In How To Effectively Read The Bible you learned some guidelines to consider when you read the Bible, you need to also learn how to effectively interpret the Bible.
In Bible Interpretation there are three things to look out for that can guide the way we arrive at conclusions:
1. Is it written (in the Bible)?
Jesus demonstrated this on several occasions when he said: “it is written…” (Matthew 4, Luke 4). Hence, before a position is presented as scriptural it must be found expressly stated in the Bible. So, the laws of reading will apply. This then means it must be readable and understandable.Before a position is presented as scriptural it must be found expressly stated in the Bible. Is it written in the bible? Click To Tweet
It is also important to remember that the Bible was not originally written in chapters and verses, thus we would see that no one in scriptures quoted scriptures using chapters and verses but would refer to the author of the book or the name of the book.
Finally, the fact that it is written does not mean it is properly explained as doctrine. Which brings me to the next point.
2. How is it explained in scriptures?
The scriptures already have explained itself. This is called exegesis. The word “exegesis” is to place scriptures with scriptures to arrive at a sound doctrinal conclusion. Exegesis is the actual interpretation of the Bible by drawing the meaning out of the Biblical text. Not importing one’s own purely subjective interpretations into the text.Exegesis is the actual interpretation of the Bible by drawing the meaning out of the Biblical text. Not importing one's own purely subjective interpretations into the text. Click To Tweet
Here are two guidelines for proper exegesis:
– Any good exegesis must be well-corroborated:
This means that we will have a corroborative stance on that same issue all through the scriptures- that is, it will not appear solely in one place. Other texts in the bible must support this stance. In exegetically explaining texts, there are laws to consider.
Scriptures MUST explain scriptures. A doctrine/practice can only be built when we see a topic explained exhaustively in a particular chapter or we find it to be true in different other scriptures.Scriptures MUST explain scriptures. A doctrine/practice can only be built when we see a topic explained exhaustively in a particular chapter or we find it to be true in different other scriptures. Click To Tweet
For example; 1Ti 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and time often infirmities.
Paul’s instruction about wine in SPECIFICALLY directed at Timothy and not the body of Christ, and he didn’t explain further, neither can we find any scripture verse to corroborate this or to explain it (in fact we only have scriptures where we are instructed not to be filled with wine nor to be drunk with wine).
In essence, that CANNOT be used to justify drinking alcohol, since one is not Timothy!
But if we look the subject of TONGUES -for example- this can be built upon!
Firstly, Paul explained Exhaustively about the gifts of the spirit (especially speaking and interpretation of tongues)…we CANNOT IGNORE IT! NOT AT ALL!
1Co 12:1 KJV Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
1Co 12:4 KJV Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
In fact, from Chapter 12-14 of first Corinthians, Paul was explaining the gifts of the spirit!
As Paul explained further, we see him focusing more on tongues as it is for the Edification of the church. He 5hen explained how that this gifts must be functioned in with love, and not selfishness!
1Co 12:31 T4T But you should eagerly desire to have the abilities that will help other believers the most (OR, the abilities that God considers to be the most important). But now I will tell you the best way to use the abilities that God’s Spirit has given you.
1Co 13:1 KJV Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
1Co 14:2 KJV For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
(He then explained how that speaking in tongues edify oneself while alone, but it should be interpreted when in the church -he then call that prophecy-)
1Co 14:3 KJV But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
1Co 14:5 KJV I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
1Co 14:14 KJV For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
1Co 14:15 KJV What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
In fact, he is glad about tongues!
1Co 14:18 KJV I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
HE INSTRUCTED TO SPEAK IN TONGUES!
1Co 14:39 KJV Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
Eph 6:18 KJV Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Jud 1:20 KJV But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, *praying in the Holy Ghost,
In fact, Isaiah prophesied about tongues!
Isa 28:11 KJV For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.‼️
All through the book of Acts, the Apostles spake in tongues and made sure all they preached the Gospel to did the same!
Act 2:4 KJV And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Act 10:46 KJV For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Act 19:6 KJV And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Hence, to say words like: “it’s not important to speak in tongues” is NOT scriptural. It’s to go against scriptures!
It is rooted and well corroborated!
– Law of Double and Emphatic Mention
Any text under consideration must have two or more references from the same author. Other authors in scriptures will also corroborate (agree or teach about the same thing) . It is safer to rely on explanations from the same author on similar issue. This can then be supported by corroborative evidence from other authors.
If a text is only mentioned once or in passing fashion all through the scriptures i.e. it has no corroborative text, this must mean the author did not intend for it to be doctrine.If a text is only mentioned once or in passing fashion all through the scriptures i.e. it has no corroborative text, this must mean the author did not intend for it to be doctrine. Click To Tweet
See what Moses said:
Deuteronomy 17:6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
Also, Jesus said:
Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
John 8:17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
The Writer of the Book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
This is thus a baseline in Bible interpretation. It must be well respected. A text of scripture must be well explained so that no shadows exist in its explanation. Every text must be well-corroborated either by the same writer (speaker) or other writers (speakers). Any teaching based on a text of the Bible with single mention is the beginning of a long journey in error.Any teaching based on a text of the Bible with single mention is the beginning of a long journey in error. Click To Tweet
In certain instances, a text under consideration is not mentioned in many places. However, it is emphatically mentioned and explained in a particular passage of scriptures. A very good example is 1 Corinthians 12-14 where Paul teaches emphatically on the “things of the Spirit”.
3. Is this interpretation practical in human experience and practice?
Some experiences people had in the bible were specific to their culture, the time, person or the situation addressed. You therefore need to read the Bible understanding what was applicable because of the time, place or person the action took place.Some experiences people had in the bible were specific to their culture, the time, person or the situation addressed. Click To Tweet
A very good example would be Matthew 17:25-27 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? (26) Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (27) Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
Here, Jesus told Peter to go fetch money from the mouth of a fish. Often championed as a proof text for miracle money by some. It is however evident that this is inconclusive. We do not know if Jesus was speaking figuratively or literally. There is also no corroborative text by any author of the 4 synoptic accounts of Jesus earthly ministry. Finally, it is obviously not practicable in everyday human experience and practice.
Although, these are but a few rules to guide you- but, putting all of this to heart while studying scriptures would greatly guide you aright: making sure you look at what you are supposed to look at.
Yes, Bible study is ‘hard work’ and it is worth it. If you don’t pay attention to these things, then you are a candidate ready to be deceived: tossed to and fro and left into confusion.