Manage episode 333065508 series 3321737
As we interpret the text, we must use proper methods of biblical interpretation. Good hermeneutics are indispensable in excellent sermon preparation, 2 Timothy 2:15.” The phrase “rightly dividing” means “to cut straight”. It suggests the image of a surgeon using his scalpel. The slightest twitch could spell death for the patient. The preacher is dealing with matters of life and death. A good book on hermeneutics will provide much help to the preacher at this point. The following brief guide will give some insight into this matter of proper biblical interpretation.
The ethnic division principle. In 1 Corinthians 10:32, the entire human race is divided into three categories. All Scripture is addressed to one of these three categories. Always ask when reading a passage: Who was this written to?
The first mention principle. The meaning of a passage. The first time a subject is mentioned is very often the key to its meaning.
The full mention principle. Often, subjects in the Bible are given one comprehensive treatment somewhere in the Bible. For instance, faith is given full treatment in Hebrews 11. Love is mentioned quite comprehensively in 1 Corinthians 13.
The principle of proportionate mention. The amount of space given in Scripture to a particular theme needs to be noted.
The principle of repeated mention. Often, the Holy Spirit will first give only the bare outline of a subject.
The gap principle. On occasion God ignores certain periods of time, leaping over many centuries without comment. This is seen in Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:17-20.
The salvation/fellowship principle. Often one is helped to know whether a passage is a salvation passage or a fellowship passage. Scripture distinguishes between being in God’s family and God’s fellowship. If a passage of Scripture deals with salvation, we understand the verses in one way. However, if the verses have to do with the matter of fellowship, we understand them in another way. This principle is important in accurately interpreting such passages as John 15.
The threefold principle. God’s great truth of salvation is presented in a threefold way. One can be biblically correct in saying, “I have been saved; I am being saved; I will be saved.” Salvation is presented in these three ways in the Scriptures. Justification presents the past aspect of our salvation; sanctification presents the present process of our salvation; glorification sets forth the future dimension of our salvation.
The recurrence principle. God’s Word may state a subject again from a different viewpoint, with a different purpose. Genesis 1 and 2 are good examples of this principle. In Genesis 1 the Holy Spirit sets forth creation from a chronological point of view. The emphasis is upon God’s creative power. The name for God emphasizing His majesty and His might is used. In the Genesis 2 account, the same subject, creation, is presented, but from a different viewpoint. The emphasis in Genesis 2 is not on chronology. God’s grandest creative work, the creation of man, is given a prominent place. The name for God that emphasizes God’s covenant relation to man is used.
Our purpose is to answer the question, what does the Scripture passage mean? Unless we find out what the passage means, we are not ready to say, How does the passage apply to my life and to the lives of those who will listen to the sermon? Exposition is the main business of the expositor. We are digging out of the Word what is said, and what is meant by what is said.
We must be able to take the truths revealed in the passage and apply them both to ourselves, and to the people, we are preaching to. While the Bible was written many centuries ago, it teaches principles that are as fresh and up-to-date as today’s news.
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