Introduction to Biblical Interpretation – 1

  1. Presuppositions for Evangelical Biblical Interpretation
    1. The Bible as God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
      1. IS the Word of God
      2. DOES NOT contain the words of God
      3. IS NOT words about God or where we experience God
      4. IS God’s communication to us using language that has the same essential meaning to God, the human author, and the reader/hearer
      5. ALL the Bible is the Word of God or in essence NONE of it is; if it is not God’s Word in its entirety, no human agent can definitively ascertain what is authentically from God and what is “only” from man.
    2. The Interpreter Must be Born Again (1 Cor. 2:6-16)
      1. Scripture contains both factual/historical information and spiritual teaching.
      2. Factual information contained in Scripture can be understood by anyone.
      3. The full significance of even the factual information can only be comprehended by the “spiritual man”.
      4. Spiritual teaching and significance of historical facts/events can not be understood by the unsaved person.
    3. The Interpreter Must be Guided by the Spirit (also John 16:12-15)
      1. God is comprehensible only to the extent he reveals himself.
      2. God’s truth is comprehensible only to the extent he provides understanding.
      3. Proper interpretation of both of God’s books (natural and special revelation) is possible only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Nature of the Bible: Unity & Diversity
    1. A Diverse Collection of Literary Works
      1. We must adapt methodology for various kinds of literature. (John 18:10,11; Rev. 1:16)
        1. The same method cannot be rigidly applied without regard for genre; a parable or a poem cannot be interpreted using the same specific rules as historic narrative.
        2. Recognition must be given to the fact that writings from Abraham’s culture will differ from that of Paul.
      2. We must recognize the progress of revelation. (Gen. 3:15; Deut. 18:15; Isa. 9:6, 53:3-9; Matt. 20:17-19)
        1. God did not reveal the full scope of his redemptive plan to Adam and Eve.
        2. Much of God’s early teaching about redemption came in pictures – e.g., the Old Testament system of worship including animal sacrifice.
        3. The identity of the Redeemer as God-Man, Prophet-Priest-King, Suffering Servant-Conquering King was revealed gradually from the Fall until the close of the canon.
      3. We must allow the biblical writers to speak for themselves, and then seek an internal unity behind their diverse expressions of faith. (Rom. 4:13-16; Eph. 2:8-10; James 2:14-26)
        1. In the event of the appearance of contradiction, if Presupposition I.A is correct, then an adequate explanation of the difficulty exists. The Bible student may be able to determine the solution or he may not; in either case, the Bible is still the infallible inerrant Word of God.
        2. The full context should be studied (the entire book, if necessary) in order to understand the meaning of the immediate passage in light of the surrounding text.
        3. The “final” interpretation must be consistent with what Scripture as a whole teaches.
      4. Biblical Theology

        As opposed to Systematic Theology, Biblical Theology asks the question of what a particular book, or group of books, teach on different topics, showing emphases of the different parts of Scripture. Dr. Miles Van Pelt

        Biblical theology gives special attention to the teachings of individual authors and sections of Scripture, and to the place of each teaching in the historical development of Scripture. …Biblical theology traces the historical development of a doctrine and the way in which one’s place at some point in that historical development affects one’s understanding and application of that particular doctrine. Biblical theology also focuses on the understanding of each doctrine that the biblical authors and their original hearers or readers possessed. Grudem, Systematic

    2. A Unity of Theme: The story of creation, fall and redemption
      1. The Bible is One Story. (Gen. 1-3; Rom. 5:12-19)
        1. The Bible’s view of itself is such that rejection of one part destroys the rest.
        2. Creation is presented as historical fact throughout Scripture. To deny the historicity of Genesis 1-9 makes Swiss cheese of the remainder of the Bible.
      2. A “Systematic Theology” becomes a possibility.

        Systematic theology is that methodological study of the Bible that views the Holy Scriptures as a completed revelation, in distinction from the disciplines of Old Testament theology, New Testament theology, and biblical theology, which approach the Scriptures as an unfolding revelation. Accordingly, the systematic theologian, viewing the Scriptures as a completed revelation, seeks to understand holistically the plan, purpose, and didactic intention of the divine mind revealed in Holy Scripture, and to arrange that plan, purpose, and didactic intention in orderly and coherent fashion as articles of the Christian faith. Robert Reymond, Systematic

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