Interpreting the Bible
by Bobby Bruno
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Whenever we read something we have to strive to get the full meaning out of the authorís intent if we are ever to understand what the author wants us to know and understand. If we do not understand what we are hearing or reading then we may end up doing either the wrong thing, or the right thing in the wrong way. Especially when it comes to understanding what God has written in His Word. If we get the message wrong here, we run the risk of sinning against God first and then possibly others later, and then we end up having to pay the consequence of what we have done. This is not how God wants us to live. He wants us to fully understand His Word so that we may live in freedom and peace with God and with others. God intentionally made His Word easier to understand by those who have His Spirit living within them. Without the Spirit, understanding and obeying Godís Word would be impossible. But the key to knowing the full meaning and intent of Godís Word requires that we use the correct method of gleaning all that God has for us in the words He has passed on to us in the past, present, and future.
The best way to understanding anything we read is to look at the words being said by the author, the reasons why he said them, who he was saying them to, why he chose the words he did in conveying what he wanted his hearers to know, and does what he said agree or disagree with others who have proclaimed the same type of message. This is where the grammatical-historical method of interpreting the Bible is the best method we can use to learn all of these things. There is more value in correctly interpreting an authorís words ourselves than relying on others before us who may not have had the Spirit living within them when they told us what meanings they got out of an authorís words. We must go to the Scriptures ourselves and let the Spirit guide us into all the meaning and wisdom that God has placed within His Word.
The most important way to fully understanding any Scripture is by placing the entire Scripture within the context in which it was written. You cannot just pull out one verse of Scripture and believe that you have gotten the final say on what that verse says. If we donít know why the words were said, and to who, how can we know for sure what the words were intended to say? Doing this could lead to dire consequences for us by the sin we commit by misunderstanding the wordís meaning and intent. For example; Iím sure weíve all heard this story in church about taking verses out of context. ďĒOne day, a man opened up his Bible to Matthew 27:5 and read, ďAnd Judas hung himself.Ē Hmm, he said, wondering if that was really the Lordís Will for him at this time in his life. To make sure, he decided to check other scriptures to see if this was right, so he flipped to Luke 10:37 and read, ďGo and do likewise.Ē And so he did.ĒĒ Context is everything to a proper interpretation of the Scriptures. Knowing the Lordís Will for our lives requires that we fully understand each and every word He has written in the Bible. If we leave one word out, we make the words our own and not Godís. His way is better.
Comment: "The goal here is to determine the author's original intent."
Author Response: I agree. Understanding the Bible is key to understanding God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We have to get it right or risk the danger of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, or even the danger of apostatizing or even denying Jesus completely. I love that Jesus always spoke in the context of the Father. Every word He said was all about God and never Himself unless it was to say what the Father had in store for the Son. One of the other risks we take of taking things out of context is that you can get people to believe anything, especially if the people don't know the true words that were spoken by another person. Look at the elections: most people couldn't tell you if the stats they were hearing about another candidate are true or not. People are easily swayed when they don't know the truth behind the "facts" they are given. I am very thankful that God gave us his word that never changes. In context, God is God; out of context man is god.
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