Suppose I told you I’m having chicken for dinner. I could be having chicken nuggets, chicken primavera, chicken parmesan, or roasted chicken. You wouldn’t have to wonder what I meant because my words could be interpreted literally.
But sometimes in normal conversation, I use figures of speech: “I bought a new set of wheels.” You understand this to mean I bought a new car, instead of literally purchasing wheels.
The context determines the meaning in our interpretation of both the spoken and written word. This concept is also true in hermeneutics, the interpretation of the Bible. When the context suggests a literal interpretation (e.g. – Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem), we take it literally. Conversely, when the context suggests a figurative interpretation (e.g. – Jesus’ words, “I am the door of the sheep”), we interpret it figuratively.
Since God created language so we could communicate with Him, it is essential that we learn to properly interpret His Word. If we desire to profit from the Bible’s doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction, we must rightly divide it. Spiritual growth always follows, never precedes, our understanding and application of God’s Word.
You may be struggling to understand your Bible. Perhaps when you come to difficult books such as Leviticus, Daniel, or Revelation, you get confused. Either find a strong Christian brother or sister to help you study, join a church Bible study, or ask your pastor to explain difficult passages to you. You can also contact us here at Victory In Grace (call us at 1-800-78-GRACE, or visit victoryingrace.org), and our operators will be happy to answer your questions. There’s nothing God wants more than for you to understand and apply His Word. Ask God to help you today, and He’ll give you exactly what you need.
The Bible should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. — Unknown Author
Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.