Dr. Wayne Grudem (bio) has been lecturing through his text on Systematic Theology during his Sunday School class at Scottsdale Bible Church. I jotted down the following notes while listening to his first lecture on mp3 on basic Bible hermeneutics (how to interpret the Bible).
(outline is mine; notes do not necessarily follow Dr. Grudem’s Outline)
Read to Understand
- The Bible is meant to be read (not decoded) and understood by ordinary readers.
- Reading for understanding is a natural skill that we all have
- It should be read and read and read – The parts make more sense when the whole is understood.
A passage means what it meant to the ORIGINAL author
- A passage cannot mean what the human author could never have meant for it to mean
- There are no secret codes for interpretation (see 5c)
A passage means what it meant to the ORIGINAL hearers
- The message of a passage is the message the author meant to pass on to his original hearers
MY NOTE: This assumes the message is properly understood
e.g. Jesus’ illustration of ‘living bread’ misunderstood by literalist Jews (Jn 10)
Tools for understanding the Bible
- Meaning of Words and Sentences (Grammatical) – use word study tools
- Context (Literary) – understand the literary context of a passage
- Background (History and Culture) – very helpful, but extensive knowledge is not essential
- Knowledge of the Whole Bible (see Longdon Baptist Confession below)
The meaning of a passage is OBJECTIVE!
- A passage has a SINGLE meaning – see London Baptist Confession below
- Every interpreter must find this single meaning, not their own subjective meaning
- Pray for the Holy Spirit’s Help and guidance
“The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.”