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Understanding The Bible

Knowing What God Has Said

The Reason We Have The Bible


All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Recipe for Understanding the Bible


Observation (What Does it Say?)
Interpretation (What Does it Mean?) Application (How Does it Apply to Me?)

Observation
What Does it Say?

Observation
You see, but you do not observe. Sherlock Holmes

Observation Test: How many stairs are there to the second story of your house?

We can know how many, if we both see and observe.

Observation
to watch carefully esp. with attention to details or behavior for the purpose of arriving at a judgment.
to come to realize or know esp. through consideration of noted facts.

to take notice.1

Inc. Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
1

Observation
This is indeed a mystery, [Watson] remarked. What do you imagine that it means?
I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theorise, instead of theories to suit facts.2

2 Sir

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 5.

Where Do We Observe?
Sentence Level
Paragraph Level Section Level

Book Level

Where Do We Observe?

Words Phrases

Sentence Sentence

Paragraph Paragraph

How Do We Observe?

Questions to Ask in Observation

Interpretation
What Does it Mean?

How Do We Interpret?
We Interpret Literally (Normally)
We Interpret Historically We Interpret Grammatically

We Interpret Literally (Normally)


The rules for interpretation are not made up but are a part of the nature of man. They are a part of the way people communicate.
With communication we want to understand what is said or written, not our own ideas. Because the rules of interpretation are a part of the nature of man that makes those rules universal. We interpret the Bible just like any other piece of communication, whether spoken or written.

We Interpret Historically
To interpret historically is not seeing how everyone else interpreted a passage.
To interpret historically is to take into account the history and culture of a passage/book.

To interpret historically is to determine what the words meant when the authors used them.

We Interpret Grammatically
Since the Bible is inspired (verbal, plenary) then God has placed a high emphasis on the words used within Scripture.
Grammar is the meanings of words and sentences and the way they are put together.3 If we are to understand Gods message, which is given using words and sentences, then we must turn to the study of those words and sentences, namely, grammar. Grammar gives us the rules for language. And we cannot understand what is being said in a language without the rules.
3

Roy Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1991) 98.

The Literal (Normal) Interpretation


We take into account Figures of Speech
We take into account Literary Genres We interpret using the Context

We interpret Scripture with Scripture


We use the literal (normal) interpretation Consistently

Application
How Does it Apply to Me?

Application
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Psalm 119:9
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:1617 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22, 25

The Gulf

Biblical Meaning

Present-day Situations

The Gulf

Biblical Meaning

Present-day Situations

Application The Bridge


Application
Biblical Meaning Present-day Situations

Application The Bridge


Application
Biblical Meaning Present-day Situations

The Importance of Application


Observation plus interpretation without application equals abortion. That is, every time you observe and interpret but fail to apply, you perform an abortion on the Scriptures in terms of their purpose. The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity; it was written to transform your life. The ultimate goal of Bible study, then, is not to do something to the Bible, but to allow the Bible to do something to you4
The Bible was written not to satisfy your curiosity but to help you conform to Christs image. Not to make you a smarter sinner but to make you like the Savior.5
Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks, Living By the Book (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2007) 290.
4 5

Hendricks and Hendricks, Living By the Book, 22.

What is Application?
Application can be defined as relevance (both general and specific) plus response.6
Relevance + Response = Application

6 Roy

B. Zuck, Application in Biblical Hermeneutics and Exposition in Rightly Divided ed. Roy B. Zuck (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal, 1996) 282.

How Do We Apply?
Sins to confess
Promises to claim Examples to follow

Commands to obey
Stumbling blocks to avoid

For Further Study

Books to Consider

The Reason We Have The Bible


All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Understanding The Bible


Knowing What God Has Said