March 2024 | Eyes on Jesus

Rightly Divide the Word of God

Rightly Divide the Word of God

Dr. John K. Mathew

The books of the Bible were composed by human authors. But God himself superintended, directed and dictated the writing of the bible books, with the human authors so completely under his control that the writing is the writing of God.

The Bible is God's Word in a sense that no other book in the world is God's Word.It may be that some Bible utterances are ancient thought forms for ideas that we would now express in a different way; for they were expressed in language of ancient times. But even so, the Bible contains precisely the things that God wants mankind to know, in exactly the form in which He wants us to know them. And to the end of time the dear old book will remain the one and only answer to humanity's quest for God.(Halley)

An infinite God who is a spirit knows everything about everything. The difficulty in communicating with man, His creature, is that man has only limited amount of intuitive knowledge and must use his eyes and ears, for that is the way man learns most things. 

Again, the communication process is complicated in that words, idioms, and customs have changed during the over 3500 years since God first began revealing his mind and will to man in a written record. Therefore, there must be some accurate system devised to guarantee that what God said and meant so long ago is what present translations say and mean to modern man.That accurate system is known as 'hermeneutics'. It is a logical, scholarly  and trustworthy attempt to accurately assure that modern man understands the message that God originally set out to communicate to him (Tim Lahaye). So when interpreting a Biblical text there are a number of things to consider.

Lay persons as well as ministers should carefully interpret the Word of God, when they preach. In the words of Thomas Oden, "The revealed word, the preached word, and the written word - all cohere in mutual interdependence". 

To rightly divide the word of truth,Tim Lahaye, suggests the following rules: First and foremost, the Bible has to be taken literally, which means "when the plain sense of Scripture makes commonsense, seek no other sense, but take every word at its primary literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context clearly indicate otherwise". Keep the word in its context, is the second principle, which means, it is important not to lift a verse out of its context. The careful attention paid to idioms, is the third principle. The 4th principle is, to be alert to the figurative use of language.The context will tell us when to take a word literally and when to find a figurative meaning. A different treatment of the parables, is the fifth principle of interpretation. We all interpret the Bible whenever we try to understand its meaning and make applications to our life. May God help us to see and interpret it in the way he intends it.

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