DIGGING DEEP – 13 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

Tying it all together:

  1. Understand the Incarnational Model of Scripture: Just as Jesus was both divine and human but without sin, so also Scripture is both divine and human and yet without errors.

Hermeneutical Triangle


  1. Understand where we are in the History of Biblical Interpretation: Early Jewish Interpretation Sadducees (Literal), Essenes and Qumran Community (Pesher = prophecy), Diaspora (Allegory), and Pharisaic or Rabbinic exegesis, especially Midrash.


  1. Understand how the New Testament used the Old Testament: Single Meaning, Unified Referents; Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents; and Fuller Meaning, Single Goal.


  1. Understand the 7 kinds of genre in the Bible: Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom, Prophecy, Parable, Epistle, and Apocalyptic.


  1. Understand how language works at a particular stage: Recognize language families for Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; Break language down into word, sentence, and paragraph.



  1. Understand the land of the Bible: between the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the Zagros Mountains and the Persian Gulf in the East and between the Amanus and Ararat Mountains in the North and the Nafud Desert and the southern tip of Sinai in the South. The New Testament expanded the region into what today are Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain.


  1. Understand the political background of the Old Testament: Ancient Mesopotamia (2500-1100BC) – Sumerian & Akkadian Eras and Amorite Dynasties; Ancient Egypt (2500-1100BC); Hebrews (1150-850BC); Assyrians (900-612BC); Neo-Babylonians (625-539BC); Medes and the Persians (850-331BC); Greeks (1500-165BC).


  1. Understand the political background of the New Testament: Roman Empire – The Emperor, the Provinces, Client Kingdoms, Colonies and Free Cities, Roman Citizenship, Roman Law, Roman Taxation, Benefits.


  1. Understand the religious background of the Bible: Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Canaanite, and Greco-Roman; Religion can come in many forms – animism (animals, plants, and inanimate objects have spiritual essence), henotheism (worshipping one but acknowledging others), polytheism (many gods), and monotheism (one god).



  1. Understand the Biblical Theology of the Old Testament: It adds the necessary depth to the study and interpretation of each passage in its context. Based on where a person is studying in the OT, the key/center will help in shedding light on the text in a whole new way. It will open the understanding of the text in its proper larger context of God’s promise-plan (Walter Kaiser)


  1. Understand the Biblical Theology of the New Testament: It keeps us from focusing on smaller and smaller parts of the Bible and helps us to get the bigger picture. Again, the key is the promise-plan of God (Walter Kaiser). It also helps to make sense of the Unity and the Diversity of the New Testament and the relationship between the Old and the New Testament.



  1. Understand the Role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation: No New Revelation; No Guarantee of Infallible Interpretation; No Deeper Truth; No substitute for diligent and proper study; No Guarantee of resolution of difficult passages; Only the saved can be enabled by the Holy Spirit to truly appreciate and apply the Word; All who are saved have access to the Holy Spirit; Those who truly seek Him find His help.


  1. Understand the limits of Application:
  • The Bible does not give specific instructions on all issues for Christians of every age.
  • In our constantly changing world, even if the Bible were to give specific instructions regarding a situation, it will require re-adaptation and re-application of the Bible to the changing world and situation.
  • The stronger the stance is on inerrancy, the greater will be the desire to seek and apply its truths.
  • The closer the interpretation is to the original meaning, the more accurate will be the application.
  • We need to show grace and humility in our application of the Bible.


DIGGING DEEP – 12 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

The role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation:

Introductory Questions

  • Does the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart guarantee accurate interpretation?
  • How can two people taught by the Holy Spirit have conflicting views on a passage?
  • Does the Holy Spirit give us deeper meaning that cannot be reached by a normal study of a passage?
  • In what way does the Holy Spirit guide our understanding in the study of God’s Word?

Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is a person (Romans 8:27) and has feelings (Ephesians 4:30) and a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). He is God (John 14:16) and has the same attributes as the other members of the Trinity (Psalm 139:7; Job 33:4). He was involved in the Creation of the World (Genesis 1:2), the giving of the OT & NT (1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:21), and the life of Jesus (Luke 1:35; 4:1). Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would help them remember Him when He was ascended (John 16:13-14). Now the Holy Spirit works daily in the life of the believers (Romans 8:9) and in this world (John 16:8).

Several principles about the role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation:

5 Negatives:

  1. No New Revelation (John 6:63; I Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:16; I Peter 1:22-25)


  1. No Guarantee of Infallible Interpretation


  1. No Deeper Truth


  1. No substitute for diligent and proper study (2 Timothy 2:14-16)


  1. No Guarantee of resolution of difficult passages (2 Peter 3:16; I Corinthians 13:12)


3 Positives:

  1. Only the saved can be enabled by the Holy Spirit to truly appreciate and apply the Word (I Corinthians 2:14; I Thessalonians 1:6)


  1. All who are saved have access to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-8; 1 John 2:20, 27)


  1. Those who truly seek Him find His help (I Corinthians 2:14-3:4)

Episode 11: Biblical Words

In this episode, Abidan Paul Shah focuses on biblical words and their meanings. Often people do poor word studies and misinterpret passages. This episode will teach you to study words in their proper contexts.

For more information on Digging Deep, Clearview Church’s summer Bible study, check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/ClearviewDiggingDeep. You can also find the notes from each week on Pastor Shah’s blog.


DIGGING DEEP – 5 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

Some preliminary remarks about language(s):

  • It is possible to communicate God’s Word in human words without any errors.
  • Avoid claims that one language is intellectually superior to another.
  • The main purpose is to understand how the language works at a particular stage and not how it has evolved. For e.g. Grammar and glamour are related.

Recognize language families:

  • Semitic (Hebrew and Aramaic)

Our focus is Northwest Semitic, which is divided into Canaanite and Aramaic

Abraham probably spoke an ancient form of Aramaic, coming from the Aramean region, Upper Mesopotamia (Deut. 26:5)

They must have adopted a form of Canaanite that later became Hebrew.

Hebrew probably had its glory days under David and Solomon but did not spread beyond the borders of Israel.

Aramaic became an international language under the Assyrians.

Later the people of the Southern Kingdom (Judah) were taken into exile to Babylon where they adopted Aramaic.

When they returned, they kept both Hebrew and Aramaic but the later became more prominent.

98.5% of the OT was written in Hebrew. Parts of the OT were in Aramaic: Genesis 31:47; Jeremiah 10:11; Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; and Daniel 2:4b-7:28. Also, Jesus more than likely spoke Aramaic based on evidence of inscriptions, Aramaic words in the Gospels, Aramaic papyri evidence, presence of Aramaic in the Jerusalem Talmud and targums.

Hebrew can be divided into various periods: Early Biblical Hebrew (oldest poetic composition), Classical Biblical Hebrew (pre-exilic to post-exilic), Late Biblical Hebrew (Persian Period).

Hebrew almost became a dead language after the destruction of the temple and hence the Masoretes had to insert vowels into the text.

  • Indo-European (Greek)

Mycenean Greek goes back to the 13th century BC.

It was fragmented – Ionic (Western coast of Asia Minor), Attica (Athens), Aeolic (Thessaly), Doric (Corinth)

Athens became the cultural center and hence Attic played a big role in Greek literature.

Because of Alexander the Great (356-323BC), it became the lingua franca.

It went through some radical changes and became koine, the language in which the New Testament was written.

Koine is not “Holy Spirit” Greek, just common Greek of the time.


For our purpose of studying the Bible in depth, language can be broken down in 3 parts: 

  1. Word – is the building block of language. But, without a context, words are almost meaningless. For e.g. “Set that on the counter” and “Counter that argument.” One of the most common mistakes in word studies is “Root Fallacy” – meaning is determined by etymology (origin of the word). For e.g. “Good-bye” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “God Be With You.” But, the word “nice” comes from the Latin necius, which means “ignorant.” Other examples: bureau, express, beef, and pork.

Common Greek Misuse: “agapao” vs phileo. Agapao = divine love and phileo = brotherly love. But it is not so clear-cut. There are many overlaps. In Sam 13:15, agapao (LXX) is used for Amnon’s rape of his sister. II Tim 4:10 – Demas left Paul because he loved this present, evil world. Again, John 3:35 – Love =agapao but John 5:20 – Love = phileo.

Along with the syntax, we need literary and historical context. Also, the speech patterns of biblical Hebrew and Greek culture must determine the principles for word study. This does not mean that every root word study is useless.

  1. Sentence – It’s not enough to look at what the Bible contains but what it communicates. Sentence is a complete thought. Some cautions here as well regarding excessive use of grammatical categories. For e.g. Aorist in Romans 6:10
  1. Paragraph – Sometimes the Bible indicates where it starts and ends but many times it doesn’t. The context is key. There are many complicated tools to recognize shifts in paragraphs but just being sensitive to the context can help a lot.


Test Passages:

  1. Difference in meaning of the words “faith,” “works,” and “justify” as seen in Romans 4:1-5 and James 2:14-26.


  1. What is the place of “faith” in Mark 11:22 vs. Galatians 2:16, Acts 3:16, Colossians 2:12?


  1. How specific is a usage? Philippians 1:27 and Galatians 1:12


  1. Is this too much grammar? Matthew 7:7


  1. What is the flow of Romans 1:16-18?


DIGGING DEEP #1 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep


  • 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)


  • 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 3:20Behold, 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?

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