Nov 5, 2009


I don't have a quote today because I don't think there is one for this topic. What I want to talk about is interpretations. Too often we get caught up in "traditional" interpretation. What I mean by "traditional" is views that people think have existed for centuries. Many people think that there is only one way to do things. They look at the Bible, especially the New Testament, thinking, "What does this have to tell me?" What i mean is, "What significance does this have for me? What is the Author saying to me?" Part of my schoolwork this year is theology. One of the speakers I am listening to at the moment is Richard Pratt. In one of his lectures, Mr. Pratt talks about the steps that we have to go through as we interpret Scripture. He says there are three steps.

1. Original Meaning (What a passage meant to the original audience)
2. Biblical Elaborations (Passages in Scripture that talk about a different passage)
3. Legitimate Applications (What it means to us today)

Before we look at a passage and determine what it is telling us to do, we must first look at the Bible through a filter composed of the original meaning and Biblical elaborations. Take Genesis 1:1, Pratt says. In order to determine what this means for us today, we can't just tack it to the debate over creation, we first have to understand why Moses wrote this. After figuring this out, we then have to look at the passage, in this case Gen. 1:1, through Biblical Elaborations such as sections from 1 Cor. and other New Testament writings. Now you may be thinking I'm just talking about OT interpretations. In a way, yes and no. Yes, most of the topics in the NT are also present in the OT. I can't think of any book in the Bible, except maybe some of the shorter letters like Jude and the Johns, that don't include passages from the OT to make a point or reinforce a point. But no, because some Biblical Elaborations elaborate NT passages. have you ever wondered why there are four books of the Bible speaking about Christ's ministry? Mr. Pratt says it is because the Lord used each of the writer's personalities to talk about the same thing. In the first four books of the NT, we read the history as told from the viewpoints of a tax-collector, a doctor, the one who is said to be the "one whom Christ loved", and another soldier from the ranks.

Baptism is one of the most controversial topics in the modern church. Should we baptize infants or not? Now I am going to state a few ideas that I cannot take credit for. Some of these points are going to be either exact quotes or close quotes of people like Mr. Pratt, theologians, or my parents, people who have done a lot of study of the Bible. We often look at the Bible through "Americanized" eyes. We think, "None of the NT writers or OT writers speak about the baptism of infants." But now we need to look at the original audience. The writers would not have needed to say "children" or "infants". People bred up with eighth-day circumcision would take it for granted that people like Paul were also talking about infant baptism. Now I'm not going to turn this into a paper on baptism. However, I want to emphasize the fact that we often misinterpret Scripture.

As another quote, "We are in a sense eavesdropping on the letters and works of the OT and NT." But, this is not to say that there is not anything useful for us. All I'm saying is that in order to gather the full meaning from a passage we must first approach it with Biblical eyes, not "Americanized" eyes. May the Lord always give you a clear understanding of His word and may He bless you with the ability to instruct others.
God Bless!

Your Brother in Christ

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