DIGGING DEEP #1 by Abidan Paul Shah
COST OF POOR BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION:
- Harmless – disappointments (God’s will based on hasty and naive Bible reading)
- Costly – disillusionments (God’s instructions on marriage, parenting, and major life-decisions)
- Dangerous – desertion of the faith and even death (Cults and Jonestown massacre)
PROPER APPROACH TO THE BIBLE:
- Understand the Incarnational Model of Scripture: Just as Jesus was both divine and human natures, so also Scripture. This analogy does have limitations. Just like the Christological controversies oscillated between “Jesus only seemed human” or “Jesus was only a human chosen by God,” so also “the human authors were simply the Holy Spirit’s pens” or “the human authors wrote about God without any contribution of the Holy Spirit.”
- Divine Book: The Bible is God’s special revelation that is inspired, inerrant, authoritative, clear, necessary, and sufficient. (Listen to the Hoi Polloi podcast episode #7 on the Nature of the Bible.)
2 Peter 1 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
- Human Book – There are differences and uniqueness among the various authors (40 independent writers; over a time span of 1500 years; 3 different languages – Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic; 3 different continents – Asia, Africa and Europe – Moses in Sinai, Paul in Rome, Daniel in Babylon, and Ezra in Jerusalem; 20 different occupations – kings, a general, musician, a priest, a tax collector, fishermen, medical doctor, judge; various literary forms – poetry, prose, speech, lists, etc.; under many different circumstances – Joshua during war, David during sorrow, Jeremiah during imprisonment, Peter during Roman domination; various subjects – judgment, encouragement, conflicts, information, etc.)
Not some “Holy Ghost” language but everyday language
Need to understand the basics of language
Understand that the OT and NT writers wrote within their literary contexts
Study the history, culture, and background of the various writers. 2 Peter 3 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
Unlike Peter Enns “Inspiration and Incarnation,” the human side does not bring errors. Remember, God prepared them. The Holy Spirit supervised them. They were dependent on God. They received the revelation from God. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
- Some things to avoid: hidden or mystical meanings behind the plain text, random selection and application of a text, random verses as promises from God or commands to be obeyed, find Jesus everywhere, special revelation by the Holy Spirit. “If it’s really unique, it may just be faulty.”
- Some poor interpretations to consider:
Mizpah coins and charms – Genesis 31:49 “also Mizpah, because he said, ‘May the LORD watch between you and me when we are absent one from another.’”
Jesus knocking on the door – Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
- Questions we need to ask a text:
Who is the speaker?
Why did he/she make the statement?
Is the subject singular or plural?
Is the verb past, present, or future?
Is the sentence a command, question, or statement of fact?
Can you notice the emotions involved?
What words or themes are being repeated or emphasized?