Monday, April 16, 2018

Rules for Bible Study (pt.1)

1. We are to take the words in their normal and literal sense (Neh. 8:8)
The word of God uses some figurative, symbolic, and allegorical language, but most of it is written in plain, literal language. We must always take the words in their normal and literal sense unless it is clearly not possible to do so. For example, when Christ said, “I am the door,” He was obviously not saying that He was literally a wooden door on hinges. Words have meaning, but the allegorical approach claims that the Bible does not mean what it says. This approach attacks the clarity, authority, and integrity of God’s word. 

2. The scriptures are self-interpreting (2 Pet. 1:20)
There is only one right interpretation for every passage of scripture. It is not our place to interpret the Bible (Gen. 40:8). The living word of God interprets itself as we study it God’s way. So, you can just forget man-made rules of hermeneutics. Never build a doctrine on an isolated text.

3. We must compare spiritual things with spiritual (1 Cor. 2:13)
We must “search the scriptures” because one verse or passage will shed more light on another. Learning how to run cross-references is essential to Bible study. The comparison that transformed the way I study the Bible is Acts 3:21 ("spoken... since the world began") with Rom. 16:25 ("secret since the world began").

4. We must understand the difference between interpretation and application

When it comes to understanding the Bible, it is vital that we know the difference between interpretation and application. Interpretation is simply the right and proper explanation of what is written. It is to expound (unfold, open) the text in strict accordance with its context (Neh. 8:8; Lk. 24:27, 44-45). Every passage of scripture only has one right interpretation, but it may have more than one spiritual application. Many mistake an application for the interpretation.

Bullinger wrote, “The interpretation of a passage belongs to the occasion when, and the persons to whom, or of whom, the words were originally intended. When that has been settled, then it is open to us to make application of those words to ourselves or others, so far as we can do so without coming into conflict with any other passages.”

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