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?

michael_legna's picture

Abraham and even Paul were referred to as father

talmid said -
As far as mini-popes go, I don't wish to argue with Michael. But I am commanded by the Master not to call anyone Father, Teacher, etc.

No you are not commanded "not to call anyone Father". The only way you would come to that conclusion is to interpret a single verse in isolation. I assume this is the verse you are thinking of:

Matt 23:8-10 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

This looks like it is perfectly clear, but we see pretty easily that a literal interpretation of this verse in isolation is a wrong interpretation because it contradicts other scriptures.

The first problem is that although Jesus seems to prohibit the use of the term rabbi (teacher), we know that Christ appointed certain men to be teachers in his Church:

Mat 28:19-20 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

We also see that Paul speaks of his commission and refers to himself as a teacher:

1Ti 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

Paul also refers to himself as the father of those whom he brought into the faith.

1Co 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

1Th 2:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

There is simply no way to hold to a literal interpretation of Matt 28:19-20 without contradicting these other verses or making out Paul to have violated Christ's command as you put it.

talmid said -
If we love Him, we will keep His commandments right? Well we have to know what His commandments really mean if we are to keep them. That's my take on all of this anyway.


And that is why it is so vitally important to learn from Christ's Church, the ground and pillar of truth as to just what is meant by the Scriptures so we can keep His commandments. If we try to do it on our own we are likely to fall into the kind of mistakes you just made.




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