How to Understand the Bible (Hermeneutics)

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Hermeneutics

The art and science of Hermeneutics is to discern exactly what the author meant by what he said.  Wycliffe said that it would greatly help to understand scripture if we would not only mark what is spoken or written, but of whom, to whom, and with what words.   We also consider what time, where, to what extent, under what circumstances and we consider what went on before and what follows.  It is also important to consider what it does NOT say. 

AWHAT?    What is the topic about?  Why was it important to write about that topic?  Example:  Colossians was written to correct an error in that church known as Gnosticism which involved  the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ and the worship of angels

BOF WHOM?   Is the author talking about the church or about unbelievers?  The Jews or the Gentiles?

C:  TO WHOM:   Similar to the above but it is especially important to consider in cases where one is speaking to a mixed group such as when Christ spoke to large crowds.   At times HE addressed His follower but at other times He addressed the unbelievers or the Pharisees.

D:   WITH WHAT WORDS?   The choice of words is important.  The Greeks used three different words for love to indicate the type of love  the author intended.   Eros was a physical or sexual love.  We see that every day in our society and it is often called love when it is really lust.   Philio is a brotherly love.  This is the type love we have for our friends and for which the city of Philadelphia is named.    Agape love is the love God has for us and the love he wants us to have for others.  Agape love is described in I Corinthians 13    A close look at John 21:15-17 shows the use of specific words and the importance to us to know which word was used.  Peter used a different term for love then did Christ.  Christ asked Peter if he "agaped" him and Peter replied that he "philoed" Christ, 

EAT WHAT TIME?   The meaning to us can not be different then what the people who heard it could have understood.   What they understood it to mean should be what we understand it to mean.  When Christ talked about being the bread of life in John 6:48-59 those to whom HE said it to would not have understood it to be the Lord's supper as this had not occurred yet.   Another example is John 8:24  and 8:58  where Christ said He was "I AM"  we need to look to see what the listeners understood Christ to say.  We find that they understood Christ to say that HE is GOD.  This would be comparing His statement that He is "I AM" to Exodus 3:14  We need to remember that most of the time the crowds misunderstood Christ because Christ often spoke of  Spiritual things while the listener was thinking of temporal or earthly things.

F:  WHERE?   Where was the author?   It does make a difference in understanding the passage. At times  Paul was in prison when he spoke about having Joy, Peace, Love. 

G:  TO WHAT INTENT?   Why did the author write what he did?   Often the intended purpose of the author should clue us in on what to look for.  John told us the Gospel of John was written that we might have life. (John 20:31)  

H:  WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES?    What events were occurring when it was written?   When Paul was asking for gifts for the people in Jerusalem the Christians there were very poor because of persecution.   ( see 1 Corinthians 16 and Acts 11:27-30 )   This gave the funds for many to flee the city before Rome destroyed it in A.D. 70 which resulted in the rapid spread of the Gospel in many other areas of the world. 

I:  CONTEXT?    It is important to take everything said about a subject and not just one or two verses. This could mean taking the verse before and after and it can also mean looking at the whole chapter, the whole book and at times other books.  The statement that James made that faith without works is dead  can not mean that we can lose our salvation if we do not show works because too much other scripture is written to show it is by GRACE we are saved.  James and Paul used the word "faith" in different ways much as you and I can take the word "train" and use them to refer to a locomotive or a bridal accessory  or even an action we take to teach someone.  When we see other scripture referred to in a verse, we need to see what that other scripture said.  In James 2:21 the question is asked...Was not Abraham justified by works when he offered Isaac.  This justification can not have meant salvation as we compare Genesis 15:6   we see that he was made "righteous" before his son was born.  The act of offering Isaac did not save Abraham.  Believing God did. just as it does now.

J:  WHAT DOES OTHER SCRIPTURE SAY?    If we find a verse that seems to contradict other verses, we need to go back to the drawn board and find out what this verse does mean.  The best commentary on scripture is other scripture.  Most often if we find a verse that is not clear, we only need to read further to clarify it.    Jesus often explained a parable only a short time after HE told it.   Also, many times one part if Scripture will clarify other parts.  Revelations is better understood in context of Daniel. 

K:  WHAT DOES IT NOT SAY?   We should never read INTO Scripture something that is NOT there.  If GOD wanted it there...HE would have put it there.  We are told in Revelations 22:18-19  not to add or take away from GOD's Word.   Let us look at one verse to see the importance of this.  Often we hear that we have to have works for salvation yet perhaps the best verse that tells of salvation is John 3:16. 

L:   WHAT DID THE ORIGINAL HEARERS UNDERSTAND?    Although similar to E:  AT WHAT TIME?  above, it is different.  In "E", it is based upon building a foundation one precept upon another.    This indicates that what the original audience understood, is most likely what we should understand.  Each language and in fact, each dialect has some difference.  For example, If I gave you a "tonic" in Boston, you would drink it, but in other parts of the country, you might put it on your hair.  It is "soda" in Boston and most likely hair tonic in other parts of the country. We can see a prime example of this in John chapter 10 where it is clear that the Jews fully understood Jesus claim to be deity  This is further discussed in "Who Do You Say That I AM"

M:  IF PLAIN SENSE MAKES COMMON SENSE,   If plain sense makes common sense, any other sense is nonsense.  GOD is smart enough to use the exact words HE wanted to to convey the message and I believe we often read too much into HIS Word.  We try to find hidden meanings that just is not there.

 

                  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (AND OBEYS)  him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Is this what it says?   NO NO NO NO.... it says  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Obey is not in this so why do we add it so often?  Again, GOD is smart enough that had HE wanted it there, HE would have put it there.  We obey...BECAUSE  we are saved, not to get saved. 

L:  WHO WAS MAKING THE STATEMENT?   Not everything in the Bible is true.   If you do not believe this, read Genesis 3: 1-6   You see, the one making the statement in this passage was satan....and he LIED.  This is the same trick satan uses today.  We are told we need works to take away GRACE.  Or we are told we do not have to work to take away service.  Many are told they can not live for God and that only special people can do so yet GOD is as faithful to ANY of us today as HE was to anyone in the Bible. Yes GOD is as faithful to YOU as HE was to David, Moses, Abraham, Paul  or anyone else.  GOD enables the called,  HE does not call the able. 

M:   Anytime we see  WHEREFORE,  THEREFORE or things like LIKEWISE  we need to automatically check the scripture before this verse.  It always is build upon the scripture that proceeds it.  In 1 Peter 3:1 we are told:   Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;    This indicates we have to back up to see what likewise refers too.  It may be interesting. 

N:  Often we need to learn about the times and what the "norm" was when the text was written.  We should learn about the culture, the political situation and what was going on at the time the text was written.  An example would be that when Paul told us to obey those in authority over us in Romans 13: 1-7  we need to remember the Romans were the governing body.  Paul told the early church to obey them even though the church was being persecuted.    Now, we are told that if we are told to do something that scripture forbids, we are to obey GOD rather then man...but be sure you know the chapter and verse to back you up so that you are not refusing because YOU do not want to do something.  ( Acts 5:29 )

O:   If after following all of these "rules"  you still can not understand the Bible, there may be another problem that NEEDS to be corrected IMMEDIATELY! 

1 Corinthians 2:14   But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The Bible is spiritual and too often many try to understand it by a human mind, human reasoning. We are told that the human mind can not understand the Bible.  It is foolishness to us according to 1 Corinthians 3:18-20) and 1 Corinthians 1:20-22

You see, almost all of the Bible is written to GOD's kids...HIS people.  If you do not know for sure that you have eternal life or if you know that you are not a Christian, then what you need is salvation,  Once you belong to GOD then the Holy Spirit will teach you what it means.   How do you become a Christian?

1: We need to realize we have sinned. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God This means we have failed to met the goal of being perfect in order to enter heaven. Few of us would question this.


2: The penalty for the sin that we are guilty of is death. Romans 6:23 tells us The wages of sin is death. (Death is separation. When our body dies, our soul is separated from our body. Eternal death is when we die without doing what is being explained here and then our spirit is separated from God for eternity.


Since the only price we can pay for our own sin is to be separated from God forever, it stands to reason that there is no way we can pay for our sin ourselves. We thus come to the 2nd part of Romans 6:23: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord.


3: 2nd Corinthians 5:21 informs us: For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Jesus Christ, God's only Son became sin for us so that we can be freed from the penalty of sin. What then do we need to do?


4: For GOD so loved the world that HE gave His only begotten Son that whosoever (read YOUR name here) believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Please note the ONLY condition given is that we believe in Jesus Christ for full payment for our sin.

5:  Many times our own past activities or the activities of our ancestors may be a basis for demonic problems based on Exodus 20:5.  It is important therefore to Renounce  the sins of our ancestors.

Now if we only learn these facts, even though we may understand that they are true and believe them. that is only knowing ABOUT GOD. How do we KNOW HIM then? It is APPLYING that payment to our account. 

This would be like having a check to pay a bill and putting the check on a desk. The bill does not get paid because the check was never APPLIED to your account. Once we know and believe the facts pointed out above, the next step is to TALK to God much as you and I would and admit that we have fallen short of what He wants. 

We recognize that we deserve to be separated from a Holy God. We then tell Him that we know that He has provided a payment for all our sin and this payment was Jesus Christ when He died on a cross. 

It is at this time we ask God to APPLY THIS PAYMENT TO OUR ACCOUNT. We ask God to credit as PAYMENT IN FULL for all our sin the price Jesus paid for us. It is this step that gives us eternal life. If we do all but this step, we know about God.

 When we do this step, we will KNOW God and we will have eternal life.  Following is a model of a prayer to trust Christ.  

Lord God,  I now realize I am a sinner.  I realize I have fallen short of the goal You have set forth for eternal life and I now repent of this sin.  I also understand that according to Your Word, the Bible, that Your Son, Jesus Christ as paid the debt for me and I am now asking You to credit the payment Jesus made on the cross to my sin.  Lord God, I also renounce any sin on the part of  my ancestors that may have been invitations to curses or demonic activity.   Lord God I also now understand that You have now given me eternal life  and I thank You for that fact.    Amen.  

 If you have prayed this prayer  Please click on the scroll below and send us and e-mail so we can send you some information to help you grown in Christ.    If you do not have a church home we would also like to try to help you find a Bible believing and teaching church in your area.  

Music playing...Just As I Am  Please come to HIM now....Just as You are.  If you have. e-mail us below WE CARE!

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PLEASE note this is only for the purpose of establishing a right relationship with Jesus Christ.  This number is not for immediate counseling 

http://www.shatterdmen.com/first_step.htm

When we have placed our trust in JESUS CHRIST  for FULL payment for our sin, then these verses will apply to us:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.  John 14:26

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.  1 John 2:27

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  1 Corinthians 2:13

and most of all....John 16:12-14

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