Biblical Interpretation
Brookes Bible College, Spring 2014
Robert Thurman, MA
Presuppositions
1.
2.
Everyone has presuppositions. Here are the
ones I am bringing to this course…
I presuppose that we are here today because
of our mutual love for God’s Word and that
you are willing to engage in hard work and
study to learn how to handle the Scriptures
properly.
I presuppose we agree that the Scriptures are
our ultimate authority and that they are
uniquely sufficient to provide answers to the
questions we will wrestle with during this
course.
Presuppositions
3.
I presuppose that you will not always
agree with my understanding of the
Scriptures. You are always free to
disagree, but if you want to debate, I
presuppose you will make your case
using the Scriptures and in a loving and
respectful spirit.
Presuppositions
4.
I presuppose I presuppose that you
expect to get your money’s worth out of
this class, and that you expect me to
challenge your thinking and to stretch
you academically.
Presuppositions
5.
6.
I presuppose that you will not always
understand everything in the assigned
readings. I expect you to read them anyway
and get what you can.
I presuppose that you will not always
understand everything I communicate during
lectures. I expect you to ask me questions and
don’t stop until I’ve made myself clear.
Presuppositions
7.
8.
I presuppose that you want to do
your best work, and that you want
me to tell you how you can improve
the work you submit to me.
I presuppose that you will face many
challenges as you seek to complete
this course. I presuppose that you will
communicate with me if there’s
something I can do to help.
Presuppositions
8.
9.
I presuppose that we will grow in
Christian love and in mutual respect for
each other.
I presuppose that you are not here for
mere intellectual stimulation, but to grow
in the grace and knowledge of our
Savior.
Presuppositions
10.
I presuppose that you will desire and
make every effort to turn your theology
into doxology.
Biblical Interpretation


Before we talk about the science of
Biblical interpretation, we need to
understand the nature of the Bible.
When we interpret the Bible, we are not
interpreting an ordinary work of literature,
but we are seeking to understand the
divinely inspired and inerrant testimonies
of the Lord.
Inspiration of Scripture
The doctrine of inspiration:

God carried along the human writers of the
Bible so that they composed and recorded
without error His message to mankind in the
words of their original writings.
Inspiration of Scripture
 The
doctrine of inspiration is not
something that men have imposed
upon the Bible. Rather, it is a
teaching of the Bible itself.
Inspiration of Scripture
 Let’s
look at what the Bible says
about inspiration...
Inspiration of Scripture
2
Timothy 3:16 shows us the
extent of inspiration:
 All Scripture is inspired.
Inspiration of Scripture
 What
is Scripture?
 The New Testament uses the
word “Scripture 51 times.
Inspiration of Scripture
 Sometimes
it refers to the entire
Old Testament (Luke 24:45; John
10:35).
Inspiration of Scripture
 Sometimes
it refers to a particular
passage of the Old Testament
(Luke 4:21).
Inspiration of Scripture
 Sometimes
it refers to a particular
passage of the New Testament
(1 Timothy 5:18; cf. Luke 10:7).
Inspiration of Scripture
1
Timothy 5:18 is significant
because it combines a New
Testament passage with an Old
Testament passage designating
them both as Scripture.
Inspiration of Scripture
 Sometimes
it refers to a larger
portion of the New Testament
(2 Peter 3:16).
Inspiration of Scripture
2
Timothy 3:16 also shows us the
means of inspiration:
 All Scripture is God-breathed.
Inspiration of Scripture
2
Timothy 3:16 also shows us the
purpose of inspiration:
 All Scripture is profitable to make
us fully equipped for every good
work.
Inspiration of Scripture
2
Peter 1:21 shows us the process
of inspiration:
 God moved and bore the writers
along (cf. Acts 27:15).
Inspiration of Scripture
2
Peter 1:21 shows us the source
of inspiration:
 The writers did not write from
their own wills.
Inspiration of Scripture
 Some
argue that only the
thoughts or ideas expressed by
Scripture are inspired.
Inspiration of Scripture
 Some
argue that only the
thoughts or ideas expressed by
Scripture are inspired.
Inspiration of Scripture
1
Corinthians 2:13 shows us that
the actual words (not just the
thoughts) of the Bible are inspired.
Inspiration of Scripture
 Genres
or types of inspired
materials in the Bible...
Inspiration of Scripture
 Material
that came directly from
God (Duet. 9:10; 1 Corinthians
11:23)
 Researched material (Luke 1:1-4).
 Letters
 Songs, poetry, wise sayings
Inspiration of Scripture
 Prophetic
material (1/4 of the
Bible)
 Historical Materials
 Other materials (Gen. 3:4-5; Titus
1:12; Rom. 9:1-3)
Inspiration of Scripture
 The
Bible’s inspiration teaches us
something about how it must be
interpreted.
 The Bible’s inspiration tells us that
it is a human book.
Inspiration of Scripture

1.
Because the Bible is a human
book we assume:
That it communicates its
message according to the normal
rules of human language and
logic.
Inspiration of Scripture
2.
3.
That the Bible’s meaning is shaped by
the historical contexts and intents of its
human authors.
The Bible’s meaning is going to be
impacted by the culture and language of
its human authors.
Inspiration of Scripture





Because the Bible is inspired we also know
that it is supernatural.
Therefore we can assume:
That humans need divine guidance and
power to fully understand its meaning
That it reveals the nature and character of
God
That it is inerrant.
Quiz
True or False
Zuck defines hermeneutics as “the determination of the
meaning of the biblical text in its historical and literary
contexts.”
Zuck says that the work of the Holy Spirit means that some
interpreters receive meanings different from the normal,
literal, meaning of the passage.
Listing
According to the text, what are the three steps involved in
Bible study?

1.
2.

3-5.
Bonus-
Name one of the “gaps” an interpreter of the Bible has to
overcome.
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 The
doctrine of Inerrancy states:
Scripture is without error or fault
in all its teaching.
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 Inerrancy
applies only to the
original manuscripts. However,
this does not minimize the
importance of this doctrine.
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 There
is deductive evidence for
the Bible’s inerrancy.
 A deduction consists of a major
premise, a minor premise, and a
conclusion.
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
A.
B.
C.
God breathed out the words of
the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
God is true.
Therefore, the Bible is true.
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
A.
B.
C.
God superintended over the
transmission of His Word (2 Peter
2:20-21).
God does not fail.
Therefore the Bible does not fail
to accurately transmit His Word
to us.
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 There
is also inductive evidence
for the Bible’s inerrancy.
 Inductive reasoning bases a
conclusion upon the examination
of evidence.
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 Jesus
accepted the plenary
inspiration of the Bible (Matthew
4:4, 11-12).
 Plenary means complete.
Inerrency of the Scriptures
 Jesus
accepted the truth of the
propositions of the Bible (Matthew
4:4, 7, 10).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 Jesus
referred to historical figures
and events in the Old Testament
as factual.
 For instance...
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 He
affirmed that Adam and Eve
and Abel were actual people
(Matthew 19:3-5; Mark 10:6-8;
Matthew 23:35).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 He
affirmed the Old Testament
account of Noah and the ark
(Matthew 24:38-39; Luke 17:2627).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 He
affirmed that Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob were real people
(Matthew 8:11; John 8:39).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 He
affirmed the story of Lot and
his wife and Sodom’s destruction
(Matthew 10:15; Luke 17:28-29).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 He
affirmed Moses and his
writings Matthew 8:4; John 5:46).
 He
affirmed that David was a
real person (Matthew 22:45).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 He
affirmed the story of Jonah as
true (Matthew 12:40).
 He affirmed that Isaiah was a real
person (Matthew 12:40).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 He
affirmed that Elijah was a real
person (Matthew 17:11-12).
 He affirmed that Daniel was a real
person (Matthew 24:15).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 He
affirmed that Zechariah was a
real person (Matthew 23:35).
 Jesus promised that all the Old
Testament promises would be
fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 Jesus
promised that God’s Word
will not pass away.
 Jesus promised that it will be
fulfilled down to the jots and
tittles.
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 Jesus
based an important teaching
on one small word of an ordinary
passage (John 10:31-38; Psalm
82).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 Jesus
based an important teaching
on the verb tense of a Scripture
passage (Matthew 22:23-33;
Exodus 3:6).
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 Jesus
based an important teaching on
one letter of a Scripture verse
(Matthew 22:441-46; Psalm 110:1).
Reading Quiz 2
True or False1.
Historically, the Jewish people have had a singular,
unified approach to interpreting the Scriptures.
2.
Those who interpret the Bible allegorically do so
because they want to emphasize the historical
background of the text.
3.
The Antioch school of biblical interpretation preferred a
more literal understanding of the Scriptures.
4.
Luther emphasized seeing Christ in every Old
Testament passage.
5.
Tyndale stressed the literal meaning of the Bible.
Bonus: The idea that obscure passages of Scripture should
be interpreted in light of clear ones is called________.
Inerrancy of the Scriptures
 Christians
believe in the inerrancy of
Scripture because God is ultimately
the author of the Bible and because
God is incapable of inspiring
falsehood or failing.
Biblical Interpretation



If the Bible is inspired and inerrant, logic
dictates it must also be understandable.
Theologians refer to this doctrine as the
perspicuity of the Bible.
We assume that because God superintended
over the transmission of the text and guarded its
content, that God intended to communicate His
message with clarity.
Biblical Interpretation



That God demands that His Word be obeyed
(with nothing added to it or taken away) also
tells us that the Bible is understandable.
This doesn’t mean that there will not be difficult
passages, and it doesn’t mean that the Bible
can be understood without illumination from the
Holy Spirit.
However, the Bible must be understandable for
it to be obeyed.
Biblical Interpretation
DefinitionsHermeneutics:
 The study or practice of interpretive
philosophies or the study or practice of a
particular set of interpretive principles
Biblical Interpretation
DefinitionsHermeneutic:
 A set of principles guiding the
interpretation of a text
 All of us use a hermeneutic every time we
read.
Biblical Interpretation
DefinitionsExegesis:
 The process of implementing valid
interpretive principles.
 Exegesis involves investigation into the
history, grammar, genre, and literary
context of the text.
Biblical Interpretation
DefinitionsMeaning:
 The truth intention of the author.
 How many truth intentions can an author
have in a particular text?
 What is truth?
History of Western Thought
Pre-Modern
Thought (pre 1700s)
Absolute truth
exists and it is
objective
Absolute truth
comes to us via
divine revelation
Absolute truth is
authoritative and
binding
Dependence on
the supernatural
History of Western Thought
Pre-Modern
Thought (pre 1700s)
Modern Thought
Absolute truth
exists and it is
objective
Absolute truth
exists and it is
objective
Absolute truth
comes to us via
divine revelation
Absolute truth
comes to us via
human
reason/science
Absolute truth is
authoritative and
binding
Rejection of the
supernatural
Absolute truth is
authoritative and
binding
Dependence on
the supernatural
(Enlightenment until 1989)
History of Western Thought
Pre-Modern
Thought (pre 1700s)
Modern Thought
(Enlightenment until 1989)
Post-Modern
Thought (1989-?)
Absolute truth
exists and it is
objective
Absolute truth
exists and it is
objective
Absolute truth
does not exist;
truth is subjective
Absolute truth
comes to us via
divine revelation
Absolute truth
comes to us via
human
reason/science
Absolute truth is
authoritative and
binding
Rejection of the
supernatural
Subjective truth
may come from an
infinite number of
sources
No truth can be
authoritative or
binding
Open to the
supernatural
Absolute truth is
authoritative and
binding
Dependence on
the supernatural
Biblical Interpretation
DefinitionsInterpretation:
 An understanding of the truth intention of
the author.
 How does your worldview (pre-modern,
modern, post-modern) impact your ability
to interpret a text?
Biblical Interpretation
DefinitionsApplication:
 The use or practice of the author’s truth
intention in the interpreter’s personal life.
 The application of a text is distinct from
the interpretation or the meaning of the
text.
Biblical Interpretation
Definitions It is extremely important to not confuse or to
muddle these aspects of the interpretive
process.
 What potential dangers might come from
confusing exegesis and interpretation, or from
confusing interpretation with application, or
confusing meaning and application?
Quiz
Listing:
From the axiom, “The Bible is a divine book” stem four
corollaries. What are they?
1.
2.
3.
4.
True or False
5. The spiritual meaning of the Bible is always more
important than the grammatical one.
Bonus:
Give an example of a biblical command that was
changed later.
Biblical Interpretation


Some parts of the Bible are easy to
understand, but much of it is not.
There are numerous barriers that every
interpreter must cross to discover the
Bible’s meaning.
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:
1. Pre-understandings- all of us read with
biases and assumptions. We tend to be
more subjective than objective.

It is very difficult for us to approach the
Scriptures free from prejudices and
assumptions, but these can prevent us
from understanding their meaning.
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:

We must seek to let the Bible speak for
itself by approaching it impartially and
objectively.

Some examples of how preunderstandings affect our interpretation:

If I approach the Bible with the preunderstanding that the earth is billions of
years old, how will that impact my
interpretation of Genesis 1?
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:

If I approach the Bible with a preunderstanding that the church has
replaced Israel how would that impact
my interpretation of Genesis 12:1-7, the
Mosaic Law, or Revelation 7:4?
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:
2.
Time/Historical Context- the oldest books of
the Bible were written almost 1500 years
before Christ; the newest was written less than
100 years after Christ’s birth. We don’t
always immediately know why a book, passage,
or verse was written. We don’t always know
what was going on historically that prompted
the writing. We also have to keep in mind the
progress of revelation.
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:

Does the historical situation of the
original readers affect how they would
have interpreted a text?

How might we interpret Genesis
differently if we do so remembering that
it was written to people who had been
enslaved in Egypt for 400 years?
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:

How might we interpret Isaiah 7:14-16
differently if we know the historical
context?

How might not understanding the
historical situation behind the book of
Philemon impact our ability to arrive at
its meaning?
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:
3. Language- the Bible was written in
Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. All three
languages use words and employ
expressions that are difficult to translate
or understand.

Why does Colossians 1:15 say Jesus is
the firstborn of creation and 1:18 say he
is the firstborn of the dead?
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:
4. Culture- the people of the Bible had
customs not relatable to us.
Misunderstanding their customs can lead
to misinterpreting the text.

Why did Ruth spend the night sleeping in
a barn at the feet of Boaz?

Why did Jonah not want to go to
Ninevah?
Biblical Interpretation



What was Elisha asking Elijah for when
he requested a double portion of Elijah’s
spirit (1 Kings 2:9; cf. Dt. 21:17)?
Why does Amos call the women of
Bethel “cows of Bashan” in Amos 4:1?
Why did Jesus reject the man in Luke
9:59?
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:
5. Geography- Very often understanding
the setting for an event helps us to
understand the event more clearly.

Why did Jesus speak of a man going
down from Jerusalem to Jericho in Luke
10:30 when Jericho is north of
Jerusalem?
Biblical Interpretation



What is significant about Jesus calling
the church in Laodicea lukewarm in Rev.
3:16?
Why did Samuel ask God to send rain as
a sign in 1 Samuel 12:17?
Why did David not offer a sacrifice for
his sins involving Bathsheba? (Ps. 51)
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:
6. Religion- The actions of people in the
Bible and the way they would have
understood the events recorded in the
Bible would be impacted by their
religious views.
Biblical Interpretation



Why did God send the plagues upon
Egypt?
Why did Elijah challenge the prophets of
Baal to meet him on Mount Carmel?
Why did the Herodians, Saducees, and
Scribes ask Jesus the questions they did
in Mark 12:13-28?
Biblical Interpretation
Barriers to the interpretive process:
7.
Genre- We know to read a poem differently
than we read a science textbook. In the Bible,
we encounter literary genres that may be
unfamiliar- laments, parallelism, imprecatory
psalms, prophecy, etc.
8.
Literary context- Without understanding how a
verse or passage fits into the book, it is very
difficult to be certain you’ve interpreted
correctly. The original readers read the entire
work at once, whereas sometimes we attempt
to interpret verses isolated from the text
around them.
Biblical Interpretation

Crossing these barriers in study is the
work of exegesis, which must take place
before interpretation or application.
Quiz
1.
________ is the total pattern of human behavior,
thought, speech, action, and artifacts.
2.
________ includes the paragraph and book in which
verses occur and the historical-cultural environment at
the time the verse was written.
3 & 4. ________ and _______ are two aspects of culture that
impact biblical interpretation.
True or False
5. ____ All Scripture should be received as normative for
every person in all societies of all time unless the Bible
limits the audience.
Bonus: Name a specific biblical cultural issue discussed in
the chapter
Biblical Interpretation
Hermeneutical Approaches:

There are four primary hermeneutical
approaches to Scripture commonly found
in Christianity today:
1. Grammatical-historical-mythological- this
idea assumes that the meaning of the
Bible is obscured by the mythologies,
culture, oral traditions, and prejudices, of
the writers and later editors.
Biblical Interpretation



This is the hermeneutical approach of
theological liberalism.
Those who practice it deny the plenary
(complete)-verbal inspiration of Scripture.
This method assumes that most Bible
books either evolved over time through
the work of various editors or that they
were written in times later than the books
seem to purport.
Biblical Interpretation


This hermeneutic relies on higher criticism
and involves trying to identify distinct
voices within the text and then trying to
determine the source of each voice.
The goal of this approach is not about
finding God’s message, but in learning
about what men have thought about God
at various times in history.
Biblical Interpretation
ExamplesThe Documentary-Hypothesis theory
The Jesus Seminar
Biblical Interpretation
2.

Grammatical-historical-existential- this
approach involves reading the Bible for
the purpose of seeking an existential
encounter with Jesus Christ.
The truth intention of the author is not
seen as important as the experience of
each individual reader.
Biblical Interpretation



This is the approach of Neo-orthodoxy
(Barthian).
Barth denied the plenary-verbal inspiration
of Scripture and embraced many of the
same attitudes toward the Bible as
theological liberals.
However, unlike liberals, he did not deny
that the Bible has a supernatural element.
Biblical Interpretation


Barth distinguished between the words of
Scripture and the “matter” of Scripture. He
described the “matter” of Scripture as that
place where the reader encounters Christ.
This hermeneutic has become very
common among evangelicals.
Biblical Interpretation
3.
Grammatical-historical-theological
method- pays attention to the grammar
and history of the Biblical text, but the
interpretation of the text is ultimately
guided by a set of theological preunderstandings.
Biblical Interpretation


If the literal or normal interpretation of
the text is contrary to the theological preunderstanding of the interpreter, the text
is interpreted in an allegorical or spiritual
manner.
This approach is used by
creedal/confessional Christians.
Biblical Interpretation


If the literal or normal interpretation of
the text is contrary to the theological preunderstanding of the interpreter, the text
is interpreted in an allegorical or spiritual
manner.
This approach is used by
creedal/confessional Christians.
Biblical Interpretation

The most prominent evangelical use of
this approach is found in Covenant
Theology.
Biblical Interpretation

When studying the Old Testament, especially
Old Testament prophecies, a covenant
theologian does not ignore grammar or history,
but he does not allow them to be the ultimate
determining factor in his interpretation.[1]
Instead, he filters the results of a grammatical
and historical exegesis through a set of
theological pre-understandings.[2]
[1]Duncan, Dispensationalism– A Reformed Evaluation
[2]Thomas, 66
Biblical Interpretation

This theological method assumes that Christ or the New
Testament Church has brought fulfillment to every Old
Testament prophecy.[1] Therefore, the covenant
theologian does not see the original contextual meaning
of the Old Testament author as conclusively
authoritative. He believes that the New Testament often
changes the clear contextual meaning of Old Testament
passages.[2]
[1]Duncan, Dispensationalism– A Reformed Evaluation
[2]Thomas, 66
Biblical Interpretation

"In Covenant Theology there is the
tendency to impute to a passage a
meaning which would not be gained
merely from their historical and
grammatical associations“
(Daniel P. Fuller, The Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism), 147
.
Biblical Interpretation

In other words, the covenant theologian gives
the New Testament hermeneutical control over
any interpretation of the Old Testament.[1]
Covenant theologian, Ligon Duncan, affirms this
when he states: “Later revelation, by definition,
controls the final Systematic Theological
understanding of earlier revelation.”[2]
[1]Duncan, Dispensationalism– A Reformed Evaluation
[2]Ibid.
Biblical Interpretation

Since covenant theologians see all Old
Testament prophecies as ultimately fulfilled in
either Christ or the church, their theological
hermeneutical method frequently forces them to
“spiritualize” Old Testament promises to
Israel.[1]
[1]Showers, 24
Biblical Interpretation

Covenant theologian, Anthony Hoekema, affirms
this when he states: “The Old Testament must
be interpreted in light of the New Testament
and that a totally and exclusively literal
interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is not
justified.”[1]
[1]Anthony A. Hoekema, “An Amillennial Response to Dispensational Premillennialism, in The Meaning of the
Millennium, Four Views, ed. Robert G. Clouse (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1977), 55
Biblical Interpretation


Covenant theologian Lorraine Boettner provides an
excellent example of what it means to spiritualize an Old
Testament prophecy when he gives his commentary on
Isaiah 11:6–9.
A normal literal-grammatical-historical interpretation of
this passage would conclude that this is a prophecy
about the restoration of creation to a pre-fall state that
will take place during the yet future millennial reign of
Christ on the earth. However, using his theological
presuppositions to interpret this text, Boettner says that
it “refers to a spiritual transformation as in Saul of
Tarsus, who was changed from a vicious wolf-like
persecutor to a lamb-like follower of Christ.”[1]
[1]Lorraine Boettner, The Millennium (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1958), 90
Biblical Interpretation
4.


Literal-Grammatical-Historical- seeks to
interpret the Bible without pre-understandings
following the normal rules of language and
logic.
This hermeneutic is the most traditional
evangelical approach to Scripture, but today is
usually associated with Dispensational
Theology.
It assumes plenary-verbal inspiration of the
Bible.
Biblical Interpretation

"The aim of grammatico-historical method is to
determine the sense required by the laws of grammar
and the facts of history. Thus, the grammatical sense is
the simple, direct, plain, ordinary, and literal sense of
the phrases, clauses, and sentences. The historical
sense is that sense which is demanded by a careful
consideration of the time and circumstances in which
the author wrote. It is the specific meaning which an
author's words require when the historical context and
background are taken into account"
Kaiser, Toward an Exegetical Theology), 88.
Biblical Interpretation



A literal-grammatical-historical hermeneutic is
literal in that it seeks to understand the normal
or plain sense of each Bible passage.
Robert Thomas describes this method when he
states: “Take each statement in its plain sense
if it matches common sense, and do not look
for another sense.”[1]
[1]Robert L. Thomans, Evangelical Hermeneutics– The New Versus the Old (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2002), 155
Biblical Interpretation


According to this method every Bible
passage, regardless of genre, according to
the same method.
The biblical passage is interpreted
normally according to the normal laws of
human language.
Biblical Interpretation

That the text is approached literally
does not mean that he ignores symbols,
figures of speech, or types.
Biblical Interpretation

Charles Ryrie states: “Symbols, figures of
speech, and types are all interpreted plainly
in this method, and they are in no way
contrary to literal interpretation. After all,
the very existence of any meaning for a
figure of speech depends on the reality of
the literal meaning of the terms involved.
Figures often make the meaning plainer, but
it is the literal, normal, or plain meaning that
they convey to the reader.”[1]
[1] Ryrie, 80-81
Biblical Interpretation

Roy Zuck concurs when he states:
“Figurative language then is not
antithetical to literal interpretation; it is
a part of it. Perhaps it is better not to
speak of ‘figurative versus literal’
interpretation, but of ‘ordinary-literal’
versus ‘figurative-literal’
interpretation.”[1]
[1] Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation, A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth (Wheaton, IL:Victor, 1991), p. 147
Biblical Interpretation


The method is grammatical in that it pays
close attention to the normal rules of
grammar and communication when
interpreting the Bible.
Adherents interpret the Bible as one would
any other form of written communication.
Biblical Interpretation

This method assumes that God’s
revelation follows the rules of the human
language it employs, and he assumes
that God communicated his word in a
way that would be clear and
understandable to humanity.
Biblical Interpretation

Charles Ryrie states: “If God is the originator of
language and if the chief purpose of originating it was
to convey His message to humanity, then it must follow
that He being all-wise and all-loving, originated
sufficient language to convey all that was in His heart
to tell mankind. Furthermore, it must also follow that
He would use language and expect people to
understand it in its literal, normal, and plain sense.”[1]
[1]Ryrie, 81
Biblical Interpretation



This hermeneutical method is historical in that it seeks
to understand each Bible passage in its historical
context.[1]
It seeks to understand each passage as the human
writer and the original readers would have understood
it.
Using the rules of grammar and the facts of history, the
dispensationalist looks for a singular meaning in each
passage that is determined by what the human writer
intended to communicate.[2]
[1]Thomans, 242
[2] Ibid., 242
Biblical Interpretation

"The aim of grammatico-historical method is to
determine the sense required by the laws of grammar
and the facts of history. Thus, the grammatical sense is
the simple, direct, plain, ordinary, and literal sense of
the phrases, clauses, and sentences. The historical
sense is that sense which is demanded by a careful
consideration of the time and circumstances in which
the author wrote. It is the specific meaning which an
author's words require when the historical context and
background are taken into account"
Kaiser, Toward an Exegetical Theology), 88.
Biblical Interpretation


The most fundamental principle in grammaticohistorical exposition is that words and
sentences can have only one significance in one
and the same connection"
This does not mean that later revelation cannot
provide a fuller meaning for earlier passages,
but it is to say that later revelation does not
change the original plain meaning of the older
revelation.
Kaiser, Toward an Exegetical Theology), 88
Biblical Interpretation
Beginning the Exegetical ProcessBefore determining what the text means, we must first
determine what it says.
How to read carefully
A.The Sentence Level- Look for the following
1.Repetition of words
a.How many times does the word occur in the passage?
b.Is the word used in the same way each time (noun,
verb, etc.)?
c.Is the word modified the same way each time (articles,
adjectives, adverbs)?
d.Is the word connected to other words the same way
each time (prepositions)?
Biblical Interpretation
Example Passages1 John 2:15-17 (look for world)
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (look for comfort)
John 15:1-10 (look for remain)
Matthew 6:1-18 (look for Father)
Biblical Interpretation
Beginning the Exegetical Process Before determining what the text means, we must first
determine what it says.
How to read carefully
A.
The Sentence Level- Look for the following
1.
Repetition of words
2.
Contrasts- Look for items, ideas, and individuals that
are contrasted with each other.
Example Passages
 Psalm 1:1-6
 Proverbs 14:31
 Proverbs 15:1
Biblical Interpretation
Romans 6:23
 Ephesians 5:8
 1 John 1:5-7
How to read carefully
A.
The Sentence Level- Look for the following
1.
Repetition of words
2.
Contrasts3.
Comparisons- Look for ideas, items, individuals
compared with each other
Example Passages: Proverbs 25:26; James 3:3-6; Isaiah
40:31

Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
A.
The Sentence Level- Look for the following
1.
Repetition of words
2.
Contrasts
3.
Comparisons
4.
Lists- When you encounter more than two itemized
things, you can identify them as a list
Example Passages- 1 John 2:16; Galatians 5:22-23; 5:1921
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
A.The Sentence Level- Look for the following
1.Repetition of words
2.Contrasts
3.Comparisons
4.Lists
5.Cause and Effect- Look for the effect of each cause and
the cause of each effect. There may be more than one
effect from a single cause in the text
Example Passages- Proverbs 15:1; Romans 6:23; Romans
12:2; John 3:16; Psalm 13:6; Colossians 3:1
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
A.The Sentence Level- Look for the following
1.Repetition of words
2.Contrasts
3.Comparisons
4.Lists
5.Cause and Effect
6.Figures of speech- these are images in which words are
used in a sense other than the normal, literal sense.
Example Passages- Psalm 119:105; Matthew 23:27; Psalm
18:2; 1 Corinthians 3:6; Luke 13:34
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
A.The Sentence Level- Look for the following
1.Repetition of words
2.Contrasts
3.Comparisons
4.Lists
5.Cause and Effect
6.Figures of speech
7.Conjunctions- Look for words like but, therefore, for,
since, because, etc. and find out what they contribute to
what the verse says.
Example Passages: Romans 6:23; 12:1; Hebrews 12:1; 2
Timothy 1:7-8; Genesis 6:8
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
A.The Sentence Level- Look for the following
1.Repetition of words
2.Contrasts
3.Comparisons
4.Lists
5.Cause and Effect
6.Figures of speech
7.Conjunctions
8.Verbs
a.Identify what kind of verb is used- past, present, future
tense?
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
8.
Verbs
a. Identify what kind of verb is used- past, present,
future tense?
b. Is the action expressed ongoing?
c.
Is it imperative (Be, Go, etc.)?
Example of imperative verb- Ephesians 4:2-3
d. Is the verb active or passive?
Examples of active and passive verbs- Colossians 3:1;
Ephesians 1:11; Genesis 12:3
9. Pronouns- Find the antecedent
Examples- Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 1:27-30
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B. The Paragraph Level- In addition to looking for the
things we learned to look for in sentences, we need to
look for the following:
1. General and Specific- Sometimes an author will
introduce an idea with a general statement, and then
follow this general statement with specifics of the idea.
Example passages- Galatians 5:16 (General), 5:19-21
(Specific), 5:22-23 (Specific); Romans 12:1 (General),
12:9-13 (Specific); 1 Corinthians 13:13 (General), 1
Corinthians 13:1-12 (Specific)
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B. The Paragraph Level1. General and Specific2. Questions and Answers- Sometimes biblical writers ask
a question and then answer it.
Example passages- Romans 6:1 (Question), 6:2 (Answer);
Mark 2:7 (Question), 2:10 (Answer); 2:16 (Question),
2:17 (Answer); 2:18 (Question), 2:19 (Answer); 2:24
(Question), 2:25, 27 (Answer); 3:4 (Question), 3:6
(Answer)
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.
The Paragraph Level1.
General and Specific2.
Questions and Answers- Sometimes biblical writers ask a
question and then answer it.
3.
Dialogue- Note that dialog is taking place. Ask the
following:
a.
Who are the participants?
b.
What is the setting?
c.
Who is speaking to whom?
d.
Are other people around?
e.
Are they listening?
f.
What is the tone of the dialog (friendly, argumentative),
etc.
g.
What is the point of the dialog?
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph Level1.General and Specific2.Questions and Answers3.DialogExample passages- Habakkuk 1:1-4, 5-11, 12-2:1, 2:2-20
4.Purpose Statements- These are phrases that describe
the reason, result, or consequence of some action. They
are frequently introduced by conjunctions like “that,” “in
order that,” “so that,” and “to.”
Example passages- Eph. 2:10; John 3:16; John 15:16;
Duet. 6:3; Ps. 119:11
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph Level1.General and Specific2.Questions and Answers3.Dialog4.Purpose Statements5.Means (by which something is accomplished)- When an
action, result, or purpose is stated, look for the means
that brings it about.
Example passages- In Romans 8:13, what is the means by
which the misdeeds of the body are put to death? In
Psalm 119:9, what is the means by which a young man
keeps his way pure?
Quiz- Chapter 8, Basic Bible Interpretation
True or False
1.
___ An antitype is the opposite of a type.
2.
___ A type represents something to come, but a symbol has no
time reference.
3.
___ A person would not normally associate a symbol with what it
symbolizes.
4.
___ When a prophetic passage clearly uses some symbols we
should assume that everything in that passage should be
understood as symbolic.
5.
___ Since many numbers in the Bible have symbolic connotations,
we know that we should not interpret numbers literally.
Bonus: ___ We should always look for symbolic meanings in the names
of people in the Bible.
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph Level1.General and Specific2.Questions and Answers3.Dialog4.Purpose Statements5.Means (by which something is accomplished)6.Conditional Clauses- (usually if then statements)- always
determine exactly what the required conditional action is
(the if part) and what the result or consequence is (the
then part).
Example passages- 1 John 5:16; 2 Cor. 5:17; James 1:26;
Duet. 28:1
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph Level1.General and Specific2.Questions and Answers3.Dialog4.Purpose Statements5.Means (by which something is accomplished)6.Conditional Clauses7.The Roles/Actions of People & the Roles/Actions of God- What
does God do in this passage? What do people do in this
passage?
Example passage- Ephesians 5:1-2
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph Level1.General and Specific2.Questions and Answers3.Dialog4.Purpose Statements5.Means (by which something is accomplished)6.Conditional Clauses7.The Roles/Actions of People & the Roles/Actions of God8.Emotional Language- Look for words and phrases with
emotional overtones like “Father,” “Mother,” “Son,” “Daughter,”
“Beloved” and “plead.”
Example passages- Jer. 3:19-20; Gal. 4:12-16
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph Level1.General and Specific2.Questions and Answers3.Dialog4.Purpose Statements5.Means (by which something is accomplished)6.Conditional Clauses7.The Roles/Actions of People & the Roles/Actions of God8.Emotional Language9.Tone- what is the tone of the passage? Angry, gentle, loving,
sorrowful, hostile, scolding?
Example Passages- Col 3:1-4, Gal. 3:1-4; Matt. 23:33-35; Lam.
3:1-6
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph LevelC.The Pericope Level- A pericope is a distinct unit of thought longer
than a paragraph- a story, an episode, a sermon, a chapter. At
this level, we use all the skills we’ve learned so far, but we add a
few more.
1.Connections between Paragraphs and Episodes- look for
connections between paragraphs, and look for connections
between episodes in narratives.
Example passages- How is Mark 8:22-26 connected to 8:14-21
and to 8:27-30? How is Colossians 1:1-8 connected to 1:9-14?
2.Story Shifts (Breaks and Pivots)- A major break is a shift in topic,
we look for these primarily in teaching passages like those found
in the NT letters. A pivot is an episode that changes the direction
of a narrative.
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph LevelC.The Pericope Level1.Connections between Paragraphs and Episodes- look for
connections between paragraphs, and look for connections
between episodes in narratives.
2.Story Shifts (Breaks and Pivots)Example passages- a major break occurs when Paul moves from
Colossians 1-3 to chapter 4. A pivot in the narrative about the life
of David happens in 2 Samuel 11-12. Look at David’s life before
and look at his life afterwards.
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph LevelC.The Pericope Level1.Connections between Paragraphs and Episodes- look for
connections between paragraphs, and look for connections
between episodes in narratives.
2.Story Shifts (Breaks and Pivots)3.Interchange- interchange involves contrasting or comparing two
stories at the same time as part of the overall development of a
narrative.
Examples- 1 Samuel- Eli and his worthless sons are compared to
Hannah and her godly son. Why? The writer wants us to see how
Samuel is different than the corrupt leadership he replaces. Acts1-7 are about Peter, Acts 7:58-8:3 is about Paul, 8:14-25 is about
Peter, Acts 9 is about Paul, but Acts 10:1-11:1-18 is about Peter.
Acts 11:19-30 is about Paul, but Acts 12 is about Peter, the rest of
the book is primarily about Paul.
Biblical Interpretation
How to read carefully
B.The Paragraph LevelC.The Pericope Level1.Connections between Paragraphs and Episodes2.Story Shifts (Breaks and Pivots)2.Interchange3.Chiasm- a common feature of Hebrew literature
Biblical Interpretation
Example- Genesis 11:1-9
a.the whole world (1)
b.had one language (1)
c.Shinar and settled there (2)
d.Come, let’s make bricks (3)
e.Come, let us built (4)
f.a city with a tower (4)
g.but the Lord came down (5)
f.to see the city and the tower (5)
e.that the men were building (5)
d.Come, let us go down and confuse their language (7)
c.Babel-because there (9)
b.the Lord confused the language (9)
a.the whole earth (9)
Biblical Interpretation
Determining Historical/Cultural Context
Since God spoke His message in specific historical
situations (i.e., to people living in particular places,
speaking particular languages, adopting a particular way
of life) we should take the historical/cultural background
of each Bible passage seriously.
Scripture was God’s Word to other people before it was
God’s Word to us.
For our interpretation of a text to be valid, it has to be
consistent with the historical-cultural context of the text.
Historical/cultural context involves the Biblical writer, the
original audience, and any historical or cultural elements
that will help you understand the text.
Biblical Interpretation
Determining Historical/Cultural Context
The following questions can help you investigate the
historical cultural context of a Bible book or passage:
1.Who was the writer? (Read Philippians 3 and 1 Timothy
1:16. How does knowing about Paul’s background add to
your understanding of these verses?)
2.What was the writer’s ministry?
3.What is the relationship between the writer and the
people? (compare Galatians 1 with 1 Thessalonians 1).
4.Why did the writer write this portion of Scripture? (Why
did Moses write Genesis? Why did Luke write his gospel
and Acts?)
Biblical Interpretation
Determining Historical/Cultural Context
5.
Who was the Biblical audience?
6.
What were the circumstances of those in the audience?
7.
How was their relationship to God? (Consider the Judeans
during the time of Jeremiah, the Galatians, etc.)
8.
What kind of relationship did they have with each other
(Consider the division in the Corinthian church; how were
Philemon and Onesimus related?)
9.
What was happening at the time the book was written?
10. Are there any other historical/cultural factors that might
shed light on the book?
Biblical Interpretation
Resources for investigating Historical/Cultural Context
Bible Handbooks
2.
Commentaries
3.
Old Testament/New Testament Surveys
4.
Bible Atlases
5.
Special studies in ancient life and culture
6.
Computer software like Logos and BibleWorks
Word Studies
 We must always try to understand as precisely as possible what
the author meant to convey by his use of his words in their
context.
Common Word Study Mistakes1.
English Only Mistakes- Because the Bible was not originally
written in English, it must be translated into English from Hebrew,
Aramaic, and Greek.
1.
Biblical Interpretation
Common Word Study Mistakes1.
English Only Mistakes- Because the Bible was not originally
written in English, it must be translated into English from Hebrew,
Aramaic, and Greek.
a.
Therefore, you may not realize that a word in Hebrew or Greek
may be translated into English with a number of different English
words. For example paraklesis is sometimes translated comfort,
but other times it is translated exhortation. Comfort and
Exhortation can mean different things in English.
b.
You may not realize that several different Hebrew or Greek words
might be translated into English with only one English word. For
example there are 6 Greek words all translated comfort in
English.
The English Only mistake occurs when you base your word study on
the definition of the English word rather than on the definition of the
word in the original language.
Biblical Interpretation
Common Word Study Mistakes2.Root Mistake- It is a fallacy that you can always determine the
meaning of a word by understanding its root. This is true even in
English. Is a butterfly made of butter? Do pineapples grow on pine
trees? Context is more important than etymology.
3.Time-Frame Mistakes- Sometimes word meanings change over time.
Often we try to take the more modern meaning of the word and
insert it into the text (the reverse is possible, but happens less
frequently). For instance, how many of you have heard that the word
translated power in Romans 1:18 is the word from which we get our
word dynamite. Was Paul thinking of dynamite when he wrote
Romans?
4.Overload Mistake- Most words can have more than one meaning
depending on their context. Don’t try to attach all the possible
meanings to a word in one instance. Context determines meaning.
Biblical Interpretation
Common Word Study Mistakes5.Word Count Mistakes- It is a mistake to think that a word must have
the same meaning every time it occurs. (ex. kosmos). Again, word
meanings are determined by context in the passage.
6.Word Concept Mistakes- Don’t think that because you’ve studied a
one word that you have studied the entire concept represented by
that word. For example, studying the Greek word ekklesia will not tell
you everything you need to know about the New Testament church.
7.Selective-Evidence Mistakes- Sometimes you will be tempted to
dismiss evidence so that you can define a word according to what you
want it to mean. The Scripture should change our views; our views
should not change the Scripture.
Biblical Interpretation
For
help with word studies use, concordances, Bible dictionaries,
lexicons, and commentaries.
You don’t need to do a word study on every word in a passage.
Choose words carefully. Choose only those words that have meanings
crucial to understanding the passage.
Never forget that context determines meaning.
Biblical Interpretation
Meanings or Meanings





A major debate in hermeneutics today is who controls the
meaning. Is the meaning controlled by the author or by the
reader?
All of us at times reinterpret literature to make it mean what we
want it to mean.
For example:
We listen to songs at times and the only way we can enjoy them is
to ignore what the author wanted to communicate (I Get by with a
Little Help from My Friends; Let Freedom Ring)
We read stories and watch movies and we are often ignorant or
we ignore what the author intended to communicate (Wizard of
Oz, Star Wars).
We often do this with the Bible, but is this right?
Biblical Interpretation


Those who hold to authorial intent argue that the
meaning of a text is the truth intention of the
author. They believe in what we call authorial intent.
However, others hold to the idea that the reader
controls the meaning of a text. This idea is called
reader response.


If we are reading something that does not
communicate an important or authoritative message
to us, it may be harmless for us to make what we
are reading mean what we want it to mean.
But if we are reading something that contains
important or authoritative truth, it is dangerous not
to grasp the meaning.
Biblical Interpretation





If we fail to understand the meaning of the Biblical text,
we could be in grave danger. The Bible communicates to
us what God requires.
Therefore, we are saying in this class that the only valid
meaning of a biblical text is the truth intention of the
author.
Our understanding of the author’s meaning is our
interpretation.
What we do with the author’s meaning is our
application.
It is vitally important that we not confuse these terms.
Biblical Interpretation
Does the Bible contain levels of meaning?
All of us are tempted at times to look for different levels
of meaning in a biblical text. We have all seen this
modeled.
People try to assign various levels of meaning to the Bible
through the following means:
1.Spiritualizing- those who do this see a dichotomy between
the literal meaning of a text and its spiritual meaning.
However, there is no such dichotomy, because the spiritual
meaning of the text can’t be different than the literal
meaning
Examples: Luke 15:8-10
What does this passage mean? How many meanings or
layers of meanings can you devise?
Biblical Interpretation
Does the Bible contain levels of meaning?
 We could come up with many spiritual meanings of the
text. Some of them might be theologically true.
However, all of them miss the point that Jesus was
communicating.
 We need to seek the meaning God intends and not a
meaning created in our imaginations.
 Prior to the Reformation spiritualizing the text was
considered virtuous and proper by many in the the
church.
 Spiritualizing the text was seen as a way of making
every text speak directly of Christ and directly to our
lives.
Biblical Interpretation
Does the Bible contain levels of meaning?
This fuller meaning is referred to as sensus plenior.
A few centuries after Christ there was a popular four-fold
system of biblical interpretation. The system saw four
levels of meaning in every biblical text- literal, allegorical,
moral, and spiritual.
For example, the word Jerusalem could mean 1) literal- a
city; 2) allegorical- the church; 3) moral- the human soul;
4) spiritual- heaven.
Hopefully, you can see how dangerous this interpretive
scheme could be.
The Reformers took the Protestant church away from this
kind of scheme, but there are still other ways of missing
the author’s intent.
Biblical Interpretation
Does the Bible contain levels of meaning?
1.Spiritualizing
2.Allegorizing- an allegory is a story that uses an extensive
amount of symbolism.
The Bible occasionally uses allegories. For example Isaiah
5:1-7.
However, it is dangerous to interpret a nonallegorical text
as if it were allegorical. Doing so takes us away from God’s
intended meaning.
Biblical Interpretation
Does the Bible contain levels of meaning?
Some examples of allegorizing Exodus 27:19…
“The pins, or nails, [tent pegs] of the Tabernacle were
made of brass; therefore they did not rust. As they
withstood every desert storm, even so Christ’s holy life
withstood every onslaught of Satan. How minutely the
details of the God-given pattern for the Tabernacle in the
wilderness foreshadow the glories of our crucified and risen
Lord!” Louis Talbot, Christ in the Tabernacle (Wheaton, Il.;
Van Kampen, 1942) 89
Biblical Interpretation
Does the Bible contain levels of meaning?
“We repeat the pins were buried in the ground, but also
emerged from the ground, and it speaks of the death and
resurrection, that which is buried, and that which is above
the ground. The part of the pins beneath the ground
becomes a symbol of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ;
the part above the ground suggests His resurrection.”
Martin R. Dehaan, The Tabernacle (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1995), 65
Biblical Interpretation




The Bible does use symbols frequently, but the symbols
cannot mean something that would have not been
understood (at least in part) by the original audience.
We have a tendency, especially with the Old Testament
to attach New Testament meanings to symbols in the
Old Testament without paying attention to what that
symbol would have meant to the original audience.
This is certainly what we’ve seen in the preceding quotes
from Talbot and Dehaan.
Here’s another example. The four major colors found in
the Tabernacle were white, purple, and blue.
Biblical Interpretation



Talbot in his book, Christ in the Tabernacle. P. 38, says
that “blue speaks to us of our Lord’s deity, for blue is the
heavenly color.”
Note his apparent line of reasoning. Blue is the color of
the sky. Another term for the sky is the heavens. Jesus
came from heaven. Blue must refer to His heavenly
origin.
Now this is not far off, but it’s not on target. It seems he
simply relied on his intuition and was motivated by a
desire to see New Testament truth symbolized in the Old
Testament
Biblical Interpretation




Instead, he should have done some research into what
the color blue symbolized to the people’s of the Ancient
Near-East.
How can we find out such things?
A good resource is the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, ed.
by Ryken, Wilhoit, and Longman. (Any good Bible
dictionary or handbook should provide you with credible
information).
Here’s what they say about the color blue:
Biblical Interpretation
“ In ancient thought the sky was believed to separate the
place of the gods from the human realm. Therefore blue,
the color of the sky, could appropriately suggest the
boundary between God and His people and symbolize his
majesty. Like purple, blue was an expensive dye and thus
connoted wealth and prestige. Blue was the dominant color
of the vestments of ancient Israel’s high priest (Ex. 28).
The high priest wore an outer garment of solid blue over
the white robe of his priesthood.. He was the boundary
between the human and divine realms, moving in both as
he ministered in the Holy of Holies.
p. 158
Biblical Interpretation



The Tabernacle was the location of the presence of God.
He lived among his people in a visible way. Thus the use
of the most expensive dyes (blue and purple) signify His
riches and power. The blue in the Tabernacle didn’t
point to Jesus’ heavenly origin, but showed that the tent
was the boundary between God and man.
As you can see, we do not have to allegorize or use our
imaginations to find what the color blue symbolizes.
The meaning provided through historical research
actually, in this case, provides a spiritual insight much
deeper and profound than the one produced by
imagination, and because it is rooted in fact and not in
imagination, it is truthful.
Biblical Interpretation
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We must always avoid the temptation to allegorize
biblical texts.
Don’t try to read Christ into every tent peg and color in
the Old Testament or you will miss the actual meaning
of the text.
Now there are legitimate connections between Christ
and the Old Testament. These generally come to us
through typology and prophecy. (We will deal with
prophecy later in the course).
Biblical Interpretation
TypologyNumerous passages in the Old Testament describe things
that point to or foreshadow what Christ ultimately fulfills.
For instance, the Old Testament sacrifices foreshadow the
sacrifice of Christ.
However, to view the Old Testament sacrificial system as
foreshadowing Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is different
than interpreting every element of the Old Testament
sacrificial system allegorically.
The sacrificial system involved doves, goats, cows, grains,
ashes, smoke, fire, wine, and may other things.
Biblical Interpretation
TypologyAllegorical interpretation tries to make every element and
details somehow connected to Christ (the tent pegs).
The concept of foreshadowing is more general than
specific and does not speculate about minute details.
Moreover, most foreshadowing of Christ in the Old
Testament is identified for us in the New Testament.
Don’t look for novel or hidden connections. If you are the
only one who sees it, it’s not there.
Biblical Interpretation
Typology A type can be defined as a Biblical event, institution, or
person which serves as an example or pattern for other
events, institutions, or persons.
 A type is fulfilled by its later antitype.
 For instance the Passover Lamb serves as a type of
Christ Ex 12; 1 Corinthians 5:7).
 Melchizedek is also a type of Christ (Genesis 14; Psalm
110; Hebrews 5: 6, 10; 6: 20; 7: 1, 10, 11, 15, 17, 21)
 David served as a type of Christ in his sufferings in
Psalm 22:1-18. David was writing about himself, but
prophetically he was writing about Christ.
Biblical Interpretation
Typology We know that David is serving as a type in Psalm 22
because the New Testament confirms this (Matthew
27:46; Mark 15:24, John 19:24-25).
 To see a difference between a type and a prophecy
compare, Psalm 22 with Psalm 16, cf. Acts 2).
 An Old Testament passage cannot be confirmed as
typological unless the New Testament confirms it as
such.
Biblical Interpretation
Bible Codes Another way that people try to find levels of meanings in
the Bible is through Bible codes.
 For the most part, this type of biblical interpretation has
been made possible by the use of computers. However
there is an ancient form of this called gematria.
 In his 1997 book, The Bible Code Michael Drosnin
claimed there was a special letter sequence code hidden
in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament.
 He argued that this code, unlocked only with the help of
computers, predicted dozens of modern events.
Biblical Interpretation
Bible CodesThe idea of the Bible containing hidden codes only
available to experts and the technologically advanced
smacks of Gnosticism. Don’t be gullible.
Furthermore, it implies that only this generation is really
able to unlock and understand the Word of God.
The computerized approach to unlocking these so called
Bible codes is called Equidistant Letter Sequencing (EDS).
When EDS is applied to other books, it produces results
similar to those seen when it is applied to the Bible.
Biblical Interpretation
Bible Codes In other words, if you apply this method to any book,
eventually you may find something that seems
prophetic.
 However, this method and its interpretation are both
highly subjective, and the words have to be interpreted
in a strained way to arrive at any kind of predictive
thought.
 EDS and Gematria are not legitimate approaches to
understanding the Bible or any other book.
Biblical Interpretation
Bible Codes In other words, if you apply this method to any book,
eventually you may find something that seems
prophetic.
 However, this method and its interpretation are both
highly subjective, and the words have to be interpreted
in a strained way to arrive at any kind of predictive
thought.
 EDS and Gematria are not legitimate approaches to
understanding the Bible or any other book.
Biblical Interpretation
The Role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical InterpretationWe have already observed that the Bible has both human
authors and a Divine Author.
The Bible is breathed out by God to men who recorded
His Word without error as they were carried along by the
Holy Spirit.
Since the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture, we need His help
to understand it. This is called the Spirit’s work of
illumination (John 16:12-14).
Since the Spirit inspired the Scriptures, we should not
expect Him to contradict the authorial intent of Scripture
when He illuminates it.
Biblical Interpretation
Can we understand God’s Word apart from the Work of the
Holy Spirit?
This question requires a nuanced answer.
1.Yes- if an unbeliever uses valid interpretive methods, he
can comprehend much of the Bible.
However, without the Holy Spirit this person’s
understanding of the Bible will be limited.
a.Sin has an effect on the whole person including the
human mind.
b.An unbeliever’s understanding of the Bible is going to be
limited by the effects of the unbelieving pre-understanding
that he brings to the text.
Biblical Interpretation
Can we understand God’s Word apart from the Work of the
Holy Spirit?
c.Understanding
the Scriptures involves more
than taking in information, it involves belief
and application.
2.No- Will people without the Spirit accept
the truth of the Bible and apply it to their
lives? (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Biblical Interpretation
What Help Should I Expect from the Holy Spirit As I
Interpret the Scriptures?
1. Having the Holy Spirit does not mean that I do not have
apply valid interpretive methods.
 The Bible is not only divinely inspired, but it is human. It
follows the rules of human language and logic, and it
was written to humans in specific historical/cultural
settings.
2. The Spirit of God does not create meanings or provide
new information.
3. The Spirit does not change the Bible to suit our
purposes or to match our circumstances.
Biblical Interpretation
What Help Should I Expect from the Holy Spirit As I
Interpret the Scriptures?
4. The Holy Spirit will bring the meaning of the Bible to
bear on us when we study the Bible seeking to obey.
5. The Holy Spirit will use the Bible to sanctify us
(Ephesians 1:17-19)
Application Once we have come to understand the meaning of a text
(interpretation) we move to application.
 Here are four steps involved in the process of applying
the Scriptures:
Biblical Interpretation
1.
2.
3.
4.
What did the text mean to the original audience?
What are the differences/similarities between the
biblical audience and us?
What is the theological principle in the text?
How should believers today apply the theological
principle in the text to their lives?
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Biblical Interpretation - Forest Park Bible Church of St