We discover that “universal laws” of interpretation must govern and guide biblical exegesis. It will be complete until we have a greater understanding of those principles and how they relate to different genres of Bible writing, as directed by the Holy Spirit’s.
Even if all biblical interpreters utilized a uniform hermeneutical framework, there would still be conflicts of opinion due to variances in the interpreters’ talents and backgrounds. Such variations are unavoidable and must be respected, but four criteria are necessary for a Bible student who would ‘accurately divide the word of truth,’ to put it another way;
1) The interpreter must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
2) obedient to the Scripture.
3) guided by the Holy Spirit.
4) diligent in study.
The lack of any one of those characteristics is detrimental to faithful Bible interpretation. Let’s see why we study how each one affects the work of the interpreter.
Regeneration by the Holy Spirit
Submission to the Holy Spirit
Illumination by the Holy Spirit
Cooperation with the Holy Spirit
The conviction that the Bible is given by the Holy Spirit.
When you finish this training, you should be able to:
- Explain briefly what is meant by the statement, “A believer has more capacity to understand the Bible than an unbeliever.”
- Contrast the abilities or the capacities of a “spiritual” and a “carnal” believer to understand Scripture.
- Compare the roles of illumination and inspiration in the believer’s quest to understand God’s revelation.
- Distinguish among four major characteristics of biblical inspiration.
Consider the following scenario: two guys studying the Bible. One is a prominent university professor of ancient literature. He is not a Christian, despite having been reared in a Christian environment. He is a man who diligently reads the Bible and holds high regard for its moral and ethical precepts.
The second man is a Christian who was rescued six months ago from an exceedingly irreligious upbringing. He is earnest, but he dislikes studying books in general, and he finds the Bible too monotonous to read for long periods of time. He suffers from certain plainly unbiblical behaviours, and he only prays when he goes to church.
Were you frustrated by this question? Obviously, someone who studies the Bible would tend to know more about it than someone who does not. Yet, the Bible teaches that an unbeliever cannot truly understand the Scriptures.
“In response to this issue, let me state unequivocally that the Bible never states that an atheist cannot have an intellectual comprehension of the Scriptures.” Rather, it argues that his unregenerate soul is restricted in his ability to receive this truth on a personal level. The man who is not spiritual (regenerated) is restricted in his comprehension of the Bible in two ways, according to Paul. “The man without the Spirit rejects the things that come from the Spirit of God, because they are folly to him, and he cannot comprehend them because they are spiritually discerning” (1Corinthians 2:14).
Necessary to Welcome Truth
Examining this paragraph in context reveals that the “doings” that the natural man cannot comprehend are the realities that God has revealed to Christians (see “us” v. 10). It is revealed in “words taught by the Spirit” (v. 13). I believe Paul is referring to the Scriptures when he says “written revelation.”
The man who cannot “accept” or “understand” this revelation is described as being “natural” (without the Spirit) in contrast to the believer who has the Spirit. In another word, the verse says that the unregenerate man is limited in his understanding of The Greek word used for “accept” is dechomai. It refers to the idea of “receiving with eagerness”. Paul did not use the synonym lambano which would have implied simple reception. Instead, he chose the stronger word that denotes an attitude of “welcoming the Word of God”.
This can be illustrated with an example of a love letter. A person who inadvertently reads the letter but does not know the author personally may understand the contents, but he will not be moved by them. In contrast, the young lady who receives the letter from her fiancé will “welcome” his words in a way that the scholar could not.
2 The word translated “accept” in 1Corinthians 2:14 is dechomai in Greek. Assuming that God inspired the choice of this word over its synonym lambano, how would the meaning have changed if lambano had been used? Choose the correct option by circling the letter preceding your choice.
- 1) The unbeliever cannot demonstrate even a casual interest in the Scriptures.
- 2) The meaning would be essentially the same if God had used the synonym.
- 3) The believer would demonstrate as much interest in the Scriptures as the unbeliever.
Necessary for Personal Acceptance of the Truth
The second keyword in verse 14 is “understand.” Here the apostle used the Greek verb ginosko, meaning “to embrace the teaching as a reality in a personal way.” “A similar word he could have chosen is oida which implies “simple mental understanding” (Radmacher 1984. 436).
While an unsaved person may be able to grasp the gospel intellectually, he will lack the Holy Spirit’s assistance in receiving it with conviction as to God’s Word. He can certainly become adept in the study of the Bible as a “work of literary,” but he is severely hampered in embracing the Word in a personal sense. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of fully applying God’s realities to man’s hearts.
Similarly, a child reared in a godly family who rejects his parents’ religion may be able to articulate fundamental Bible principles and even quote verses; yet, these realities will never be personally his until he becomes a “spiritual man.”
One obvious exception is the unbeliever who is seeking God. The Holy Spirit directly convicts and convinces such a person to bring him to salvation through the Scriptures (2Timothy 3:15).
SUBMISSION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
After discussing the unbeliever’s natural limits in understanding the Bible, Paul goes on to mention several restrictions that may also apply to a believer. These limits impact a believer who refuses the Spirit’s activity in his life or acts as a carnal (natural) man. In other words, the more light a believer receives, the more he can comprehend. Rejecting light, on the other hand, renders him nearly as blind to the Scriptures as an atheist.
Follow Paul’s progression from describing the unbeliever who cannot accept God’s Word (1Corinthians 2/0) to characterizing specific members of the Corinthians church who have restricted their spiritual knowledge via carnal living in the paragraph below.
I couldn’t treat you as spiritual, but rather as worldly—as mere babies in Christ. I gave you milk instead of solid food since you weren’t ready for it. You are, in fact, still not prepared. You’re still well-travelled. Are you not worldly if there is envy and quarrels among you? Are you not behaving like men? (1Corinthians 3:1-3).
In this passage, we are first that Paul is speaking to Christian, for he addresses them as brethren. But they are immature, “babes in Christ,” who act like “mere men” rather than “spiritual men.” Their sins are jealousy, quarrelling, and political manoeuvring.
Paul is saying that because of these sins many Corinthians believers are still feeding on “milk” instead of the “solid food” they should be eating. Sadly, even after having experienced the gospel, they are still limited in what they can understand. This is not because of their lack f knowledge or facts, but because they are acting like natural (carnal) men, not as mature believers.
The essence of their problem was a failure to obey God’s biblical standard. When the Bible does not change a believer’s life, his heart gradually loses its sensitivity to receiving God’s Word. The problem is one of rebellion against God’s will, not intellectual ability.
Note this; When the writer of Psalm 119 claimed “I have more understanding than the elders for I obey your precepts” (Psalm 119:100), he meant that
- a. The elders were very lazy students of God’s word
- b. Obedience to Scripture affects one’s understanding of it.
- c. He had received personal revelations from God.
- d. The study of God’s Word is not as important as obedience to it.
Now let’s compare the 1Corinthians 3 passage to a parallel text in Hebrews 5:11-14. Again the writer tries to instruct rebellious believers, but he must be content with giving them “milk” rather than “solid food.”
We have a lot to say about this, but it’s difficult to convey because you’re a slow learner. In fact, even though you should be instructors by now, you need someone to teach you the fundamentals of God’s word all over again. You require milk rather than solid meals! Anyone who is still a newborn and survives on milk is unfamiliar with the message about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who have schooled themselves to discriminate between good and evil by frequent use.
Don’t miss the obvious truth taught in the passage. Those who were slow to learn had not trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Conversely, those who were exercised in obedience were ready for “solid food: (Radmacher n.d. Cassette 21),
6 According to Hebrews 5:11-14, the readers of the epistle were limited in receiving divine truth because they
- a) Were new in the faith
- b) Had never been exposed to sound teaching
- c) Did not exercise obedience
- d) Were still unsaved Gentiles.
7 Are you struggling with obedience in a particular area of your life? If yes do not commit this to God, what effect might this disobedience have on your Bible study? (Complete the following phrase by choosing. SEVERAL answers). “Disobedience to a teaching of the Bible in one area will tend to cause me to
- a) Resist studying passages on that subject
- b) Be more submissive to the passages on that subject
- c) Twist the Scriptures that treat my sin to condone it in my life
- d) Ignore parts of the Bible because they are not important to me.
- e) Be more understanding of others when they sin.
ILLUMINATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
As we previously taught, only by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can a person accept and completely adapt the teaching of the Scripture. However, not all Christians have the same potential to “receive” and “accept” God’s word. As previously stated, a carnal lifestyle hampers a believer’s “receptivity” to the Scripture. Now we’ll look at how prayer and relationship with God might help us be more open to the message of God’s word. The heavenly “enlightenment” that a believer experiences when studying the Bible and communing with God is sometimes referred to as “illumination.” Here are two passages that mention it.
I continue to pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the magnificent Father, grant you the Spirit of insight and revelation so that you may know him better. I also pray that the eyes of your heart be opened to see the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the believers (Ephesians 1:17-18, see also Colossians 1:19).
The Heart as well as the Head.
Any experienced teacher knows that motivating students to learn accounts for at least half of the teaching process. Students who are enthusiastic to study tend to pick up the content far faster than those who do it only to “do a requirement.” The teaching process begins in the heart and progresses to the head.
So it is a matter of comprehending the Bible. The Spirit inspires a desire to learn (heart reaction), which must be accompanied by a serious study of God’s word (head response). Mysticism is a devotion that lacks a firm foundation in God’s word. Studying without devotion, on the other hand, results in a lifeless intellectual exercise.
Although other translations use “understanding” for “heart,” the one we picked is the most correct. The Greek word for this is kardia. This would literally imply a heart. However, it refers to the major organ of one’s personal life symbolically. It has the power of overthinking. Feelings, determination, and motivation The Holy Spirit begins His work in the interpreter at this point, preparing his heart to receive the truth.
The job of “enlightening” the heart is more about “reception” than “perception!” To comprehend the Scriptures more properly, one must pray, but he must also be prepared for the Holy Spirit to respond by convicting him of sin, prejudice, apathy, and doubt as to the first step toward this deeper comprehension.
8 Circle the letter preceding each completion that correctly describes the Holy Spirit’s part in the process of Bible interpretation. (More than one completion is correct.) The Holy Spirit _
a) increases one’s mental capacity to understand the Scripture more quickly.
b) makes the study of scripture superfluous for the godly interpreter.
c) removes impediments in the heart of the interpreter so he can understand more clearly.
d) motivates the students to want to understand and obey the Scriptures.
e) works primarily with the student’s perception rather than reception of the truth.
Illumination, Not New Revelation
There is no riskier activity a Christian interpretation can engage in than utilizing his “feelings” (subjective responses) as the standard of truth rather than the Bible itself. Feelings are not infallible; the Bible is! This technique is so terrifying because it contradicts the very purpose of the written Scriptures, which is to provide the church with a stable standard of truth that is unaffected by “human understanding” (! Corinthians 2:12-13).
Obviously, any “internal activity” performed by the Holy Spirit in the heart of an interpretation travels via the “personal mental grid” of that reader and hence is destined to be tinted in some way by his preconceptions. As a result, we must all put our interpretations to the test, just as the Bereans did with Paul’s teachings (Acts 17:11). That is, they should look at each interpretation to see if it is clearly conveyed in the verse in issue and if it contradicts the broader teaching of Scripture.
THE INTERPRETER’S BIAS GRID THE BIBLE
It should be emphatically stressed that the Holy Spirit will never reveal new truth in the process of illumination. His role in interpretation is not to reveal new secrets to a few mystics but to remove biases and doubt in the interpreter’s heart, making the correct interpretation more feasible.
A difference should be drawn between divinely inspired biblical revelation and personal illumination. The Holy Spirit will never disclose to the interpretation new teaching that God has not already revealed in the Scriptures. Illumination, on the other hand, gives a comprehension of a piece and its applicability to one’s daily life. Personal illumination cannot be deemed infallible since it is vulnerable to the mistakes of the human heart.
In light of this, it should be underlined that the gifts of the Spirit operating in the church today are not intended to convey new theology or even to teach new norms of behaviour. Rather, they are to adapt God’s Word to the Church’s new circumstances. Their goals are to encourage, strengthen, and soothe, but never to divulge new doctrine (see 1 Corinthians 14:3).
Living Truth, Not Dead Doctrine
The Holy Spirit is not merely involved in determining what the text means but in convincing and convicting the interpreter that it is the Word of God. Notice again in the verses quoted above that Paul’s prayer is for the Ephesians to know God better and to be thoroughly convinced of the hope of their calling.
Combining prayer with study has the effect of making the Word of God real in the interpreter’s life. Certainly, it is not enough to preach correct doctrine; it must also be preached with urgent conviction.
COOPERATION WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
I’ve long admired preachers who make excuses like “I spend much of my time in prayer and the Holy Spirit anoints me when I preach” to defend their lack of Bible study. Prayer is always commendable, but a lack of research results in teaching that is so “superficial” that we may honestly ascribe it to the Holy Spirit.
Our age is distinguished by a proclivity for a superficial reading of God’s Word. Over a century ago, a senior clergyman provided this counsel to a newly ordained pastor.
You will be wary of it if you stay on the surface. Some ministers begin their ministry with a certain amount of religious doctrine in their minds, and what they do for the rest of their lives is select texts and shape them into vessels to store so much of it. The jars vary in shape and size, but they are all filled with the same thing; and oh! it is bad stuff, no matter how orthodox and Evangelical it appears (Kaiser 1981, 243).
Personal Study and Divine illumination
The purpose of the Holy Spirit in Bible interpretation is not to make study useless but to make it effective. Just as the ability to recognize the glint of gold doesn’t exempt a miner from digging, the divinely-given illumination for understanding the Scriptures does not exempt an interpreter from the labour of study.
The study of God’s Word and a dependence on the Holy Spirit’s help in interpretation are inseparable. Without studious diligence the Spirit will have nothing to illuminate; without illumination, biblical knowledge will merely be calculated scholarship.
At times a Christian may experience an impulse of illumination after a short period of study or perhaps no immediate study. This is actually the result of the previous study.
In any event, the student must not see Bible study as a necessary but regrettable evil. No, on the contrary, Bible study and prayer are two ways that God pours forth His favour on the believer. Our research objective should not be to merely uncover a sermon, establish a theology, or comprehend a fact. It must always be a direct experience with God while studying His own revolution. Take note of the height of one of the best Bible students.
Paul, imprisoned and facing death, still longed to read the Scriptures (the parchments), not to prepare a sermon for the guards, but to know God more fully.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering‚ and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith . . . When you come, bring the cloak that left with Carpus as Troas and my scrolls‚, especially the parchments (2 Timothy 4:16-l3).
Be aware that casual curiosity or occasional reading will not result in Bible understanding or love for Bible study. If a Bible student expects to find a personal blessing or emotional experience in every passage and believes that every moment of his study will be immensely delightful, he will be sorely disappointed. Some of the most important concepts in the Bible need an arduous, time-consuming study to grasp. Don’t be disheartened if you need to borrow money to comprehend God’s movement. Every effort you make will be well worth it in terms of the impact on your life and others around you.
Personal Study and Human Tools
Those who are entrusted with the gift of teaching in the church (1Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4: 1) have an awesome responsibility to be exact in their study. Paul wanted Timothy. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2: 15).
Paul did not assume Timothy would automatically have the mind of the Lord in interpretation; instead, he implied that this would involve a careful and arduous process of study. The phrase translated “Do your best,” in its original Greek form, stresses diligence,” while the phrase “corrcct1y 1umd1cs” is 111em11y “cuts straight” in the original text. The idea implies laying out a path for a road, as a careful interpreter needs to ho1d a straight course in the Word for those who depend on him for instruction.
The immediate context of this verse is also important to note. 1n verse 14 we see that this correct interpretation is vital to those who are hearing the preacher, who is part of his congregation. Our precision or error in interpretation will determine their lifestyle 1n verse 16 we note that correct interpretation is also crucial as a defence against the “gangrene” of false teachers. These men compete with the preacher for the attention of the people, and only a correct interpretation will deflect their negative impact.
It is clear from these verses that we build a strong church upon the correct interpretation of the Word of Truth. This requires diligent study. John Albert Bengel made the same observation over two hundred years ago when he wrote.
The church is the guardian of Scripture. When the Church is in strong hea1th, the light of Scripture shines bright; when the church is sick, Scripture is corroded by neglect. . . . As a ru1e, the way in which Scripture is being treated is in exact correspondence with the condition of the church (Kaiser 1981, 7).
Let me add that our zeal for personal study should not be confused with arrogance: that keeps us from learning insights from other believers. Indeed. The Bible states we are to learn from one another and some are even set apart to be teachers. They may teach by a spoken message or the printed page.
One of the primary sources of Christian insight is good Christian textbooks and commentaries. While they should not replace personal Bible study, they should provide information that you might not have the time, resources, or capacity to find otherwise. They can help you maintain balance and avoid narrow, personal perspectives; they can also add a keen edge to diligent Bible interpretation.
When a man brags that he has read no books other than the Bible, I believe he is hiding an extreme arrogance under a cloak of super-spirituality. No believer is so perfectly balanced in his personality, so devoted in his prayer time, and so diligent in his Bible study that he cannot profit from the wisdom of other believers who complied through the centuries.
Apollos stands out in contrast to the proud interpreter who would limit his understanding to personal study. Although he was a highly educated man who had a thorough knowledge of the scriptures and was able to preach about Jesus accurately (see Acts 18:24-26), he willingly received instruction from two humble tent makers (v.
Let me state clearly that commentaries and Bible study books can never replace personal Bible study, but they can broaden your horizon, help explain technical facts, and verify your interpretations.
CONVICTION THAT THE BIBLE IS GIVEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
Diocletian ordered every Bible in his kingdom burned. His threat troubled one generation of Christians but was of little effect against the Bible. Today it is printed in 1,600 languages and millions of copies are available worldwide. The doubt cast on the Bible by those who limit or reject its interpretation has affected the faith of untold millions. For this reason, it is a fundamental truth of Bible interpretation that the interpreter must believe that the Bible is God’s word.
The Means of Inspiration
In certain ways, we might claim that the Bible should be credited to a single author, despite the fact that it was written by over forty authors.
The classic verse on inspiration, 2 Timothy 3:16, demonstrates its divine origin. Paul declares here that “all Scripture is God-breathed.” The term translated “God-breathed” here (Theopneutos) is never used in the Bible and is not found in any other Greek literature recorded before this book. This phrase was possibly used by Paul under the power of the Holy Spirit to denote the unique divine inspiration of the Scriptures. It literally means “given by the Spirit of God,” stressing the end result as God communicating directly to people.
Certainly, God is the ultimate author of the Bible. But the men who penned God’s thoughts were not acting as secretaries merely taking dictation. They wrote freely and spontaneously in response to their historical circumstances. They expressed their own literary styles and personalities as they were moved and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit directed the forty writers of Scripture like an orchestra director, without erasing their originality. God chose to demonstrate divine truth via their particular historical circumstances, personalities, and civilizations. God, in effect, adjusted His message by communicating via several writers. Consider how difficult it would be to understand many biblical truths without the fascinating historical backdrop of human events and characters that God so skillfully utilized to portray them.
The implications of the coauthorship of the Bible’s books an: extremely important for the modern interpreter. By these implications, we understand that God used the human author’s life circumstances, writing style, and cultural background to teach and illustrate His truths.
Therefore, knowing the circumstances in which a book or letter was ‘written in the culture of the time. And the literary style used is critical for one to fully understand its message
God also guided the writers to convey His truth without error. We are naturally suspicious of human involvement. It seems to imply errors and deficiencies. But this is, not so in the writing of God’s Word. As one scholar explained it, “Error is no more an exquisite of the Bible‘s humanity than sin is native to Christ’s human nature!” (Pinnock 1971, 94).
God utilized the lives and writing styles of human authors to add variety and intrigue. There is no extraneous or incorrect detail in the revolution. For prophecy never sprang from man’s volition, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter l:20-21).
The Extent of Inspiration
Accepting the Bible as partially inspired or inspired on a level lower than ultimate authority is insufficient for sound interpretation. One must believe that it is God’s complete revelation, word for word and that it includes no inaccuracies in historical facts, science, or questions of religion or action. As a result, four adjectives may be used to define the amount of inspiration of the Scriptures: verbal, plenary, infallible, and inerrant.
VERBAL; All the words are inspired
PLENARY; All the parts are equally inspired
INFALLIBLE; All matters of faith and morals are true
INERRANT; All matters of science and history are true
Verbal: The belief that every word of the Bible is inspired by its original autographs as (the original manuscript’s from the authors’ pens) is called verbal inspiration (Matthew 5: 18). A contrasting belief held by some is that only the thoughts behind the words are inspired.
Plenary: When scholars speak of the “plenary” inspiration of the Bible, they are saying that it is “all” inspired (see 2 Timothy 3:16). Plenary comes from the Latin word plenaries which means “complete” or “full.”
Some assert that the Bible only “contains” the Word of God rather than “is” God’s word. These people insist that only those passages which deal with salvation are inspired. Others say that there are levels of inspiration. The actual words of Christ, for example, are more inspired than the genealogies of the Old Testament. Certainly, the words of Christ have a more substantial role in our faith than the genealogies of 1Chronicles, but both are equally inspired.
Infallible: When one describes the Bible as “infallible,” he means that it cannot make mistakes in matters of faith and morals (Psalm 19:7-9; ‘Titus 1:2). Some have accused the Bible authors of reflecting the moral biases of their culture in such issues as homosexuality, but this is not the case. Although a cultural custom may be used to illustrate truth and not be given as; normative practice for the church, the Bible‘s moral standard remains the same from generation to generation.
Inerrant: When we speak of the Bible’s faithfulness in areas of doctrine and morals, we are referring to “infallibility.” When we refer to its trustworthiness in areas of historical and scientific fact we are speaking of “inerrancy.”
Historical data and events reported in the Bible are to be considered historical facts. The archaeologist may err but God cannot, similarly the Bible, although not to be seen as a scientific text, does not contradict true scientific fact although it may disagree with the opinions of scientists.
Obviously, were there errors in matters of historical and scientific fact in the Scriptures, the truth of all Scripture would be suspect. Christ left no room for such doubt when He asserted. “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Similarly, ‚ Proverbs 30:5 contends that “Every word of God is flawless.”
It is important for the learner to understand that inerrancy does not rule out the possibility of “phenomenal language.” This means that we realize the Bible writer wrote from his perspective rather than that of a modern scientist. When the Psalmist, for example, says, “the sun rises,” he is not speaking scientifically. Nonetheless, he is communicating the truth in a legal manner. (Clearly, the earth spins, but the sun does not rise.) In other words, the Bible language of the sciences is limited to the observer’s language. It is not intended to be an exact scientific book, but rather a clear revelation of God. thanks for your time reading, till my next post.
From this part of the world, It is all thanks and be rupturable, from pastor Godstrong.