Question about Scriptural Interpretation

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eternally-gratefull

Guest
#22
One thing I have learned, is no matter who is teaching or who you are listening to. NEVER take them as 100% right, always test what they say..

Also we must remember, The bible is a book with many small books included in it.. Verse and chapters were added by men. Sometimes I wish they sold study bibles without these added functions so we could read as written. I think alot of issues would be done away with, as we read words in context. Not trying to seperate a verse from the text and make it say something we never did.

Also. It is best to study the text. Then determine a doctrine you are seeing, Trying to use a doctrine to study the text is fallible because the particular doctrine you are studying may be flawed. But you believe it because it is from an author or teacher you like.
 

Grandpa

Senior Member
Jun 24, 2011
11,255
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#23
Sometimes it seems a text is very obvious. And you build your opinion of what you think God is about by that text.

But then you read that same verbiage elsewhere and you see you were interpreting what was said completely differently than what was intended.

See - Philippians 2:12

Then see Jeremiah 33:9
 

Chester

Senior Member
May 23, 2016
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#24
Excellent question! Of course, I recommend reading the whole thing... at least once. If a person commits to doing that and not giving up in frustration or confusion, they will probably have the basics down.

For us mortals, a course for new believers such as Alpha is a good place to start, or perhaps a book aimed at first-time readers of the Bible. I began by reading a Gideons New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs... probably a better place to start than Numbers or Chronicles. ;)
Think about it - you are contradicting yourself . . . ? ;) Well, at least you are a bit confusing! You said we start with a "broad understanding" but that comes from reading all of Scripture - but don't interpret one passage too deeply . . . ?

You said originally that we usually start with a summary of Scriptural truth such as a creed (post # 3). Then in post # 6 you said we should have a "broad general understanding" of Scripture before we study Scripture deeply. Now you say this "broad understanding" should come from reading the whole Bible? So is the starting point (1) reading and interpreting Scripture or (2) some person's "broad understanding" of the Bible?

I really think your answers show some real wisdom, but they are also saying exactly what one of my concerns is with biblical interpretation: Too many times our starting point is what someone else says the overall tone of Scripture teaches. Then we interpret every Scripture passage to agree with this "overall general understanding". Some merit to the idea, yes, . . . but I maintain that we must start with Scripture, interpret if deeply, and then we will find that any Scripture interpreted deeply will not contradict another.
 

Chester

Senior Member
May 23, 2016
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#25
Unless you have studied the Bible and seen the specific doctrine in many passages, you cannot rightly interpret a particular text.

Let's take an example (Ephesians 2:8): For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God...
You are of course entitled to your opinion, but here is where I have great concern.

I think that any text studied deeply and properly will lead a correct interpretation. We should not be imposing outside "overall Biblical doctrine" on a specific text to force it into a particular meaning.
 

Chester

Senior Member
May 23, 2016
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#26
"One uses overall Biblical doctrine to determine the meaning of a particular text." Never do this. It is overlaying your ideas, or some theologian's ideas on the Bible.
Exactly: Never use overall Biblical doctrine to determine the meaning of a particular text!!! I could not say it better.
 

Hevosmies

Well-known member
Sep 8, 2018
3,612
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#27
Which is best, or which is correct?

Does one study a particular text to determine what is overall Biblical doctrine?
OR
Does one use overall Biblical doctrine to determine the meaning of a particular text?
My answer: Its always best to look at the bigger picture. Because the Bible contradicts itself a lot, and im not saying this as an error, its done on purpose, (NOTICE english isnt my native language so maybe there is a better word to use here but i cant think of any). For example:

Eze 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

So God gives you the heart, and you got to do it yourself. This is where you got two sides going at it: One side is quoting the first, the other side is quoting the latter.

Many times things like this are in the Bible, thats why we got so many different doctrines and churches. Here is another example:

1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1Jn 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

So if you dont admit you have sin, you dont have truth in you and are self-deceived. BUT if you sin, you havent even seen God nor known Him. The same thing in John's epistles is where it says "I write that you sin not, BUT if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father" but at the same time: He who sins is of the devil...

These are just a couple of examples, but there are a ton more. If you take just ONE of these verses and discard teh other, you can come up with all kinds of weird doctrines! Thats why the WHOLE BIGGER PICTURE is key imo!
 

ForestGreenCook

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2018
5,598
873
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#28
Sometimes it seems a text is very obvious. And you build your opinion of what you think God is about by that text.

But then you read that same verbiage elsewhere and you see you were interpreting what was said completely differently than what was intended.

See - Philippians 2:12

Then see Jeremiah 33:9
Do you believe that the scriptures contradict one another? They should all harmonize. There is a deliverance (salvation) that we can obtain by our works. It is not an eternal deliverance, but a deliverance we can have here in this world by obeying God's commandments. We know that eternal deliverance is not by the works of man, but by God's grace. Most of God's children can not understand the difference in the two.
 

ForestGreenCook

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2018
5,598
873
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#29
My answer: Its always best to look at the bigger picture. Because the Bible contradicts itself a lot, and im not saying this as an error, its done on purpose, (NOTICE english isnt my native language so maybe there is a better word to use here but i cant think of any). For example:

Eze 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

So God gives you the heart, and you got to do it yourself. This is where you got two sides going at it: One side is quoting the first, the other side is quoting the latter.

Many times things like this are in the Bible, thats why we got so many different doctrines and churches. Here is another example:

1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1Jn 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

So if you dont admit you have sin, you dont have truth in you and are self-deceived. BUT if you sin, you havent even seen God nor known Him. The same thing in John's epistles is where it says "I write that you sin not, BUT if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father" but at the same time: He who sins is of the devil...

These are just a couple of examples, but there are a ton more. If you take just ONE of these verses and discard teh other, you can come up with all kinds of weird doctrines! Thats why the WHOLE BIGGER PICTURE is key imo!
The scriptures seem to contradict each other, but they do not. There is a deliverance (not eternal, but here on earth) that we obtain by our good works. There is an eternal deliverance we receive that are not by our works, but by the grace of God. Most of God's children do not know how to divide these two deliverances in the scriptures because the word "salvation" is translated in the Greek to mean "a deliverance". We are delivered many times as we live here in this world but only once eternally.
 

ForestGreenCook

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2018
5,598
873
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#30
Exactly: Never use overall Biblical doctrine to determine the meaning of a particular text!!! I could not say it better.
All scriptures harmonize unless you are misinterpreting them wrong. Scriptures do not contradict each other.
 

Chester

Senior Member
May 23, 2016
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#31
Doctrine should only be affirmed when it is supported by the overall message of the Bible..

Too many people establish a doctrine by just one verse of scripture interpreted in isolation without taking into account the full message of the entire Bible on the matter.
I would say that doctrine should only be affirmed when it is clearly stated in Scripture. This "supported by the overall message of the Bible" allows a person to bring in whatever doctrine they think is that "overall message".

If one verse says something clearly and is interpreted correctly and clearly in the context that is enough for me. That is sound doctrine. There is not any verse in the Bible that if interpreted correctly will be incorrect or will conflict with another verse.

I would argue that the correct approach is to study a text to determine Biblical doctrine. I think the other approach is dangerous. That is: Do not use overall Biblical doctrine to determine the meaning of a text.
 

Chester

Senior Member
May 23, 2016
4,025
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#32
Many times things like this are in the Bible, thats why we got so many different doctrines and churches. Here is another example:

1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1Jn 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

So if you dont admit you have sin, you dont have truth in you and are self-deceived. BUT if you sin, you havent even seen God nor known Him. The same thing in John's epistles is where it says "I write that you sin not, BUT if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father" but at the same time: He who sins is of the devil...

These are just a couple of examples, but there are a ton more. If you take just ONE of these verses and discard teh other, you can come up with all kinds of weird doctrines! Thats why the WHOLE BIGGER PICTURE is key imo!
Here as in any situation where you might think there is a contradiction, just carefully exegete the verse.

I John 1:7 - says that for the believer the blood of Jesus Christ is cleansing us from each and every sin. Then verse 8 says "if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves . . ." What does John mean? I think he is simply saying that though our sins are all forgiven, we need to be honest and realize that there is still the tendency or ability to "sin" inside of us. The believer who has his sins forgiven but hen says that he is now above being vulnerable to "sin" is only deceiving himself.

I John 3:6 - simply says that the one who abides in Christ does not keep on sinning (Greek present tense).

These texts do not contradict at all: what we must do is interpret them deeply in the context they are written. But please do not bring in your own "overall Biblical doctrine" to fix the supposed contradiction! :)
 

Bingo

Well-known member
Feb 9, 2019
5,926
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#34
"Different authors sometimes use the same words in different ways, and one should base their interpretation on the immediate context, not just the fact that they use the same word. Hundreds of definitions of many words has and always will define , precisely ones perceived understanding.
The parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect: Many have misinterpreted remarks simply because it is taken out of context, as the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.
Subjects of immense substance, and importance have been beat up and down throughout the
entirety of Christian religions. The absolute 'perceived' understanding rests solely on each individual...no more...no less. There being no altertive."
Are not the things of God revealed by the Holy Spirit, and do not come from the heart of man. Correct interpretation of the Bible is therefore impossible without the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit in the mind and heart of the believer. God's Spirit must enlighten human darkness - not as an addition to our wisdom, but as the absolutely essential source of the only true wisdom - first of all in order that we may be born again, and secondly so that we may understand His Word properly."

'Praise God'...............:)
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
20,805
11,413
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#35
Think about it - you are contradicting yourself . . . ? ;) Well, at least you are a bit confusing! You said we start with a "broad understanding" but that comes from reading all of Scripture - but don't interpret one passage too deeply . . . ?

You said originally that we usually start with a summary of Scriptural truth such as a creed (post # 3). Then in post # 6 you said we should have a "broad general understanding" of Scripture before we study Scripture deeply. Now you say this "broad understanding" should come from reading the whole Bible? So is the starting point (1) reading and interpreting Scripture or (2) some person's "broad understanding" of the Bible?

I really think your answers show some real wisdom, but they are also saying exactly what one of my concerns is with biblical interpretation: Too many times our starting point is what someone else says the overall tone of Scripture teaches. Then we interpret every Scripture passage to agree with this "overall general understanding". Some merit to the idea, yes, . . . but I maintain that we must start with Scripture, interpret if deeply, and then we will find that any Scripture interpreted deeply will not contradict another.
Allow me to clarify: I personally began with reading Scripture, and had read most of it before I began attending a church regularly. That doesn't work for everyone, because it requires a significant investment of time and focus. So, for most people, a creed or introductory summary will give a person the basics. Yes, it's "some person's broad understanding"... but we must start somewhere.

A case to illustrate: Scripture states, in several places, that God is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. In a nutshell, God is good. So when we first read of the flood, it seems to conflict with "God is good". If you don't believe that God is good, or haven't gotten that far, you might never get that far (or might end up outside of orthodoxy) because you conclude that God is actually capricious and cruel.

I agree... a lot of introductory material would be biased in favour of certain conclusions. That's why we shouldn't stop studying for ourselves and should be unafraid of questioning and even rejecting beliefs with which we started.
 

Chester

Senior Member
May 23, 2016
4,025
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#36
Why doesnt it say keep on sinning in my Bible then? WAAAAAAH
Here is the ESV: No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
 

Hevosmies

Well-known member
Sep 8, 2018
3,612
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#37
Here is the ESV: No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Oh noes. My King Jimmy let me down? Seriously??

Is the words "keeps on" in the greek?
 

Chester

Senior Member
May 23, 2016
4,025
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#38
Oh noes. My King Jimmy let me down? Seriously??

Is the words keeps on in the greek?
The word "keeps on" is not in the Greek as such, but the ending on the verb form is a tense which means ongoing continuous action.

I like your humor! No, your "king Jimmy" did not let you down! -- the problem is your understanding of the King Jimmy! When the translators of the "King Jimmy" wrote "sin not" they thought you would know it meant to not keep on sinning!
 

Chester

Senior Member
May 23, 2016
4,025
1,245
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#39
Allow me to clarify: I personally began with reading Scripture, and had read most of it before I began attending a church regularly. That doesn't work for everyone, because it requires a significant investment of time and focus. So, for most people, a creed or introductory summary will give a person the basics. Yes, it's "some person's broad understanding"... but we must start somewhere.

A case to illustrate: Scripture states, in several places, that God is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. In a nutshell, God is good. So when we first read of the flood, it seems to conflict with "God is good". If you don't believe that God is good, or haven't gotten that far, you might never get that far (or might end up outside of orthodoxy) because you conclude that God is actually capricious and cruel.

I agree... a lot of introductory material would be biased in favour of certain conclusions. That's why we shouldn't stop studying for ourselves and should be unafraid of questioning and even rejecting beliefs with which we started.
I think I get and I might almost agree, and practically speaking almost all of us who grow up in a Christian denomination have already in place biased overall understandings of Scripture. But I say again that it is very dangerous to use this overall understanding as any sort of a primary basis to interpret Scripture.
 

TM19782017

Active member
Dec 15, 2018
251
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#40
What I personally believe:

Reading any written word or being spoken to or explained from another human's perspective will NEVER make another FULLY understand and KNOW what is trying to be expressed.

I explained this reasoning in another post.....If all of us were to read Christopher Nolan's book Inception, which is also a movie, and then asked to fully explain what the writer was trying to say, many of us would have different explanations......Yes it is true that there would be a lot of agreeable points between us but, for anyone who saw that movie or read the book, the answer we all want to know is, how did it end? Did that top fall?
Only the writer knows that. We can only speculate.

Now I am in no way trying to compare a fictional writer's story to the truthful bible.

However, does reading something or seeing something make someone fully KNOW what they mean?
As I read deeper and deeper into the bible, I recognize that although I was not on earth to see all the events that took place, the deeper meaning of all the stories can be applied to the things of today and the same valuable lessons can be learned from studying and paying attention to actions of yourself, others and your gut feelings.