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Spiritual Maturity Training Weekend 1 – Session 2. Biblical Interpretation. Crossing the River. How we read the Bible. Can we understand it?. Ephesians 3:4 - In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ

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how we read the bible
How we read the Bible
  • Can we understand it?
  • Ephesians 3:4 - In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ
  • Acts 17:11 – Now the Berean Jews . . . examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
  • 1 Peter 3:15 - Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
  • Mark 4:13-14 - 13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. . . .
how we read the bible1
How we read the Bible
  • Can we understand it? Yes but it takes work
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 - present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
  • Acts 17:11 – Now the Berean Jews . . . examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
  • 2 Peter 3:16 - He writes the same way in all his letters. . . His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
  • 1 Timothy 1:7 – They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about
  • Mark 4:24 - 24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.
how we read the bible2
How we read the Bible
  • The Role of the Spirit
  • Remember: Satan doesn’t deny God’s Word—he misinterprets it
    • Genesis 3:1-5
    • Matthew 4:3-11
    • 1 Timothy 4:1
    • This is also what false teachers do (2 Peter 3:16)
how we read the bible3
How we read the Bible
  • The Role of the Spirit
  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-14 - The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[c]14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
how we read the bible4
How we read the Bible
  • The Role of the Spirit – Important Truths
  • Having the Spirit does not mean the Spirit is all we need to interpret Scripture
  • The Spirit won’t do all the work

He expects us to use our minds, proper interpretive methods, and good study methods

  • The Spirit does not create new meaning or provide new information
  • The Spirit and the Word will always agree
  • The Spirit does not change the word to suit our purposes
  • The Spirit brings the meaning of the Bible to bear on the reader
  • You don’t have to engage in deep study every time you open the Bible

Sometimes you need to quietly enter into God’s presence and drink deeply from his word in a heartfelt manner (while still keeping proper principles in mind) – More on this later

how we read the bible5
How we read the Bible
  • Reading the Book as it was meant to be read
  • The Bible is one connected book (in many parts) that consists of many types of literature and literary devices
    • Poetry
    • Narrative
    • Public Letters
    • Private Letters
    • Apocalyptic
    • Metaphors
    • Exaggeration
    • Sarcasm
    • Etc.
how we read the bible6
How we read the Bible
  • Who should I be speaking to today?
    • You?
    • Or an hypothetical audience 1,000 years into the future?
interpreting a biblical text1
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 text2
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 1 - Pick up the text on their side of the River
  • What does the text say?
    • Observe, observe, observe
    • What is being said
    • What is going on
    • What is the situation
    • What words are used
    • What words or phrases are repeated
    • What are the details; why are they there?
    • Examine sentences; paragraphs, and larger context
    • Be a detective
    • Spend time—you’re not in a hurry
interpreting a biblical text3
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 1 - Pick up the text on their side of the River
  • 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
  • 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

– John 15:1-12

interpreting a biblical text4
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 1 - Pick up the text on their side of the River
  • Repeats “vine” 3 times
  • Repeats “fruit” 5 times
  • Repeats “remain in” 12 times
  • Repeats “love” 7 times
  • Who is the vine?
  • Who is the gardener?
  • What is the purpose of the vine? Of the gardener?
  • What is the result of remaining in the vine?
  • We are not yet interpreting—only observing
interpreting a biblical text5
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 text6
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • We cannot just “read” the Bible and expect to understand it as is without a little work because of the gaps
  • We are separated from the biblical text and original audience by time, geography, culture, and many other factors
interpreting a biblical text7
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Language Gap
  • Culture Gap
  • History & Geography Gap
  • Literature Gap
  • Covenant Gap
  • Translation and textual gap
  • Audience Gap
  • Allusion Gap
interpreting a biblical text8
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Language Gap
    • The Bible was written in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic
    • This automatically puts barriers between us and the text
interpreting a biblical text9
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Language Gap
    • ἐὰν μείνητε ἐν ἐμοὶ καὶ τὰ ῥήματά μου ἐν ὑμῖν μείνῃ, ὃ ἐὰν θέλητε [a]αἰτήσασθε καὶ γενήσεται ὑμῖν·
interpreting a biblical text10
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Language Gap
    • ἐὰν μείνητε ἐν ἐμοὶ καὶ τὰ ῥήματά μου ἐν ὑμῖν μείνῃ, ὃ ἐὰν θέλητε [a]αἰτήσασθε καὶ γενήσεται ὑμῖν·
    • 7if ye may remain in me, and my sayings in you may remain, whatever ye may wish ye shall ask, and it shall be done to you. YLT
    • If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. – John 15:7
interpreting a biblical text11
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Translation and Textual Gap
    • Matthew 11
    • 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. – NIV ’84
interpreting a biblical text12
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Translation and Textual Gap
  • Matthew 11
    • 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. NIV ’84
    • 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,[a] and the violent take it by force. ESV
    • 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence,[a] and the violent have been seizing it by force. HCSB
    • 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven [a]suffers violence, and violent men [b]take it by force. NASB
    • 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,[a] and violent people have been raiding it. NIV 2011
interpreting a biblical text13
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Culture Gap
    • I left Appleton and went to a party 2 hours away in Janesville on December 24th?
      • How did I get there?
      • What kind of party did I go to?
      • Who went with me?
      • Who else was at the party?
interpreting a biblical text14
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Culture Gap
    • How many people traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem?
    • About how long after they arrived did Mary give birth?
    • Who helped Mary deliver the baby?
interpreting a biblical text15
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • History and Geography Gap
    • 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
    • 34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.” 36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”

- Judges 11:30-37

interpreting a biblical text16
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • History and Geography Gap
    • 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.

- 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

interpreting a biblical text17
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • History and Geography Gap
    • Can I do this?
    • It takes work
    • There are resources to help
    • God gave us teachers for a reason
    • Often times just being aware is half of the battle
a modest proposal by johanthan swift
A Modest Proposal by Johanthan Swift
  • “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled ...”
interpreting a biblical text18
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Literature Gap
    • Does it help to know that the previous quote was from a work of satire?
interpreting a biblical text19
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Literature Gap
    • 29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

– Matthew 24:29

interpreting a biblical text20
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Literature Gap
    • This is a quote from Isaiah 13:10 referring to the fall of Babylon
    • We must read revelatory (apocalyptic) literature as it was intended to be read
    • That is true for all biblical literary genres
interpreting a biblical text21
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Covenant Gap
    • 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

- Luke 7:46-50

interpreting a biblical text22
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Covenant Gap
    • Under which covenant did this take place?
    • How does that change our understanding of what is said and done?
interpreting a biblical text23
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Audience Gap
    • 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

- Philippians 2:12-13

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

- Romans 8:28-29

interpreting a biblical text24
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Allusion Gap
    • 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

- John 15:1-5

interpreting a biblical text25
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • 5 Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. 6 I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.”
  • 7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress
  • Isaiah 5:1-7.
  • 1I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. 3 “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?
  • When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?
interpreting a biblical text26
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Language Gap
  • Translation and textual Gap
  • Culture Gap
  • History and Geography Gap
  • Literature Gap
  • Covenant Gap
  • Audience Gap
  • Allusion Gap
interpreting a biblical text27
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 text28
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 3 – Finish the Journey on “The Principle”
  • Find the principle of the passage
    • The principle is the “main point” of the text
    • The principle should be reflected in the text
    • The principle should not be culturally bound
    • The principle should correspond to the teaching of all Scripture
    • The principle should be relevant to both the biblical and contemporary audience
interpreting a biblical text29
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 3 – Finish the Journey on “The Principle”
  • Find the principle of the passage
    • 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

- Philippians 4:12-13

interpreting a biblical text30
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Remember Step 2 – Navigate around the rocks
  • Language Gap
  • Translation and textual Gap
  • Culture Gap
  • History and Geography Gap
  • Literature Gap
  • Covenant Gap
  • Audience Gap
  • Allusion Gap
interpreting a biblical text31
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 3 – Finish the Journey on “The Principle”
  • Find the principle of the passage
    • The principle is the “main point” of the text
    • The principle should be reflected in the text
    • The principle should not be culturally bound
    • The principle should correspond to the teaching of all Scripture
    • The principle should be relevant to both the biblical and contemporary audience
interpreting a biblical text32
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 3 – Finish the Journey on “The Principle”
  • Find the principle of the passage
    • 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
    • Principle: Christ will give believers the ability to be content in a variety of circumstances that come as a result of following him faithfully
interpreting a biblical text33
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 3 – Finish the Journey on “The Principle”
  • Find the principle of the passage
    • 8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. - 1 Timothy 2:8-10

28 “If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death.

- Exodus 21:28-29

interpreting a biblical text34
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 3 – Finish the Journey on “The Principle”
  • Find the principle of the passage
    • The principle is the “main point” of the text
    • The principle should be reflected in the text
    • The principle should not be culturally bound
    • The principle should correspond to the teaching of all Scripture
    • The principle should be relevant to both the biblical and contemporary audience
interpreting a biblical text35
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 3 – Finish the Journey on “The Principle”
  • Find the principle of the passage
    • 8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. - 1 Timothy 2:8-10

Christian men will demonstrate the truth of Christ to those around, in part, by leading in prayer and living in unity.

Christian women should demonstrate the truth of Christ to those around, in part, by finding their beauty from within and dressing modestly not through outward things

interpreting a biblical text36
Interpreting a Biblical Text
  • Step 3 – Finish the Journey on “The Principle”
  • Find the principle of the passage

28 “If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death.

- Exodus 21:28-29

God’s people should not hold one another responsible for honest accidents but they shouldn’t benefit from them either. They should be held responsible though if they have acted negligently.

interpreting a biblical text37
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