Hudson Taylor missionary to China asked, "Can feeble man expect to grasp divine power,
or to understand and interpret the works or the
providences of the All-wise? And if not, is it surprising that His Word also needs superhuman
wisdom for its interpretation? Thanks be to God, the illumination of the HOLY GHOST is
promised to all who seek for it: what more can we desire?"
The Word of God is not easy to interpret. God Almighty speaks primarily to Israel in the Bible, but he also speaks to Gentiles worldwide who have saving faith. It is important for the reader to determine who God is speaking to through his Prophets and Apostles or errors in interpretation will be made.
In the Bible God speaks to Israelites, Gentiles, novice believers and to Saints in the New Testament. The Old Testament is addressed primarily to the Israelites with some attention given to Gentiles. A Gentile can be of any race but Jewish.
Since specific promises in the Bible are primarily for the Jewish race of Israel, it is only natural for the Gentile peoples of the world to attempt to claim those promises for themselves with Gentile preachers telling Gentile audiences you are no longer Gentiles, you are now Israel and the promises to Israel are now promised to you. Auditoriums fill up to have their ears tickled with encouraging rheteric of streets of gold to walk on in a perpetual state of spiritual perfection free from death forever in the garden of Eden paradise promised Jewish Born Israel.
"TO THE JEW FIRST," is written in stone. The Word of God in your Bible is made of forever. Those words apply to the world to come. There is nothing temporary about them nor should you waste everyone's time throwing the sins of Israel up in her face theologically to demote her in the heart of God who will take back his wife.
Re-interpret your Bible outside of any religious influence.
It would be hard to find churchmen in America who do not believe they are equal to the Jews in every respect. Yet grafting into Israel is not meant for a license to usurp promises the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob made to her.
Here is the attitude worldwide revivalist John Wesley would have you consider in your Bible meditations.
He said, "Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his Book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of lights: 'Lord, is it not thy Word, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God"? Thou "givest liberally and upbraidest not". Thou hast said, "If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know." I am willing to do, let me know thy will. I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, 'comparing spiritual things with spiritual'. I meditate thereon, with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God, and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak."
Search your heart and see if you are approaching the Lord in prayer totally given over to his revealed will for your life. How else can you expect the Lord of Light reveal his holy Book to your understanding?
A compromised commitment to the LORD means your powers of interpretation are compromised.
The consequence of so many mis-interpreting the Word of God in America and throughout the world is a great cloud of spiritual darkness over the land where believers are supposed to be the Light of the world.
How can you know God's will if you don't know His Word?
"IF THE LIGHT IN YOU IS DARKNESS, HOW GREAT IS THAT DARKNESS?" The Master
Disobedience toward God is the central cause of the problem God's people are facing in these perilous times. There are few believers who can properly interpret the Bible. If you have not lived sacrificially according to the great mysteries of godliness waiting to be revealed to the devout from the Bible, you ought not to publish anything without disclaimers alerting hearers what you believe is most likely not your final word on the matter as you intend to seek after more revelations for greater clarity of doctrine and interpretation.
Understanding the Word of God comes by revelation knowledge from the holy Spirit. Your skills in some profession or your degrees in education have little or nothing to do with your ability to receive revealed Light from God. God reveals the deeper meanings of his holy Word to the obedient and devout.
The greatness of the problem is greatly exasperated by the fact there is no central command able to stop those with a manuscript from going to the printers to have everything from counterfeit Bibles, books, brochures, tracts and pamplets published.
If you are capable of a thorough and continuing study of the Word of God and are willing to be transformed into "a new creature in Christ" by your continuing to obey what is revealed to you; it would be best for you to study outside of organized religion and religious media.
If study and research are not easy for you to do, it is best for you avoid absorbing the doctrines and teachings of others. Just concentrate on obeying the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ to "LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, SOUL, MIND AND STRENGTH AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS MUCH AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF."
The understanding of God Almighty is infinite. The understanding of mankind is finite. God is Light. Man is darkness. God has his agenda. Every man has his agenda. He sees and hears all things. Human nature is dull of hearing. He is immovable. We are movable.
The Apostles used "great plainness of speech." The Apostle Paul also said we have "many things to say that are hard to be uttered." In other words, the Word of God in the Bible is not easy to understand even though the holy men who wrote it used "great plainness of speech."
Religious leaders like to use "enticing words of men's wisdom." The language they use is dressed up to make it fashionable and entertaining and to make themselves appear deeply knowledgeable in the Word of God.
The Seminaries in America produce religious leaders who have not borne the cross of Christ, neither have they studied to show themselves approved of God. When they come out of Seminary into the business of managing and administrating a Church, their messages in regard to interpreting the Word of God are vain and useless. Their explanations are spiced with words we do not ordinarily use in the English language. They have their own lingo like other professions.
The Word of God is multi-dimensional but universally speaking; the Word of God is two dimensional. It the physical from the spiritual. "THE WORD OF GOD IS QUICK AND SHARPER THAN ANY TWO EDGED SWORD, DIVIDING BONE FROM MARROW (THE PHYSICAL) AND SOUL FROM SPIRIT (THE SPIRITUAL) AND IS A DISCERNER OF THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTS OF THE HEART." (Hebrews 4:12)
The rare individual who becomes a skillful interpreter of the Word of God, has the hope of becoming "A DISCERNER OF THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTS OF THE HEART", not only his own motives; but those of others.
To become a skillful interpreter of the Bible, you must "STUDY TO SHOW YOURSELF APPROVED OF GOD, A WORKMAN WHO NEEDS NOT BE ASHAMED, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH." Learn to look for the physical application of a verse as well as the spiritual, making sure you know to whom God is speaking.
We are told in the Bible, "THE LETTER KILLS, BUT THE SPIRIT SAVES." The Bible consists of 66 books of letters written by holy men. If you lean on your own understanding rather than seek the Spirit to reveal the truth to you, you have the Letter that kills spiritually. It is the Spirit of truth who saves God's people.
"YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE."
In a Letter to Samuel Furly, 10 May, 1755, John Wesley wrote: "The general rule of interpreting Scripture is this: the literal sense of every text is to be taken, if it be not contrary to some other texts. But in that case, the obscure text is to be interpreted by those which speak more plainly"
The Word of God is never figurative or symbolic by itself. All Scripture is anchored in the literal world of reality in which you live.
Figurative is another word for abstract. Figurative interpreters of the Bible will put anything to a verse they want to.
Some will say St. John 15:1 must be interpreted figuratively where the Lord said: "I am the vine, you are the branches..." They will say, "Jesus is obviously not a vine, and his followers are obviously not branches." In doing so, they are calling the Lord a liar. He said, "I am the vine..." Therefore it is not for anyone to say he is not "the vine."
Go into any vineyard and you will find A VINE, but Jesus is "THE VINE." Interpret the text literally if you want to know its real meaning.
Stop and think about it. What is a vine? It gathers its nourishment from a source and passes it on to its branches which are totally dependent upon it. In the Word of God, Jesus referred to the Father in heaven as the "HUSBANDMAN." He is the source of nourishment for the vine and its branches. He waters. He prunes. He fertilizes. He guards against the frost.
The Father begins the process planting, nourishing and caring for THE VINE.
The vine feeds the branches.
Just as the earthly vine is rooted in the soil of the earth, so the heavenly vine
is rooted in God literally. Just as a well cared for vine can produce forty two
pounds in a growing season, so a well cared for spiritual vine produces the good
fruit of the Spirit in season.
Just as the earthly vine can be trained to follow the trellis wires or arbour, so Jesus trained the disciples to follow the Spirit where they can abide in Him. Just as the branches of an earthly vine can be cut and grown into a vine, so the disciples became Apostles and made disciples.
In all of these literal examples, the skilled Husbandman brings the earthly vine into production in two years while unskilled husbandmen require much more time to bring their vines into productivity. Likewise, the heavenly Husbandman Jesus transformed his servants into his likeness in a very short time.
Stay far away from figurative interpreters of the Bible or anyone who teaches false doctrine. If it is possible for you to learn to interpret the Bible, you should hold yourself responsible to do it.
"TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, MUCH IS REQUIRED." But if you lack the ability to interpret holy Scripture, you should be very diligent in discerning whether your teacher is of God or of religion.
We live in a spiritual and physical world. Those who have no God consciousness are unaware of the spiritual dimension of created reality. But as you grow in your understanding of the two dimensional Word of God, your God consciousness should also grow considerably to where you see the unseen workings of God in all we do in this life.
John Wesley wrote in a letter to Samuel Furly, May 10th, 1755 saying, "The general rule of
interpreting Scripture is this: the literal sense of every text is to be taken,
if it be not contrary to some other texts. But in that case, the obscure text is to be interpreted
by those which speak more plainly"
God could easily fail English in the schools of America. He frequently does not finish sentences because it is to his glory to conceal a matter. Yet his Word is so deep few every will come to understand it in this lifetime. To become a skillful interpreter of the Word of God, it is important to study his Word meditatively and prayerfully daily; to come to an understanding of how He uses language.
His use of the English language is strictly his own. The Bible is a library of sixty six books where the meanings of words are defined not according to mankind's dictionaries, but according to the meaning God attaches to those words. If you do not know the meaning of a word in the Bible, consult a Young's concordance where all of the uses of that word are filed categorically according to their Greek and Hebrew usage. Look up the verses in the same language category until you come to an understanding of how God is using the word in question.
There are also quite a few obsolete words in the holy King James 1611 Bible. Many public libraries have little booklets where authors have attempted to explain the meanings of those English words used way back when the 1611 Bible was translated that are no longer in use.
There are many words not in use in the authorized King James 1611 Holy Book. In some instances, other words are used. For the word ocean, look for "the great deep" or "the deep." God never uses the Word supernatural in all of the Bible through his holy writers. It is natural for him to work miracles, so he sees no reason to speak of supernatural SIGNS AND WONDERS even though they are supernatural to us.
Any time you see the word "man" mentioned in the Bible, it usually includes women too. Quite the contrary to the feminist influence in America, women are considered "inferior vessels" in comparison to men. So the Word of God in the Bible is addressed to men.
If you see the word "nations" in the Bible, the writer is referring to Gentile nations. If you see the word "heathen" in the Bible, that is also referring to Gentiles.
The words Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit are both "hagion pneuma" in the Greek.
To make the Word of God in the Bible even more difficult to accurately interpret, it was not originally written in American English. Words like power can have two or more Greek meanings in the New Testament. If you look up the Greek you will find "dunamis" and "exousia" in use. Power translated from "dunamis" means spiritual power. Power translated from "exousia" means delegated authority or the power of a solo traffic cop holding back lines of vehicles more powerful than himself, simply because the power delegated to him is respected.
The word love can have many variations of meaning in the Greek and the Hebrew. Likewise the words for hell and the grave are easy to confuse if you are inclined to be impulsive. So it is important for those who wish to become skillful interpreters to regularly do word studies in a Young's concordance.
The same Greek is used in St. Matthew 1:20 and St. Mark 1:2 where the translators used the word "angel" in the first and "messenger" in the second example. John the Baptist could very well have been an angel in the body of a man in the second example, so there is really no reason to be overly concerned, but it is important to keep a close watch on every word you are studying in the Bible.
There are words in the Bible that believers tend to use without really knowing their meanings. You have probably heard it prayed many times, "thy kingdom come." A kingdom is a government ruled by a king. In the thousand year reign of Christ, he will reign as King of kings over many much smaller city State kingdoms throughout the earth where he will put subordinate kings in authority. When you pray "thy kingdom come" you are asking the Lord to return and set up his global Kingdom upon the earth for the thousand year reign and you are saying you will obey him in it.
For the novice coming into the faith or for those who have learned the meanings of religious words from the churches, it is important to do word studies on FAITH, GRACE, JUSTIFICATION, REDEMPTION, SANCTIFICATION, CONFESSION, HOLINESS, RESURRECTION, IMMORTALITY V/S MORTALITY and so on. The best rule is to never presume to understand the meaning of any word you find in the Bible.
Don't be awed by the use of big words by others. Those who toss big words into their conversations usually do not have much worth saying. Etymology is concerned primarily with the history of a word. It is the study of the orignial meaning of a word which if often much different than the true meaning at the time of the 1611 translation. Be more concerned with how the Word of God uses the word in question rather than the history of the word.
Many suppose themselves more knowledgeable than the translators of the sacred and holy King James 1611
Bible. They will attempt to say certain words should be translated differently. Get yourself far from
such instructors. God inspired the translation of the King James Bible. It is the holy Book He has
provided the English speaking people of the world.
The word "hermeneutics" refers to skills necessary to the interpretation of written texts. The term was derived from the Pagan Greek of Hermes, the son of Zeus and a mountain nymph. He was supposedly the messenger of the gods, probably comparable to "messenger of Satan sent to buffet" the Apostle Paul.
We are not under the law, so you can certainly use the word "hermeneutics" if it pleases you, but its very source ought to warn you it is not of God. People who use big words more often than not, do so to impress others as though they have an in depth understanding of the subject. If you are already attending a seminary which is not advisable, you can respond to the use of the word "hermeneutics" by saying, "Yes, I am working on my interpretation skills of the Bible." You don't have to say, "I'm studying "hermeneutics" pertaining to the Bible.
Follow the example of the Apostles who used "great plainness of speech."
The fact we do not find the word "hermeneutics" in the Bible strongly suggests we have no need
of it, and it is a whole lot easier to speak plainly.
A woman entered the Democratic primary for governor of the state of Texas. When she received the official list of names from the primary she saw her name printed last. Jesus said, "Many that are first will be last, and the last first" (Matthew 19:30). So she thought God was telling her she would win. But she lost.
Where did she go wrong in her mis-interpretation of what the Lord said?
Jesus was telling his disciples who were impoverished, homeless and despised by the sheik religious leaders of Israel that their sacrifice for the attainment of the kingdom of God within would place them first in the end. He was not talking about lists of candidates for political office.
Lets utilize this question to illustrate something peculiar you will need to know if you are to ever come to a knowledge of what the Word of God is saying:
Lets see if you can answer the question:
What did the centurion say when Jesus dies?
* Certainly this man was innocent (Luke 23:47)
* Truly this man was the Son of God (Mark 15:39)
It would be easy to become confused thinking the scriptures are contradictory when they are infallible, and as long as you know they are infallible by faith you will not doubt as you search the matter out.
Here's an interpretation key: When interpreting sacred Scriptures we gather all pertinent texts and harmonize them. When we are done we have the Centurion saying both phrases he is recorded as saying: We piece them together to find the whole truth:
And this is what the Centurion actually said:
"Certainly this man was innocent. Truly this man was the Son of God."
The same principle of interpretation is applied on a larger scale to the four gospels and when they are harmonized into one ~ their report becomes easier to understand.
There are so many misinterpretations of the Bible we could spend our whole lives gathering them up into books and still not succeed in collecting them all, but there are some obvious errors in interpretation you will need to avoid if you want to understand the Word of God:
Unbelievers will approach holy Scripture as folklore or as an historical document rather than as the divine Word of the Living God. Stay far from them lest they hinder your growth spiritually. "HE WHO DOUBTS WILL BE DAMMED."
The Catholic Church (God bless the saved in her) claims they are "the divinely appointed depository and judge of both Scripture and tradition." If you believe that, you will never become a skilled interpreter of the holy Word of God; nor will you ever be able to grow sufficiently in the Spirit to become "a new creature in Christ." Each revelation from the holy Spirit is building materials for believers to build "the house not made with hands" in us into the kingdom within Jesus spoke of, so what are you waiting for?
Catholics believe Peter is the first Pope. They like to quote Jesus telling Peter: "AND I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT YOU ARE PETER AND UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH; AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT."
They say Peter is the Rock Jesus was speaking of, yet they forget God is THE ROCK OF OUR SALVATION. (Psalm 89:26) Use the whole Word of God instead of just its parts or you will make errors in interpretation very easily.
Jesus was referring to himself when he told Peter, "UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH."
It is important to avoid accepting traditional beliefs and practices of the churches, both Catholic and Protestant; without first coming to a full understanding of the righteous environment God would have for you to "GROW UP INTO CHRIST" in. Both Catholic and Protestant churches have gathered dogmatic doctrines and "TRADITIONS THAT MAKE THE WORD OF GOD OF NONE EFFECT."
Saint Paul addressed Timothy in an holy epistle to him, saying: "From a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15). If you read the verse carefully, Paul is making two points with Timothy which you would do well to comprehend.
Just knowing the holy Scriptures is the beginning and not the end of the matter although many would like to think so. Continue to live according to the Word of God and they ALONE are able to make you wise through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Saint Paul was letting Pastor Timothy know he was not yet wise spiritually although he could quote from the holy Scriptures.
It is common for believers who have studied more than others to become puffed up with egotistical pride as though there was no more to do. By not attaining to wisdom through the Scriptures, they remain vulnerable to misinterpretations.
Saint Paul tells us all Scripture is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) He does not mean to suggest that cults like the Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses who quote Scripture in error will find it "profitable for doctrine, for reproof," for corection, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
No man will ever be made spiritually perfect by living according to misinterpretations of the Bible.
Gross misinterpretations of Scripture ushers in another Jesus with a false gospel producing eternal death in the end. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4) (Galatians 1:6-9)(Revelation 20:11-15). So it is no small matter for you to keep a careful rein on your interpretations of the Bible.
"THE HEART IS DECEITFUL AND DESPERATELY WICKED, WHO CAN KNOW IT?" Many grab hold of interpretations from the Bible which they find pleasing to their flesh and therefore suppose them to be spiritual.
One will post a sign on the door to his office saying he is a prophet, yet the holy Prophets of the Bible did not introduce themselves as Prophets. It soon became evident they were the voice of God. There was no need to advertise.
Another says he is a pastor-teacher because he has been set over a congregation, yet no-where in holy Scripture is every congregation promised a pastor-teacher.
Others say they speak in tongues, but no-one is really able to give a profitable interpretation as the Word of God requires. Likewise, others will say they have the gift of discernment or the discerning of spirits as though God favored them so much they had to do nothing much at all to manifest gifts.
There are abundance of misinterpreters of the Bible and few who righteously interpret it.
Every interpreter of the Bible will have to be willing to adjust their interpretations as new Light is revealed to them by the holy Spirit presuming they are in obedience to the Word of God. Keep in mind, "KNOWLEDGE PUFFS UP, BUT LOVE BUILDS UP." So the greatest doctrine of all is the love of God and of your neighbor. Fulfill those two commands upon which all of the law rests and you will do well.
In closing, Augustine said "Dispute not by excited argument." He wrote a friend, "those things which
you do not yet comprehend, or those which in the Scriptures appear...incongruous and contradictory; meekly defer the day of
your understanding." "Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand" crede ut intelligas.
"The authority of the Sciptures is higher than all the efforts of the