Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bible Interpretation- The Flow of Thought

To understand the Bible correctly we must realize that the “meaning” of a passage flows from the larger groups to the smaller groups, from the larger context to the smaller specifics. And so, if you’re reading a Bible verse and a certain word doesn't make sense then you need to understand that word in light of the verse and the surrounding verses. And if a certain verse doesn't seem to make sense then you need to read the whole paragraph and context of the passage. If you read the entire context of a passage you are likely to discover the “flow of thought” being developed by the author. By understanding the flow of thought you should be able to figure out what certain verses and words mean.
The “flow of thought” has priority over the fine details. If your understanding of the details does not support the whole flow of thought of a particular passage then you are misunderstanding the meaning and the reason for the specific details. The details of a passage are there to point to the flow of thought not take away from it. The details color the main point, they don't change it.
Through carefully reading a passage and outlining the "flow of thought" you will find that all kinds of problems or difficulties begin to disappear. You must correctly understand the whole context if you are to correctly understand a verse, word or thought.
And remember, just because someone can quote the Bible correctly does not mean they are going to interpret or apply it correctly. The devil quoted the Bible to Jesus perfectly in Luke chapter 4. But he misinterpreted and misapplied the very passages he quoted. And if we're not careful, we too can be deceived or deceive others by taking a cavalier approach to interpreting the Bible.
So, the next time you read your Bible and you get confused about a certain word or verse or passage, just take a moment to read and consider the entire context and the "flow of thought" being developed by the author in a book, chapter or paragraph. Always interpret the verse or word in light of the larger context. And never interpret or reinterpret the larger context and flow of thought within a passage by a single verse or word.  We should be careful to allow the Bible to explain itself to us. And it will if we pay attention to the flow of thought.

May God continue to bless your understanding of Him, yourself and others as you faithfully study His word!

"The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." Psalm 119:130

Below are some links to a few other related blogs I've written:

Developing a Better Biblical Interpretation

Do you take the Bible literally?

F.A.C.E.S.M.A.P. "Evidence the Bible is Trustworthy"

The Dishonest Skeptic

The Gospel