It shall greatly helpe ye to understande Scripture, If thou mark Not only what is spoken or wrytten, But of whom, And to whom, With what words, At what time, Where, To what intent, With what circumstances, Considering what goeth before And what followeth.
John Wycliffe (1324-1384)
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
II Peter 1:20-21
Rigor, Discipline and Consistency
The biggest issues with interpreting the Bible is the complete disregard for the context of a passage. Many in Christendom maintain a literal translation but take the text out of context to fit their theology or tradition.
When reading the Bible a guiding principle of sound interpretation is to take a verse literally (how the text reads normally) unless strong reasons exist for not doing so.
Without such discipline, interpretation of the text becomes an opportunity to inject and make a passage mean anything you want. The result is erroneous or ridiculous interpretations.
A key factor for a hermenuetic is that it have rigor, consistency and discipline.
Determine the Setting
Knowing the setting of a verse is crucial to understanding how the passage fits in relation to every other portion of Scripture (Because it all fits). John Wycliffe’s quote above is a good guide to follow when reading and studying the Bible. It forces the reader to maintain a literal, contextual and “in-time” interpretation of any passage.
Below are a set of questions that will help anyone studying the Bible understand the setting of any passage. Once you determine the setting of a passage, you will know exactly how it fits in the entirety of Scripture. Then, the Bible becomes so fun to read. Yes ,fun to read and you can’t put it down.
- Who is the Author?
- Who is the Author writing too.?
- What did it mean to the audience?
- What were the current circumstances when written?
- What happen before and after it was written?
- When was it written?
- How does the authors other passages compare?
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. ‘
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
Thank you for reading.
If you have questions don’t hesitate to leave them below.
Mesa Bible Study