Hermeneutics is simply the rules we follow to correctly interpret what the bible is saying.
2 Tim 2:15
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. NKJV
The KJV says ‘study’ to show yourself…. This will take time and effort.
The primary purpose of the scriptures is to bring us to salvation which is in Christ.
2 Tim 3:13-15
13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures , which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. NKJV
37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. NKJV
The purpose is not only to achieve knowledge about Jesus and the way of salvation….but to come into a life changing relationship with God
2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ." NKJV
11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, NKJV
28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. NKJV
1 Cor 15:3-4
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures , 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures NKJV
Other uses of the scriptures
2 Tim 3:16-17
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. NKJV
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. NKJV
2 Peter 3:14-16
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. NKJV
We need to be taught the parameters for interpretation so that we do not misunderstand or twist what is being said. If we are taught then unstable people (false teachers) will not be able to mislead us.
Simply said we need to understand what covenant was being addressed…..who the scripture was addressing….what God was saying to them….how they would have understood (in their context) the instructions.
We as Gentile believers must realize that we are under the New Covenant…that of Grace and NOT law. (John 1:17, Heb 1:1-2, Heb 7:18-19, Hebrews 8:6, Heb 8:13, Heb 10:9, etc)
We need to be careful not to ‘proof-text’….or ‘cherry pick’ …..ie take texts out of context to support our preconceived positions. To avoid this we should look at all scriptures about a topic….not only those which support our case.
There are a couple of keys…..
Let the scriptures explain the scripture.
Never base a doctrine on one scripture only to the contradiction of others….. ‘in the mouth of 2 or three witnesses let EVERY word be confirmed’
‘My words are spirit and they are LIFE’….do not let condemnation be the outcome of your interpretation.
In addition in the New Testament all of us as believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us …the Spirit of Truth….who will lead us into all truth. We need to know that the only foundation for sure truth is God’s word……that which He has spoken and which has been recorded for our instruction (John 17:17)
Each one of us is able to pray and say….Holy Spirit as I hear these teachings let my heart know if they are YOUR truth….or merely the ‘doctrines of men’ (Heb 8:10-11, Mat 15:9, 1 Tim 4:9, Heb 13:9, Col 2:22 1 John 2:26-27)
The primary purpose of the scriptures is often forgotten in the pursuit of legalistic religion
25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. NKJV
Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. NKJV
It is that Christ would be revealed... to us and in us
The test of truth…..
32 And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" NKJV
This is NOT a ‘burning in the bosom’……but a sure knowledge of truth FROM THE SCRIPTURES. If it comes from another book it is a DECEPTION.
The revelation of CHRIST in the scriptures is what brings light and life!
Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics - summarized and simplified articles
- 1. The scripture is paramount….all of it has its purpose
- 2. The scriptures are inerrant …even if individual translations themselves are not perfect
- 3. The person and work of Christ is the central focus of the entire bible
- 4. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the scriptures…and has not or will not inspire contrary words today
- 5. The Holy Spirit will enable believers to appropriate and apply the scriptures to their lives today
- 6. The scriptures express God’s truth in absolute and objective terms
- 7. The meaning of each text is single, definite and fixed.
- 8. The bible contains teachings and mandates which apply to all cultural and situational contexts
- 9. The correct exegesis of scripture alone determines what the biblical revelation means and how it bears on our lives…rather than the individual interpreters understanding
- 10. The scriptures communicate God’s word to us verbally through a wide variety of literary forms….adequately conveying God’s message
- 11. The translations of the text communicate knowledge of God across all temporal and cultural boundaries
- 12. In the translation of the bible culturally functional equivalents which are faithful to the content can be used
- 13. The awareness of the literary categories of the various parts of the Scripture is essential for proper exegesis
- 14. We need to accept that the biblical record of events corresponds to historical fact
- 15. The bible is interpreted according to its literal or normal sense…the grammatical and historical sense ie the meaning which the writer expressed. The interpretation will take into account all the figures of speech and literary forms found in the text
- 16. Legitimate critical techniques should be used in determining canonical text and its meaning
- 17. The scriptures have a unity and harmony and are consistent and the best way to understand scripture is to use other scriptures to interpret them
- 18. The bibles own interpretation of itself is always correct, never deviating from but rather elucidating the single meaning of the inspired text. The single meaning of a prophets words includes but is not restricted to the understanding of those words by the prophet
- 19. The interpreters pre-understandings should be in harmony with scriptural teaching and subject to correction by it
- 20. Since God is the author of all truth, all truths be they biblical or extra-biblical are consistent and coherent
- 21. Special and general revelation such as the facts of nature are in harmony with biblical teaching
- 22. The account of the creation is factual…..and the scriptures CANNOT be broken
- 23. The scriptures are clear and specifically are clear about the message of salvation from sin
- 24. No person is dependent on the expertise of biblical scholars to understand the bible….but there could be beneficial tools they can assist people with (ie commentaries and concordances, etc)
- 25. Preaching which conveys the divine revelation clearly and in its proper application to life is that which faithfully expounds the text of scripture as the word of God