2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Three takeaways from this verse:
- We need to be diligent and take seriously the task of rightly dividing or handling the word of truth.
- That interpreting God’s Word correctly leads to God’s approval.
- There are dire consequences (shame) for those who mis-interpret or mis-represent God’s Word.
The Importance of getting it right: The Apostle Paul stated that doctrine (what you believe) is a matter of salvation; that teaching the right doctrine “will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16)
In 2 Timothy, chapter 3, Paul talks about the “terrible” times that will occur in the end times. One of the signs is the rise of false teachers, who oppose the truth and cannot find the truth.
- Our best weapon against such deception is to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe.
- This is “what” we believe. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Hermeneutics: Biblical hermeneutics is the science of interpreting texts in the Bible. Biblical Hermeneutics is a system of rules and principles that guide and guard our approach in interpreting scripture. Here is a layman’s list of Hermeneutic laws:
- Common Sense. Called the “Golden Rule” of Bible interpretation. “When common sense makes perfect sense, seek no other sense.” This is also called The Literal Interpretation Principle. The Bible is not a secretive document that was written to obscure and confuse; it is God revelation that equips us for every good work.
- Context. Often called The Contextual Principle, scripture should not simply be interpreted in isolation from the greater context. The greater context takes into consideration the author, the audience, the history, and how the isolated scripture “fits” with surrounding scriptures.
- Weighing scripture with scripture. The Harmony of Scripture Principle. The major doctrines of the faith are vast themes found throughout the books of the Bible. To establish “truth” in interpreting scripture our conclusion must be supported by other scriptures and not be opposed by still other scriptures.
- Rule of Definition Principle. It is important that we understand the correct definition of the words that are being used. This is a rule that applies to the original language as well as how the original language is translated. (This happens to be the greatest challenge for Bible translators)
- Start with Jesus. The Jesus-Centric Principle. As followers of Christ, who was a manifestation of God in the flesh and the bearer of “truth,” we start our formulation of doctrinal understanding with the life and ministry of Jesus.
Questions to Consider: (Please think about the answers and be prepared to discuss at the next Core Group Meeting)
- How can a false premise lead to deception? (Can you think of any examples?)
- Have you ever believed something that turned out not to be true? (How did you feel when you discovered the truth?)
- Is the truth important to you and why?
- Do you think rules for Bible interpretation are important? Why?
- How do you handle scriptures when they seem to be supporting differing views of doctrine?