We shall list all the rules and principles so that the reader can see them all in one place. As stated in I Corinthians 14:33, God is not the author of confusion. Who then is the author of these conflicting, and separating dogmatic ambiguities surrounding our modern scriptures from centuries back?
>16 Principles of Biblical Interpretation
>8 Rules Of Biblical Hermeneutics
>The Importance of Setting In Biblical Interpretation
>The Bible Language – Literal Language
>Figurative Language And Its Purpose
>Rules for Understanding Figurative Language
>Some Figures of Speech In The Bible.
>The Meaning of Sentences And Rules to Determine the Meaning of Words.
A Summary Of 8 Rules And 16 Principles Of Hermeneutics.
Note These 16 Principles of Biblical Interpretation
1. Every passage has but one meaning.
Exceptions to this rule exist but they in no way contradict it.
Prophecies were given that had immediate meanings as well as remote meanings.
2. The simplest, most obvious meaning of any passage is usually the correct one.
One should look for the most natural interpretation of a text unless otherwise indicated. If a passage has more than
one interpretation, the simplest one is most apt to be what the Lord intended.
3. Always allow an author’s explanation of a passage to stand.
A person has the right to explain how he is using an expression. The author surely knows what he means better
than anyone else does.
4. Always interpret a passage in harmony with the context.
Context is the entire section of written thought in which the passage is found. It includes that which immediately precedes and follows and all parts properly connected to it. It may be a paragraph, a chapter, a large section, or the entire writing. The writings of Scripture demonstrate a continuous, logical flow of thought, and passages should never be forcibly pulled out of this order and forced into the mould of some other thoughts. Knowledge of the context will greatly assist in the exegesis of any doubtful passage.
5. An interpretation of a passage should always conform to the environment of the author.
The author used the conditions of life as he knew them to frame the revealed message. He drew upon
the customs of his day, the opinions of his time, the circumstances surrounding his life, and the
nature of his personality. Below are some things to consider about the author:
a. Was he an inspired man?
b. Was he an educated man?
C. What religious bias or prejudice did he have?
d. What of the style of his message?
e. A writer usually condemns the evils which appear the most dangerous to him.
6. Each passage must be interpreted in harmony with all other passages.
This is the normal law of consistency in truth. No doctrine can be true if it is opposed to any clear statement of the word of
God. When there seems to be a contradiction between the meanings of passages, one or more of the interpretations must be incorrect.
7. One passage will often explain another passage.
Another passage may shed light on an obscure passage and bring understanding. Such a practice, though, can be overdone by forcing Comparisons that are not relative.
8. A passage must be interpreted in harmony with any idioms it contains.
An idiom is “any usage or construction peculiar to a certain language, especially a form of expression or a phrase adopted
by the usage of a language with a signification other than its grammatical or logical use.” (Clinton
Lockhart, Principles of Interpretation, p. 126) For example:
a. Repetition was used in the Hebrews language for emphasis. (Genesis 22:17; Luke 22:14-15)
b. “Love…hate” denotes the comparison of one being loved more than the other. (Malachi 1:2,3;
C. “Not..but” was an expression of comparison of importance. (1 Peter 3:3-4; Hebrews 10:25)
9. All passages on any given subject must be studied.
No one should ever draw a general conclusion on any Bible subject until all passages connecting it has been collected, considered, and compared. only the total of passages on a given subject will give complete understanding.
10. Observe the proper balance of scriptural truth.
Some passages have either been exaggerated or overemphasized, while others have been slighted. One must be sure to balance the truth as God wills it.
11. Let plain passages determine difficult passages.
Some passages are difficult to understand, (2 Peter 3:15-16). Always choose the meaning of an obscure or difficult passage that harmonizes with
the plainer or easier passages on the same subject.
12. Identify the genre of the text before interpreting its meaning.
Bible scholars refer to this as the text’s genre. The manner that which narrative writings convey their content to the reader differs from how epistles do. The variety of literary forms might make research challenging. Bible scholars go beyond the fundamental forms to uncover subtle variations that the average reader would miss. It refers to the overall structure of the text, which includes narrative, prophecy, poetry, history, gospel, and epistle.
13. Look for clues as to the author’s intentions for creating the text.
You won’t be able to preach the sermon’s message unless you can understand the text’s author’s intended meaning. For the expository preacher, the intentionality principle is crucial. Your first responsibility as you get ready to preach to your age is to ascertain the writer’s original purpose.
14. Look carefully at the language of the text.
Words convey ideas. You can better understand the meaning of the material if you can study it in the original tongue. For that reason, a lot of preachers research Greek and Hebrew. Even though your congregation is unlikely to be interested in Hebrew and Greek, your research will provide them with new perspectives that will help them understand the message.
15. Notice the various theological themes in the text.
List these themes and what the text says about them when you complete the structural diagram and your observations. Throughout the Bible, the same theological concepts will appear in various combinations. You will look for the most effective phrase for the writer’s subject and the modifier that restricts and concentrates it in your preaching text.
16. Never interpret your text without keeping God at the core.
He claims that God did not give the Bible to us to teach us about the practices of early religious leaders and how we should all strive to emulate them. But God’s will and his involvement in his creation, he claims, are more significant. Theological interpretation is what this is.
INTERPRETING THE BIBLE
Almost all incorrect beliefs spread by cults and Christians alike are built on the abuse of Biblical language. The interpreter must be familiar with the fundamentals of interpretation. These ideas are comparable to an interpreter’s trade secrets. These principles operate under the presumption that, when handled correctly, the text will reveal its meaning to the interpreter. They can be used to “rightly divide the word of truth” in the Holy Bible, and they are equally applicable to legal, historical, and other comparable words.
The 8 Rules Of Biblical Hermeneutics
- The Definitional rule is: What does the word mean? Any study of the Bible must start with an examination of its words. Define your terms, and then adhere to them. The interpreter must carefully adhere to the words’ intended meaning. In order to ensure that the English translation’s meaning is understood, it is frequently necessary to consult a Hebrew/English or Greek/English lexicon.
- The Rule Of Usage: It is important to keep in mind that the Old Testament was originally authored by, for, and to Jews. Like when Christ spoke to them, the language and idioms must have been understandable to the audience. It’s crucial to remember that the majority of the New Testament was written in a Greco-Roman (and, to a lesser extent, Jewish) cultural context, thus it’s necessary to avoid imposing our contemporary usage on its interpretation. If one’s interpretations are tainted by preconceived assumptions and cultural biases, it is useless to interpret a large number of phrases and historical events since the lesson will be ineffective and erroneous.
- The CONTEXT rule: This states that meaning must be inferred from context. You must interpret each word you read in the context of the words that came before and after it. Without the context, many paragraphs won’t be comprehended at all or will be understood erroneously. The Mormon practice of employing 1 Cor. 8:5b, “…for there are gods many and lords many…” as a “proof text” of their concept of polytheism, is a good illustration of this. But a straightforward reading of the entire passage in the context of the entire chapter—for instance, when Paul refers to these gods as “so-called”—clearly shows that Paul is not advocating polytheism.
- The HISTORICAL BACKGROUND rule: States that the interpretation must have some familiarity with the culture and way of life in the era in which the Scripture was written. Although the spiritual principle is ageless, it is frequently difficult to understand without some previous information. The true intention of the Scripture can be understood and an accurate interpretation produced if the interpreter can keep in mind what the author had in mind when he wrote—without adding any extra baggage from the interpreter’s own culture or civilization. Our only interest in the past, according to Oliver Wendell Holmes, is the insight it provides into the present.
- The LOGIC principle: It states that interpretation is just logical reasoning. The reason is to be applied in every case when understanding the Bible. Can you understand the interpretation? The Bible appeals to human reason because it was given to us in the form of human language; it begs for further study. It should be understood using grammatical analysis and language laws, just like we would with any other volume. According to Bernard Ramm. What method do we employ to weed out erroneous theological speculation? Logic and evidence are undoubtedly the controls… Interpreters without the honed experience of logic may have incorrect ideas about implication and proof. Such a person too frequently relies on an argument that is blatantly illegal under the laws of
- The PRECEDENT rule: It states that we must not alter a word’s accepted usage by creating a new one for which there is no precedent. The interpretation must use precedents to assess if they actually support a stated theory, much as a judge’s primary duty is to research prior decisions. In Acts 17:10–12, the Bereans were said to as “noble” because they examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul had taught them was accurate.
- The Rule of UNITY: It states that each part of the Bible must be understood in light of its overall importance. The remainder of Scripture must be considered while interpreting a passage. The Trinity doctrine is a prime instance of this. Although it is not explicitly taught in any one verse, it is compatible with what the Bible as a whole teaches (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 INFERENCE RULE: It states that an inference is a fact that can be logically inferred from another truth. It follows naturally, therefore. It develops a conclusion from a fact or premise that is provided. It is the extrapolation of one hypothesis from another. When their veracity is supported by appropriate and adequate evidence, such inferential truths or propositions are sufficiently binding. Competent evidence is any evidence that the subject of the claim can support. Evidence that would typically prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt to an unprejudiced mind is referred to be satisfactory evidence. In Matthew 22:23–33, Jesus applied this principle to convince the sceptic Sadducees that the dead do indeed rise from the grave.
The correct application of these eight rules can assist any interpreter to avoid mistakes and, perhaps, end many of the controversies that, sadly, still plague Christianity today.
NOTE THAT RULES ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Other Important Terms To Note When Discussing The Principles And Rules Of Biblical interpretation.
The Importance of Setting In Biblical Interpretation
One must be very careful to keep a passage in the setting in which it was first given. It must be put in its rightful place according to the period of time and the covenant involved. One must take a historical approach to Bible study to be fully aware of the entire set of a passage in which the Holy Spirit first placed it.
Some things to consider in the set include:
• Who is speaking or writing?
• To whom?
-What is their history?
-What about their education?
-What were their customs?
-To which sins had they been addicted?
-To what temptations were they subject?
• About whom?
• When was it spoken (or written)?
• Where was it spoken (or written)?
• What were the circumstances?
• Why? What is the purpose or aim?
Note The Bible Language – Literal Language
A good portion of the Bible is plain, literal language. It was used by the Lord to state facts, names, persons
and places, relate incidents, issue commandments and warnings, and draw conclusions.
Such things should be taken literally and one should not be constantly searching for hidden meanings and fancy figures of speech.
The literal meaning of a word is that meaning which is given by those to whom it is addressed.
Figurative language involves the use of symbols, stories, or other descriptive means to express truth.
The Purpose of Figurative Language
1. To illustrate and graphically portray truth taught elsewhere in Scripture.
2. To teach things outside our experience. To explain the unseen by the seen.
3. To make the truth stand out more vividly.
4. To make a more lasting impression.
5. To conceal the truth from its enemies.
When Language is Figurative
1. When a literal interpretation involves an impossibility or an absurdity. (Luke 9:60)
2. When literal interpretation involves a contradiction or inconsistency. (John 11:25-26)
3 When a literal interpretation involves an immoral conclusion. (Matthew 18:8-9)
4. When such is implied by the context.
5. When such is stated. John 2:18-21)
6. When common sense determines it to be. (John 4:10-15).
Rules for Understanding Figurative Language
1. Determine what kind of figure it is.
2. Follow the author’s explanation, if he gives one. (Luke 8:11; 12:16-21)
3. Harmonize the figurative with the literal.
4. Harmonize the figurative with the customs of the time.
5. Do not press the meaning too far.
6. Remember that figures of speech may change their meaning from one instance to another and do not always represent the same things. (Matthew 13:33;16:6-12).
Some Figures of Speech In The Bible.
1. Parable. A simple, normal, real-life story or illustration is used to present some moral truth. The
Scriptures record at least thirty parables that Jesus used in His ministry. They had a way of concealing the truth from those who would not receive or follow it.
2. Fable. A fictitious or imaginary story whose purpose was to teach some moral lesson. (2 Kings
3. Simile. A thing or action that is said to be “like” or “as” something of a different kind of quality.
(Matthew 3:16; Isaiah 1:18; 53:6)
4. Metaphor. A word or phrase which is said to be something else because of a likeness involved. It is
calling one thing by another word, more descriptive and figurative. (Luke 13:32; Matthew 26:26)
5. Allegory. A metaphor extended into a complete story to illustrate some truth. The writer does not
identify all the particular parts but leaves the reader to infer their meaning. (Ephesians 6:11-17)
6. Riddle. An analogy was written up as a puzzle. To unravel it will thus produce some truth. (Judges 14:14)
7. Hyperbole. An exaggeration of some statements for the purpose of emphasis. (Psalm 22:6,14)
8. Irony and sarcasm. A sharp remark uttered in contempt or ridicule. The latter, sarcasm, is more
severe in degree and intensity. (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:31,32)
9. Interrogation. To question for effect, often not seeking an answer. It will bring out a point very strongly or even argue to the contrary. (Hebrews 2:3)
10. Metonymy. To substitute one word for another because they are related. (1 Corinthians 11:25,26;Acts 15:21)
11. Personification. Inanimate beings have personal attributes. (Psalm 114:3)
12. Anthropomorphism. The ascribing of human forms or attributes to God. (Exodus 33:22,23)
The Meaning of Sentences.
A sentence is worded in a definite arrangement so that they compose a unit of thought. Two steps are
necessary to determine the meaning of sentences:
1. Observe all the simple rules of grammar and rhetoric.
2. Use all the rules of comparison as advocated in the case of individual words.
If one wants to know the exact meaning of God’s words, he certainly must know the exact meanings of the words He chose.
Rules to Determine the Meaning of Words.
1. Seek the original meaning of a word. Modern usage of it is meaningless. One must see the words strictly from the viewpoint of the writers.
2. Each word in a given instance has but one meaning
3. The definition of the writer is always the best.
4. Of a word with many meanings, determine which meaning the author intended.
a. Use that shade of meaning in use at the time of the writing.
b. Look at the context where the word is found.
c. Observe closely the purpose of the writer or the general scope of the writing.
d. Use comparison by consulting similar or parallel passages where the same word occurs,
especially passages in the same book.
5. Recognize some words as having a specific Biblical meaning (“Good news,” conversion, saint, church, deacon, elders, apostle, fellowship, repent, faith, etc.).
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2 thoughts on “A Summary Of 8 Rules And 16 Principles Of Hermeneutics.”
Hey there! This is a really in-depth post!
It’s amazing to me how quickly people will forsake common sense when reading the Bible just because it’s the Bible, whether it’s the Bible as a whole or individual passages. For example, Psalms talks about God lifting up the four corners of the earth (or something like that), which people use to disprove the Bible (since the earth is not flat). But that’s just the language of appearance, like how the sun “rises” every morning.
Another specific example is when a progressive Christian (who was obviously willfully ignorant), said that Jesus told Lazarus to “come out,” thus affirming his identity as a gay person. How on earth?!?!
My go-to rule of thumb for interpreting the Bible is this: the Bible can never mean what it never meant! Just because we want it to mean something else doesn’t mean we can make it mean something else.
That was wonderful Isaac. I love your good knowledge of biblical interpretation. The writers message is always the message of the Bible, any other thing we try to make it mean is Eisogesis. That means forcing the Bible to speak our mind when it shouldn’t be. We should draw out of the well (Bible) ie Exegesis we are not to pour water into the well is Eisogesis.
thanks so much for your well of knowledge Isaac and God bless.