Ever since the inception of Christianity, interpreting sacred texts known as the Bible has always been a problem facing it squarely.
With the rise of false teachers which the Bible itself predicted, so many believers have lost their faith because of the false teachings and doctrines derived from the Bible.
And to escape this trauma, one must seek to read and understand the Bible in order to correctly interpret it.
What are the basic steps of Bible interpretation?
The basic steps of Bible interpretation are:
- Interpreting the Bible in the context.
- Hermeneutics and exegesis
- 4. By preaching the gospel.
1. Interpreting the bible in the context.
The only method that I recommend for people to interpret and understand the bible; as I mentioned earlier, is the reading of its various books in their entirety and or whole context.
That is to say if you pick out any chapter or verse from the book of Romans; make sure you read through the whole 16 chapters or the whole verses of the main chapter you picked out.
In so doing you will understand the mind of the writer; and how he arrived at whatever point you want to study.
For instance, when one misquotes Romans 3:10 to tell you that no one on earth is righteous.
And you already know that the bible says in 1 John 3: 7; that we should not allow people to deceive us because anyone who practices righteousness is righteous just as Jesus is righteous.
All you need to do is to go back and read through the whole of Romans chapters 1 to 16.
Or the whole of the main Romans chapter 3; and when you get to verses 9 and read through to 20, where the context of the point we see above is found.
You will discover that the writer was making reference to those who do not worship God but practice evil.
Read this point in full via the link below.
How To Interpret The Bible In Context.
What is allegorization?
Allegorization comes from the Greek word allegoria, which means the use of images or figures in describing matters entirely different from what the image or figure represents.
But it is sad that modern scholars reject this method of bible interpretation on the grounds that, we can only use allegory by the specific writer of the text who knows his choice of words and images or figures chosen to represent whatever he was trying to explain.
On the other hand, allegory is not to be used by a reader or hearer, who has no contact with the writer in order to know what meaning he was trying to give to his text through the use of images or figures.
This can be true for ordinary texts and not scriptural texts which must always have a hidden meaning that can be interpreted allegorically or otherwise, by a reader, whom the Creator chooses to inspire since He was the one that originally inspired the writer.
We must also never forget that at times, the original writer himself might not even know the hidden message behind whatever God reveals to him, but God who inspired him might choose to inspire a reader of that text to uncover the truth in his writing.
For instance, when God told Moses in Numbers 21:9 to put on a pole an image of a serpent made of bronze so that anyone who looks up to it will be saved from the poisonous bite of the living serpent sent to destroy those who disobeyed.
Moses never knew that the bronze serpent was the figure of Jesus Christ; who will later be crucified on the cross to redeem mankind.
But Christ who knew was the one who came and allegorically explained what Moses did and wrote down but did not understand.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:14-15)
3. Hermeneutics and exegesis
In religious scholarship, hermeneutics and exegesis are the art and science of trying to interpret the bible and clarify its texts.
But even though biblical exegetes try to avoid this definition by claiming that their goal is to reach an informed understanding of scriptural texts.
Yet they adopt the same method of hermeneutics and exegesis.
In the bible and exegesis, one of the factors influencing its study maintains that the bible was originally addressed to ancient readers.
And that none of us was involved in the original communication events as either senders or receivers.
They use Paul’s letter to set an example; since they were written to early Christian communities and individuals. And when we are reading them we must have it at the back of our minds that we are reading other people’s mail.
And because of this factor, they go on to conclude that; when we try to interpret the ancient bible writings, we must know that we are doing so from a third-party perspective.
That is to say, someone who is over-hearing and trying to understand an earlier conversation.
But how I wish those who are influenced by this factor have the understanding that the attributes and forms of one culture are always and often manifested in diverse cultures.
And in that light, it is wrong for one to rely on the literal texts of the scripture but rather to always make substitutions and fit in the words and ideas as they correspond with that of his own present culture.
Knowing that whatever was written in the bible, as the scripture shows, was intended to set an example for the generation of God’s people yet unborn:
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition upon whom the end of the ages have come.(1 Corinthians 10:11).
Please read the article below to understand this point better:
4. By preaching the gospel.
First and foremost the scripture clearly states:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.(1 Peter1:20-21)
And as we all know, a greater part of the bible contains prophetic writings which the scripture above shows us that no one can interpret it privately, since they never came by the will of man.
So we see that the exegetes are blind to the understanding that as the scripture enlightened us; those men who wrote these biblical texts were not in control of their minds while they did so but rather it was the Holy Spirit that inspired them to write anything.
If we claim they made mistakes, as humans, while they were writing; then it means that the Holy Spirit Who inspired them is also capable of making mistakes.
I can attest to this fact through the experience I have in writing sermons.
Once I sit down to do so I always feel like I have gone insane, I don’t always seem to understand where my mind is, and sometimes after writing the scar always lingers to the point that I will find myself misbehaving in the midst of people.
All this goes to show that I wasn’t in control of myself while I was writing. This is why I always understand how it was with those men that wrote the books of the bible.
Without this I cannot be able to interpret the bible.
Again the scripture states:
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.(1 Corinthians 1:21)
This second passage shows us that; all the scientific theories that biblical exegetes adopt on how to interpret the bible did not and can never yield any positive results.
Since God does not require human wisdom in His understanding, but rather chooses to make it known through the preaching of the gospel message which the world see as foolishness.
You can study the above scripture in its whole context to better understand this.
In Daniel’s vision about the end time, after God had showed him everything.
A seal was placed so that those who will use human knowledge and wisdom in trying to interpret the scriptures will wonder to and fro without being able to understand it.
Because the more they do the more knowledge will increase, while those who go out to preach and convert others will be the ones who will hold the keys to the interpretation of the scriptures as we can see in Daniel 12:3-4
And with this last passage we can come to the conclusion that for one to understand the scriptures he must be ready to preach the gospel message.
And this gospel message is not the one the scripture shows us in 1 John 4:5 that “those false prophets speak about the matters of the world and the world listens to them since they belong to the world” i.e. preaching about miracles, riches, and the general love of earthly things which the scripture itself warns us not to fall in love with-1 John 2:15-17.
But rather it is the preaching of the gospel that leads people out of their sinful ways; for as the scripture shows us in Romans 1:16
And as an evangelist, operating not under human commission or authorities but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from death.
I want to let you know that it is during the preaching of the gospel that I always discover 95% of the truths you will always find in my sermons.
The same thing could happen to you if you will believe this gospel.
So, therefore, with the truth, the Holy Spirit has uncovered to us through the few points stated above.
We can finally draw a conclusion on this part of our sermon that, using any of the human knowledge, examined or not examined above, will not help anyone to properly interpret the bible.