November 2 I Saturday
“I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.
I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word.”
Words. Before an idea could be expressed, it is made up of a collection of words. Together, these words create a complete sentence. The first unit of truth to observe when interpreting the Bible is the context of the words in the sentence.
Many of us have probably experienced errors and misinterpretations that are based on five or six words taken out of a sentence. If we try and explain something using less than the sentence that the Bible uses, we can prove almost anything we want. For instance, the Bible mentions 15 times, “There is no God,” in verses such as Deuteronomy 32:39, Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1,
1 Kings 8:23 and 2 Kings 5:15. If an atheist wanted to use the Bible to say, “There is no God,” he has 15 texts that he could preach from. Yet, if we look at the context for each mention of “there is no God,” we will find it means something totally different.
For instance, Deuteronomy 32:39 says, “There is no god besides Me.” Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 both say, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” And 1 Kings 8:23 says, “LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth below—You who keep Your covenant of love with Your servants who continue wholeheartedly in Your way.” From these examples of Scripture saying, “There is no God,” when we read that phrase in the context of the sentence, we have a completely different meaning.
Another illustration found in the New Testament is the three words, “search the Scriptures.” It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? The complete sentence using these three words is found in John 5:39-40, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (ESV). When we read, “search the Scriptures” in the context of the sentence, we find that it is actually a criticism Jesus is saying to the Pharisees and Jews. These three words, “search the Scriptures,” sound very good but in the context of the sentence we have a different message.
Every time we hear somebody quote something that is part of a verse, always go back and put it into the full context of the sentence it was given in. We can eliminate potential errors when we read the Bible by never basing anything on less than a full sentence. The basic hermeneutic practice we can implement as we study the Word of God is to always read the sentence.
Prayer: Almighty God, thank You for Your Word. Help me to always read the sentence to rightly interpret Your Scripture in the correct context. Praise You!