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The inspired Scriptures provide the only infallible information and perfect rules for Bible study. We should never add new facts to what the Bible says from our own reason, visions, voices, or miraculous signs. No authoritative data comes from the independent testimony of the church, science, archeology, philosophy, mystical experience, or personal anecdotes. No exra-biblical expectations, presumptions, or facts should color our interpretation of Scripture. Commentaries or dictionaries should never be quoted independently as a source of reliable data.

Editors of dictionaries and of lexicons are susceptible to error and prejudice because of their own presumptions.

1. The ‘bodily’ or ‘somatic’ sense

Some have claimed that the Holy Spirit spoke to them or led them to some new understanding. Such mystical claims and backward exegesis discard the principle of sola scriptura. The second Latin Phrase is: Scriptura Scripturae interpres. The best way to understand a passage is to see how the rest of Scripture fits with it and clarifies it. We need a thorough familiarity with the whole Bible both testaments. We should use cross-references locate other portions that use the same expressions or cover the same material.

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When we study a passage in the Bible we should consider some basic questions: — Does the text quote or refer to other biblical portions? Not all portions of Scripture are equally clear, nor are they all intended for instruction. Recorded acts or words of individuals may be either evil or good WCF I. Passages that deal directly with an issue should interpret passages which only indirectly or incidentally refer to it. The third phrase is: Omnis intellectus ac expositio Scripturae sit analogia fidei.

We have confidence that what the Bible says is analogous to the way God sees things. What is said in the Bible is explained in a finite way so our creaturely minds can understand it, but it still bears a faithful correspondance to what God knows perfectly and infinitely. After all, it represents absolute truth as it is in the mind of God. All that God makes known fits with what He knows perfectly, so there can be no contradictions. Therefore each passage in the Bible can have only one certain and simple sense. Good Biblical Hermeneutics is rightly determining the original intent of each text of Scripture.

Symbolic vs. Literal Interpretation of the Bible

Paul wrote to Timothy about the importance of careful study. Good study ought to yield the straight truth of the text. To accomplish this careful analysis, the faithful Bible student needs to complete three basic tasks: the Grammatical task, the Historical task, and the Theological task. First is the Grammatical Task. This is just a quick review of the Grammatical Task. We need to determine all the possible ways a given expression can be understood grammatically.

The grammatical task involves three areas of work: lexicography, accidence, and syntax. Lexicography is the study of the meaning of words. We have to consider all possible meanings of a word, eliminating meanings that are inconsistent with the context. We keep in mind the meanings that best fit with the flow of thought.

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Accidence is the study of the grammatical forms of words. Changes in spellings, endings, and prefixes show how words relate with one another in a sentence. Syntax is the study of the relationships between the words in phrases, sentences and paragraphs. It can be useful to diagram the sentences. The second area of study is the Historical Task.

We need to know the customs, issues, events, and expressions that were contemporary when it was written. We need to know what information had already been made known to the recipients of the book.

We also need to identify where the book stands in time with reference the unfolding of the work of redemption. The third area of study is the Theological Task. To do that the interpreter needs to know the overall biblical context. Context expands outwardly from a text. It all has to fit together.

That violates this principle.

Question 1:

Instead, our theology should emerge out of the whole context of Scripture. These three basic tasks of hermeneutics are not exclusive of one another: — The historical question must be considered theologically. God has not revealed himself all at once. He did not explain the complete work of the Messiah as soon as man first fell into sin. We need to determine how what was said fits with what had been revealed at that time.

What had God already made known? Have previous portions of Scripture established meanings that are assumed by the author? What grammatical forms, idioms, and meanings were current when that book was written? We humans are fallen creatures. Even redeemed believers are imperfect in this life. The work of the Holy Spirit on the regenerate heart is an essential element in sound hermeneutics. WCF b.

How does one determine the authority behind "proper" biblical interpretation? |

Jesus promised that the Spirit would lead his people into truth. The Holy Spirit is not a direct source of new information to individuals now that the Bible is complete. The Apostolic foundation has been laid as it tells us in Ephesians The Spirit testifies to what God has already spoken.

There needs to be a union between the work of the Spirit and the study of the revealed word. If we look to the word without the aid of the Spirit we will probably undersand it in a distorted way. The Holy Spirit ministers truth to us by means of the revealed word, not independently of it.

You and they will usually find that they can understand the passage and that God's one intended message is very clear. Perhaps the obvious meaning of verses like John is what lead the well known agnostic Mark Twain to quip…. Milton S. The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture.

We deny that the recognition of this single meaning eliminates the variety of its application. But the moment we admit the principle that portions of Scripture contain an occult or double sense we introduce an element of uncertainty in the sacred volume, and unsettle all scientific interpretation. To say that words do mean a thing merely because they can be tortured into meaning it is a most dishonorable and dangerous way of handling Scripture We have already seen that the Bible has its riddles, enigmas, and dark sayings, but whenever they are given the context clearly advises us of the fact.

To assume, in the absence of any hint, that we have an enigma, and in the face of explicit statements to the contrary, that any specific prophecy has a double sense, a primary and a secondary meaning, a near and a remote fulfilment, must necessarily introduce an element of uncertainty and confusion into biblical interpretation. In short, as Berean Bible students we should assiduously avoid arriving at an interpretation of Scripture based on our personal opinion, popular consensus, gut feelings, the persuasiveness of an argument, and even what we have been taught by other respected teachers including a specific "brand" of systematic theology.

Sometimes the most difficult aspect of interpretation is to "unlearn" prior faulty, flawed interpretations! Remember that interpretation is the bridge between observation and application.

Biblical Hermeneutics

Accurate interpretation is not only possible but it is crucial lest we inappropriately apply the Bible click here for a sad example. Acting on what God has said application assumes that you understand what He has said. Is your approach to the interpretation of Scripture like a person casting lots? The renowned preacher, G. J I Packer adds that "A misinterpreted Bible is a misunderstood Bible, which will lead us out of God's way rather than in it.

Because we are human and now see in a mirror dimly 1Cor , there will always be Bible passages on which sincere Bible believers even those who hold to literal interpretation will not arrive at complete agreement. The goal of inductive Bible study is to understand what God meant by what He said through human authors. Paul spoke to this point in exhorting young Timothy to…. Whatever God says is Truth. Truth is also a Person, Jesus.

From this verse, it is clear that accurate interpretation takes some "holy sweat" so to speak. And why make this effort? What's the goal?