Bible Interpretation II - Lesson 2

PRINCIPLES OF BIBLE INTERPRETATION (Continued)

  1. THE PRINCIPLE OF TEXTUAL CONTEXT (Continued)
    1. Principle:  Biblical texts are closely connected to what proceeds them and to what follows them (especially within a book of the Bible).  Any individual verse or passage must be interpreted in the light of this textual context.
    2. Applications of the Principle
      1. Who is speaking?  The Bible may correctly quote someone who is saying something wrong.  Knowing the speaker may also tell you how to interpret what he is saying.  Consider the following texts.
        1. Genesis 3:3
        2. Job 4:7-9 with Job 42:7
        3. Acts 5:38
      2. Who is being addressed?  Notice to whom the words are addressed.  This may make a great difference as to the meaning of the passage.
        1. John 8:31-47
        2. Matthew 10:5-6
        3. Deuteronomy 16:16
      3. What is the occasion to which the words apply?
        1. Matthew 10:19-20
        2. Jeremiah 32:7
      4. See if related phrases either within the verse or close by define and explain the difficult statements
        1. Philippians 2:12
        2. Romans 8:28
        3. Acts 16:31 “and thy house”
      5. Consider the general purpose of the book
        1. Ecclesiastes 1:1-3,9-11
        2. John 20:30-31
  2. THE PRINCIPLE OF HISTORICAL CONTEXT
    1. The Principle Explained
      1. Each Bible passage must be interpreted according to its place in the entire scheme of Bible history.
      2. The Bible student must, therefore, know Bible history.  Ignorance of Bible history will guarantee misinterpretation of certain passages
      3. The Bible student should attempt to place himself into the time frame of the passage instead of forcing the passage into his own time
      4. Historical context includes the dispensation, the political situation, the geography involved and the customs and manners of the time in question
      5. Many mistakes in interpretation are made by assuming that the people of Bible times knew all that we can know with the entire Bible in our hands
        1. Even the first books of the Bible (Job and the Pentateuch) were not written until about 2,000 years of history had transpired.  These people had no written scripture.
        2. Most of the books of the Old Testament were written from about 1,000BC and later.  Therefore, the Jews who lived between 2,000 and 1,000BC had little else than the Pentateuch.
        3. The discovery of the law in Josiah’s reign (2 Chronicles 34:14-21) indicates that during much of Israel’s history, the people had little access to the word of God
        4. The people of New Testament times had little, if any, of the New Testament in their hands.  As a rule, their scriptures were those of the Old Testament only
        5. Therefore, we should not (as an example) expect Old Testament saints to understand the teachings of Hebrews 9-10
    2. Examples of Historical Context
      1. A study of Egypt during the time of Moses would clarify his upbringing and situation
      2. The events which prompted the writing of any particular Psalm of David need to be studied
      3. A better understanding of Jerusalem during the time of Christ would help in a study of the life of Christ
      4. The ships and shipping of Ancient Rome would provide good background for a study of Paul’s trip to Rome
    3. Examples of Geographical Context
      1. Some events cannot be understood apart from understanding the lay of the land
        1. Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18)
        2. David in the wilderness (1 Samuel 24-26)
        3. The Galilean Ministry of Christ
      2. In many Bible passages, the geographical features, animal life or plant life must be understood
        1. Geographical features (Psalm 133:3; Jeremiah 12:5)
        2. Animal life (Proverbs 30:26; 1 Samuel 6:7-8)
        3. Plant life (Psalm 104:16; Jeremiah 8:22)
    4. Examples of Bible Customs and Practices
      1. The purchase of land (Genesis 23; Ruth 4)
      2. The work of the shepherd (Psalm 23: John 10)
      3. The wedding feast (John 2)
    5. The Use of Historical Sources
      1. The Bible must be the primary historical and geographical source.  It is the Bible student’s only absolutely fallible reference.  All others must be rejected when they run counter to God’s word
      2. However, when held subservient to the word, other sources can be very helpful.  Do not refuse to learn from them just because the author is human and fallible.  However, seek out those sources that have the highest regard for the words of the living God.
  3. THE PRINCIPLE OF PARALLELISM
    1. The Principle Defined
      1. Parallelism occurs when two lines of text match up with a general correspondence of things to things and words to words
      2. Most of the poetry and some of the prose in the Bible is strongly characterized by parallelism
      3. Parallelism provides several advantages
        1. Words of phrases are often defined
        2. Truths are more strongly established (by saying something two times in slightly different ways)
        3. Comparison of the two statements add to the meaning of the whole (In a sense 1+1=3)
    2. The Principle Illustrated
      1. Comparative parallelism
        1. The same idea is repeated in different words
        2. Identity (Psalm 104:9; Psalm 127:3; Proverbs 6:2)
        3. Similarity (Job 6:5; Psalm 89:36; Proverbs 25:25)
      2. Contrasting parallelism
        1. The second line gives the opposite thought or antithesis of the first
        2. Job 6:25; Psalm 30:5; Psalm 118:8; Proverbs 14:34
      3. Constructive parallelism
        1. The second line adds something new to the first or explains it
        2. Job 23:10; Psalm 51:12,13; Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 24:9
      4. Compound parallelism
        1. The above forms of parallelism may be combined in more complex ways
        2. Job 24:5; Psalm 1:1-2; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 126:5-6; Isaiah 1:3
  4. THE PRINCIPLE OF AGREEMENT
    1. The Unity of the Bible
      1. God, as the author of scripture, cannot lie (Titus 1:2)
      2. The Bible, as the expression of God’s wisdom and will, cannot have any contradictions (2 Timothy 3:16)
    2. The Apparent Contradictions in the Bible
      1. Apparent contradictions have Biblical explanations
      2. Apparent contradictions teach greater truths
  5. THE PRINCIPLE OF REPETITION
    1. When God repeats a word, a passage or a story, He has an important reason for doing so
    2. For the Purpose of Emphasis
      1. John 5:24
      2. Mark 9:44,46,68
      3. Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:14; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28:25-27; Romans 11:8
      4. Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38
    3. For the Purpose of Addition
      1. Sometimes, God adds something the second time that was not mentioned the first time
      2. 2 Kings 18-20 with 2 Chronicles 29-32—Both passages deals with the reign of Hezekiah.  Kings deals much more with the wars of his time.  Chronicles deals mostly with the great revival under him.
      3. 2 Samuel 6 with 2 Chronicles 13-14, 16—Chronicles gives much more information about the moving of the ark to Jerusalem
      4. Deuteronomy means “second law”; many of the precepts found earlier in the law are repeated in Deuteronomy—often with additional information
    4.  For the Purpose of Theme
      1. Each book of the Bible has a purpose for its writing that creates a special emphasis for that book; certain stories or details may be included or excluded in order to fit with the purpose or theme of the book
      2. The gospels
        1. Matthew—Christ as the King of the Jews
        2. Mark—Christ as the Servant of the Lord
        3. Luke—Christ as the Son of Man
        4. John—Christ as the Son of God
      3. The histories of Israel
        1. Samuel and Kings—these books deal with the history of both Israel and Judah; emphasis is given to political history
        2. Chronicles—these books deal exclusively with the history of Judah; emphasis is given to chronologies and spiritual history
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 18:18

The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.