HOW TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE
"And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:19,20
We can’t have a "sure word" about the meaning of Scripture (or anything else) unless we have a sure method to interpret the words. The following eight rules are the center of all grammatical interpretation. They have been accepted and used by scholars from Socrates to the present. While our hope is that they will be used to “rightly divide the word of truth” of the Holy Bible, they are equally applicable to legal, historical, and other such language.
Nearly all false doctrines taught today by Christians and cultists alike can be traced to the distortion of the meaning of Biblical words. Learning the rules of hermenutics and properly applying them will help keep any interpreter from making errors and will hopefully alleviate many of the disagreements unfortunately present in Christianity today. These eight principles are the tried and true tools and methods used to accurately interpret any author's original intent.
In addition, when interpreting the Word of God, ernest prayer, seeking and asking God for wisdom, then last but not least, allowing His most glorius Holy Spirit to guide you in all truth is essential to Blibical interpretation. [John 14:26]
Before you continue, If you do not know the Lord, pray right now to receive Jesus Christ into your heart, and God will give you
His Holy Spirit freely as a gift and He will open your heart to truly fall in love with God's Word, the Holy Bible. [Acts 2:38]
If you just received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
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May the Lord bless you all in your diligent studies of the Word of God. Pastor Buck
Eight Rules of Hermenutics
The rule of DEFINITION: What does the word mean? Any study of Scripture must begin with a study of words. Define your terms and then keep to the terms defined. The interpreter should conscientiously abide by the plain meaning of the words. This quite often may require using a Hebrew/English or Greek/English lexicon in order to make sure that the sense of the English translation is understood. A couple of good examples of this are the Greek words "allos" and "heteros". Both are usually translated as "another" in English – yet "allos" literally means "another of the same type" and "heteros" means "another of a different type."
The rule of USAGE: It must be remembered that the Old Testament was written originally by, to and for Jews. The words and idioms must have been intelligible to them – just as the words of Christ when talking to them must have been. The majority of the New Testament likewise was written in a milieu of Greco-Roman (and to a lesser extent Jewish) culture and it is important to not impose our modern usage into our interpretation. It is not worth much to interpret a great many phrases and histories if one’s interpretations are shaded by pre-conceived notions and cultural biases, thereby rendering an inaccurate and ineffectual lesson.
The rule of CONTEXT: The meaning must be gathered from the context. Every word you read must be understood in the light of the words that come before and after it. Many passages will not be understood at all, or understood incorrectly, without the help afforded by the context. A good example of this is the Mormon practice of using 1 Cor. 8:5b: "…for there be gods many and lords many…" as a "proof text" of their doctrine of polytheism. However, a simple reading of the whole verse in the context of the whole chapter (e.g. where Paul calls these gods "so-called"), plainly demonstrates that Paul is not teaching polytheism.
The rule of HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: The interpreter must have some awareness of the life and society of the times in which the Scripture was written. The spiritual principle will be timeless but often can’t be properly appreciated without some knowledge of the background. If the interpreter can have in his mind what the writer had in his mind when he wrote – without adding any excess baggage from the interpreter’s own culture or society – then the true thought of the Scripture can be captured resulting in an accurate interpretation.
The rule of LOGIC: Interpretation is merely logical reasoning. When interpreting Scripture, the use of reason is everywhere to be assumed. Does the interpretation make sense? The Bible was given to us in the form of human language and therefore appeals to human reason – it invites investigation. It is to be interpreted as we would any other volume: applying the laws of language and grammatical analysis.
The rule of PRECEDENT: We must not violate the known usage of a word and invent another for which there is no precedent. Just as a judge’s chief occupation is the study of previous cases, so must the interpreter use precedents in order to determine whether they really support an alleged doctrine. Consider the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12 who were called "noble" because they searched the Scriptures to determine if what Paul taught them was true.
The rule of UNITY: The parts of Scripture being interpreted must be construed with reference to the significance of the whole. An interpretation must be consistent with the rest of Scripture. An excellent example of this is the doctrine of the Trinity. No single passage teaches it, but it is consistent with the teaching of the whole of Scripture (e.g. the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are referred to individually as God; yet the Scriptures elsewhere teach there is only one God).
The rule of INFERENCE: An inference is a fact reasonably implied from another fact. It is a logical consequence. It derives a conclusion from a given fact or premise. It is the deduction of one proposition from another proposition. Such inferential facts or propositions are sufficiently binding when their truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence. Competent evidence means such evidence as the nature of the thing to be proved admits. Satisfactory evidence means that amount of proof which would ordinarily satisfy an unprejudiced mind beyond a reasonable doubt. Jesus used this rule when he proved the resurrection of the dead to the unbelieving Sadducees in Matt. 22:23-33.