The Nature of Scripture and Revelation

How should scripture be interpreted? Is it all infallible and absolutely true? Is it all literal, or is it all metaphorical? Or is it somewhere in between?

My personal feeling is that scripture is a little bit of all that, but I'm trying to iron it all out, so any input you have is very very welcome.

There's a radio station in the Bay Area (where I live) that has an adverstisement for their home Bible study course, and they say bluntly that scripture should interpret scripture.

I can hang with that. But then they go on to say that, accordingly, we don't need to consider the initial intentions, meanings, cultures, or circumstances surrounding the Bible. Something there sounds a little fishy to me. I don't see the Bible making that claim for itself--though in II Timothy, Paul says that all scripture is indeed profitable for many things. Why, if the Bible is infallible, would we need to make the ADDITIONAL claim ON BEHALF of the Bible that it is indeed infallible--would an infallible book not make that claim for itself?

So how should we, as followers of Jesus, approach scripture? Sometimes, I think I see Jesus revering the scriptures he had, the Law of Moses--like during his wilderness temptations. Other times, though, it seems like he dismisses the Mosaic Law--particularly those scriptures regarding the Sabbath, the purity scriptures, and the scripture on divorce. Lots of people I know like to say that because Jesus was God he could do whatever he wanted in regard to the Word--but if God never changes, why did He change his eternal Word?

And, if we must then conclude that the law is just a temporary expression of an eternal Word, and then apply it to the New Testament canon, we have something of a loose standard for interpreting scripture. So, uh, that's where I'm at--how SHOULD we approach interpreting the Bible?

talmid's picture

How I see scripture...

Hello Again,

As you probably gathered in your Rapture thread, I tend to see the things of scripture a little differently than most Christians. And as I read through your thread here a couple of things jumped out at me. I hope you don't mind if I comment.

Scripture records YHWH saying that He is not a man that He should lie, and that is how I look at scripture. Those things put forth by Adonai are completely infallible because He is. And they are completely authoritative for the same reason. The same cannot be said of the copyists, translators and commentators. And therein lies the rub, as they say. We are put in the position of examining scripture for ourselves. And so we go to the next point. To me, context is everything.

You wrote:
How should scripture be interpreted? Is it all infallible and absolutely true? Is it all literal, or is it all metaphorical? Or is it somewhere in between?

My personal feeling is that scripture is a little bit of all that, but I'm trying to iron it all out, so any input you have is very very welcome.
Well the choices are all valid, depending on what you are reading. There are many different portions that teach different lessons using different devices. There is straight history and life lessons. There are allusions to spiritual things so far removed from earthly understanding that analogy and symbolism are the only workable medium. There is poetry, prose, parable and song found within His perfect Word. Applying literal standards to all scripture is to deny its manifold nature and demonstrate our inability to grasp its truth.

There's a radio station in the Bay Area (where I live) that has an adverstisement for their home Bible study course, and they say bluntly that scripture should interpret scripture.

I can hang with that. But then they go on to say that, accordingly, we don't need to consider the initial intentions, meanings, cultures, or circumstances surrounding the Bible. Something there sounds a little fishy to me.
INDEED! Time for the tartar sauce and lemon slices.

I don't see the Bible making that claim for itself--though in II Timothy, Paul says that all scripture is indeed profitable for many things. Why, if the Bible is infallible, would we need to make the ADDITIONAL claim ON BEHALF of the Bible that it is indeed infallible--would an infallible book not make that claim for itself?
Well my friend it does in a round about way. But I already spoke to that point. And concerning that point, I like this for apologetics:
Isa 46:8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.
Isa 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Isa 46:11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
Isa 46:12 Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:
Isa 46:13 I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.
BTW, what has been translated from the Hebrew as "salvation" is the name Yeshua (Jesus)... I love context.

So how should we, as followers of Jesus, approach scripture? Sometimes, I think I see Jesus revering the scriptures he had, the Law of Moses--like during his wilderness temptations. Other times, though, it seems like he dismisses the Mosaic Law--particularly those scriptures regarding the Sabbath, the purity scriptures, and the scripture on divorce. Lots of people I know like to say that because Jesus was God he could do whatever he wanted in regard to the Word--but if God never changes, why did He change his eternal Word?
Well here we are, back to context. Never did Jesus break the law or teach against it. What was happening was the Sages (Rabbis), Priests and scribes had added to the Word. For instance, there was never a prohibition against eating the gleaning on the Sabbath, the Rabbis and Priests were chastening Him for not washing His hands after the custom of the Elders (a man-made "fence" law). Many more examples like this are misinterpreted by those that did not know the cultural context and the difference between the written law and the "oral" law(traditions). I do not say this to denigrate the church, only to illustrate the importance of context. Of the over 30,000 different denominations worldwide, some will tell you that they are right and everyone else will burn. Others will say that there are many paths to the same God. And neither is the Truth, because there is only one Elohim and He has only one perfect Son.

Truth is, not your Parent, Principal, Pastor, Priest, Preacher or Pope will stand with you on the Day of Judgment. It will be you alone, standing before Him.

And, if we must then conclude that the law is just a temporary expression of an eternal Word, and then apply it to the New Testament canon, we have something of a loose standard for interpreting scripture. So, uh, that's where I'm at--how SHOULD we approach interpreting the Bible?
My friend, in our country there is a staggering volume of law applicable in different jurisdictions, to different people, at different times, under different circumstances and to different types of people (male, female, engineers, firefighters, solders, etc.). There are many things that have changed in this country over time. But all these laws are still "on the books" as they say. Now try to apply the same reasoning to scripture. Things change. People change. Times change. He never changes. His Word never changes. Nor does His love for His children. Try to take that to the scriptures with you. That and a little context. Perhaps it will help.

Be Blessed




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