16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
The Bible is the standard God has given us by which we can grow in understanding of Him, His will and His kingdom. There are some basic principles we must follow in order to be able to understand and apply the scriptures accurately.
Rightfully Dividing the Word
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
– 2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV
The first basic principle is that we must interpret Scripture in its appropriate context. We must understand that the Bible was written to other people, not us. This does not mean it does not apply to us, it just means we have to understand what God was saying to those who first received it before we know how, or if, it applies to us in our situation. We need to do our best to know who the original human author was (Paul, Moses, etc.), who the recipient(s) was/were (the church in Rome, ancient Israel, etc.), what relationship the author and recipient(s) had with one another and what the occasion for writing was. Most of this can usually be found in the particular book (Romans, Exodus, etc) in which it is written. By understanding what was originally communicated we will be better equipped to see how, or if, the truth of the passage applies to us in our circumstance.
When we come to any passage in scripture and seek to understand what it is teaching, we first look at the immediate context. That is, we look at the verses immediately before and after the verse/verses we are considering. The Bible was not originally divided into chapters and verses. Sometimes the division of verses can give us the impression that a particular verse stands alone, but this is not the case. We must seek to understand the flow of thought of the original author. Reading a few verses before and after a particular verse can go a long way to helping us better understand what the author had in mind.Continue reading “An Anabaptist Hermaneutic – Jesus, His Kingdom & the 4 Gospels”