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As the rest of the verse makes clear, the point is loyalty , the kind of fidelity to a friend that causes one to stick closer than even a brother. A man of many friends—a friend to all the world, whose friendships are a mile wide but only an inch deep—will come to ruin, but there is a kind of friend that sticks closer than a brother. God is so great and so gracious that He is able to deal with us where we are and through what we have available to us in terms of teaching and understanding.

Because the text itself is intended by God always to mean only one thing to everyone at all times. Despite his brilliance, Augustine sometimes devised speculative spiritualizations through an allegorical approach to the text. For example, in his interpretation of the parable of the good Samaritan, the man robbed and beaten is Adam, Jerusalem where he is going is heaven, the robbers are Satan and his angels, the priest is the Law, and the Levite represents the Prophets; the good Samaritan is, of course, Christ.

Expository Hermeneutics: An Introduction

An allegorical approach is dangerous because it ignores the plain literal intent of the text, and it is unreliable because it has virtually no objective controls; the only limitation is your imagination. We commonly draw on Biblical language in our preaching, teaching, and conversation.

The normal, non-sinful, everyday activities Christ cited from the days of Noah, coupled with the repeated emphasis throughout the entire passage, indicates that the point is suddenness, unexpectedness. We tend to read the Bible too selectively, as though it were merely a collection of isolated proof texts. As helpful as they are for reference, verse divisions can cause us to forget that a verse is not an isolated statement of Scripture, but a sentence or phrase within a paragraph.

The authority for our interpretation resides in the meaning of the text. And the meaning of any text is always determined by its context. Proper hermeneutics is not a matter of knowing Greek or Hebrew. It is simply a matter, first, of observing the context. That is what produces sound, authoritative preaching, teaching, and Bible study. The point of all this is not to generate a critical spirit when we hear something that we may be convinced is not hermeneutically sound, or to assume God is not speaking through someone who may not be handling the text as accurately as one might hope.

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New Password. Password Changed Successfully Your password has been changed. Returning user. Request Username Can't sign in? Forgot your username? Enter your email address below and we will send you your username. The New Testament writers often state it is the moral state of the reader, not the intellectual state, that prevents clear understanding of Scripture cf. It is helpful to keep in mind that Paul's letters were read to the entire church - to all present, even Greeks with little understanding of Jewish culture and unbelievers. Scripture is able to be understood by all - by unbelievers who read it sincerely seeking salvation, and by believers who read it seeking God's help in understanding it.

This is because in both cases the Holy Spirit combats the influence of sin which otherwise would make the wisdom of God appear obtuse to the natural man 1 Corinthians Our culture - the post-Modern Western culture - is vastly different from that of the authors of Scripture; we will sometimes find deep differences in what we take to be "givens" in a specific area of knowledge and what the Biblical writers took as their "givens. We will find that great gaps exist between eastern and western culture; therefore we need some help in bridging these gaps.

We, as westerners, will find ourselves separated from the Bible culturally, geographically, historically and especially by language. On the other hand, we believe God's Word to be universal in meaning and application. We believe the Holy Spirit will reveal all truth to us, particularly with regard to the Bible. Many in the New Testament churches did not understand the Hebrew of the Old Testament, yet the Apostles expected them to understand the truth of the Old Testament scriptures when translated into Greek.

Does this mean that we may safely ignore the cultural, historical, and language differences between us and the Biblical writer?

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I don't believe it does, any more than we may rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us to speak or read or use logic. The Holy Spirit inspired the Biblical authors and illuminates God's Word to those who earnestly seek its truth, but interpretation is properly the responsibility of individual Christians. Paul describes the one who "rightly divides" the Word of Truth as a "workman;" thus proper interpretation comes through effort.

Paul is writing to Timothy who was apparently gifted as a teacher, and certainly the Holy Spirit provides the church gifted teachers to help us better understand God's Word, but Scripture is quite clear that we are all to read, study, and meditate upon God's Word cf. What This Text Means to Me The view that all one must do is pray and read the Bible, and the Holy Spirit will provide the proper interpretation, or the view that one's own, idiosyncratic interpretation of Scripture is just as valid as that any other "what this text means to me That is, if I say that the Holy Spirit provided me with the interpretation, or my interpretation, it is impossible for anyone to demonstrate that I have wrongly divided the Word.

The "truth" I have arrived at is self-contained and ultimately incommunicable to you. You will have to "experience" the same personal revelation, and even then, we will may wonder if our two experiences really were identical, or if there were subtle differences that may affect our interpretation. This hermeneutic methodology or really lack of methodology provides ample opportunity for me to twist Scripture to my own destruction, and to that of any others who would follow my interpretation 2 Peter The noble-minded Bereans in Acts 17 diligently searched the Scriptures, seeking to learn if the Gospel Paul was preaching to them was true.

Hermeneutics: An Introduction

We may be certain that they held a common view - an "orthodox" interpretation of the Scriptures they read - by which they measured what Paul was saying. This interpretation, if contemporary Rabbinic writings are any measure, was a careful application of principles like the ones we shall be considering. It may be helpful at this point to consider the definition of some terms and concepts that pertain to hermeneutics. I use the term "superintending" to indicate that God uses the personality, experience, vocabulary, and writing style of the author. Inspiration is divine guidance, not dictation.

By superintending the Biblical authors, God ensures that His revelation is recorded accurately and without error. By "extra-exegetical," I don't mean to imply that the Holy Spirit is not involved in the process of exegesis the interpretation of a given passage , but that illumination is properly understood to be an aspect of the convicting role of the Spirit, to soften the heart. God speaks to us through His written Word. The Holy Spirit helps us to know that what we are reading is indeed God's Word.

The Holy Spirit reveals general truths about God; the student, convicted of these general truths, applies hermeneutic principles to arrive at the proper meaning of specific passages. Schools of Biblical Interpretation. Through the centuries, people have recognized the value in using principles for interpretation.

But, humans being the way we are, have developed a number of different principles and methodologies. Here's a brief summary of the more popular hermeneutic "schools:". Clement of Alexandria and Origen are two early church "fathers" who viewed Scripture, particularly the Old Testament, as being symbolic rather than literal. The allegorical school teaches that beneath each verse of scripture beneath the obvious is the "real" meaning of the passage.

Hidden in each sentence or statement is a symbolic spiritual meaning. The Roman Catholic Church allegorizes some passages of Scripture. For example, the Catholic Church views the bread and wine of Melchizedek in the Book of Genesis, the manna in the wilderness, and the oil in the diet of Elijah, as allegorical "types" of the Catholic Mass. This method of interpretation was rejected by all of the Reformers. Luther called it a scourge.

Introduction to Biblical Interpretation Video Lectures, by Klein, Blomberg, &Hubbard, sample lesson

Calvin called it Satanic. That is not to say that the Reformers rejected all allegorical interpretations, but argued instead that allegorical or symbolic passages were contained in clearly defined contexts, such as the Book of Revelation. This method often advocated the reading of the scriptures as a means of obtaining a mystical experience.

The Bible is said to be useful for devotion and prayer, but need not be studied. Critics of the devotional school argue that while the Bible is uniquely able to spiritually edify and is the primary means by which God conforms us to the image of His Son, this school's methodology can lead to idiosyncratic interpretations which have little to do with the truth of Scripture. Liberal theologians do not accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God and reject the verbal inspiration of the Bible.

This is not the place to provide a thorough critique of liberalism in Bible Studies and its various critical methods Source, Form, Historical Critical, etc. I note here, however, that once one abandons the verbal inspiration of the Bible, one own intellect becomes the determining factor in questions of truth.

1. Introduction

Relativism is the inevitable result, which, when extrapolated to it's logical conclusion, is unable to prove anything with certainty, let alone one's preferred liberal interpretation. For instance, figures of speech or fables of allegories do not admit to being of a literal interpretation.


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The spirit of literal interpretation is that we should be satisfied with the literal interpretation of a text unless very substantial reasons can be given for advancing beyond the literal meaning. When the New Testament writers refer to the Old Testament scriptures, they interpret those passages literally.

Thus, we have Biblical and extra-Biblical evidence that in the earliest days of Christianity, a literal interpretation of Scripture was displayed. In case you haven't guessed, this is only school of interpretation that I believe has a Biblical basis, and as such, it is the foundation of the hermeneutical principles I attempt to follow in my own study of God's Word. The Principles of Biblical Interpretation. There are certain principles that will help us to accurately handle the Word of Truth. These principles are embedded in the scripture itself. We do not need to go beyond the boundaries of the Bible to discover these laws and maxims that are used to determine the meaning of scripture.

The Bible interprets itself scripture interprets scripture. Principle 1: The Literal Interpretation Principle. We take the Bible at face value. We generally take everyday things in life as literal or at face value. This is a common sense approach. Even symbols and allegories in the Bible are based on the literal meaning of the scripture; thus the literal meaning is foundational to any symbolic or allegorical meaning. Principle 2: The Contextual Principle. Carson has been quoted as saying, "A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.

The Word of God is a perfect unit. The scriptures cannot be broken; they all hang together, a perfect unity. We must look and consider the verses immediately before, after, and around the passage.