Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
The Word of God must be studied so that our love may abound more and more in knowledge and in all judgment Php. 1:9 and should be read slowly, prayerfully, frequently, reverently, meditatively, searchingly, perseveringly, believingly, and obediently.
The Greek word orthotomeo means to Rightly Divide the Truth, to set straight and handle right. It means not only to give the true meaning, but also the correct application to the various times and classes of people. Truth must be divided dispensationally, prophetically, historically, and with regard for classes and subjects. The chief fundamental principle of interpretation is to gather from the Scriptures themselves the precise meaning the writers intended to convey. We must exercise common sense and reason, applying the same principles and grammatical rules to the Bible as we do to other books. One should take the Bible literally wherever it is at all possible. When the language cannot be taken literally, we know it is figurative. We should then get the literal truth conveyed by the figurative language.
The word Interpret means to state the true sense of God’s message as He expresses it; that is, give to the reader the exact statements of Scripture without change to prove every question discussed; to state exactly what God says and where He says it. The science or art of interpretation and explanation is called Hermeneutics and comes from the Greek ermeneuo, meaning “to explain,” “to expound,” and “to interpret”. It is the science that establishes and classifies the principles, methods and rules by which the meaning of the author’s language is ascertained.
The interpretation of any piece of literature will depend upon the nature of the work under consideration. Poetry, history, fiction, and each form of human expression require a different set of rules. The rules of writing when interpreting a work of fiction would not be suitable for history. Accordingly, the rules that govern Bible interpretation depend upon the character of its separate kinds of writings, just as is true of different kinds of writings in other books.
The Word of God should not be changed to be understood, there is no mysteries, secrets, or hidden meanings veiled in spiritual language and scriptures does not have many different meanings and different interpretation as some tend to claim.
The modern way of interpreting the Bible is to change the meaning of what is written to suit one’s fancy and to harmonize the Bible with one’s own theories. It transgresses every known sensible principle of true interpretation and places man as the authority above God concerning the Bible.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18-19 KJV
Since the Bible is like other books in that it is written in human language, it must be interpreted like all other literature. If heavenly, supernatural, and spiritual truths are written in human language, we must understand such truths on this basis. One must understand the words and expressions in the Bible the same as if they were found outside of it. There can be no special Bible logic, rhetoric, or grammar. The laws of grammar apply to the Bible as they do to other writings.
Christ and His disciples prove this method of interpretation. In about 400 quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament, the phrase “It is written” is held as all that is necessary to prove the sense of God’s message. This will settle every point of doctrine today if we are to be Christ-like. Not one example is found in Scripture where the plain literal sense of Scripture was done away with by the allegorical, mystical, speculative, spiritualizing, and symbolizing methods so prominent today. We must lay aside all such methods if a true knowledge of the Bible is to be gained.
The Bible is clear in itself when all traditions, wrong interpretations, manifold changes, and spiritualizing of Scripture are abandoned. The average person is blind to many simple truths of Scripture because they have been overlaid with so many human traditions and interpretations designed to serve a church, a party, or some personal fancy.
The Bible is an inspired revelation Rom. 16:25; Col. 1:26; Rev. 1:1 from God; a revelation is an uncovering or unveiling so that all can see alike what was previously covered or hidden. The only excuse any man would have for not seeing something that was uncovered for him is his willful refusal to look. Anything that is revealed is clear, or the purpose of the revelation has failed.
How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; Ephesians 3:3 KJV
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness 2Timothy 3:16 KJV
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