Deductive Principles For Understanding The Holy Bible

God definitely wants you to understand His written Word, The Holy Bible. Whether you desire a deeper insight of the written Word of God or are trying to figure out something that looks like an anomaly, the principles brought forth in this article will help you to meet your goal.
Deductive Principles For Understanding The Holy Bible
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2015 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete).

Previously we have looked at foundational{1} and general{2} principles for understanding the Holy Bible. Let us now start using our “magnifying glass” for a richer understanding and gaining the ability to solve more alleged contradictions.

1. Literal Interpretation Predominates

Passages of the Holy Bible must be taken literally unless it is absolutely clear that a passage contains terms that are symbolic or representative, a figure of speech is involved, or for similar reasons. If you have Christ as King and Savior of your life, as you grow in Christ the Holy Spirit will sharpen your spiritual discernment to enable you to

sense better when something should be taken as other than literal.

Some people view the account of the creation of Adam and Eve as figurative. To some of these people, the original couple was just a story to explain how humans came into existence, how sin entered the world, and so on. However, both Adam and Eve are referred to in the literal sense in the New Testament (NT) as well as their actions. Besides, if Adam and Eve are figurative, at what point in Genesis does its accounts switch from figurative to literal? It was one time said that the two main books the devil attacks are Genesis and The Revelation, because his defeat is prophesied in Genesis and it is carried out in Revelation.

There will be things difficult for us to understand, but that does not mean what we read is not literal. We need to understand that God has higher ways than we do. So, when you read something like Ephesians 2:6, "And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," you can take that literally because it is a spiritual reality.

The sinful nature of man prefers not to take a literal approach to the Holy Bible, since the literal approach would kill the sin nature and let the Life of Christ flow in and through us. The non-literal path for the entire Holy Bible leads to moral, doctrinal, and spiritual failure.

While there are some non-literal portions and phrases in the Holy Bible, there are no myths set forth as fact. For example, the Word of God mentions the gods Dagon and Zeus but clearly shows these were false beliefs. The Gospel opposes mythology (Ezekiel 8:13-14, Acts 14:8-18). If you have ever read mythology from any society and then objectively compared it to the Holy Bible you would see a stark contrast. For one thing, mythological gods are as sinful as humans.

When you meet with phrases and passages that obviously are not to be taken literally, such as certain figures of speech, then ascertain their meaning by the direction of the Holy Spirit and other principles of interpretation that would be applicable which will be presented in the next article.

2. Record and Command

We should distinguish between what the Holy Bible records and what it commands. For example, in the Old Testament it records Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon and a number of others in a polygamous relationship. However, that was never commanded by God and, in most of the cases, we will read there was tension in those situations.

There is often a tendency among well-meaning Christians to precisely replicate what they read in Acts or elsewhere. There is at least one Pentecostal fellowship that insists that if there is going to be a “deacon board” there has to be exactly seven men on it since, to solve a problem mentioned in Acts 6, the early church under the direction of the Holy Spirit selected seven men to “serve tables.”

And, to be clear, there are many commands in the NT and we are, by God’s grace, to obey them. Here are just a very few of them, a nice short list from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22:

“16  Rejoice evermore.
17  Pray without ceasing.
18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19  Quench not the Spirit.
20  Despise not prophesyings.
21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.”


3. Original Language

As previously noted, the Holy Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. But you really don't have to buckle down and study those languages. Just keep in mind that what seems to be a contradiction or completely weird (like, in the KJV, God creating evil—Isaiah 45:7) might often be explained if we check to see what the original word is.

Thanks to books, computers and/or the Internet, you can do it! If you go to blueletterbible.org and look up a passage you will find the option for what is called Strong's (James Strong) concordance numbers. Clicking on those will often give you the basic definition. However, if you really want to dig deep, get books like Wilson's Old Testament Word Studies and the Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by Vine.

Here's an example of how something can be cleared up by checking the language. If you have a KJV, you will see in Galatians 6:2 we are to bear one another's burdens, but in 6:5 every man should bear their own burden. Check the Greek and you will see verse 2 means the emotional burdens and verse 5 means the share of work. However, if one carefully and prayerfully reads that paragraph, you will see words and phrases that would indicate that two different types of burdens are mentioned.

Let us go one step deeper. Please read Acts 9:1-7. Note verse 7 and compare it with Acts 22:9. You will see the former states the men with Paul heard a voice but the latter states they did not. However if you make a quick check of the Greek you will find that the word for voice, which is pronounced as pho-nay, is used in both passages. The same Greek word is being used, so is this a contradiction? Looking at the definition of pho-nay, if you can, you will discover it is translated in more than one way, two of which being “voice” and “sound.” So, apparently Acts 9 indicates the men heard a sound, but Acts 22 tells us they heard no voice. This distinction between these two verses becomes more clear when we consider that Paul said (immediate context), “... the voice of him that spake to me,” not the "sound of Him..." At times, the voice of God, while understood by some might be understood by others as just a “sound.” See John 12:27-30. By the way, phonay occurs 141 times in the Holy Bible and, in the AV, is rendered as voice 131 times, as sound 8 times, as noise once, and in combination with another word occurs as “noised abroad” once.

So, one other thing to keep in mind is a word in the ancient language might have more than one meaning and in such cases, as in the above instance in Acts, the word’s definition is narrowed down by its context. This also happens in many other languages, including English, where one could say, "The sun is shining so it's going to be a great day...," or "In this present day there is less discipline in schools." By context we understand the former sentence refers to a portion of twenty-four hours, but the latter sentence could mean a long range of time which includes years.

4. Grammar of the Language

Keep in mind the ancient languages are somewhat different at times than our English and most other contemporary languages. For example, in English we might say “the (definite article) bird,” or “a (indefinite article) bird.” There are no written indefinite articles in the Greek. So when a noun does not have a definite article (or, simply, article) with it, most times it is to be translated as having an indefinite article


with it. However, I said “most times.” J. Gresham Machen writes{3}, “Certain nouns, referring to person or things which instead of being only one of a class are quite unique, are treated as proper nouns, the article being either inserted or omitted.” They include, but are not limited to, the words “God,” “Spirit,” “world,” and “law.” It is partly based on this rule that a true translation of the Bible will translate John 1:1c as, "the Word was God."

Here is another interesting thing about the Greek. There's the imperfect tense where the action is ongoing. It often occurs in narratives, and, when so, instead of, "Jesus said unto him...," it's more like, "so Jesus was saying to him..."

Some words in Hebrew are always written in plural{4}, one of which is one word for God: Elohim. In the case of Elohim, when the One true God is spoken of, the verb in the sentence or clause is singular, indicating the subject is not many Gods, but the one true God. This is the case for Genesis 1:1. Just so you know, sky (heaven), face, and Jerusalem are some more words that are always written plural in Hebrew, but are translated as singular when the grammar so directs.

5. Usage by Human Author

Sometimes the manner of speaking or certain subjects were chosen by the human author but still under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul occasionally referred to sports. The Gospel of Matthew was aimed at the Jews, so there was an avoidance of over-using (in the mind of devout Jews) the word, "God." As a result, "Kingdom of Heaven" is written more often than "Kingdom of God" in Matthew. Devout Jews felt overuse of the term "God" was irreverent. Investigating usages of certain terms by human authors gives us a richer understanding of the Word.

6. Progressive Revelation

Because of the limitations of man, through the course of time as recorded in the Holy Bible God progressively revealed His nature as well as His purposes and plan for man. Bernard Ramm{5} writes, "Progressive revelation is the general pattern of revelation."

This is one reason why by the Holy Spirit God introduces Himself as “Elohim” in Genesis 1:1, then “YHVH Elohim” in 2:4, “YHVH” in Genesis 4, and later the attributes of God added to “YHVH.”

Not only did He progressively revealed Himself, but His principles, prophecy and so on. One example in regard to His principles is that when Christ taught as recorded in Matthew 5, He mentioned “you shall not kill (murder)” and then went deeper into that command, getting to the root of the problem, our sin nature:

“You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23  Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you; 24  Leave your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Regarding Christ Himself and progressive revelation, it is written in Galatians 3:24 where Paul, who was raised in Judaism, writes by the Holy Spirit, that "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."

Since I mentioned prophecy above in regard to progressive revelation I will bring just one thing out for the sake of brevity. Case in point would be Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” That is first indicator of the fact that Christ would provide redemption for mankind. One of the greatest expansions of that revelation is found in Isaiah 53.

Before we leave this principle it needs to be said that progressive revelation does not mean the Old Testament (OT) is “less than” or inferior to the New Testament. There are many deep truths in the Old Testament. We are to remember that the Holy Bible is one.

Some see "two Gods" when looking at the Holy Bible: the tough, vengeful God of the OT, and the soft, merciful God of the NT. However, objectively looking at the Holy Bible we will see that God is also shown merciful in the OT, and also vengeful in the NT.


7. Accommodation in Method

God does not change. Some of His methods do at times. This does not change Him though. Suffice it for now to know that the earth is to go through seven time periods and we are most likely in the fifth age. Some of God's methods in dealing with man change from one time period to the next. We can find an example in our own lives that parents can remain the same people they are, but treat their children differently in different stages of growth.

Notes:

{1} http://thesureword.expertscolumn.com/article/foundational-principles-for-understanding-holy-bible

{2} http://thesureword.expertscolumn.com/article/general-principles-for-understanding-holy-bible

{3} Machen, J. Gresham: New Testament Greek For Beginners (The MacMillan Company, Toronto [copyright 1951 Arthur W. Machen]), p141

{4} Ancient Hebrew Research Center--http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/42_lesson03.html

{5} Ramm, Bernard: Protestant Biblical Interpretation, (Boston: W. A. Wilde, 1956) p110

http://www.theopedia.com/Bernard_Ramm

Many of the principles presented in this article are based upon Ramm’s Protestant Biblical Interpretation.

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the 1769 Authorized Version with spelling of some words updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates. An * next to the abbreviation for another translation or version indicates the same for the text presented.

Not responsible for any advertisements appearing with this article nor am I necessarily in agreement with any of them. The statements of this paragraph hold true not only for this article, but for everything I have placed on the Internet.



Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit www.sapphirestreams.com.

Last updated on 22-07-2016 341 2

Please login to comment on this post.
  • nbillett  28-12-2016
    Conversations with some people inspire us to be better, while conversions that focus on negativity and gossip have the opposite effect.
    reply 0
  • ashutoshd dwivedi  30-01-2015

    holy bible is the words of god and the god is present inside us and we have to ake the search of this very you said that the god wants us to understand his written word, then there may be the different enlish at the ancient time,yet, we all the followers og god are singing in same tone but woth different sounds and preach is one and so is mentioned the rrevelations and commandable words of lord.

    reply 0
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