as symbols, poetry as poetry, didactic literature as didactic literature, historical narrative as historical narrative, occasional letters as occasional letters. We are not at all wise when we isolate ourselves. Though all Scripture is God breathed, every passage is not equally clear (easy to understand). Form of Literature (we should interpret the Bible literally, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize that parables are parables, and that to interpret them correctly, we interpret them as literal parables! Allegorization was often employed in this endeavour. 2. If prescriptive, it would negate the wonderful assurance of salvation that the Holy Spirit wishes us to know (1 John 5:13). I have relied heavily on How to Understand the Bible by W. Robert Palmer, Hermeneutics by D.R. . Scripture is never contradictory to itself). “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.” –Dr. This rule is also known as the Plain meaning rule. For example, we read in John 3:16 that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” and many of us conclude that since the Bible teaches that anyone who believes shall be saved, it therefore implies that anyone can, without the prior regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, exercise belief. He then went on to quote a verse from the book of Genesis. That is because if the Bible is God’s holy word, we should seek to gain the correct meaning before we attempt to speak for God. Immediate Context (a text out of context becomes a pretext. Keeping in mind four aspects of biblical interpretation will go a long way in helping the reader properly interpret Scripture. When we recognize that we are handling the very truth of God, we should not be quick to come to conclusions about what it means. Learning the principles of interpretation is exceedingly helpful to guide us in our own study. This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine. It is called the analogy of faith, which basically means that Holy Scripture is its own interpreter. This principle of intentionality is critical … That is a very high view of Scripture, to be sure. The rule of USAGE: It must be remembered that the Old Testament was written originally by, to and … A popular seminary professor recently wrote the following about the creation of Adam and Eve:So according to this professor, Adam and Eve were animals before God breathed the breath of life into them. Many times people have said to me, incredulously, “You don’t interpret the Bible literally, do you?” I never answer the question by saying, “Yes,” nor do I ever answer the question by saying, “No.” I always answer the question by saying, “Of course, what other way is there to interpret the Bible?” What is meant by sensus literalis is not that every text in the Scriptures is given a “woodenly literal” interpretation, but rather that we must interpret the Bible in the sense in which it is written. what would these words have meant to its original recipients?). The conclusion is unavoidable. This charge would be true if the Bible were not the objective Word of God, if it were simply a wax nose, able to be shaped, twisted, and distorted to teach one’s own precepts. Certainly, this is a descriptive statement – as it describes the actions of a truly saved person – such a one will endure, for the nature of the kind of faith God gives to His people is one that endures to the end. It has often been charged that the Bible can’t be trusted because people can make it say anything they want it to say. Here are the L-I-G-H-T-S to the Word of God: Literal Interpretation, Illumination by the Holy Spirit, Grammatical Principles, Historical Context, Teaching Ministry, Scriptural Harmony.. Principles of biblical interpretation ought to be determined before developing one’s theology, but in practice the reverse is often true. general rules of biblical interpretation The interpreter must be saved and dependent on the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. If prescriptive, (if it is telling us something to do) then no one can be sure of their salvation, for the simple reason that no one presently reading or hearing the statement has, as yet, endured until the very end. Must one know these languages, and all of their textual variants, before one can adequately interpret Scripture? Try to discern the writer’s intentions when he wrote the text. There should be no additions or substitution of words in the construction of statutes an… Fix that problem! This, like the others, is a very helpful rule. Please let me know your policy on sharing articles. The principle of literal interpretation gives us another rule, namely that the Bible in one sense is to be read like any other book. In other words, we are to interpret Scripture according to Scripture. The syntax is clear that it is a result of first being justified that peace ensues. The Bible, although a book, is also unlike any other book. And yet we read in John 10:34-35 that we are called “gods.” Mormon theology picks up on this. (3) Aim to discover what the text meant to the original readers. I am learning so much from reading your teaching on here and from your book which I read some months ago. However, the appropriate approach to systematic theology recognizes that the Bible itself contains a system of truth, and it is the task of the theologian not to impose a system upon the Bible, but to build a theology by understanding the system that the Bible teaches. In construing Statutes the cardinal rule is to construe its provisions literally and grammatically giving the words their ordinary and natural meaning. In the same way, there’s so much more that could and should be said about how to study the Bible. In Christian theology, hermeneutics focuses specifically on constructing and discovering the appropriate rules for interpreting the Bible.These methods and principles, however, are often drawn from outside of scripture in historical, literary or other fields. The words in an enactment have their own natural effect and the construction of an act depends on its wording. We would never consider someone qualified to practice as a medical physician after reading just one paper containing a dozen or so rules on being a good doctor. That is, our moral ability to come to Christ is explicitly and specifically taught to be lacking apart from the sovereign grace of God. No one else outside Catholicism accepts this interpretation. God gives no prizes to boring preachers who can’t connect with people! 11. The word is “elohim” which is the word for God. Assume the Bible is authoritative and inerrant Document Context (For instance, in Romans, there is a certain argument Paul is pursuing, and when we recognize this, it helps us to determine what is meant in isolated verses when we know the purpose for what is being written. The computer program Bibleworks 8 is especially recommended). 2. 1. The rule of USAGE: It must be remembered that the Old Testament was written originally by, to and … 6. In a narrower sense, it is bringing contemporary relevance to ancient texts, the Bible’s meaning for today. So the governing principle of Reformed hermeneutics or interpretation is the analogy of faith. Our assumption is that God, because of His omniscience, would never be guilty of contradicting Himself. It may be applied in various ways, but the meaning is specific to the intent of the author. For example, Romans 5:1 says “Having been justified (a past tense action) by faith, we have peace with God.” It would be incorrect to think that we have to gain peace with God before justification takes place. Well, many people view the interpretation of God’s Word as “no big deal” really. 7. If that were true, then we would have to say that the smallest mind of all is the mind of God. 9. Basic Rules of Interpretation. Cynics, however, say that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Numerous heresies have developed when people have forced conformity to the obscure passages rather than to the clear passages, distorting the whole message of Scripture. Thanks so much, Brenda. Historical Setting (avoid anachronism – trying to understand the past while viewing it wearing 21st … Bless you for being a faithful teacher of the Word! The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that Vatican II enumerated three criteria (CCC 111; cf. To open the fullness of the treasure within, Christians must use a certain key—hermeneutics, or the rules of interpretation. We should be prepared to do some serious study to seek to understand what the Holy Spirit was and is communicating to us. .” (Biblical Interpretation, 4-5). Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today.”, “Although tradition does not rule our interpretation, it does guide it. Biblical Context (the broadest context possible, the entire Bible; allowing us to ask if our interpretation is consistent with the whole of Scripture. It is not infallible, but neither is it negligible, and we impoverish ourselves if we disregard it.” – J.I. Your gift enables our worldwide outreach. David L. Cooper (1886-1965), founder of The Biblical Research Society Matthew 24:13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Even the "Christian" cults such as the Jehovah's Witnesses use the Bible to deny the deity of Jesus Christ, the existence of Hell, and most carnal doctrines of the Christian faith. Correct syntax is a vital component of sound interpretation. Principle #1: The Literal Interpretation Principle We take the Bible at … Think for yourself but not by yourself. – what was his background, language, culture, vocation, concerns, education, circumstance, what stage of life? We use rules, principles, methods, and tactics; we enter the worlds of the historian, sociologist, psychologists, and linguist—to name a few. Rules for Biblical Interpretation in the Reformed Tradition. Always keep the author’s broad purpose in mind when looking in detail at the meaning of texts). This particular rule of interpretation is violated constantly. May God use these brief words to encourage you as you search out the truths of God’s word, for His glory: 1. Interpretation of the Bible. God wants mankind to know Him (the very purpose of creation, Gen. 1:26-27).b. The Ligonier Ministries site requires Javascript, but you’ve got Javascript disabled. Finally, it is always important to interpret obscure passages by those that are clear. 5. 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