Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lesson 2.1 Bible Interpretation

This lesson is borrowed from the booklet “Seven rules for Bible Interpretation”, written by REV. M. L. LOWE, D.D. with supplemental material by David W. Holden.  Rev. Lowe graduated from the Practical Bible Training School in Bible School Park, NY, in 1928.  He then went on to be an instructor in this school in New Testament Interpretation.

Rule number 1: Interpretation Is One; Application May Be Many

Like seven links to a chain, any one of these seven rules is of little value without the other six.  However, if we have a seven-link chain, there must be a link which fastens to something solid – and we have both ends of this chain solidly linked: one end to the Word of God, and the other to the understanding of that Word.  Think, then, of this first rule as being the link which is firmly fastened and which will withstand all that the chain may be called upon to bear.  This is our “anchor point!”

There can be but one interpretation of any passage of Scripture; there may be a number of applications made.  The application never becomes the interpretation.

Immediately we are aware that there are numerous false doctrines which are founded on an application of some truth in brazen disregard of the specific interpretation!  But this tendency is not confined those who would purposely mislead by teaching a false doctrine.  Every pastor, every Sunday school teacher, every believer, ever in his personal witness contact, must be alert on this point.  It is too easy to be “carried away” with the enthusiasm we have for the application – we may imply, or even promote the idea, that the application is the one interpretation.  There are numerous illustrations of how this is often done.  Dr. Lowe dictated the following…

            Ezekiel 37:1-14.  The Vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones.  The interpretation is of a time yet to come; it is a prophecy of the nation of Israel (now dry bones, no organization until 1949), come to life (their national regeneration at the return of their Messiah). The key is Ezekiel 37:11 “…these bones are the whole house of Israel…”  An application may be made (among others) to the unsaved man (pictured as dry bones, without life; Eph. 2:1, “…dead in trespasses and sins”) receiving the new life in Christ. 
Or, on the other side, it could be likened to a committee, each member of which is powerless in himself to take action, but together, under good leadership, can develop a purpose and generate a workable unity, “putting flesh on each bone thus joined together,” and producing a desired result.

But, whatever the application, it NEVER takes the place of the one predetermined-by-God interpretation!

            Matthew 25: 1-13.  The Parable of the Ten Virgins.  This may be applied to the present day church: it is filled with many professing members, only a few of which really possess the oil of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9, “…if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His!”)  The true interpretation is of Israel, picturing her condition after the rapture of the true church.

Among the many applications made, perhaps the most frequent is that of drawing a lesson from the situation in the present day church.  The church is always a “mixes multitude” – many professing members, and among them, some who are “just along for the ride.”  Out of the whole number in a church, only a few (relatively speaking) really possess the oil of the Holy Spirit.  All may listen to the sermons…everyone may take part in the Sunday School discussion time; but the truth is clear only to those who have been truly born again by the Holy Spirit, actually saved.  For the others, there is this very solemn warning:

Romans 8:9 “…Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”

            Many an application is good – even though not the BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION.  This  application may be far different from the interpretation – but it shouldn’t be.  Emphasis should always be placed on the one true Biblical INTERPRETATION!  The application is only incidental by comparison.
            In the parable of the ten virgins, the interpretation is of the condition of the nation of Israel after the rapture of the true church.  Thinking that “…because unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (Rom. 3:2)  They verily had the lamps, but now it is plainly evident they have no oil for their lamps, and those lamps have gone out. 
            Always distinguish both the interpretation and the application: Do not allow the application, no matter how effective, to change the interpretation!

            Thus we have the first rule, and it is anchored deeply into the solid rock of the Word itself.  We are not to refuse the application of the Word – it is definitely to be applied – but we must be ever alert lest we make an application take the place of the divine interpretation!

            As we read the Word, meditating upon its precepts, we must keep ever before us this first rule of BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION:
There can be but one interpretation of any passage of Scripture; there may be a number of applications made.  The application never becomes the interpretation.


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    1. No problem. Praise the Lord for great Godly men who have lived Godly lives and who have studied the Bible and have written articles and other helps.