Practical Interpretive Techniques
Whenever possible, it may help to examine the original languages that the books of the Bible were written
in. Using Hebrew and Greek dictionaries, a concordance and various lexicons can enhance the knowledge of the original definition
or intent the writer was attempting to convey. Whenever any document is translated from one language into another there is
a natural potential for loss. This potential does not diminish the quality or nature of Gods Word to us, but only its clarity.
Historical, Cultural and Sociological Background
A knowledge of the historical background, the cultural setting and the sociological issues surrounding a
particular text may be helpful in understanding its primary meaning. This would include an understanding of customs, practices,
spoken languages and the accepted political and religious authorities of the era being studied. Sometimes these are very specific
points that help explain complex or uncertain phrases used in a given text.
It is important to always keep the passage you are studying or wishing to interpret within its textual setting.
Desiring to interpret a word, phrase or verse without the environment of surrounding and connected scripture will often be
misleading. This would also mean that on occasion chapter and verse numberings should be ignored in pursuit of the understandings
of adjacent scriptures. Chapter and verse numbers were established for the ease of the reader in referencing selected passages.
A comparison of the use of the same or similar words or phrases in other non-adjacent passages may be helpful in deriving
the meaning or understanding of the passage being read.
Remember that others have examined the text you are studying or interpreting before you. Their comments,
evaluations and criticisms may bring certain aspects of a text into focus or emphasis that you are not observing. These comparisons
may be helpful in connecting other related passages throughout the Bible. Study guides, commentaries and other such tools
are simply mans opinions, comments and/or discoveries about Gods Word. They are not equal to the Bible and should not be valued
Seeking the meaning or interpretation of a text includes speaking with the author. This simply means that
we need to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit for the illumination, or understanding of the text. When the Holy Spirit
directs our understanding, we will see the message and value of the text from Gods perspective. The Holy Spirit will also
show us how this message either applies or should be applied practically to our personal lives.