RULES OF BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION
These are some simple yet effective rules of interpretation when studying the bible.
1. LET SCRIPTURE INTERPRET SCRIPTURE
A. This is called Biblical Exegesis
Exegesis - Exegesis is a theological term used to describe an approach to interpreting a passage in the Bible by critical analysis.
1. Proper exegesis includes using the context around the passage.
2. Comparing scripture with other parts of the Bible and applying an understanding of the language and customs of the time of the writing.
3. It is an attempt to understand clearly what the original writer intended to convey. In other words, it is trying to "pull out or bring out" of the passage the meaning inherent in it.
B. Biblical Eisegesis
Eisegesis - is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one's own ideas, reading into the text.
1. It is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one's own ideas when reading into the text.
2. CANNOT CREATE DOCTRINE WITHOUT THE STUDY OF ALL THE VERSES RELATED TO THE BIBLICAL SUBJECT YOU ARE STUDYING
A. Biblical Context – Is the broadest context possible, the entire Bible; allowing us to ask if our interpretation is consistent with the whole of Scripture. Scripture is never contradictory to itself.
B. New Testament doctrine always supersedes Old Testament doctrine.
C. Cannot create doctrine from only one verse.
D. Cannot create doctrine from tradition.
E. The church can have tradition but cannot force traditions as a means to salvation.
3. ALL 27 NEW TESTAMENT BOOKS WERE WRITTEN TO BELIEVERS AND FOR BELIEVERS ONLY
A. A must to remember when sharing your faith with someone.
1. We preach to unbelievers.
a. Preaching to unbelievers is a must. Cannot teach unbelievers because the word of God is a mystery to them until they have their spiritual eyes open to the word of God.
2. And teach believers.
a. Believers can understand the mysteries (word of God) reveled by the work of the Holy Spirit.
4. TAKE IN ACCOUNT THE HISTORICAL AND CULTURE OF THE TIME OF THE WRITINGS TO CREATE DOCTRINE
A. Consider the Author - Who wrote the book? - What was his background, language, culture, vocation, concerns, education, circumstance, what stage of life?
B. Consider the Audience - Why was the book written? Who was the audience? What would these words have meant to its original hearers?
C. The purpose of interpretation is to grasp the meaning of the passage or passages in its historical context, looking for the meaning of words, phrases, customs, etc. and trying to bring out the theme that the author intended.
D. know what are the teachings for the time of the culture.
1. Women covering their heads.
E. Know what is to be practiced as doctrine in the church today.
1. Women are not to teach or oversee men.
5. CANNOT CREATE DOCTRINE SOLELY FROM THE BOOK OF ACTS OR THE BOOK OF REVELATION
A. Cannot create doctrine from the experiences in the book of Acts.
1. Can use the book of Acts to expound on doctrine found in the Gospels and the Epistles.
B. Cannot create doctrine from the experiences in the book of Revelation.
1. Can use the book of Revelation to expound on doctrine found in the Gospels and the Epistles.
2. Can only use the book of Revelation to expound on eschatology views.
6. NEW REVELATION TAUGHT IN THE EPISTLES THAT HAVE NO CONTRADICTIONS FROM ANY OF THE OTHER GOSPELS OR EPISTLES
A. Examples of non-contradictions are healing, church leadership, faith, gifts of the Spirit etc.
7. DISCERN SPIRITUAL APPLICATION FROM THE PHYSICAL APPLICATION OF ANY SCRIPTURE
A. Understand Grammar – How things are being expressed.
1. The text could be imperative (of vital importance; crucial) which is a command.
Luke 9:23 - Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
2. The text could be Subjunctive (it usually expresses something that you wish for) which would be “would you like to do this?”
Matthew 21:21 - So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.
3. two quite different meanings result.
8. BIBLICAL DOCTRINE ALWAYS SUPERSEDE TRADITIONS OR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
A. Never allow experience to interpret the scriptures.
B. Always let the scriptures interpret the experience.
Michael Horton - “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.
C. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.”
C. H. Spurgeon - “It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”
9. KNOW THE MEANING OF KEY BIBLICAL WORDS IN THE TEXT
A. Use Hebrew word study books for the study of the Old Testament.
B. Use Greek word study books for the study of the New Testament.
10. INTERPRET THE UNCLEAR PASSAGES IN SCRIPTURE IN LIGHT OF THE CLEAR
A. Though all Scripture is God breathed, every passage is not equally clear (easy to understand).
Even the Apostle Peter struggled with Paul’s writings at times, as he found some of it hard to understand. 2 Peter 3:16 - “hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
11. MUST INTERPRET WHAT IS WRITTEN BEFORE AND AFTER THE TEXT STUDIED.
A. Before any doctrine can be created, must study what is written before or after the text to get the correct interpretation.
Proverbs 8:22-23 - “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.
1. Are these verses speaking of Jesus?
12. MUST TO REMEMBER WHEN CREATING DOCTRINE
A. Did Jesus practice it an act or did He teach it.
B. Was it practiced or taught in the book of Acts.
C. And was it taught in any of the Epistles.
13. GUIDELINES FOR EXAMINING A PASSAGE
A. Who wrote/spoke the passage and to whom was it addressed?
B. What does the passage say?
C. Are there any words or phrases in the passage that need to be examined?
D. What is the immediate context?
E. What is the broader context in the chapter and book?
F. What are the related verses to the passage’s subject and how do they affect the understanding of this passage?
G. What is the historical and cultural background?
H. What do I conclude about the passage?
I. Do my conclusions agree or disagree with related areas of Scripture and others who have studied the passage? If so, why?
J. What have I learned and what must I apply to my life?
John Wycliffe 1324-1384 - It shall greatly help you to understand scripture, if you mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goes before and what follows after.