Category Archives: Interpretation

God Says It Better Himself – Letting the Word of God Speak for Itself

One thing I try to do consistently when teaching from a book of the Bible is to start class with a full reading of the text at hand. It is important for scripture to be heard sans commentary. While we shouldn’t read the Bible so objectively that it might as well be arranged like an eye chart on the wall, each letter and word disconnected from the context and meaning of the surrounding words and themes, it is important for God’s Word to be heard on its own merit. It is important to realize that we can sit in class and discuss, interpret, make assumptions, and the like but in the end God says it better.

That being said it is necessary to point out that interpretation of the text is necessary. In fact, it is impossible to let the text stand on its own without interpretation. The only way to do that is to leave the Bible closed and on the shelf. Once the word is read our minds do what they do best. They begin sorting through the sensory experience of hearing. The words in the richness of their connections already present in our mind bring up sights, sounds, paralleled meanings and texts, stories and experiences. That is what our minds do. That is what God made them to do, especially when it comes to hearing His inspired word. John 20:31 tells us precisely that.

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

The text is to be actively engaged so that belief and faith might be produced through the process of interpretation of what God has said, recorded in scripture.

While I do believe scripture can and will speak for itself I don’t believe God wanted the Bible to be passively experienced. Instead it is meant to intersect our lives at a particular point in time and do something to us and in us and through us. That is why you can read the same story in scripture at different times in your life and walk away with different lessons each time. Each time something different jumps out that is relevant in your current life situation. It only makes sense that since the because we, the word, and the Spirit, are all living and active that all three would be designed to work in concert with one another in a way that grows our faith and knowledge of God.

But in the end, no matter how many great commentaries there are, how many wonderful application questions we can muster, and how many word studies we do, God always says it better himself.

Romans 12:3-21 – A Call to Christian Unity

Now that Paul has established that God’s promises are true to Jew and Gentile alike in the first 11 chapters of Romans, he moves toward the result that should follow in chapter 12. In case you missed it, Romans 12:1-2 was already discussed at length in this post and in this post. Unity as aContinue Reading

How To Write In Your Bible Effectively

Do you write in your Bible? For some people writing in their Bible is like defacing something holy. The Jews, for instance, have so much respect for the scriptures that they have some set rules for handling them. Here is how one Rabbi describes how to handle the Torah: The following are some basic guidelinesContinue Reading

A Couple of Blog Series to Enjoy

Michael Spenser (imonk) has been doing a series on the Gospel of Mark that is worth following. After 7 posts he is only through verse 15. Why Study Mark? The Beginning The Forerunner The Baptism The Temptation The Message (Part 1) The Message (Part 2) Also Jay Guin has been reviewing Scot McKnight’s new bookContinue Reading

Was the Law Nailed to the Cross?

Colossians 2:14 says, “having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” The traditional interpretation of this verse is that the Law of Moses was what was nailed to the cross. Here is how David Lipscomb explainedContinue Reading

Understanding the Law Under the New Covenant

I am wrestling with Romans 2 & 3 right now. When you work through these texts you cannot help but wonder what is going on in Paul’s head when it comes to the Law (Torah) and its applicability to first century Jewish Christians. Growing up I always heard that the law was done away with,Continue Reading

What Happened to the Law for Jewish Christians in the First Century?

I am teaching Romans 3 tomorrow in the men’s class and I have some questions that you might be able to help me with. I don’t want to spend much time on this in the class but I do want to make sure that I am not just making assumptions on some things about whatContinue Reading

Studying Romans – 2:1-29

Who is Paul addressing here? As I read this chapter I cannot help but think Paul is writing to Gentile Christians within the Roman church who have been in sin and yet condemn their fellow Christians for the very acts they themselves are doing unashamedly. I just don’t see how Paul would be writing toContinue Reading

Does Bible Class and Preaching Format Affect the Message?

I am wondering if I am alone on this one and would love some feedback. I am discovering more and more what I think is a product of our teaching and preaching formats. The average Christian is hearing from the Bible on Sunday anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. The BibleContinue Reading

Change in Churches – What is Healthy?

There is a fine line we walk when we talk about change. The line is between relevance to a lost and dying world and being pleasing to the God who has made us our own. When people try to swing too hard in either direction the results are often disastrous. Those who seek to pleaseContinue Reading

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