Being a Strong Interpretor

You are gonna need 2 things to be a strong interpreter. The Holy Spirit and a mind.

Believers have a stronger position to understand Bible because of the Holy Spirit inside them. This of course does not mean that every believer is a strong interpreter. There are some other factors.

Some one who seeks after the deep things of God makes a strong interpreter. One who is open and dependant on the Holy Spirit is normally a stronger interpreter. Methodically and systematically studying the scripture lends itself to a stronger intrepretation.

Concerns/Hinderances For Strong Intrepretation

This is etymology (word origin) and context. Context is the biggest clue as to what a word means. Not just in the immediate verse, but in the chapter and book as well. Different authors may have slightly different meanings for the same words due to the context in which they write in. Lexicons and theological dictionaries help in this area.

Is the word a verb, participle, adverb, or noun? Is the statement a command or a question? Remember sophomore English class? This is what we’re talking about except with Greek and Hebrew.

Most of us don’t know Greek and Hebrew. Most of us don’t WANT to know Greek and Hebrew. Which is cool. You can be a strong interpretor without knowing a stitch of Greek or Hebrew. What will help is reading your text in multiple versions.

Literary genre
There are all kinds of different types of literature in the Bible. Prose, poetry, figurative language, literal language, narrative history, prophecy, and gospel are just a few. Each one should be handled differently. For example, we don’t handle John 4 the same way we handle Job 4. One book that is indispensable in this area is How To Read The Bible For All It Is Worth by Fee and Stuart.

Historical/Cultural Concerns
Paul’s letters are extremely sensitive to historical/cultural context, whereas Proverbs are not as tied to its context.

Look at 1 Corinthians 11:5-7. What could this mean? Does this mean every woman who has short hair is living in sin? The Greek god Aphrodite had temples in the city. The temple priests were no more than prostitutes and they had short hair so it would be known who they were. So Paul’s command was basically don’t act or conform to this world.

Political setting, social setting, economic background, and religious background are the major important historical concerns. Books on manners and customs of biblical times and history books are very helpful in this area. Some of the newer Study Bibles come with some of this information in their introduction to the books.

Contextual Concerns
Just because someone quotes the Bible, doesn’t mean it is biblical. Look at Ephesians 6:5. Paul tells slaves to obey their masters. So this means that the Bible supports slavery, right? Not exactly. Once we begin to look at the chapter as a whole, we see something else. It appears that Paul is giving specific instructions to folks in specific circumstances. It appears that he is “fleshing out” what he told them to do in Ephesians 5:21 to submit to one another. This is what we mean by context.

What is the message of those verses immediately surrounding the verses we are studying? This is called the immediate context. There are two other major contexts to consider: the book and the Bible. How does the text fit into the book that it is located in? How does the book fit into the Bible? Not all books have the same theological weight. We treat the book of Leviticus quite differently than we do Romans.

Next Session: Big Picture Theology
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