What is Hermeneutics?
Hermeneutics is just a term meaning your method for interpreting any text. But we are speaking of hermeneutics in light of interpreting Scripture.
We can take an email or text message read it whenever we want and however quickly or slowly we want. But in a conversation, we’re not in control. Though Scripture is a written text, there is a Voice behind it. And so we should approach the Word as a conversation. It is a book we must listen to. Our job is to be careful listeners.
We can easily be careless or selective listeners.
Are You a Careless Listener?
Are you starting from humility? We may start from a false humility when we come to the Bible. If we think this book is so far above us that we can’t understand any of it, we may be falsely humble. God gave us this book and we are capable of understanding it through the Holy Spirit.
Do you have the same response as the Scripture writers? Paul breaks out in doxology and praise at the end of Romans 11 after many chapters of deep theology. Could you have written that? Is that the response of your heart, too?
Do you read the whole counsel of Scripture, or do you skip over the difficult passages and pour over your favorite ones?
Two Truths of Hermeneutics:
1. Scripture is fundamentally clear and applies to our lives. Every believer can come to a sufficient understanding of the Word and its truths. The Bible is written to be understood. This reality does not mean there are not difficult passages in Scripture.
2. The Bible cannot be savingly understood without the work of the Spirit. We can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal the meanings and complexities of difficult passages.
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
We have everything we need to know God. But we are not free agents. We have 2,000 years of church history to look back on. And ultimately, we have the Holy Spirit.
If you’re hungry, you dig. If you long to know, meditate on, and understand the Word of God, you will mine for and labor over it.
Tools or Principles of Careful Hermeneutics
The Bible is a Progressive Revelation
- It’s a window that has a curtain that is slowly drawn back. While Genesis says things that are all perfectly true, we don’t know as much about these until we have read the prophets and the gospels and Revelation. So to get the clearest picture of these OT passages, we must read the NT. Every believer can have a clearer picture of God than Abraham had because we have the full revelation.
Context is King
- When we come to any wonderful phrase or verse, we must consider the immediate context. How does it fit into the whole verse, paragraph, chapter, book? How does it fit into all of Scripture? This helps us understand and keeps us from bending or misinterpreting passages.
We have the book God Himself wrote. It is the voice of God and we want to be good stewards of this treasure. These are principles regarding how we are to be those good stewards. Next week John and Teddy will look at a few more principles or tools for careful hermeneutics.
In this week's Supporter Episode, John and Teddy discuss the benefits of hymnals, how to choose a hymnal, and how to use one in your personal devotions.