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  • Biblical Hermeneutics:

    The Task of Faithfully Interpreting Gods Word

    Pastor David Robinson

    Grace Bible Church


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    Hermeneutics Overview

    Day One

    Lecture 1: Introductory Comments

    Lecture 2: Laying a Foundation

    Lecture 3: Method of Interpreting

    Day Two

    Lecture 4: Biblical Authority

    Lecture 5: Scripture has a Story-Line

    Lecture 6: Power of the Preached Word

    Lecture 7: Process of Hermeneutics

    Day Three

    Lecture 8: Basic Principles of Hermeneutics

    Lecture 9: 5 Stages to the Hermeneutical Process

    Lecture 10: Putting Into Practice: Hebrew Gospel Narratives

    Lecture 11: Putting Into Practice: Prophetic Literature

    Day Four

    Lecture 12: Putting Into Practice: Wisdom

    Lecture 13: Putting Into Practice: Psalms (Poetry)

    Lecture 14: Putting Into Practice: Parables

    Lecture 15: Putting Into Practice: Epistles

    Day Five

    Lecture 16: Putting Into Practice: Apocalyptic

    Lecture 17: Concluding Life Lessons for the Church Leader (Words of Encouragement)

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    Lecture 1


    What is the best book that you have ever read? After reading a good book, you turn it over in your

    mind, you try to understand the characters and why they did that they did; you try to pull the plot

    together, remembering details to see the big picture; and you recall again and again the last

    chapter of the last page where the main character died or lived happily ever after. A good book

    does all of that and more it engages all of our senses and our emotions.

    In our course, Biblical Hermeneutics: The Task of Faithfully Interpreting Gods Word we have such

    a book. This course is not merely an academic wrestling with individual passages so our minds

    can grasp a text and then we can preach to our people. Rather, hermeneutics and by extension

    this course, places the pastor or church leader or Sunday School teacher in the middle of a story

    that has not yet ended. In fact, the story is so glorious that while we know how the book ends, it

    has not yet happened. It is like the final verses of the book of Acts: Boldly and without hindrance

    he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. The story in Acts 1

    began with the command to preach throughout the nations and ends with the gospel being

    preached throughout all nations. The point: you and I are living Gods history and are part of the

    salvation story.

    When we read the Bible, it is not to be read as individual verses that make up a story. Rather we

    read the Bible as a story with verses. We will come to see there is a big difference between the

    two. And that story, told so many years ago still speaks today. Hermeneutics asks the question:

    how do we read the Bibles plot-line (interpretation) in order to know our place in the history of

    Gods redemption?

    And once you begin the study of Gods Word, His words become addicting you want more and

    more. A great and holy God, the God of all creation has spoken so we may hear and respond in

    love and obedience. Each page of Scripture, beginning with Genesis all the way to Revelation,

    pours forth Gods glory. And so the prayer for the beginning of the course is found in Exodus

    33.18: Then Moses said: Now show me your glory. And Gods answer? And the Lord said, I

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    will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your

    presence. Amen, so may it be gracious Lord.

    Introductory Comments

    What is Hermeneutics? There are a number of definitions

    The study of the locus of meaning and the principles of interpretation (Tate, Biblical


    The science of reflecting on how a word or an event in the past time and culture may be

    understood and become existentially meaningful in our present situation (Braaten, History and


    Defining the rules one uses when seeking out the meaning of Scripture (McKim, A Guide to

    Contemporary Hermeneutics)

    The goal of interpretation is to know the Authors/authors intended meaning as it is

    expressed in the text (Johnson, Expository Hermeneutics: An Introduction)1

    Hermeneutics is the work of properly interpreting the Bible. It comes from the Greek word

    interpret. The student of the Word of God diligently studies and dissects the text (hermeneutics),

    asking the question: What does the passage before me really mean? How is the real and essential

    message of the Bible to be grasped? The student then unashamedly speaks the interpreted text to

    the people (homiletics).

    Scriptural Directives: Probably the best definition comes from Scripture.

    2 Timothy 2.15: Paul tells Timothy to handle the Word of God aright rightly divided.

    1. Handling Accurately: proper interpretation, to dissect correctly.

    2. Be diligent: hard work and difficulties implied.

    1 These definitions are taken from the main book I will use in this course: Graeme Goldsworthy, GospelCentered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation, 25.

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    3. Not ashamed: God will grant you a proper interpretation

    2 Corinthians 2.17: Paul warns about false teachers who abuse the Word of God. Hermeneutics

    helps us defend the truth of Gods Word. This is only one place in Scripture were Paul warns of

    false teachers who will take the Word of God and misinterpret, leading to heresy and false

    teaching. Paul tells how he speaks the Word or gospel with purity, clearness and in sincerity.

    See also 2 Peter 3.14-16.

    Origin of the Word: the word hermeneutics originally comes from the Greek god Hermes, who was

    a winged messenger of the Olympian gods. It comes from the Greek word e rmhneu , ein to

    interpret or translate (John 1.42)

    Goal: to faithfully study the text so as to discern the meaning of the text intended by the original

    author. It is to bring out to each new generation the same message from the text. Some interpret

    it loosely to mean the way of reading an old book (the Bible) that brings out its relevance for

    modern man.

    Lecture 2

    Laying the Foundation2

    Necessity for Hermeneutics

    There are a number of reasons why we need to rightly handle Gods Word. Before we look at

    them, Goldsworthy makes an important statement: One key assumption that most Christians make

    about the Bible is that the meaning of the text has significance, not only for the original hearers or

    readers, but also for others, including us. Thus we recognize a process of moving from what it

    2 Again, I will follow the outline and summarize the excellent teaching in Gospel Centered Hermeneutics.

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    meant then to what it means now. This may be thought of as beginning with a process of exegesis

    of the text in order to understand what it originally meant. This is followed by relevant

    hermeneutical procedures to bridge the gap between the text and us. Finally, there is the

    application of the meaning to us and the relaying of it, perhaps across a further gap, to others. (27)

    The point is the Word of God, while written in specific cultures and in certain times of history,

    continues to have relevance for all time.

    1. Bridging the Gap

    What are gaps we must bridge?

    1. Language gap accurate translations from Hebrews, Aramaic and Greek texts into our own


    2. Culture gap:

    3. History Gap: why did the author include certain stories and information in those stories?

    How do historical events into the larger picture of Gods story?

    4. Literature Gap: literary devices, etc

    5. Textual Gap: we do not possess the autographs (original documents) so we must look at

    textual variants and uncertainties concerning translations

    6. The Intended reader/hearer gap: we are not the intended hearers in a sense. For

    example, when Isaiah spoke to Gods people, he wrote to those who were about to be lead

    away into captivity in Babylon. How is the Word of God now relevant to us?

    2. Challenges of Communication

    Goldsworthy tells us of another basic assumption: One of the most basic assumptions in

    evangelical hermeneutics is that God has communicated by his word and that he is certainly

    capable of doing this in a way that meets the purpose of effective communication. (30) There are

    three aspects to communication we will see:

    a. The Communicator: God is the communicator and he reveals Himself as the Triune God.

    Here we have theology the study of God.

    b. The Communication: Gods Word is the communication. Here we have salvation history.

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    c. The Receivers: Gods people. At this point we have how we are involved in Gods story-

    line. It is also at this point that hermeneutics comes in as we seek to proclaim this Word

    to others.

    It is in this process of communication that we seek to understand what God is saying as He reveals

    Himself throughout history. What are Gods intentions? What is the meaning of the text? How do

    we receive the text?


    There are certain improvable beliefs all people hold onto in their life called presuppositions.

    Someone may ask you to prove the Bible is the Word of God or that the God of the Bible really

    exists or that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth and the only life. Goldsworthy defines

    presuppositions as unprovable assumptions about reality. Christians and non-Christians alike have

    beliefs which guide our thinking and living.

    Two I