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Scripture Study


In order to study effectively, you must know about proper hermeneutics, which means how to accurately study God's Word.  If you are not already familiar, you might want to add these basics to your list of study helps.

  • Scripture interprets scripture.  You must not interpret a particular text in a manner that contradicts a major principle of God's Word. 
  • Universal truths may be contained in writing where there are details that are only valid to certain circumstances and/or cultures. 
  • The historical setting is important.  You should note who wrote it, and what was going on that caused it to be written

It is important to look at literary, linguistic detail.  To do this remember to:

  1. Find the theme of the whole document
  2. Read paragraphs and chapters as a unit of thought that aids interpretation of single verses.  In other words, look at the context.  Remember that a text without a context is a pretext. 
  3. Look for points that are clear in the original language that do not translate into English.
  4. Words have various meanings; therefore, find out what the meaning of the word is in the particular passage (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Gesenius' Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament and Theyer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament will often help.)
  5. Study sentence structure to see if there is a cause-effect relationship. 
  6. Do not impose personal bias. 
  7. God reveals His plan in a progressive way through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation.  Therefore, note first mention by finding out where a topic starts and by tracing it through the Word. 

When dealing with words, use the Eight Rules of Interpretation used by legal experts for more than 2500 years. 

  • Rule of Definition.  Define the term or words being considered and then adhere to the defined meanings. 
  • Rule of Usage.  Don’t add meanings to established words and terms.  What was the common usage in the cultural and time period when the passage was written?
  • Rule of Context.  Avoid using words out of context.  Context must define terms and how words are used. 
  • Rule of Historical Background.  Don’t separate interpretation and historical investigation. 
  • Rule of Logic.  Be certain that words as interpreted agree with the overall premise. 
  • Rule of Precedent.  Use the known and commonly accepted meanings of words, not obscure meanings for which there is no precedent. 
  • Rule of Unity.  Even though many documents may be used there must be a general unity among them. 
  • Rule of Inference.  Base conclusions on what is already known and proven or can be reasonably implied from all known facts."(1)

1 Charles Trombley, Who Said Women Can't Teach?, (South Plainfield, NJ, Bridge Publishing Company, 1985), pp. 135-36.

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