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Different Bible Versions Do you ever wonder why we have different versions of the same Bible?

Here are some explanations: A. Primary Source More technical differences between versions are caused by the translators using different families or groups of Greek manuscripts as their primary source. For instance, differences can be seen in comparisons with the New International Version (NIV) and the King James Version (KJV) of the passage 1 John 5:7-8 and their treatment of the ending of the Gospel of Mark. Variation can be anywhere from extra words in a verse, to the actual meaning of the verse being changed. With the help of proper interpretation, the fundamental doctrines of Christianity will not be negatively impacted. B. Language Language is another factor. Here the scholar translates from Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic to English. Naturally, if you have 10 persons who would translate the Bible from English to Spanish today, none of the 10 translations would be the same word for word. The same goes for the ancient Greek language to modern English which has hundreds of scholars involved. C. Methodology Another major reason for the differences is that the translators used varying methods or theories of Bible translation. Two major methods are formal and dynamic equivalence. Formal translation is also called literal or word-for-word translation. As the name suggests, it tries to keep the same words and word order used by the original manuscripts. Dynamic equivalence translation is also called functional or thought for thought translation. This method is more concerned with expressing the meaning of the original text to the modern reader rather than the the exact word that was used in the original. Example: Genesis 31:35a NASB (formal translation) And she said to her father, "Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is upon me." NIV (dynamic equivalence); Rachel said to her father, "Dont be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; Im having my period." Notice how the NIV changed the wording from the original but tried to show what it should mean to us today. There is no exact line between these two methods of translation, rather we measure the degree of how much a particular version uses the methods.

Paraphrase, such as the Living Bible is another method of translation, but I can consider this more closer to a commentary than a translation. Which Version is best for me? First, let me clear the air by saying that no particular version that we use today can claim more inspiration than the other versions. Although, some denominations that are not considered in mainstream Christianity have produced biased versions. You should try to avoid these. Otherwise, all of the well known versions have their own usefulness, strong points and weak points. I advise that you first learn the different theories of translation. (see Different Versions) Which version is best to use depends on how you are going to use it: For memorization, public reading, devotional reading, or in-depth studying. For memorization, it would depend on your personal taste. Many Christians favor the King James Version (KJV), but other would prefer another version that uses modern expression. It all depends on you, the important thing is that it helps you to memorize the verse. For public reading, you should use a version that is easily understood for those who are not familiar with the Bible. I would suggest The New Living Translation (NLT) or maybe even The Living Bible (LB). Devotional reading would depend on what you want to accomplish. Is it a short reading of a passage or something more of a Bible study? For everyday readings, I would suggest the New International Version (NIV) or New Living Translation (NLT) as a Bible that you could carry around. For in depth Bible study, it would be helpful to have more than one Bible so that you can have different theories of translations. A combination such as NIV and KJV would be a good example. Objection to learning proper Bible Interpretation: "Having rules in Bible Interpretation will take the Bible away from the common or not highly educated Christians." Some Christians don't believe that there are certain rules that they need to apply in Bible interpretation other than just reading and praying for guidance. They feel that such rules will take their right to be able to understand the Bible on their own, and that they will have to depend on scholars or experts to explain the Bible for them. Quite the contrary. First, proper interpretation only requires more time studying and a little common sense. An average Christian who can read and follow simple instructions can understand and apply the principles and guidelines of proper interpretation. Second, these guidelines and principles will give everybody the right to question and make an educated criticism on different interpretations of the Bible today, even those made by Bible experts. You will no longer be forced to follow a doctrine or a teaching that you feel is not an accurate interpretation of the Word of God, just because it is being taught by a "teacher" or an "expert". Without standard guidelines of proper interpretation, a person in authority and those with higher education can

claim that their interpretation is always better or more accurate than those that have less authority or education. Objection To learning proper Bible Interpretation:
"All we need is the Holy Spirit who will guide us and will reveal to us the real meaning of the passage in the Bible"

This statement sounds so spiritual that many would not dare to disagree. This attitude can also claim to have some biblical backing: 1 Corinthians 2:11-14 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the mans spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (NIV) This was taken to mean that Christian with the Holy Spirit can understand the Word of God, and the unbelievers that doesn't have the Spirit cannot understand the Bible. 1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeitjust as it has taught you, remain in him. (NIV) This was taken to mean that as Christian we don't need a teacher or rules of interpretation, because our anointing will be the one that will reveal and teach us all the truth. I will not elaborate here in giving my own understanding of these verses, since we are doing examples of Bible interpretation in Chapter 3. But I will just point you to some weaknesses with the interpretation mentioned above. In Corinthians, What is Paul really saying? Is he suggesting that all Christians with the Holy Spirit should not have a problem understanding the Bible and that unbelievers without the Holy Spirit will not be able to understand the Bible at all? I don't think so. Exodus 20:15-Thou shall not steal. (NIV), is such a simple verse that we know both unbelievers without the Holy Spirit and Christians with the Holy Spirit can understand. While the book of Revelation is so difficult to understand for many Christians that are filled with the Holy Spirit, and those that claimed to understand have different interpretations of what it really means. In 1 John, does John really means that Christian don't need teachers because their "anointing" teaches them all things? If that is the case, how come John needed to teach them about this truth that they don't need a teacher? Why has God given the

church teachers if we don't really need them (Eph.4:11)? Also, if two persons filled with the Spirit had a differing interpretation of a certain passage in the Bible, how can we tell who is right or wrong? Can we measure who has more of the Holy Spirit than the other? Therefore, rules and guidelines of proper interpretation is necessary so we can have a standard to distinguish from the right, possible, and erroneous interpretation. The Nature of the Bible The Bible is both natural and supernatural, temporal and eternal, human and divine. The Bible is divine because it is the Word of God. It is God's message for all human beings for all times. Through the Bible, God speaks to all people of all ages in all cultures. The message of the Bible is eternal. It transcends time and cultures. It is relevant and speaks during the time of Moses, the time of Paul and to all of us today. The Bible is human because God chose to speak through human beings who lived in a certain time and culture in history with an specific language. It is temporal because some of its elements such as the original language used in its original writing is not being used today. So God's eternal Word and message is conditioned and contained in a specific time in history with its own culture and language, and is recorded by means of 'human style' of literature. It is these two natures of God's Word that requires us to apply basic principles of interpretation to understand God's message for us today. The Bible should be interpreted like any other literature. This does not mean that the Bible is just like any other book. The Bible is unique in many ways and no other book is like the Bible. But the Bible uniqueness and inspiration doesn't change its literary form. The Holy Spirit will convict us of the truthfulness and significance of His Word in our lives. But to understand the literary style or genre, historical background, and the meaning of words should be our task in studying the Bible. Our claim of the Holy Spirit's guidance shouldn't be an excuse for laziness in studying. (see objection) Example: Matthew 25:1-13 (The Parable of the Ten Virgins) In order for us to fully understand the message of this parable, we need to know background information about first century Jewish customs of marriage and wedding. Otherwise, we wouldn't understand some of the events that occurred in the parable and their significance in the Parable. In this parable, there is an eternal message from God for us to learn, but we must see it in the human elements that contained it. Why Do We Need Rules For Bible Interpretation This lesson is a continuation of the objection of learning proper Bible interpretation. First, I want it to be clear that I believe any Christian who doesn't know the rules of Bible Interpretation will still benefit on reading the Bible. Many Bible verses are so simple and clear that our bigger problem today is not interpreting the difficult verses but obeying those parts of the Bible that we clearly understand.

Careful reading and common sense would have been enough for us to get the message of 1John 4:11 "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (NIV) But for many of us, we will have various interpretations to understand the exact meaning of 1 John 3:9 "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." (NIV) It is at this point that we will need to learn various rules and guidelines on Bible interpretation. We should also understand that what separates the Bible from the rest of literature is the fact that it is God's Word. God is the ultimate author of the Bible. But He has chosen to reveal his message to us in human ways, by written words of a certain language in a certain culture. Because of this, we need to use rules of interpreting ancient literature on the Bible so we can understand its original message. (see Nature of the Bible) Without common rules or principles of interpretation, it is difficult to evaluate various interpretation, even those that are between two respected Christians who have opposing interpretations of a passages in the Bible (e.g. Calvinism and Armenianism). We cannot depend on feelings since that would be subjective. We cannot say that both is right since the Bible has only the meaning that the original author intended it to mean. We cannot say that the Bible can mean something to you and then can mean something different to me. This would be saying that the Bible doesn't really mean anything at all. What we need is a standard to evaluate everybody's interpretation of the Bible.

Terms of Bible Interpretation HERMENEUTICS The process of interpreting the Bible. This is what we are learning in this website. It includes all the rules, principles, theory, and methods of interpreting the Bible. It covers the process from trying to understand the original meaning of the verses to what it means to us today. EXEGESIS This is the process of interpretation where you are trying to find the original meaning of the verse. It is finding out what was the message that was heard by the original recipient of the Bible. Example: Paul told Timothy "stop drinking only water, and use a little wine...(1 Tim. 4:23 NIV). Exegesis would attempt to find out what it really meant to Timothy (not to us today). The original message was given to Timothy under a specific circumstance. The background may involve issues that are evident to both Paul and Timothy but are not mentioned in the Bible. EXPOSITION Application of the Bible passages to modern times. This is the process that most of us do will do with the verses of the Bible. It is trying to find the application or relevance of the Bible message for us today. It is the process that follows exegesis. So here is the relationship of the terms with each other: To understand the Bible properly we practice hermeneutics by first applying exegesis because we want to find

out the original meaning of the Bible. Secondly, we do an exposition of the text because we want to apply the message to our lives today. Notice that exegesis is very important because that is how we learn and understand the original meaning of the Bible. If you misunderstand the original meaning, I doubt that you will have the proper application of the Bible in your life today.

Goal of Proper Interpretation People assume that the Bible is a mysterious book and you need some extra ordinary abilities to be able to understand it. They assume that it has a lot of hidden meaning or secret codes that can only be revealed and understood by those who are chosen. Well its true that it takes more than just a casual reading to understand the meaning of Bible passages but not because of some mysterious or secret code but because of its nature. (see Nature of the Bible) We must always remember that the Bible was written for common people. Many of the New Testaments epistles were written for a young Christian church, so they are simple instructions and teaching to be understood by every Christians on that day. The goal of proper interpretation is not to find new revelations unrevealed to anyone before, but rather to understand its plain and simple message. Using proper guidelines of interpretation we should be able to distinguished between the right, the possible, and the erroneous interpretation. The correct or right meaning of many Bible verses can be understood by using proper guidelines of interpretation. Does this mean proper interpretation would eliminate disagreement of interpretation among Christians? Of course not. Some difficult verses, by its very, nature could have more than one possible interpretation. Possible meaning is the result of using the guidelines of interpretation on difficult verses and still coming out with more than one possible meaning. Does this mean that the Bible can mean anything? Or can anybody interpret the Bible on his own opinion? Absolute not. Guidelines for interpretation puts a limitation on meanings that can be derive from a passage, and only one of those possible interpretation is correct, although none of us is absolute sure which one it is. Erroneous interpretations are those interpretation that were given to the Bible verses in violation of the guidelines of proper interpretation. Although there are difficult verses where it is impossible to have a consensus of interpretation among Christians, the basic doctrines of Christianity are all based on clear teachings from the Bible. All possible interpretation of a passage should not contradict the basic doctrine of Christianity. It should remind us also that we should be slow in calling other teachings that differs from our own denomination heretical. We should analyze all interpretation on the basis of the basic guidelines of interpretation and the basic doctrine of Christianity.

The Source of Meaning

There are three components in Bible interpretation that we can use to determine the meaning of certain passages. They are the text, the reader (you), and the author (e.g. Paul). Since interpretation is finding the meaning of the verse, it is important to know which one we going to use to find the meaning of Bible passages. Some say that the text should be used to find the meaning. But once you separate the text from the person who authored it, the text would no longer have the message that the author originally wish to convey. The result would be the same in making the reader (you) determine the meaning of the text. The passage can produce a meaning that is totally different from the one intended by the author. Example: John 20:23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (NIV) If we will use either the text or ourselves (the reader) to determine the meaning of this verse, we end up with Christians having the authority just like God to literally forgive and not to forgive other people sins. But is that what Jesus meant by these statement? Therefore we should see the meaning of the Bible passage as being controlled by the original author. The text means what it meant when it was first written. It is our job to find out the meaning that was understood by the original hearers from the author. We should note that today we can have various applications of the meaning of Bible verses, but the original meaning of the verse as intended by the author never changes. Our application should not contradict the original meaning of the verse. Again, it is back to the process of proper exegesis first before exposition. (see Definition) Example: Ephesians 5:18 "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (KJV) Today, we can say "be not drunk with beer or whiskey" or "be not overdose with drugs" as a proper application since we can argue that the effect in our body of both substances are close enough to wine in Paul's day. But to suggest that we can also say "don't drink to much coffee" or "don't eat to much fattening food" as an application of the verse is going out of the meaning intended by the author. Remember, application should be in harmony with the original meaning of the verse.
Adapted from Robert H. Stein, A Basic Guide To Interpreting the Bible, chapter 1 (see Bibliography)

Exegesis Although, this term had been defined in an earlier page, I feel that I need to reiterate what has already been said. Again, exegesis is very important since this is the process that will help us find out the original meaning of the verse. The original meaning is very important because that is the true and only meaning of the verse. Although from that one meaning, we can have a lot of applications for different situation in our daily lives. Applications or "lessons" that we can derive from the verse must not conflict the original meaning intended by the original author for the original hearer(s). 1Corinthians as with every passage, Paul message to the Corinthian church in a particular context. If our present interpretation of a passage in 1 Corinthians produced

a meaning that made sense today in our church but doesn't make sense if its being told to the Corinthians church, then the interpretation is incorrect. To do an exegesis requires expertise in a lot of areas, but because of the availability of expert tools such as commentaries, dictionaries, handbooks, etc. Everybody who has access and knows how to use such tools can exegete. But the truth is, even with just minimal access to these tools, anyone can do good exegesis of the Bible. Your most important tools in understanding the message of the Bible is reading. You must read and reread the passage that you are studying. You must pay attention to all the details and ask questions as you go along. You must read with an open mind to learn. This means that you should not assume that an interpretation you have heard before is the correct interpretation. By reading alone, you should be able to know the context and identify the theme or main point of the passage. With good reading habits and proper use of available tools we can all do good exegesis. Understand the Context A word on its own doesn't really mean anything. A word can only have a sensible meaning in a sentence. Further, the sentences before and after will clear up the meaning of a particular sentence. This is the reason we are encouraged to study a passage (several verses) not a single verse if we intend to get the real message the original author intended. This is also known as reading in context. Generally speaking, when the author wrote the book he had a particular theme or message in mind. As the reader, it is important to follow the authors flow of thought. You first must see the main theme of the book, then the theme found within each chapters. Lastly, you must decipher the theme of each passage. The smaller section's theme must compliment the bigger section's theme. To understand the context you must first read the whole book that you are studying and find the units of thought that make up the book. This is not really hard to do since most of the Bible has titles for each passage and an outline at the beginning of the book. But it is a good habit to make a simple outline of your own after you have read the book. Example: The Book of Hebrews was written to a group of people that were being pressured to either keep going with their Christianity or to go back to Judaism. In order to address the issue, the author started by establishing the completeness of Jesus Christ and His ministry and how he is much better than the angels, Moses and Aaron the high priest. You can also trace warnings about falling away. As you can see, if you began to gain this kind of information after reading the book of Hebrews, it would be so much easier to get in the author's flow of thought as you focus in on studying the book in smaller sections. Bible Narratives Narrative is the largest type of literature in the Bible. Although some will question the historicity of biblical narratives that contains miracles, we must know that biblical narratives are historical events; it means that they actually took place in time and space.

We must interpret and see the meaning of the narratives as a part of the theme of the book. This is how we can read a particular narrative in its context, by treating smaller narrative as part of a bigger narrative. The story of David and Goliath is part of the story of King David, and King David is part of the story of the nation of Israel, and the nation of Israel is part of the main story of the Bible, which is God's salvation plan for all men. We must focus on the main message of the narrative and not be distracted with matters mentioned in the narrative. When we read stories where angels are mentioned we must not get carried away with trying to understand about angels. Angels are mentioned in the narrative, but the message of the narrative is not about explaining angels to us. We must not conclude that because it happened in the biblical narrative it should or must happen to us also. Be careful with assuming that a narrative has a message, specially for our situation. Like saying that the story of the Israelites crossing the red sea confirms to you that you do not really need to learn how to swim. We cannot assume that there is always a "moral" to learn in every single narrative. Remember, a narrative can be a part of a bigger narrative where the main theme should be taken.

Letters or Epistles The majority of writings in the New Testament is in literary form of a letter or an epistle. Epistles are intended to be for a more public or wider audience than a letter. Just like our letters today, ancient letters follow a standard form. Since the author is not bound to follow such form, it would help to take note when the author deviate from it. An epistle (1 Corinthians) consist of a salutation that includes the name of the writer and the recipient, greeting (e.g., "grace and peace to you from God..."), prayer and/or thanksgiving (e.g., "I always thank God for you..."), body, then the closing comments (e.g, "finally brothers....greet one another...May the grace..."). Recognizing the form of an epistle will help you in reading it in context and following the flow of the authors thought. It is important to find out as much background that you can about the author, the recipient, and their relationship to each other. Most of all, you need to know the reason why was the letter written in the first place. Is it to correct a problem in a local church? Is it an instruction that they need, or to combat a heretical teaching? What is the mood of the author in writing the letter? Just like when you receive a letter, you must start by reading the whole letter before going back and studying parts of the letter. Remember to pay attention to details as you read and reread. A word can have different shades of meaning and you cannot assume that Peter, John and Paul meant the same thing every time they would use a particular word. You must first look at the immediate context, that is, the sentences surrounding the word. If needed, you can refer to another letter that the same author wrote. Lastly,

you can refer to other books in the Bible. This last step should be done with much care because this can result in misunderstanding what the author originally meant with a particular word. The farther you get away from the immediate context, the meaning that you get for a word become less reliable.

Parables Everyone seems to like parables. It is a simple story based on life situations. Many would claim that they can interpret a parable without a problem. But parables throughout the history of the church have suffered misinterpretation more so than other forms of Bible literature. As a precaution, you must start looking at only one main point of the parable. You shouldn't treat a parable allegorically (putting meaning on every elements of the story). Not all the detail in the parable are relevant, and those that are relevant will support the one main point of the parable. A parable is not a riddle trying to hide the meaning of the story but rather a form of communication that will help the listener hear the message with greater impact. To understand the main point of the parable, you must first try to identify the original audience when the parable was told, know the surrounding context, and find out why the parable was spoken in the first place. You should avoid using the same parable found in other gospels to get the main point since Matthew will use a certain parable in the context different from Luke. Learn to read in the context of the author who wrote the parable.

Book of Wisdom Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Job and part of James are called "wisdom" books. We can also include parts of Psalms and the Song of Solomon. One of the more common mistakes in interpreting these books is neglecting the whole context. It is very common for us to pick a verse or two with an instruction that sounds good without considering the surrounding context or the theme that the author intended. Doing so will cause us to misunderstand the teaching, and in the worse situation we will end up believing a bad advise as a teaching of wisdom. Without paying attention on the context you will miss the line of argument in a wisdom discourse. Proverbs should be read with care. They shouldn't be taken as doctrinal statement for they are written to be easily memorize, and often they are in "figure of speech". Proverbs are not laws, prophecies or promises. We shouldn't take proverbs as a guarantee of successful life, but rather guidelines for everyday living. Exceptions of the proverbs doesn't make it a false statement, because it is not given as a guaranteed formula but a general observation of truth. Many of the proverbs are hyperbolic or an exaggeration form of speech so we need to understand them properly. (see Hyperbole)

Example: Proverbs 13:25 The godly eat to their heart contents, but the belly of the wicked goes hungry. (NLT) Just by looking around today and the story of Lazarus and the rich man proved that such proverb is not a guarantee.

Hyperbole Hyperbole, is also known as an exaggeration. Some feel that in order for God's words to be taken as truthful, it shouldn't contain exaggeration. This maybe the reason why many are having difficulties in distinguishing exaggeration in the Bible. Exaggeration is a powerful way to drive home a message and it is considered a normal form of speech found in all languages. A person who can recognize and understand hyperbole will be able to hear the message of God's Word clearly in order to have proper application today. Example: Matthew 23:24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (NIV) Mark 9:23b Everything is possible for him who believes. (NIV) Matthew 23:24 is obviously an exaggeration because we know that it is not humanly possible to swallow a camel. In Mark 9:23, some would find it belittling the power of faith if we say that the statement is a hyperbole. But if we cannot see exaggeration in the word "everything" then that would result misinterpretation. Surely I cannot make things happen that is logically impossible or contrary to the will of God no matter how much I believe. Again, exaggeration is not a deception but rather a powerful way to impress the message to those who can properly understand the figure of speech. Poetry Distinguishing poetry from prose is another important factor of Bible Interpretation. About thirty percent of the Old Testament is written in poetry. Most older versions such as the King James Version doesn't indicate these differences between prose and poetry. Newer versions such as New International Version, New Living Translation, and New English Bible are using different formats in writing prose from poetry. You will notice such differences by looking at the narrative book of Genesis and the poetical book of Psalms in these newer versions. Since poetry is concerned with emotions rather than the accurate descriptions of the message, it uses more figurative language more than prose. With proper understanding, poetry is just as comprehensible as prose and they are easier to be memorized. There are common features of poetry called parallelism, and you need to recognized them to help understands the main point of the poetry. Synonymous parallelism. A line strengthen, develop, reinforces or repeat the line before it. o Matthew 7:7-8 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;

knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (KJV) Isaiah 44:22a I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.(NIV)

What we have in Matthew 7:7-8 are not 3 steps or different types of prayer. They are simply different ways of saying the same thing. The verses are simply expressing that "God answers our prayer " by way of synonymous parallelism.

Antithetical parallelism. The most common parallelism in the Bible, where a line contrast the message or the point of the line before it. o Psalms 37:21 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously. (NIV) Proverbs 10:1 A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. (KJV)

Synthetic parallelism. A line goes further than just repeating or reinforcing but by providing more information on the line before it. o Psalms 14:2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the son of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. (NIV) Obadiah 21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.

3 John 1-4 The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (NIV) The Elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. 2Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the

truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (KJV) Here is a very simple example on how to do a proper exegesis with an epistle. First, if you haven't done so, please study the guide on understanding Epistles. You will notice that our passage is the opening part of a personal letter. Here the author starts with a salutation to introduce himself as the Elder and the recipient as Gaius. But for some reason he skipped the greeting part of the letter (see 2 John 3). The author in verse 2, follows the standard form by expressing a prayer for Gaius before the main body of the letter. In verses 3-4, the author informed Gaius of what he heard about him and how he feels about it. That's it. Verses 1-4 are pretty clear if you will read it carefully. The author considers Gaius a convert since the author considers him one of his children. Remember, to find the theme and purpose of the letter, you should read the whole letter. Verse 2 has always been the more prominent verse in that it has often been interpreted as a promise from God that Christians should be rich and healthy. It became a key verse for a doctrine that guarantees health and wealth for Christians. But is it true? Does Gaius interpreted it as such? Does the elder intend it to be a promise from God of wealth and health? Going back to guidelines for proper interpretation, the guarantee of health and wealth is not the intended meaning of the original author, nor would Gaius take it as such. "Health and success" are themes that are commonly included in personal letters during that time. Verse 2 only confirms that theme and is a standard part in the beginning of the letter. To put so much weight on verse 2 is to neglect the proper way of reading the letter. None of the original reader would do this, and neither should we. If we claim that such an interpretation is only revealed to us in this generation, we are saying that the Bible changes its meaning in time. That cannot be accepted. Remember, the Bible still means what it meant originally, this is the only way the Bible will become meaningful and protects its message. Verse 2 was intended to be a "wish" or "prayer" of the author to Gaius and it still the same today. I can accept if you will pray for others to be rich and healthy because of this verse, but not if you will tell me that this verse is God's guarantee that Christians should be materially rich and physically healthy. What do you think? Please do not hesitate to send your comments or questions whether you agree or disagree. Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (KJV) In this example, we will apply interpretation by paying close attention to grammar and meaning of words.

At first glance, this verse seems to be very clear and easy to understand. But the problem is that what seems to be a simple meaning of what Paul is saying here is contradicting the Bible teaching of salvation by faith alone. So now we need to understand this passage without contradicting Paul himself (see Eph.2:8-9) and the basic doctrine of the Bible as one of our guidelines for proper interpretation. We should start by finding the meaning of "work out". First, the words "work out" is considered to be not in Greek. Second, this is a different word found in Eph. 2:9 where Paul is saying that we cannot be save by "work". Third, Paul uses the same Greek word in 2 Corinthians 12:12 "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you..." (NASB). Paul's true apostleship was not earned by signs but rather signs were seen or demonstrated because he was a true apostle. So here in our passage: Paul could be saying that the Philippians should live out ("work out" not "work for") the life of a person that has already been saved. Although some version have "work for", it seems that "work out" is a better choice of words. Also, verse 13 (note "for") indicates that it is a continuation of verse 12, which is the reason why they should "work out". Therefore what the passage actually means is that since the Philippians have been saved and God is now working in them to will and act, they should manifest it by the way they live their lives everyday. This is another way of reiteration of what Paul just said previously in 1:27 "...conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." (NIV) Now try to explain what Paul meant by "fear and trembling"? Luke 7:40-43 40 Then Jesus spoke up and answered his thoughts. "Simon," he said to the Pharisee, "I have something to say to you." All right, Teacher," Simon replied, "go ahead." 41 Then Jesus told him this story: "A man loaned money to two people- five hundred pieces of silver to one and fifty pieces to the other. 42But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?" 43 Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt." "That's right," Jesus said. (NLT) Here is a simple example of interpreting a parable. First, we should know the whole context by reading verses 36-50. Jesus was invited to eat in Simon's house. A certain woman came and poured out an expensive perfume to wash Jesus' feet. She was also weeping and using her hair to wipe Jesus' feet. Simon saw this, and started questioning the behavior of the woman and of Jesus who allowed this to happen. Then Jesus turned to Simon and told him the parable. So what is the main point of the parable? Is Jesus asking Simon to forgive the woman? Is Jesus trying to give them an example of forgiving others?

To find out the point of Jesus' parable, we should know who is the audience and why did he say it in the first place. The main audience is Simon. Since the parable is directed towards him. Also the woman since she can identify herself in the parable. Jesus told the story in response to Simon's thoughts of criticism towards Jesus and the woman. Even though, Jesus explained the point of the parable in verses 44-47, Simon got the main point right after Jesus told him the story. It was judgment of Simon's real attitude towards Jesus. For the woman, it was the acceptance of her acts of love toward him. The parable is saying that both Simon and the woman's actions during the meal exposed their real attitude towards God's mercy on them. Remember, parables are meant to drive home a point to the audience, and we shouldn't miss that point by concentrating on every elements of the parable and ignoring the context of the parable itself. What do you think?

Hebrews 6:1-8 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (NIV) This segment is considered to be one of the most popular controversial passage in the New Testament. The controversy is created by two different understandings of salvation: the teaching of eternal security or 'once saved always saved' and the other called 'Arminianism'. Both camps will interpret the passage to accommodate their personal belief concerning eternal security. The problem with those who adhere to the 'once saved always saved' is the fact that they will assume that those who are described in verses 4-5 are not really saved. Or else they will say that this warning is only hypothetical and will not really happen to anyone who is really saved. On the other hand, those who believe that a person can loose his salvation will have to struggle with the fact that verses 4-5 mentions the impossibility of bringing the "backslider" back to repentance.

So what does this passage really means to us today? Here are some facts to help you understand its message. Background: The book of Hebrews was originally written to Christian Jews that were in the middle of a difficult trial. These Jewish Christians were tempted to leave Christianity and go back to Judaism. The letter to the Hebrews was trying to show to them that the New Covenant in Jesus Christ is superior than the one they had in the Old Testament or Judaism. The author included several warnings about falling away and going back. Our current passage of Hebrews 6:1-8 is one of them. Although they are varying opinions to what the passage is teaching, there are things that most of us will agree. The author's main objective is neither to teach for nor against eternal security, but rather to warn his hearers about falling away (v.6). It is important that we be careful about using the passage to support our own personal understanding about eternal security. The author is not talking about sin in general, but about the specific and personal action of an individual. This is called apostasy. Apostasy is a deliberate and intellectual decision to renounce the Christian faith publicly. The author did not say that God cannot forgive the person who commits apostasy, but rather it is impossible for that person to turn around to repent again. Let's interpret the passage: (Verse 1-3) "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so." Back in 5:11-14, the author doubted their ability to understand deeper Christian teachings. The author implies that the Hebrews are still "slow to learn" or "infants." So here in verses 6:1-3, the author encourages them to "go on" in learning deeper teachings rather than staying with the "elementary" or basic foundations of their doctrine. (Verse 4-5) "4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted
the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."

In this passage the author inserted a warning of what might happen to those who are still " immature" or "infant" when faced with difficult trials; it is the danger of apostasy. Because of pressure they will deliberately and intellectually decide to renounce the Christian faith publicly. Here the author is not saying that God cannot rescue or God cannot forgive them. The author is saying it is "impossible" to turn those people back again. The impossibility is not on what God can do, but it is impossible to bring back those who have deliberately and intelligently made their decision to renounce Christ publicly. The author is speaking from experience. How

can you convert those that had already been converted? How can you convince those who were convinced already? How can you wake up a person that is not really sleeping? The answer is, "it is impossible." To make it clear, when the author mentioned "crucifying the Son of God all over again," the purpose is to identify those who commit apostasy just like the people who rejected Jesus Christ and asked him to be crucified the first time. They rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah after all the evidence and proof that Christ perform in their midst. (Verse 7-8) "7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned." This example gave us one more evidence with what the author is thinking. A Christian who experienced what was mentioned in verses 4-5 and then commits apostasy is like a piece of land that receives all the blessings but instead of producing crops, it produces thorns and thistles. In other words, their end is destruction. This is just a simple interpretation. Please study more on your own. Also, do not hesitate to send your comments or questions whether you agree or disagree.

1 Corinthians 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (NIV) 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. (KJV) Here is an example of a passage that has a simple meaning if we will read and apply it carefully. But the problem with this passage is the fact that some will use this as an excuse to deny the need for learning proper interpretation. All a Christian needs is the Holy Spirit who will reveal to us the meaning of the Word of God. Others will also add that unbelievers will not be able to understand the Bible at all since since the unbeliever does not have the Holy Spirit in them. But what is it that Paul is really saying? Do Christians understands everything in the Bible because they have the Holy Spirit? Of course not. Even today scholars have difficulties in finding a consensus on the meaning of several Bible verses. The statement: "Unbelievers cannot understand anything from the Bible because they don't have the Holy Spirit." Is this true? Of course not. Anyone who has common sense and can read will be able to explain Genesis 1:1 just as well as most Christians can.

What we need is to understand what Paul really means by the word "understand" in this verse. The first phrase "the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him," clearly shows that the unbeliever considers the truth of God as foolishness. He may understand it in full details but he does not receive it because for him it is just foolishness or nonsense. The second phrase, "he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned," is what causes the misunderstanding. It is important to see the connection between the words "understand" and "discerned." Also, it is important to see the connection of the two phrases; they are not really saying two different ideas but rather the same idea in two different ways. "Discerned" means "judged or evaluated." Paul is saying that only through the Holy Spirit that can we evaluate the things that comes from the Spirit of God. Whenever a person without the Spirit evaluates the things of the Spirit of God, although he cognitively or mentally understand what it means, he will disregard it or not accept it because in his own judgment, it is foolishness. In that sense the man without the Holy Spirit cannot 'understand' the things of the Spirit. This understanding of the verse is more credible because it flows with the context of the author's teaching. It understands the meaning of the words as it relates to the rest of the whole passage, and it makes sense if we try to apply it to our daily experience. What do you think? Please do not hesitate to send your comments or questions whether you agree or disagree.


Chapter 1 Chapter 3

Chapter 2


This website is to help those who want to learn about Bible Interpretation. We will cover the basic rules and guidelines of interpretation. I am not expecting you to become an expert in the Bible, but I do anticipate that it will encourage you to study more and change the way you read your Bible. These rules and guidelines will also help your personal Bible study to become more productive and will give you a standard to analyze the truthfulness of teachings that you hear from others. The internet is full of sites that express different opinions about the Bible's message. Not only are they different, but some are accusing others of heresy or false teachings. Don't you feel confused about who is telling the truth? The main purpose of this site is to teach Christians, so I am taking for granted that you are a Spirit-led Christian who believes that the Bible is the Word of God and that you want to interpret the Bible with more accuracy. I have divided the lesson into three chapters and each chapter have various sections. Each section will have a short and simplified lesson or information concerning the Bible and biblical interpretation. I will advise the new learner to start with the first chapter.

Important Message: The author can no longer answer your questions. WE ARE CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION If you want to contact the Author click

here: Question & Comment Chapter 1: The Bible and Basics of Interpretation (Explains important facts about the Bible and basic information about interpretation) Chapter 2: Different Types of Bible Literature. (Bible genre such as letters, narrative, psalms, etc.) Chapter 3: Example of Bible Interpretation. (Applying interpretive processes to biblical passages) Bible History Diagram (How did we get the Bible that we have today?) Bible Study Commentary (Commentary written in Bible Study Lesson format) Comments (Some comments that we received about our website)
These are the list of some of the books that I have used in compiling the lessons in this website. Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth- 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan Publishing House, 1993 Robert H. Stein, A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Baker Books, 1994 Kay Arthur, How to Study Your Bible. Eugene, Oregon. Harvest House Publisher, 1994 Robert H. Stein, Interpreting Puzzling Texts in the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Baker Books, 1990,1996 R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture. Downers Grove, Illinois. Inter-Varsity Press, 1977 Henry A. Virkler, Ph.D., A Christian's Guide

to Critical Thinking. Nashville, TN. OliverNelson Books, 1993 D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Books, 1996 D. A. Carson, The King James Version Debate. Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Books, 1979 Gerhard Maier, Biblical Hermeneutics. Wheaton, Illinois. Crossway Books, 1994 Richard N. Soulen, Handbook of Biblical Criticism, Second Edition. Atlanta, Georgia. John Knox Press, 1976 Scripture quotation marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Ill.60189. All rights reserved. Scripture quotation marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Scripture quotation marked (NASB) are taken from the Holy Bible, The New American Standard Bible.La Habra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1977. Scripture quotation marked (KJV) are taken from the Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version,

About Us Towards the end of the year 1999, I decided to learn how to create a website as a personal hobby, but as time went on, I found it difficult to have time with my other "hobby," studying the Bible. The only solution was to combine the two: website and Bible interpretation. I also asked my wife who graduated from a Bible School and also has a computer background to give me a hand. So this is the result. I decided on the topic of Bible Interpretation because I have seen a lot of Christians change for the better in regard to understanding God's Word through lessons that I've taught in our local church. Out of millions of people that uses the Internet everyday if one will ever find this website an encouragement to study more of the Bible it is more than worth all the effort. God bless you.