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How To Interpret The Bible (TiS Version)
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How To Interpret The Bible (TiS Version)


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  • 1. Sumair Mirza He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. - Moses (Deuteronomy 8:3)
  • 2. Let’s get to know each other a bit… • Have you had any challenges studying God’s Word? • What do you find difficult about studying God’s Word? • What do you wish to learn in this workshop? • How many of you serve as teachers in fellowships or Sunday Schools?
  • 3. How many have asked the question… • What is God’s will for my life? • How can I have a deeper Bible Study? What other questions do you ask about the Bible and its study?
  • 4. What will we discuss? • Many of us have grown up in the church and have been so used to other people teaching us about the Bible. • How can I study the Bible on my own?  • How can I go beyond doing quiet time devos and do some personal in-depth study of His Word?  • What are the tools that I can use to study the Bible? 
  • 5. Agenda 1. How can I study the Bible on my own? 2. How can I go beyond doing quiet time devos and do some personal in-depth study of His Word? 3. What are the tools that I can use to study the Bible?
  • 6. Studying the Bible on your own Why studying the Bible Study is important? (Not exhaustive) 1. Knowledge of God – To learn about our God in Truth (2 Timothy 2:15) – To know/follow His ways/will (James 1:22-24) • For example, I WANT TO KNOW GODS WILL FOR MY LIFE---- DO THE SEEN WILL AND HE WILL REVEAL THE UNSEEN WILL…. 2. Knowledge of Self – Even the demons believe in God (James 2:19) – To grow (Heb. 5:12-14) 3. Discernment of Truth (John 4:23-24) – Gives us appropriate world view • For example, what do you believe in your bones? Is God all-powerful? Is God good? • If yes to both, the world changes… not just “the” world but “YOUR” world! – To detect false teaching/teachers (2 Timothy 4:3-4, 2 Peter 1-3, 1 Timothy 1:3-4) 4. To Act and Communicate three items above to others – To give account for our hope/faith (1 Peter 3:15) – To guide yourself and others (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • 7. What does the Bible say about Bible knowledge? • It needs to be known in order to be followed. It should never be altered. “Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1-2) • It is flawless. It should never be added to. “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6) • It requires effort to understand. It will be distorted by people. It is the path to reside in God’s blessing. “Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-16)
  • 8. What does the Bible say about Bible knowledge? • It is sacred and adding to it and subtracting from it is a serious offence. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19) • It is the preeminent introduction the Christ is given. He was the incarnate Word and Truth. It is the source of our understanding of the world – our world view. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:1-4)
  • 9. Studying the Bible on your own Multiple Uses of Reading: – For yourself • in-depth study • know yourself – topical or systematic • keep list of questions/remove your obstacles • make it a habit – To teach believers • challenge thinking • push them beyond assumptions • know your audience (e.g. unbelievers, believer, long-churched, atheist) – To share with non-believers • can’t say “Bible says so” unless you establish it as the Truth • need to historical, archaeological, extra-biblical etc. sources
  • 10. Studying the Bible on your own • Types of Study: – Topical – Cross Reference – Word – Book
  • 11. Bible Background • 1600 years old • 40 authors • Three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic (e.g. Daniel 2-7, portions of Ezra, Jeremiah 10:10, etc.), Greek • 70% of NT are letters • OT: Prophets, fire, clouds, glory of light in the temple – Hebrew scriptures = Masorectic Text (MT) – Greek translation = Septuagint (Lxx) • NT: Incarnate – Written in Greek + used Lxx because writing to Greek speaking audience God seems to yell louder as the Bible progresses
  • 12. Biblical Interpretation • Exegesis (Good): Draw meaning out of text • Eisegesis (Bad): Read one’s ideas into the text • GODISNOWHERE (example of what scribes had to manage with) – GOD IS NOW HERE = Meaning #1 = state God exists  theism – GOD IS NOWHERE = Meaning #2 = state God does not exist  atheism – Scribes had to decipher no spaces (continuo scripto) • Oldest NT manuscripts
  • 13. Be careful… • Nehemiah 8:8: even prophets show interest in correct biblical understanding • John 6:30-33: Jesus corrects wrong scriptural understanding • Galatians 3:16: Paul careful interpreter (seed = one person = Jesus Christ)
  • 14. Audience is important… • Scriptures were tailored to audience as any good presenter would do… • In New Guinea the pig is sacred and liver is the centre of emotions • Imagine… – Behold Jesus comes, the piglet of God….?! – My son Shechem has his liver set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife….?!
  • 15. Gospel Accounts and Themes How was it tailored to Gospel Audience Focus audience? Matthew Jews What did Jesus • Frequently quotes OT to say? show Jesus fulfillment of the messianic prophecies • Quotes reflect the Hebrew text and the rest are from the Greek version (Septuagint) Mark Romans What did Jesus • Power do? • “Movie-like” snapshots (quick) Luke Greeks Who followed • Like birth stories Jesus? • Wisdom • Saviour of world John Believers Who was Jesus? • Galilean mission to Judea*
  • 16. Gospel Accounts and Themes Prophetic Meaning Gospel Reflection Symbol Lion King Matthew* • Messiah King Ox Servant Mark* • Suffering Servant Jesus Man Humanity Luke* • Humanity, grew up 12 years old (b/c bar mitzvah age) • He is the perfect and ideal human who comes to reconcile both Jews and Gentiles to God • Emphasis on the Gentile outreach of Jesus Eagle Deity John • All about God and God is all and all is from him and for him * Synoptic gospels = “see through one eye”
  • 17. Beyond quiet time devos and doing an in-depth study of His Word 1. Type of literature – is it history, geography, poetry, doctrine, or prophecy? 2. Context* - the most important rule of Bible study is "consider the context!" This cannot be emphasized enough. 3. Literal Interpretation - interpret the Bible literally unless the Bible itself gives you reason to adopt a figurative interpretation. When two Christians come to a different interpretation of what a verse in the Bible means, it is usually because one (or both) of them has started to interpret the Bible figuratively. (excl. figures of speech.) 4. Plain Sense Meaning - yes, there are deep matters discussed in the Bible, but the conclusions we reach from doing an intensive Bible study should not be different than what the Bible plainly says. 5. Interpret From What You Understand* - if you have 2 passages and the meaning of one is quite clear, and the meaning of the second is unclear, don't adopt a fanciful interpretation of the doubtful passage and then try to force the clear passage into a different meaning. * keep in mind: Sola Scriptura and Tota Scriptura
  • 18. Beyond quiet time devos and doing an in-depth study of His Word • Here are a few principles to help you understand so-called Bible contradictions: • The Authors Were Not Unintelligent - we have to give the ancient writers (and the Holy Spirit) a bit of credit. If the writer writes something, and a couple of verses later seems to contradict himself, it's probably not because he forgot what he had written 2 minutes ago. • Specific Exceptions to General Rules - just because a general rule is given doesn't mean specific exceptions do not exist. For example, Romans 3:23 tells us that "all have sinned". 1 Peter 2:22, speaking of the Lord Jesus, tells us, "He committed no sin". Is there a contradiction? Of course not! This is a rather obvious example, but it does illustrate a point. • Calendars Differ - differences in dates can be reconciled in a number of ways. First, some places in the Bible use the Jewish dating system, and some use the dating systems of the nations around them. Second, a king's reign counted his first year as being from when he took the throne to the start of the New Year. For example, if I became king on Dec 17th, my first year on the throne would run from Dec 17 to Dec 31. January 1 would begin my second year of reigning. We should also be aware that some of the reigns of Jewish kings overlapped.
  • 19. Beyond quiet time devos and doing an in-depth study of His Word • What about the Holy Spirit and Bible Study? • How do I apply my Bible study? • Right understanding is the first step to right practice. As you read a passage, ask yourself what principles would apply to me in my situation. Please remember that while the Bible is the infallible Word of God, our applications are not. Ask yourself: • What changes does this call for me to make? • What would my life be like if I followed this verse? • Does this general principle have a specific application in my life? • What are the costs of obedience? • Is there a sin to forsake or a promise to claim? • What action does this passage call me to make?
  • 20. Alleged Contradictions • Days contradiction? – Matt 17:1, Mark 9:2, Luke 9:28 – Answer: Luke is approximate says “some”, not concerned with exact # of days
  • 21. Alleged Contradictions… • Who caused David to take a census of Israel? • A. God (2 Sam. 24:1) or B. Satan (1 Chron. 21:1) – Western thinking leads to disjunctive choice (e.g. A or B) (Aristotelian thinking) – Eastern Jewish can be both (e.g. A+B) – God permits Satan to act (Job 1-2) (Satan can’t do anything without God’s consent (Luke 22:31)
  • 22. Alleged Contradictions… • Muslim’s say Paul corrupted Christianity... Why? • James 2:20,24 (Jesus’ bro says works + faith?) vs. Rom. 3:28, 4:4-5 (Paul seems to say faith alone?) – Seemingly contradicts Sola Fide? (Faith Alone) – Response: • James is talking about works of faith (faith before men) • Paul is talking about works of law (faith before God) • How do we know? (James 2:14 – “to the brethren”, “that faith”  should result in works (matches Eph. 2:8-10))
  • 23. Alleged Contradictions… • Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matt. 7:1) • Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." (John 7:24) • What is going on here? – Read Context: It’s about hypocritical judgment
  • 24. Bible study tools • Lexicons – Provides the ability to look up words in one language by derivation from another. • For example, you are able to look up the English word “Love” and see how that word is derived from Hebrew or Greek and also if there is an equivalent. • You may also look it up the other way and find the Greek/Hebrew word and find the English meaning or if that word is made up of a compound.
  • 25. Bible study tools • Lexicons – This helps tremendously in understanding the meaning and depth of the words used in the Bible for 2 main reasons: 1. We understand actual words as intended when used by writer (not dependent on translation) 2. Full meaning of word in rich language of Greek/Hebrew is understood thoroughly (e.g. Love has 20+ Greek words for variations of this). – N.B. Lexicons often also tell you where in the Bible the word is used so you can ensure that specific word was used in the passage you are studying.
  • 26. Bible study tools • Strong’s Numbers – Mr. Strong spent many years working on his concordance, and he assigned each word in the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic a number. • If you know the number, you can turn to the dictionary at the back of his concordance and find out more information about the original word. • Most Bible study tools today are keyed to the Strong's Numbers. Even those books that don't use Strong's Numbers (e.g. NIV Exhaustive Concordance) will have a key to allow you to look up the Strong's Number.
  • 27. Bible study tools • Commentaries – Helps us understand what the Bible means. (Of course, since commentaries are written by men, they will have their biases.) – Commentaries are useful to make sure you haven't severely misunderstood a passage, and they are also useful to make sure you haven't missed an important point – N.B. You should only read a commentary after you have studied a passage for yourself.
  • 28. Bible study tools • Concordance – Lists the words in the Bible alphabetically, and then lists verses that use that word. – For example, the first word in most concordances will be "Aaron", and the following will be listed: – Is not A the Levite thy brother......Ex 4:14 – And the LORD said to A, Go into......Ex 4:27 – Moses told A all the words of the....Ex 4:28 – etc. – So, the first reference in the Bible to "Aaron" is Exodus 4:14. The second is Exodus 4:27, and so on.
  • 29. Bible study tools • How can I use a Concordance? 1. If you remember part of a verse in the Bible, but don't know where it can be found, you can look it up under one of the words. 2. A concordance is useful if you want to look up every reference to a particular word. This is the start of a word study, which is one of the most common types of Bible studies. 3. Many concordances have a numbering system to tell you what this word is in the original language.
  • 30. Bible study tools • Are there different types of concordances? 1. Yes. An "Exhaustive" concordance lists every reference to every word in the Bible. 2. A "Complete" concordance doesn't list every word in the Bible, but those words it does list, it gives every reference found in the Bible. 3. A "concise" or "compact" concordance simply lists some of the references to some of the words in the Bible.
  • 31. Bible study tools • Topical Bible – Lists references to ideas and themes, regardless of whether the actual words are mentioned.
  • 32. Bible study tools • Other tools… – Bible Atlas, Illustrations, Study Bibles, Interlinear Bible, Bible Dictionary Remember: Don’t grow too reliant... and always think critically!
  • 33. What have we discussed? • Many of us have grown up in the church and have been so used to other people teaching us about the Bible. • How can I study the Bible on my own?   • How can I go beyond doing quiet time devos and do some personal in-depth study of His Word?   • What are the tools that I can use to study the Bible? It takes time... as you build the habit it becomes quicker…   Develop a reflex to research NOT to doubt
  • 34. Alleged Contradictions… – “…Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), how? Is Jesus saying the Father is better than himself? – Answer: Does “greater” = “better”? • For example, is a parent greater than the child (e.g. Jesus submitted to Joseph and Mary) or the Prime Minister of Canada greater than us? (office of authority) • It is a reference to authority (hierarchy exists in the trinity) – Father elects for salvation – Son purchases with blood – Holy Spirit seals them
  • 35. Alleged Contradictions… • You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:14) • Ask God and he will give you anything? (John 14:14) – Answer: Tota Scriptura (1 John 5:14-15) – Paul rejoices in infirmities – C.S. Lewis “God whispers to us in our joy but screams to us in our pain.”
  • 36. Alleged Contradictions… • Psalm 82:6 "I said, 'You are "gods"; you are all sons of the Most High.‘…” • We are gods?! • Answer: read context… read before and after… – “Provide justice” – “Like mere men” – Similar theme in Exodus 7:1 with Moses but merely talks about presiding justice/authority (Exodus 21:6; 22:8) – God is the real judge (Psalm 50:6)
  • 37. Alleged Contradictions • Jonah was in a fish of whale? • How if whale is not a type of fish? – Jonah 1:17 – Matt. 12:40 – Answer: Dag is Hebrew word for “fish”, no word for “whale” exists. Dag used in reference to sea animals
  • 38. “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” - Paul (2 Timothy 4:3)
  • 39. thank you.
  • 40.