Tuesday, December 29, 2015

CHRISTMAS BIBLE STUDY: "The Prophecy of the Messiah" Week #1

Biblical Prophecy:

The spiritual gift of prophecy is listed among the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:10 and Romans 12:6. The Greek word translated "prophesying" or "prophecy" in both passages properly means to "speak forth" or declare the divine will, to interpret the purposes of God, or to make known in any way the truth of God which is designed to influence people. Many people misunderstand the gift of prophecy to be the ability to predict the future. While knowing something about the future may sometimes have been an aspect of the gift of prophecy, it was primarily a gift of proclamation ("forth-telling"), not prediction ("fore-telling").

A pastor/preacher who declares the Bible can be considered a "prophesier" in that he is speaking forth the counsel of God. With the completion of the New Testament canon, prophesying changed from declaring new revelation to declaring the completed revelation God has already given. 
Jude 3 speaks of "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (emphasis added). In other words, the faith to which we hold has been settled forever, and it does not need the addition or refinement that comes from extra-biblical revelations.

Also, note the transition from prophet to teacher in 2 Peter 2:1: "There were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you" (emphasis added). Peter indicates that the Old Testament age had prophets, whereas the church will have teachers. The spiritual gift of prophecy, in the sense of receiving new revelations from God to be proclaimed to others, ceased with the completion of the Bible. During the time that prophecy was a revelatory gift, it was to be used for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of men (1 Corinthians 14:3). The modern gift of prophecy, which is really more akin to teaching, still declares the truth of God. What has changed is that the truth of God today has already been fully revealed in His Word, while, in the early church, it had not yet been fully revealed.

Christians are to be very wary of those who claim to have a "new" message from God. It is one thing to say, "I had an interesting dream last night." However, it is quite another matter to say, "God gave me a dream last night, and you must obey it." No utterance of man should be considered equal to or above the written Word. We must hold to the Word that God has already given and commit ourselves to sola scriptura—Scripture alone.

 

Exegesis:

In a theological sense, the word Exegesis is used to denote an approach to interpreting Bible passages utilizing critical analysis. It is the thorough investigation of Biblical text, within their various contexts, to discover their original meaning. The word itself comes from a Greek word delineating 'to lead out of.' It is the opposite of Eisegesis, which is to 'read into' a particular text. In its modern usage, Exegesis is a critical interpretation of text, whether or not it comes from the Scriptures.

Exegesis that is correctly conducted uses several tools in order to arrive at what the writer is trying to convey to the reader. It additionally includes comprehending and analyzing both the literary and cultural context of Biblical verses and then using them to compare with verses elsewhere in Scripture to determine what God is saying. Exegesis, in short, is to dig out from a passage what it inherently is stating. Eisegesis, on the other hand, is the approach of interpreting passages by reading into them a particular belief that is not at all evident or clear.

Two different types of exegesis exist. The first is called Rational and the second is called Revealed. The revealed type states that God's Spirit is the inspiration behind the writers of the Bible. The words within the pages of Scripture are written under God's divine inspiration and they convey his perfect will for mankind. Rational states the authors of the books of the Bible were using their own creative minds (without any influence from God) to compose their writings.

Taken together, the two types of Exegesis state that some can study God's word believing he himself was the inspiration behind it while others study the Scriptures from the point of view that it is just a mere collection of made up stories, myths, tall tales, etc.

21. Because prophecy was not brought at any time by human will, but the holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2Peter 1:21)

 

Hermeneutics:

Biblical hermeneutics is perhaps summarized best by 2 Timothy 2:15, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Biblical hermeneutics is the science of properly interpreting the various types of literature found in the Bible. For example, a psalm should often be interpreted differently from a prophecy. A proverb should be understood and applied differently from a law. This is the purpose of biblical hermeneutics—to help us to know how to interpret, understand, and apply the Bible.

The most important law of biblical hermeneutics is that the Bible should be interpreted literally. Literal Bible interpretation means we understand the Bible in its normal/plain meaning. The Bible says what it means and means what it says. Many make the mistake of trying to read between the lines and come up with meanings for Scriptures that are not truly in the text. Yes, of course, there are some spiritual truths behind the plain meanings of Scripture. That does not mean that every Scripture has a hidden spiritual truth, or that it should be our goal to find all such spiritual truths. Biblical hermeneutics keeps us faithful to the intended meaning of Scripture and away from allegorizing and symbolizing Bible verses and passages that should be understood literally.

A second crucial law of biblical hermeneutics is that a verse or passage must be interpreted historically, grammatically, and contextually. Historical interpretation refers to understanding the culture, background, and situation which prompted the text. Grammatical interpretation is recognizing the rules of grammar and nuances of the Hebrew and Greek languages and applying those principles to the understanding of a passage. Contextual interpretation involves always taking the surrounding context of a verse/passage into consideration when trying to determine the meaning.

Some mistakenly view biblical hermeneutics as limiting our ability to learn new truths from God's Word or stifling the Holy Spirit's ability to reveal to us the meaning of God's Word. This is not the case. The goal of biblical hermeneutics is to point us to the correct interpretation which the Holy Spirit has already inspired into the text. The purpose of biblical hermeneutics is to protect us from improperly applying a Scripture to a particular situation. Biblical hermeneutics points us to the true meaning and application of Scripture. Hebrews 4:12 declares, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Biblical hermeneutics is keeping the sword sharp! 

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