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Understanding The Bible
THE  MOST  ABUSED  BOOK  IN  ALL  OF  HUMAN  HISTORY
The Bible is not a church textbook or a spiritual manual. It is a 360° Perspective.
The Bible is not to be read through the views of later theologians. Yes, it was written for us, but it was not written to us!
   Therefore, its terms and perspectives are to be understood within the culture of the people to whom it was first given.*
This is especially true concerning the use of symbols, idiom and metaphor, throughout the pages of Holy Scripture!
New Living
Translation

 Warning 
Neither is the Bible a collection of devotional thoughts, proof-texts for church doctrine, or secret coded messages of any kind, including when the end-of-the-world will come.
Respect for the Bible means – accepting it on its own terms – and that is just the beginning of understanding. —
Sir Walter



See: Common
'Christian' Fallacies
Scott well wrote –
“Within this wondrous volume lies,     the mystery of mysteries;
Happiest they of human race   to whom their God has given grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,   to lift the latch, to find the way;
And better had they ne'er been born   who read to doubt, or read to scorn.”
*God is
a good communicator and
therefore always speaks
within the semantic
framework of His hearers.
See:
Some Bad Examples
Among Good Teachers...
To fully comprehend the rich vistas of the Bible documents in their unparalleled truth and beauty is perhaps beyond the range of any single human mind.
Yet they were specifically given for us to understand!
• 
Human understanding is the product of a process. This process incorporates every level of our awareness of the Bible.
   It starts with the gathered text, and leads us to within the –
1.  historical;
2.  literary; and,
3.  social context of each writer and its first recipients,
 
on ultimately into – the perspective and the purpose or intention of the ultimate Author of the sacred text – the Lord of Glory Himself.
• 
This takes time but there is no intellectual task in all human history more deserving than to understand God's Word from God's perspective; that is, as He intended it to be understood. Christianity has been blighted, and lives denied the illumination of God's truth, by simply reading Holy Scripture as a source of doctrine, and/or for devotional experience. Our understanding must start with respect for the real historical context given by the Bible itself to every principle it expresses.
 
• 
The Bible was written for us but it was not written to us. Therefore, a proper understanding of the context of each statement of Scripture is essential to comprehending its spiritual principle expressed, which is applicable to all everywhere.
SERIOUS NEED
• 
The allegorical abuse of Holy Scripture beginning with Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo (20BC–50AD) originated from ancient Greeks trying to find some moral meaning in the myths of their pagan gods, but from before the end of the first century AD it began to be used among Greek Christians, mainly in Alexandria, Egypt, an influence originating from the highly respected Jewish philosopher Philo.
 
• 
Philo's philosophy drew on the dualism of Plato and the Greek Stoics, and so he viewed all matter as eternal and inherently evil (dualism). In particular, he developed a system of allegorising the Hebrew Bible. Philo's method, applied to passages such as God making the world in six days, twisted it to mean that there are six ages in human history before the millennium or seventh age, and that the Garden of Eden is just a symbol of Divine wisdom in which we were meant to dwell.
Allegorising history
• 
This influence then in Christian circles created the formula, by perverting 2 Peter 3:8 into contradiction of its context, that one-day=1,000-years for Philo's six age-days which became six-thousand-years for the totality of human history until Christ's return; an idea which has blighted and twisted Christian understanding of Christ's second coming ever since.
See:
Pseudo
Letter of Barnabas
CONTEXT ESSENTIAL
If allegorising violates Holy Scripture, it does not mean that Scripture only applies to the people to whom it was initially addressed. God's word applied to those persons is His application of spiritual principles, and these principles are therefore forever, but the principle itself will not be properly understood unless the actual context of the particular situation is first fully understood.
 
    • 
An illustration of this vital need to understand the historical context of a passage in Scripture (distressingly deficient among many clergy of all Christian denominations) is shown for instance in the handling of Chapter Six of the Gospel of John.
 
Significant
Modern Example
Its context is Christ's supernatural multiplication of the loaves and fishes to feed a crowd of many thousands. The impact of this miracle caused many in the crowd to choose to make Him their leader whether He wished to or not ('by force to make him king', 6:15). They therefore track Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee lake (He had walked on water to the disciples during the night after sending them away to avoid this determined crowd).
 
•  Typical Protestant Clergy Error:  
The
following words of Jesus are falsified into a statement of the doctrine of divine election. That doctrine is taught elsewhere in the Bible but this is not the content of the words of Jesus in this context:
 
  "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.'
Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father
[repentance of the heart] comes to Me –
not that anyone has seen the Father except He who is from God; He has seen the Father
.
"
John 6:44-46.
• 
This is Jesus speaking in direct rebuttal of the crowd's intention to become His followers for their personal gain. Christ's statement is a correction addressed to a specific group in a special circumstance, namely: the crowd had decided that it was profitable to them to have Him as their leader. He had given them food at no cost. They wanted to follow Him for personal benefit, and were determined to do so. Personal repentance before God was not in their minds. For us then to take these words out of their context and generalize them to mean something else is a serious falsification of the Word of God. This audience is the same people of whom the Bible had earlier said:
 
  "Perceiving then that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king,
Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by Himself
."
John 6:15 & 26.
•  Typical Catholic Clergy Error:  
The
following words of Jesus in the same context as above are used to mean that salvation comes to the believer through the eating and drinking of the sacrament of Holy Communion, the Mass.
 
 
"So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on Me, he also will live because of Me'
."
John 6:53-57.
• 
In this, Christ describes His own personal human relationship to the Father as the model for a personal spiritual relationship with Him – for all who would follow Him. He purposefully puts it in metaphorical terms that would then be highly offensive to Jewish culture – cannibalism. We know this is not a reference to a sacramental ritual, for Christ's example in His relationship of 'feeding on the Father' gives us no sacramental observance by Jesus whatsoever. It simply describes His personal intimate devotional relationship to God, as had been prophesied concerning Him that thereby He would know how to fulfil His ministry:
 
 
"The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning He awakens; He awakens My ear to hear as those who are taught."
Isaiah 50:4.
 
 
Recently a
Seventh-day Adventist preacher
 
 
explained the motivation of Satan in Eden to deceive our first human parents Adam and Eve as being an attempt to disqualify God's judicial process by –
'undermining the jury' – because the New Testament says that "we are to judge angels" (1 Corinthians 6:3).
This illustrates a shameful approach to Holy Scripture that is all too common, for –
1. 
It assumes that Satan knows the future, when the Bible actually shows that even God's angels do not know everything (1 Pet.1:12); and,
2. 
Even the existence of a 'jury' as part of judicial process is an invention of the twelfth century of the Christian era in reaction to judicial abuse by the aristocracy, and the Bible's terminology ('judge') must always be understood in the language of the people to whom it was originally written.
Using our own context
instead of the Bible's context
will lead to misinterpretation.
So beware of those, especially in leadership positions, who abuse and mishandle the holy Word of God!  
These three
sad examples are a caution to us today to treat the Bible's own God-given context with greater respect in reading God's Word.
– So –
 
• 
The following three specific contextual-factors referred to above need to be integrated then into a whole for them to open up a true perspective on the holy text. It is important that this process of understanding develop into a conceptual framework in the mind of the reader/teacher. So then, this framework consists of these three specific perceptual-angles for a full perspective, namely:
  
    
    
 
 
As for any written text, there are always other aspects, but these essential three are the necessary elements for a framework of human understanding to do justice to the text.
 
It this regard it is a useful aid to memory to hold the relative structure of Holy Scripture as a whole in mind.
 
 
39
OLD TESTAMENT
THE  BIBLE
containing 66 books   
 ←  (3 x 9 = 27)  →
27
NEW TESTAMENT
line
 
 
17
*History
5
*Experience
17
*Prophecy
v
5
*History
22
*Letters
Genesis – Esther
Job – Song
Isaiah – Malachi
 
Matthew – Acts
Romans – Revelation
Major  &  Minor
5
Major  &  Minor
 
5
9  –    4     –  9
5   –   12
5   –   12
 
Pastoral
9 – 3 v
Pre & Post
Exilic  
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs
9 – 3 v
Pre & Post
Exilic  
Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
Acts
Christian
Church
4–3–2
...
v
Hebrew
Christian
4–3–2
...
line
 
Or
perhaps more simply
in beautiful symmetry:
The New Testament:
 9
Church letters:
Romans to 2 Corinthians 
 4
Pastoral Letters:
1 Timothy to Philemon 
 9
General Letters:
James to Revelation 
 ON  THE  FOUNDATION  OF –
Matthew Mark Luke John Acts
The Old Testament:
Genesis – to – Esther  Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song  Isaiah – to – Malachi
17 Historical Books 5 of Human Experience 17 Prophetical Books

The Need
 
• 
It is however sadly true that, of every kind of widely studied writing, none is more associated with differing and contradictory interpretations than the Bible. The most significant demonstration of this conflict of interpretations is shown by the New Testament itself, in the difference between Jesus and the rabbinic schools of that time in their understanding of the Jewish Bible.
 
• 
For instance, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is not an exposition of the New Covenant! It is His refutation of the Scribes and Pharisees interpretation of the Jewish Bible, our Old Testament. This is not new teaching from Jesus that goes beyond the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament). It is simply a Spirit-anointed corrective exposition of the Law in the light of the intention and character of its Author, God, applied at an intensely personal level. It is an exposition that establishes a fundamental distinction to the misleading rabbinical teaching of His day, to which His disciples had been subject.
 
• 
Unfortunately, Christian history has produced no more unity in understanding than did the first century rabbis of Palestine.
 
• 
In Alexandria of Egypt, where allegory had long been used to find meaning in Greek myths, allegory unfortunately also became a dominant method of interpreting Holy Scripture through the influence of Jewish philosopher Philo. Allegory is more than simple symbolism. It is the use of one story under guise for another.
 
• 
The influence of this method spread throughout Christianity and heavily influenced interpretation of the Bible, especially of those parts regarded as difficult or in conflict with the world-view of a particular time.
 
• 
Although the Bible does make rich use of symbolism, to read its narratives themselves as allegory or symbolic myths, is often to violate the intention of the Bible text itself. This is in effect dishonesty to the text.

 
 
The Method
 
1. The Historical Angle   
Composed of several languages and dialects reflecting cultures spread from the rivers of Mesopotamia to the valley of Egypt, the Bible manuscripts have their root in the origin and history of ancient Israel – a nation, in whose ups and downs the ways of the Most High God are demonstrated throughout the text.
 
   
• 
Too often Bible statements have been simply read as the material with which to construct church doctrines or sermons. This reduces or even negates an awareness of the historical vitality of the text, and, as a consequence, prevents a proper understanding of the significance of the text itself. This "proof text" mentality is responsible for much error in the thinking of the Christian church and is to blame for many conflicts in understanding.
 
• 
The Bible is the record of God's self-revelation in human history through the lens of ancient Israel, written and edited by a variety of persons in widely differing circumstances. These persons were not composing theology. They were responding to the real needs of their own time. Through these men and women God has made Himself known, uniquely!
 
• 
The principles and prophecies of the Holy Scriptures, that stretch across the centuries to affect our own future, arose out of real life historical situations. Without an understanding of the historical circumstance where the roots of these truths were planted, we put ourselves at serious risk of misunderstanding the intention of God's anointed writers.
 
• 
The Bible text carries an intrinsic sense of the history into which the revelation of God was poured. Personalities and events interact to form an authentic human context, within which God reveals Himself.
 
• 
Exterior testimony to that history, from archaeology and history, is useful but not essential to a sense of the historical reality within which the vitality of the truth is communicated. The text itself, to the attentive reader, bears testimony to the historical perspective in understanding the Bible.
 
• 
For instance: the danger of not having an adequate awareness of the historical situation reflected in the text is illustrated by a common misunderstanding of God's "120 years" statement in Genesis 6:3. The 120-years is part of the command to make the Ark. Yet this has too often been understood as a longevity decree of God's judgment on humanity (i.e. from c.900 years to a 120-year-lifespan). But the history within the text shows us that the 120-years is the period of time left from God's announcement of it until the Flood itself would come. This is the period of the Ark's construction, from the command of God until its completion, the period in which Noah was warning the people (see also 1 Pet.3:20). It is not how long people were hereafter meant to live.
 
• 
But perhaps the most crucial historical perspective that should illuminate our view is the historical change that occurred in Jesus' encounter with Israel, in which He announces the historical consequence of their rejection of Him –
 
 
"Therefore ...The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you and given to a nation bringing out its fruits".
Matthew 21:43.
• 
Grasping this historical discontinuity is crucial to a proper understanding of the newness of the New Covenant, and consequently of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and how the Old Testament relates to us today. Inadequacy in this regard still continues to hinder the Christian Church.
 
• 
An inadequate grasp of the history in the text will thus lead to these misunderstandings that remain to rob us of a true and full understanding of God's Word.
 
2. The Literary Angle   
Much has been made of the genre (type) of the various parts of Scripture; sometimes in an effort to deny or avoid dealing with the historical veracity of the text. In this regard it is useful to note the words of respected archaeologist Kenneth Kitchen (Liverpool University) that – "Literary form has no bearing on the historical worth of a text." (emphasis mine).
 
   
 
The Bible is one of the richest imaginable writings in the variety of literary devices used to convey its message.
 
• 
But, while historical truth may be clothed in poetry and metaphor, the literary structure of the Bible, as an integrated and balanced whole, needs first to be appreciated if the complementarity and consistency of the Bible's teachings are to be understood.
 
• 
Most writers of Scripture had not only never met each other, they also came from differing social, cultural, and even linguistic backgrounds. The Bible's unity of content, in the face of this wide range of its writers over a period of nearly 1500 years, is incomparable and points directly back to its ultimate Author.
 
• 
For a summary glimpse of some of this literary structure, see – the  Autonomy of Scripture.
 
• 
The Bible was written in three languages – Ancient Hebrew; Aramaic; and Hellenistic Greek, and in this connection it is important to remember difference in cultural use of terms. Whereas the New Testament Greek is not a Semitic language, the Hebrew and Aramaic are, and more importantly, even the Greek text of our New Testament was largely written by persons of Semitic culture. Note: the contrastive cultural-idiom.
 
• 
An important aspect of this literary perspective is also the use of symbol. Under this I will include personification also, such as Foolishness and Wisdom represented as women in Proverbs. Failure to understand this led to some finding Jesus as only intermediate Creator and as the first act of the Father, in the phrase –
"The Lord brought me forth as the first of His works, before His deeds of old;
I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began."
Prov.8:22-23.
 
But it is the female Wisdom (an attribute of the Most High) that speaks in this personification of that most desired quality, just as the female prostitute personifies the foolishness of fools.
 
• 
Again, appearance is sometimes wonderfully symbolic even though the thing itself is real. The obvious example of this is Jesus in the book of Revelation –
Chapter one: 
A man with a face like the sun
 1:13-16
Chapter five: 
A lamb with seven horns and seven eyes
 5:6
Chapter nineteen: 
A rider on a white horse
 19:11-13
In each case, various elements of His appearance carry a message in their symbolism, but the Lord Jesus in Himself is real and is not a symbol. This same principle applies to the four Living Beings (Cherubim, according to Ezekiel) and the twenty-four Elders (Watchers in Daniel 4:17; Thrones in Daniel 7:9).
 
• 
The book of Revelation is saturated with symbolism, the key to which is,
1. 
Firstly – the Old Testament; and,
2. 
Secondarily – the socio-political context of its first readers.
 
1.
An example of the first (the Old Testament) is the cubic appearance of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem – the Wife of the Lamb (Rev.21:9).
New Jerusalem
It
is a twelve thousand stadia cube! The shape is to be understood from the cube shape of the Most Holy Place in Moses' Tabernacle (10³) and its cube shape in Solomon's Temple (20³). The cubic shape being the common factor of the place that represents God's immediate presence.
• 
But note: the number 'twelve' does not refer to or represent the nation Israel. It represents God's rule/government/supervision! God promised Abraham that Ishmael, his son by the Egyptian Hagar (whose descendants were not to be part of Israel), would have twelve sons/clans (Gen.17:20;25:16). This significance in the number originated from ancient Egypt in whose belief system the Most High was understood to govern the day in twelve parts and govern the night in twelve parts (the origin of our 24-hour-day today). Thus twelve concerning Ishmael simply represented this to Abraham who would have been aware of this at that time without needing an explanation from God of why twelve. He would have understood it as a reassurance of God's care for Ishmaelís descendants (the Arab peoples), his first son and for whom he had prayed for Godís blessing.
 
• 
Likewise, the number 'twelve thousand' is taken from the full complement of the tribes of the covenant people (whether Simeon and Levi are counted or left out of the counting) then multiplied by the maximum unit size of the time – namely 1,000.
See: Genesis 49:7;
Joshua 19:1; 21:4.
 
In other words in symbolic speech the Bride of Christ, in fulfilment as the Wife of the Lamb, is the full complement of the Lord's people who – as the place of God's presence (cube) – are the seat/place of His rule over all, forever!
 
• 
This understanding is illustrated by the Revelation Chapter Seven's tribal listing in:
Judah
Asher
Simeon
Zebulun
Reuben
Naphtali
Levi
Joseph
Gad
Manasseh
Issachar
Benjamin
Every Bible listing of Israel's tribes includes Dan, except this presentation in Revelation. Why? Because we are dealing with the elements of Old Testament Israel used as symbols of the New Testament 'Israel of God' – the Christian Church. This is not 'replacement theology'. This is consistent contextual exegesis. And Danís absence does not mean that somehow the Antichrist will be a Jew of the tribe of Dan as some foolishly speculate, for Antichrist is Ďantií, against Christ, not Ďanteí, in the place of Christ, so he does not need a pedigree.
 
• 
Also drawn from the Old Testament, specifically its prophecies against Babylon, is the metaphor of the sea as a symbol of pagan nations –
"The sea has come up on Babylon; she is covered with its tumultuous waves." (Jer.51:42), for
just as Isaiah the prophet had previously used:
"the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt." (Isa.57:20)
Hence the logical significance of the phrase: that in God's new earth – "the sea was no more" (Rev.21:1) means – the whole world knows the Lord! This has nothing to do with the future of fisheries, but it has everything to do with God's rule fulfilled in all the earth!
 
2.
An example of the second (the socio-political context) is 'Babylon' presented as a woman seated on seven mountains. A knowledge of the history of the time informs us that Emperor Vespasian had struck a coin on which he portrayed the city of Rome as a woman seated on seven hills. The code name "Babylon" was especially necessary as John describes (from inside a Roman prison) the destruction of this woman, the city, at the hands of the Antichrist, the Beast. The dual significance of the hills, as also representing a succession of seven rulers, made it necessary to portray them as mountains.
 
• 
With regard to this socio-political context of the first readers of the Bible, it is also of particular interest to note, concerning the Seven-Sealed Book in the right hand of God (5:1-5), that Roman law at the time of writing required that a Last Will and Testament of a Roman citizen be sealed with seven seals (the testator, five witnesses, and the executor, under the Republic, but later relaxed under Empire to the seals of seven witnesses whatever their function). This gave special importance to the significance of this scroll, and explains John's deep emotional distress that no-one is found worthy to inherit the kingdom of the Most High. But Jesus the Man is found worthy to be King of kings and Lord of lords! Hallelujah!
 
• 
Another example of this value of taking the socio-political circumstance of the first readers into account is the wording of the Bible's absolute assurance that nothing shall separate God's people from His love. The Apostle Paul writes to the Roman Christians:
"For I am sure that neither death nor life, ...nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The translation is literally correct, but that doesn't help us, for it was its colloquial use of the terms at that time that carries its meaning. At the time that this was written, the terms 'height' and 'depth' represented a special meaning to the people of Rome –
'height' = 
the influence of the stars above the horizon (astrology for today)
'depth' = 
the influence of the stars presently below the horizon (astrology for tomorrow)
Romans 8:38-39.
In
other words, Paul is reminding the Roman Christians that no matter what Roman astrologers say, it has no influence what-so-ever upon the life of those who are in Jesus Christ! Thank you Lord!
 
• 
Well, that's enough to illustrate the importance of –
    (1) Old Testament background to the New; and,
    (2) The socio-cultural circumstance of its first readers in the use of language and terms.
 
3. The Social Angle   
The Bible documents were written by real people whose personal lives are unavoidably a background to the character of the text. This is true even when an editor's hand has completed a document (such as the writings of Moses) or when there is no direct knowledge of the human source of the writing (such as Job).
 
   
 
An empathy with the persons portrayed helps directly to make the historical situation in the text more comprehensible.
 
• 
However, sometimes the value of this aspect is obscured by scribal errors and tradition reflected in even our oldest copies of holy scripture. An example of this is the treatment of psalm titles by copyists and consequently by translators.
 
• 
All versions of the Psalms mix what is often the footnote of the preceding psalm with the title of the following psalm. In consequence, often a poetic title is then taken to be an unknown tune of the time, by unfortunately adding the words – "the tune of" before an un-translated word or phrase. (Incidentally, it is more probable that the music associated with a psalm was its background music for recitation or chanting rather than a tune which dictated its rhythm).
 
• 
This grouping error is exposed when we compare the structure of the psalm given to us in Habakkuk Chapter Three as an example:
Title: 
"A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. 3:1
Psalm: 
"Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, 
O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time ... 
3:2-19a
Footnote: 
"For the director of music. On my stringed instruments."
3:19b
 
• 
When this basic layout is applied to the traditional titles in Psalms the social situation of the writer will often become apparent, with new and enriching understanding for the reader.
 
• 
An example of this is Psalm 55, which should be read as –
Title: 
"A maskil of David.
Psalm: 
"Listen to my prayer, O God ... 
I said, 'Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest –
I would flee far away ...
Footnote: 
"For the music director. 'A Dove on Distant Oaks'."
 
• 
When this principle is applied to Psalm eight, it becomes apparent that 'mutlaben' in the title of Psalm nine (translated sometimes as 'death of the hero', 'death of the son', or 'death of the man between the camps', according to how the later Hebrew vowel-pointing is done) is really the footnote of Psalm eight and refers to the killing of Goliath the blasphemer for which young David is filled with praise toward God, for –
"From the lips of children and infants You have ordained strength because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger."
Psalm 8:2.
Hallelujah!
• 
Another example of the importance of understanding the social context is Psalm 90. Written by Moses, it will not be properly understood unless it is read with a knowledge of the life of Moses described in the first five books of the Bible, in particular Moses at the age of eighty. The prayer at the close of this psalm is its climax. Moses, at age eighty or less (that is before Israel's exodus from Egypt), prays with passion for God to 'establish' the work of his hands. His sense of frailty and the futility of his life at this age, after having previously been powerful in word and deed at age forty (Ac.7:22), is subsequently answered by God in his commissioning at the burning bush and Moses' extraordinary mission from age 80 to age 120. Glory to God!
 
• 
Thus, these three angles in our framework of understanding – the Historical, the Literary, and the Social – prepare our way for knowing the Word of God as the all-glorious Author intended it to be understood.
 
Lastly, what should always be first!  
 Illumination of the mind or understanding is always the product of a positive personal relationship to the Author of Holy Scripture Himself. 
 
Therefore the Bible says to every believer –
"I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the Anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His Anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie – just as it has taught you, abide in Him."
1 John 2:26-27.
• 
In discussion of doctrine, remember that the Bible is not a democracy of verses in which doctrines with the larger support are accepted and believed as opposed to doctrines with lesser biblical support.
 
Every-single-verse of Holy Scripture speaking from within its own context carries a full veto on our thinking and our teaching!
• 
So, the test of truth does not lie in a list of proof texts (although this may be very educational), for the Bible is not a democracy of text with greater persuasion the more references there are to the same truth, but the test of truth lies in the certainty that a particular understanding is not contradicted by any text of Holy Scripture.

Please be cautious
concerning presumptuous ignorance in some leaders
who dogmatically fail to see
the depth of Holy Scripture,
such as in their
one-eyed interpretations
Sadly
though, a Roman Catholic Catechism states:
"The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him".
Catholic Church 1994, Apostolate for Family Consecration, Bloomingdale, OH, USA, Para. 100, Page 30, emphasis mine.
This is truly an insult to the Holy Spirit, the Author of Scripture, who dwells in every true believer through Jesus Christ our Lord.

To aid our New
Testament understanding, a special note should be taken of the relationship between the four Gospels of the New Testament Scriptures.
The
particular focus of each Gospel may be roughly summarized as –
Matthew   • 
Messiahship of Jesus as fulfilment of the prophecies given to Israel.
  Beginning with His official/legal genealogy from Abraham via Solomon son of David (Joseph's genealogy).
Mark   • 
Ministry of Jesus demonstrating the character of God.
  Beginning from His baptism and anointing of God as the New Beginning (dove-sign as with Noah).
Luke   • 
Manhood of Jesus in His human identity.
  Beginning with His biological/physical genealogy from Adam via Nathan son of David (Mary's genealogy)
John   • 
Deity of Jesus demonstrated in His origin and relationship to His Father.
  Beginning before the beginning, and revealing Him as personal source of life to His disciples as the Father was to Him.
Synoptic Gospels:  
The
first three Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are sometimes referred to as the Synoptic Gospels because they have a common 'horizontal' perspective of differing angles with overlap on the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus. Whereas the fourth Gospel (John) has a 'vertical' perspective on the person of Jesus, beginning before the Beginning.
 
Here
it will be useful to note that the Gospel of Matthew carries an inspired interpretive angle on the reports it shares with the other two Synoptics (just as every translation is to some extent an 'interpretation', except that here we have an inspired aspect in Matthew's report to help us understand).
 
As
an example –
1. Mark
reports the agonized words of Jesus on the Cross (sometimes called the 'Cry of Desolation') in their original Aramaic followed by their meaning (Mk.15:34): "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?".
Matthew reports these same words of Jesus in Hebrew followed (27:46) by their meaning, for this unique messianic Cry "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" was prophesied centuries before in Psalm 22:1 "אלי אלי למה עזבתני", in the previously hidden aspect of Israel's Messiah:
2. Luke
reports Christ's rebuttal of the Pharisee' slander concerning His casting out of demons with the concluding words regarding the presence of the Kingdom of God in the authority thus demonstrated as "the finger of God" (Lk.11:20).
Matthew's God-inspired eye-witness report gives us this same statement interpreted as "the Spirit of God" (Matt.12:28), for this omnipotent 'touch' of God in the authority of Jesus was the direct act of the Holy Spirit Himself.
See:
The Hidden Time


Some Specially
Bad Examples of Scripture Use/Abuse Among Trusted Evangelical Teachers Today:
 
Every one makes mistakes, but our Bible seriously warns us that –
"Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness."
James 3:1
See
sad examples of
Jewish exegesis
as bad as
anything could be!
1. Rick
Warren of Saddleback Church, USA, in his book 'Purpose Driven Life' (as at 2002, p.25)
The Bible
Truth: In Isaiah 46:3-4 God encourages Israel, in the face of their devastating Babylonian Exile, that, as He was with them from their beginning in Egypt, the womb of their nationhood and in the Exodus of their birth. So likewise, He will be with them through the difficult times ahead as in their old age as a nation.
"Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by Me
[in Egypt] from before your birth [in the Exodus],
carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save."
The Warren
Twist: This Isaiah quote specifically means that God made you as an individual in order to express His love.
Contradicting its context
2. Robert
Morris of Gateway Church, USA, in his video series 'The Blessed Life' (as at September, 2011)
 
The Bible
Truth: Christ's Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew's Gospel, is a summary of Christ's correction of the interpretations of Israel's Mosaic Law by their Scribes and Pharisees. It begins with eight times 'blessed' of those who walk in the faith of Israel's prophets (Matt.5). Christ's ministry to Israel concludes with eight times 'cursed' of these Scribes and Pharisees (Matt.23) for misleading Israel's understanding of their Mosaic Law. Jesus shows that the essence of its violation lies in motive not method. Christ's New Covenant (in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile) began in His atoning death which only then abolished the Old.
 
The Morris
A serious misrepresentation
Twist: Christ's Sermon on the Mount is the standard of His New Covenant because it is written in the New Testament, and this includes God's commands under the Old Covenant for it goes further than the Old, such as in tithing today, for God does not change.    [So, what God said to 'whoever' in the past applies to us today, because God does not change? What ridiculous exegesis!]
A very serious
twisting of God's Word!
These errors are are sadly typical of a disrespect for the context of the Bible passages concerned, which in a teacher of the Word amounts to a disrespect for God's Word.
 
This disrespect may occur very subtly – such as when a certain concept or idea in the mind of the Bible reader, no matter how true it may be, becomes so intense a conviction that it becomes the mental context within which any other part of the Word of God is then read.
 
So let the above bad examples be a warning to the sincere. (The text in its own context must always rule our understanding, but this requires humility.)
3.
Unfortunately, it gets even worse than those above when a false context is presented to the ignorant and untaught, for there are those who present themselves as Christian evangelicals, such as the Westboro Baptist Church (repudiated by other Baptist groups) who, lacking the very basics of Christian character, deliberately twist Holy Scripture to fit their agenda by introducing a false context.
 
For instance,
because Jesus said to His Jewish critics that they did not believe Him for they were not of His 'sheep' (in John 10:26) Westboro Baptist (to fit their Calvinistic dogma) then dogmatically state that therefore, when the Bible says that "...God so loved the world..." (seven chapters earlier in John 3:16), it really means that God only loves Christians for 'God hates the world'.
A False Context
See also:
Calvinism's Corruptions
Pseudo-Christian
LIARS
 
It is no wonder that the world has classified Westboro Baptist as
a 'Hate Group'.
This is a crude lie, for this New Testament word translated "world" is kosmos/κόσμος, and this same word is used in this same Gospel by Jesus Himself to refer to the unbelievers/non-Christians (John 14:17).
    So, to those with some integrity in handling Holy Scripture –
...God so LOVED the unbeliever that...!
But it should not have been left to the world to classify this 'church' as a 'hate group'.
All local churches and Christians in the same area should have openly denounced and contradicted them
at the very time when they started their crude public misrepresentations of God and His Holy Word.
 
See:
Arrogant
Evangelicals
4. Lastly,
another frequent deviance in Bible-use is the seemingly correct method to extract moral formulae from the text of Holy Scripture for right-living. The Bible is a revelation of God to provoke trust in Him beyond our understanding, therefore the vast panorama of history and human experience is presented to show the Most High's character is His behaviour in all these things.
Formulaic Thinking
See: Fake Christianity
But
when Holy Scripture is reduced to a source of spiritual or moral 'formulae' as the keys to a 'blessed-life', it leads into very subtle but serious deception which substitutes a religious lifestyle based on method rather than a truly Christian lifestyle based on personal relationship. Formula-based lifestyle method is no more a spiritual 'foundation' than the scaffolding is in building construction, useful, but not foundational!
    The true foundation is a lifestyle that only flows out from the intimacy of a
direct fellowship with God.
 


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