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The Biblical author’s intentional meaning matters.



Does it really matter if what I get from Scripture isn’t what the original author intended?

When reading and comprehending scripture it does matter what the original writer meant. Even if the passage does make sense to you, that is not all that matters because when we assign a new meaning to the passage that is not taught in scripture, we risk compromising the authority of scripture.[1] The first reason that comes to mind for this is we are humans with carnal minds. We were not the ones inspired by the Holy Spirit to write those words thus it is very possible we can misinterpret scripture. In addition to this, we are all predisposed to a certain way of thought due to our generation and culture. The culture at the time John wrote Revelation greatly differs from today which is why we need background information and special revelation to be sure we are understanding Scripture within its correct context. Dr. Robert Wayne Stacy states that the distances of time, language, culture, and geography are to be addressed to bring the relevance the New Testament Christians experienced 2000 years ago to us – the Christians of today.[2] Once we understand the speech and other underlying components within the text, we can correctly apply it to our lives today. Our pre-existing or conditioned beliefs can cause digressions in our comprehension of Scripture.

While you may perceive a passage a certain way due to your predispositions, we must seek what was “in the mind of the original writer” because that is what God wants the reader to grasp from Scripture. According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, all Scripture is “God-breathed” therefore the original writer allowed the Holy Spirit to take charge of the pen. It is God’s mind and words we are seeking to understand which is why it matters if our understanding of Scripture is wrong. It is God in His spiritual presence who wrote Scripture through various writers to record history, events, and impressions to convey His truth – God is very present within Scripture.[3] 2 Peter 1:20-21 reinforces this statement saying, “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” (NLT) We are seeking God’s truth when we read the Bible rather than the growing trend of “my truth” within our culture. All truth is God’s truth thus leading us on our path within the great story of God’s saving work on earth.

While God holds all the knowledge, He has revealed a portion of knowledge to us found within Scripture that the writers penned with a high reverence of Scripture that we must imitate today. They took great care in writing God’s Word and in return we should take great care in reading it – we have a standard to uphold. If we are reading the Bible looking for answers, then we must approach it with great care to seek the correct answers.

[1] Walter C. Kaiser and Silva Moisés, An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning (Zondervan, 2007). [2] Robert Wayne Stacy, “Negotiating Distances in Biblical Interpretation,” Canvas (Liberty University, n.d.), accessed January 15, 2023, https://canvas.liberty.edu/courses/415034/pages/watch-negotiating-distances-in-biblical-interpretation?module_item_id=45459474. [3] Elwell, Walter A, and Robert W Yarbrough. 2013. Encountering the New Testament : A Historical and Theological Survey. Grand Rapids, Mi: Baker Academic.

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