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Spiritual Maturity Training Weekend 1 – Session 3. Biblical Interpretation. Crossing the River. Interpreting a Biblical Text. Simple Steps. 1. Pick up the text on their side of the River 2. Navigate around the rocks 3. Finish the journey in our boat “the Principle”

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interpreting a biblical text
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Simple Steps

1. Pick up the text on their side of the River

2. Navigate around the rocks

3. Finish the journey in our boat “the Principle”

4. Avoid the Context Waterfall

5. Apply “the Principle” onto our side of the River

6. Apply “the Principle” in my life

interpreting a biblical text1
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • The first obstacle in reading Scripture in context is “us”
interpreting a biblical text2
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • 1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. . . . 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. - Romans 13:1-7
interpreting a biblical text3
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • We bring a variety of pre-conceived notions, beliefs, culture, backgrounds, presuppositions that have to be considered
  • 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

- Romans 12:1-2

interpreting the biblical text
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • We live in a very different context from the biblical texts so we must first understand the original intended meaning as reflected in the text and framed by the ancient historical and cultural context
interpreting the biblical text1
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • Consider such questions:
    • Who was the author?
    • What was his background?
    • When did he write?
    • What was the nature of his ministry?
    • What was his relationship with the audience?
    • Why was he writing?
    • Who was the biblical audience?
    • What were their circumstances?
    • How was their relationship to God?
    • What kind of relationship did they have with each other?
    • What was happening at the time the book was written?
    • Are there any other historical factors to consider?
interpreting the biblical text2
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • 12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna![d]”
  • “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[e]
  • “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

- John 12:12-13

interpreting the biblical text3
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • 7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
  • “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’[c]
  • 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,[d] and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

- Matthew 11:7-15

interpreting the biblical text4
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • Pitfalls with Considering the Historical-Cultural Context
    • Watch our for inaccurate information
    • Don’t elevate the background of the text above the meaning of the text
    • Keep your study of the background of the Bible in proper perspective
interpreting the biblical text5
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • Studying the historical-cultural background is some work but it doesn’t detract from our Bible study, it can make it come alive
  • We can go overboard with this but the bigger danger is to think that we don’t need to know the background at all
interpreting the biblical text6
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • Where can I find this information?
    • Much can be learned from a good study Bible
    • We will look at resources in session 6
interpreting the biblical text7
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
interpreting the biblical text8
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

- Revelation 3:20

interpreting the biblical text9
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.
  • 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

- Matthew 18:18-20

interpreting the biblical text10
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

- Jeremiah 29:11

interpreting the biblical text11
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • 4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. . . Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” . . . “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD.
  • 10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity

- Jeremiah 29:4-14

interpreting the biblical text12
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • Descriptive Passages
    • Describing what the characters did
  • Prescriptive Passages
    • Prescribing that we should go and do likewise
interpreting the biblical text13
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall
  • 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”

- Judges 6:37

interpreting the biblical text14
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall

9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!”

- Acts 20:9-10

interpreting the biblical text15
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

- Acts 2:42-47

interpreting the biblical text16
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

- 1 Peter 3:15

interpreting the biblical text17
Interpreting the Biblical Text
  • Step 4 – Avoid the Context Waterfall

Word Studies – Dangers

- Study the English word only

- Root word fallacy (ex: pineapple)

- Time-Frame problems (ex: dynamis = dynamite)

- Encompassing meanings

- Word meanings are determined by context and are not always translated the same every time

- A concept is bigger than the mere meaning of the word (ex: ekklessia)

- Picking out the meaning of a word that you like

- Chapter 8 from “Grasping God’s Word”

interpreting a biblical text4
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Simple Steps

1. Pick up the text on their side of the River

2. Navigate around the rocks

3. Finish the journey in our boat “the Principle”

4. Avoid the Context Waterfall

5. Apply “the Principle” onto our side of the River

6. Apply “the Principle” in my life

interpreting a biblical text5
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 5 – Applying the Principle onto our side of the River
  • Step 6 – Apply the Principle into My Life
  • The Biblical writers thought primarily in groups first, then as individuals
  • We have a tendency to think individual first
  • This can dramatically change the way that we apply the Scriptures
interpreting a biblical text6
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 5 – Applying the Principle onto our side of the River
  • Step 6 – Apply the Principle into My Life
  • 12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

- Philippians 2:12-13

  • What is the Principle?
    • Is it calling for me to ensure that my salvation is secure?
    • Or calling us to actually work together to lives out the salvation-life principles of having the same selfless attitudes as Jesus?
interpreting a biblical text7
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 5 – Applying the Principle onto our side of the River
  • Step 6 – Apply the Principle into My Life
  • When applying a principle we must always first consider the implication for God’s people as a whole
  • Then we can consider our individual responsibility or role as part of God’s people
interpreting a biblical text8
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 5 – Applying the Principle onto our side of the River
  • Step 6 – Apply the Principle into My Life
  • Observe how the principles in the text address the original situation
  • Discover an appropriate parallel situation in contemporary context
  • Make a specific application
interpreting a biblical text9
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 5 – Applying the Principle onto our side of the River
  • Step 6 – Apply the Principle into My Life

13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

  • Observe how the principles in text address the original situation:
    • Element 1: A Christian
    • Element 2: A Christian who is experiencing a variety of trials as a result of following Christ faithfully
    • Element 3: Christ will give the Christian strength and the ability to endure
interpreting a biblical text10
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 5 – Applying the Principle onto our side of the River
  • Step 6 – Apply the Principle into My Life

13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

  • Observe how the principles in text address the original situation:
    • Element 1: A Christian
    • Element 2: A Christian who is experiencing a variety of trials as a result of following Christ faithfully
    • Element 3: Christ will give the Christian strength and the ability to endure
  • Discover an appropriate parallel
    • A Christian experiencing a trial as a result of following Christ
interpreting a biblical text11
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 5 – Applying the Principle onto our side of the River
  • Step 6 – Apply the Principle into My Life
  • Observe how the principles in text address the original situation:
    • Element 2: A Christian who is experiencing a variety of trials as a result of following Christ faithfully
    • Element 3: Christ will give the Christian strength and the ability to endure
  • Discover an appropriate parallel
    • A Christian experiencing a trial as a result of following Christ
  • Make a specific application
    • A Christian being threatened with losing their job if they don’t do something unethical
putting it into practice1
Putting it into Practice
  • 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

- 1 Timothy 5:8

putting it into practice2
Putting it into Practice
  • 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  • 9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

- 1 Timothy 5:4-10

interpreting a biblical text12
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Simple Steps
  • Language Gap
  • Culture Gap
  • History & Geography Gap
  • Literature Gap
  • Covenant Gap
  • Translation and textual gap
  • Audience Gap
  • Narrative Gap

Interpretive Steps

1. Pick up the text on their side of the River

2. Navigate around the rocks

3. Finish the journey in our boat “the Principle”

4. Avoid the Context Waterfall

5. Apply “the Principle” onto our side of the River

6. Apply “the Principle” in my life

  • How do the principles address the
  • original situation
  • Find an appropriate parallel
  • Make a specific application
  • Reader Context
  • Historical-Cultural Context
  • Literary Context
  • Purpose of the Text
putting it into practice3
Putting it into Practice
  • 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

- James 2:15-17

interpreting a biblical text13
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Simple Steps
  • Language Gap
  • Culture Gap
  • History & Geography Gap
  • Literature Gap
  • Covenant Gap
  • Translation and textual gap
  • Audience Gap
  • Narrative Gap

Interpretive Steps

1. Pick up the text on their side of the River

2. Navigate around the rocks

3. Finish the journey in our boat “the Principle”

4. Avoid the Context Waterfall

5. Apply “the Principle” onto our side of the River

6. Apply “the Principle” in my life

  • How do the principles address the
  • original situation
  • Find an appropriate parallel
  • Make a specific application
  • Reader Context
  • Historical-Cultural Context
  • Literary Context
  • Purpose of the Text
putting it into practice4
Putting it into Practice
  • In biblical interpretation, we not only seek knowledge but the wisdom to use it rightly:
putting it into practice5
Putting it into Practice
  • In biblical interpretation, we not only seek knowledge but the wisdom to use it rightly:
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad