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The Interpretation of the Scriptures.
Governing Principles for Correct Interpretation.
pp. 188 - 192
One of the most important subjects within the orbit of Christianity is the science and
art of Biblical interpretation or hermeneutics. The word "hermeneutics" is ultimately
derived from Hermes, the Greek god who was supposed to bring the messages of the
gods to mortals, and was the god of science, speech, writing and art. It has a connection
with the Greek word hermeneia, interpretation, and its verbal forms: diermeneuo to
interpret, or explain; methermeneuomai to interpret, to translate; dusermeneutos difficult
to interpret; diermeneutes interpreter.
God has spoken to men through the Holy Scriptures, but what has He said? What is
the meaning of His Words? If we cannot be sure of His meaning, of what practical use
are the Scriptures to us? How can we receive Divine understanding unless the meaning
of the Word of God is clear to us? It is the aim of hermeneutics to ascertain what God
has said in His Word and to determine its meaning. This is a high and holy task and
needs to be approached in deep humility. Upon the correct interpretation of the Bible
rests our doctrine of salvation, sanctification, Christian living and future hope, and it is
our solemn responsibility to get to know what God has said with reference to each of
these, and in fact all His Truth as far as we are able to receive it. Not only this, but if we
do not know the correct method of Biblical interpretation, we shall confuse the voice of
God with the voice of man. In every place where our interpretation is at fault, we have
substituted the voice of man for the voice of God, and are getting error instead of truth.
Most of the doctrinal variations and disagreements in Christendom are due to differences
in interpretation. Thus it is practically impossible to over-estimate the importance of
correct hermeneutics, for from this flows correct understanding.
After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus appeared to the two disciples on the road to
Emmaus and in Luke 24: 27 we read:
". . . . . beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded (interpreted,
diermeneuo) unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."
And later on, to the eleven He said:
". . . . . all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the
Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that
they might understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24: 44, 45).
It is helpful to see the important place that understanding has in the parables of the
kingdom of heaven. Israel's unbelief and failure inevitably led to a non-understanding
heart (Matt. 13: 15), and in such a condition the human mind is especially open to the
devil's activity (verse 19). He that received seed into the good ground is he that heard the
word and understood it (verse 23).