-God-

 

Basis for Bible Study
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye
may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
[Romans 12:2] [KJV]

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Dear Beloved of God:

You may or may not attend church and you may or may not consider yourself to be a 'born again' Christian. Nonetheless, as I discussed on the opening page, if you have started to read this section of my web site it may be because you have a few questions and concerns about life, your place in the world and who God really is. Maybe you are trying to dig deeper into the richness of God's grace, mercy and love as described to us in His Word and you want to graduate from the 'milk' of His Word to the 'meat'. Or maybe you have worked God's Word for many years but know in your heart that there is still something you are missing and you are searching for some of those missing pieces which will allow you to put more of God's Word together for a greater understanding.

I believe that the study of God's Word, the Holy Bible, rightly divided, will provide answers to your questions and that it will make clear to you God's will for your life.

You probably have a great love for God and you are trying to learn more about God and His Word and to energize the power of God in your life. However, it's very possible that you might not be availing yourself of some of the most accurate Biblical teachings and interpretations available to us today. Many years ago an approach to researching God's Word was pioneered which is still very unique in the world today. Many people teach from and about the Bible and many may appear to be putting God first and working God's Word from the perspective that God is the single author and that "… Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). However, they always seem to fall back on the standard teachings, interpretations and traditions promulgated by most of the major religious denominations. These teachings are often not accurate, they frequently do not fit together without contradiction, and thus they generally do not give us the whole Word as originally "God breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). The result is that we end up with more questions instead of accurate, meaningful answers.

My main point in this section deals with man's basic spiritual problem - which is also the greatest mystery in the world today - that the Bible is the revealed word and will of God. I'll discuss the critical importance of working God's Word from the inside out, as opposed to the other way around, which is how everyone else works it. My prayer for you is that you will avail yourself of the 'best' study materials - and that you will not settle for 'good' or even that matter for 'better' materials - simply the best.

I therefore offer the information on these web pages for your consideration. Here I will discuss the importance of understanding how we came to have the Bible which is available to us today and why it is important to study the Bible from God's perspective and not from our own preconceived notions and understandings. On other pages I discuss the 'Inerrancy of the Bible' - what it is and what it means; along with some basic Research Keys you can apply when studying the Bible. I have a Topics section where I post selected studies from God's Word.

If, after reviewing the Semeion Fellowship Web Site, you would like to learn more about how to study and rightly divide the Word of God, and to fellowship with others who believe that the Word of God is the Will of God - I would encourage you to click on the Fellowship link and take that first step to fellowship with us.

God will bless you for taking the time to peruse this web site and for allowing your heart, of your own free will, to turn toward God and His Word.

"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." [Ephesians 1:17-23]

A BASIS FOR BIBLE STUDY

The sixteenth century is known in the Christian church as the century of reformation in theology. However, the years which followed did not produce a single unified reform but rather a growth in divergent opinions and beliefs. Similarly, the nineteenth century was a time of reformation of the text of the Bible, particularly the New Testament. Again the period following witnessed not a single unified reform of the text but rather a growth in textual theories consummating in today's eclecticism. Thus the twentieth century has had to face a whirlpool of theological beliefs, practices, and formulas for evaluating the texts of the Bible.

The last forty years have also witnessed a theological and textual reformation in Biblical research among some who have advocated a return to the integrity of the Word of God. Although others have talked about the inspiration of the Scriptures, no major reforms have taken place to rid Christianity of the legalism, traditionalism, skepticism, and illogical theories and practices it has faced for over fifteen hundred years. This new group of reformers stand on the principle that "the Bible is the revealed Word and will of God" is, in its true sense, revolutionary. If God is perfect, then His Word must be perfect as it was originally given.

The problem with textual criticism, as it is practiced today, is that it works from the outside to the inside rather than from the inside to the outside. The critic carefully looks over each piece of the puzzle trying to determine its relationship to the other pieces without considering what the final appearance of the picture is supposed to be. The Bible, God's Word and message to man, in spite of mistranslations and textual changes, has not been so marred that God's intended meaning is indiscernible. What textual criticism needs today is a means for working from the inside, God's intended meaning, to the outside, an accurate text.

The Scriptures were not written by natural men. The purpose of the textual critic of Biblical literature should be to reconstruct the original message God gave to the Church in its complete textual accuracy so that readers can conduct their lives and beliefs accordingly. All theoreticians, philosophers, historians, and theologians start with certain fundamental axioms accepted as true without proof. For the most part, critics have accepted the axiom that the Bible was originally written by natural men who made mistakes in the writing. Hence, with the available set of criteria for evaluating variant readings they have no alternative but to work from the outside to the inside. They are attempting to reconstruct an imperfect doctrine as a guide for men in the name of a perfect God.

To work from the inside to the outside, a critic must begin with the axiom that the Bible is the revealed Word and will of God; that holy men of God spoke and wrote, moved by the Holy Spirit. Since God is perfect, His Word and will to the Church cannot be anything but perfect. So the Bible, His revealed Word and will as He gave it to these writers, had to be perfect. To begin from the inside then means to read the whole of His writing for a scope of understanding. There can be no contradiction, no discrepancies of any kind. If there appear to be discrepancies, the critic must first criticize his own understanding. Does he understand what is written? If he does, and there is still an apparent discrepancy, he evaluates the variant readings based on the premise of a perfect original. Such an approach will eliminate the contradictory variant readings and point out the most congruent readings. This is what is meant by working from the inside to the outside.

Words are a tool by which men communicate their thoughts and ideas to each other. A man's word is his communication of himself. Similarly, God's Word is His communication of Himself. Ever since the fall of man when Adam lost his communication with God, God has endeavored to reestablish a means of communication with man. God's Word is His communication of Himself (John 1:1). He has chosen three ways to reveal His Word:

        1) His spirit upon man,
        2) the written Word, and
        3) the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.

Each of these has communicated God's ideas and will for man.

The first communication of God's Word came from the lips of men upon whom He placed His spirit. For example, God placed His spirit on Joseph and then He could directly communicate with him.

(Genesis 41:38-40 KJV) And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

Joseph had been sold by his brothers as a slave. He was taken to Egypt where he was put into prison. But overnight he arose from an imprisoned outcast to second in authority in the kingdom of Egypt. No school of learning of that time gave him such intellectual acuteness, but Joseph had believed God, and God had placed His spirit upon him. This made him wiser than anyone in Egypt. Because of his wisdom, Joseph was given rulership and honor in Egypt and he made it the most prosperous nation of its time.

Similarly, the spirit of God on men throughout history has given them wisdom. The spirit upon Noah gave him the knowledge to construct a ship which meets the specifications of any good sailing vessel today. The spirit upon Joshua allowed him to successfully lead the Israelites into the Promised Land with greater success than any worldly military leader. The spirit upon Solomon made him the wisest man in the world. The spirit on Bezaleel made him capable of constructing the tabernacle of God.

(Exodus 31:1-5 KJV) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.

By His spirit on man, God could communicate with him and teach him wisdom and skills which made him most successful. Such spirit-filled men as Bezaleel were also the writers of God's written Word, His second means of communication. God told men upon whom His spirit was what He wanted written and then they used their vocabularies and penned His Word. God is the author. The men with God's spirit were the writers.

Why did God choose the written Word as His second means of communication? First of all, it preserved His Word and His will for the future; and secondly, it established His Word and will in the minds of the people.

Farmers used to shake hands over a fence with their neighbors and agree upon certain matters. But how many businessmen today follow such a practice? Generally they desire a long, written contract which covers any possible "loopholes." A contract or written document establishes an agreement. Similarly, the written Word of God establishes His will and preserves it for the future.

(Isaiah 30:8 KJV) Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:

(Proverbs 22:20 and 21 KJV) Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Again the purpose of God's written Word is expressed within itself. It preserves God's spoken Word for future generations so that His people can know exactly what the prophets said. It causes them to be certain of God's will. Having a written document, the believer is assured of his beliefs. The extent of a person's studying this document, therefore, determines the measure to which he or she can know and make use of the information contained in it.

(Luke 1:1-4 KJV) Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first [anothen — from above], to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

The distinguishing characteristic which made Luke qualified to write the scriptures was God's spirit. Many other writers were eyewitnesses, but Luke's source was from above, God's communicating to him. He, along with the other writers of the Bible, had perfect understanding from above, not from worldly sources. Verse 4 again expresses the purpose: for the reader absolutely to know the things he has been taught.

(John 20:30-31 KJV) And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The Word of God is written that man may know for certain and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the incarnate Word. The written Word makes known the incarnate Word, the Christ. The purpose of the written Word from Genesis 3:15 to Revelation 22:21 is to make known the Messiah. In the Old Testament he was the promised seed, the Messiah which Israel expected to deliver them. In the Gospels he was the king who had come to deliver Israel. In Acts and the epistles, he is seated at the right hand of God having consummated deliverance for the believers. In the Book of Revelation, he will return as lord of lords in judgment of all. As we believe the written Word regarding God's Son, Jesus Christ, we have life through his name.

All of God's Word is perfect: His Son, the spoken Word, and the written Word as it was originally inspired.

(II Timothy 3:16 KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God…

All the written Word is "given by inspiration of God" or is God-breathed (theopneustos). Similarly, II Peter 1:21 declares that "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." The Scriptures, God's written Word, were written by men who had the spirit of God.

(Galatians 1:11-12 KJV) But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

(Psalms 12:6 KJV) The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

The words of God are pure. So how could they be purified or made more pure? They cannot. Psalms 12:6 has words omitted by ellipsis and consequently it has been misunderstood. The literal truth of the last part of the verse is "as silver tried in a furnace, the words of earth are purified seven times." Man's words are not pure. Therefore, such words could not be used to communicate God's words unless they were first purified. So when men of God spoke or wrote God's Word, they used their own vocabularies purified seven times. Consequently, although it is God's perfect Word, the reader can still detect the individual differences in style and vocabulary of the individual writers.

God's will is for the Church to enjoy the benefits of His revealed Word in all its perfection and beauty as holy men of God spoke it and wrote it. The original "God-breathed" Word was without error. The vocabulary was clearly that of the individual writers, but the truth of the Word was that of one author, who is God. Frederick Scrivener, a nineteenth-century textual critic, explained the individuality of the Scriptural writers in these words:.

…In St. Pauls' Epistles we note the profound thinker, the great scholar, the consummate orator: St. John pours forth the simple utterings of his gentle, untutored, affectionate soul: in St. Peter's speeches and letters may be traced the impetuous earnestness of his noble yet not faultless character. Their individual tempers and faculties and intellectual habits are clearly discernible, even while they are speaking to us in the power and by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

But someone asks, "Don't references by the New Testament writers to scripture refer only to the writings of the Old Testament?" No, they refer to their own writings on the same level as those of the Old Testament.

(Romans 16:25-26 KJV) Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

(2 Peter 3:1-2 KJV) This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

(2 Peter 3:15-16 KJV) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

These writers viewed their own and each other's writings as the Word of God. The prophets referred to in these verses cannot be Old Testament prophets who did not know the significance of the Mystery which in the first century was "now" being made manifest. The prophets were individuals living concurrently with the writing of the New Testament.

(1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

The writers of the New Testament knew the words which they spoke and wrote were not their own, but were inspired of God. Because they were God's words, God warns readers against adding to, subtracting from, and changing the written Word.

(Deuteronomy 4:2 KJV) Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

(Proverbs 30:5-6 KJV) Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

(Revelation 22:18-19 KJV) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

(Galatians 1:8 KJV) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

If God is perfect, then His Word must also be perfect in every detail. Therefore no one has a right to add to His Word, subtract from it, or change it in any way. However, through the centuries man has added to, subtracted from, and changed the words of the Scriptures to suit himself, just as the serpent led Eve to do in Genesis 3. After the serpent had questioned the integrity of God's Word and caused Eve to consider his viewpoint, she played the role that every text corrupter has played ever since. A close comparison of the text in Genesis 3:2 and 3 and Genesis 2:16 and 17 reveals this truth.

An English translation of the Hebrew:

God's speaking to Adam Eve's and Serpent's varying God's words.
Genesis 2:16 and 17:
Of all trees of the garden
Genesis 3:2 and 3
Of the fruit of the trees of the garden
eating you may eat we may eat
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden
you (singular) shall not eat it you (plural) shall not eat from it
neither shall you touch it
For in the day of your eating from it dying you shall die peradventure you die

The first error Eve made was changing the word "all" to "fruit." Perhaps she was trying to clarify God's text, so her listener would understand what God meant.

Next, she omitted a word. The original "eating you may eat" in the Hebrew is the same word used twice for emphasis. But Eve reduced it to one word. Her error destroyed the emphatic original which emphasized her freedom to eat.

The third error involved assimilation of the passage to the natural setting of the tree as expressed in Genesis 2:9, "in the midst of the garden." Assimilation of similar (not identical) passages to harmonize one verse with another has been the cause of numerous textual errors.

The fourth error involved a change from the singular to the plural, "You (plural) shall not eat from it." Perhaps she was improving the grammar to include herself in the command since she was not around when the command was originally given. Text corrupters have changed pronouns, tenses, moods, and word order to "improve" the grammar, to put it in current vernacular, to rid the text of Semitic expressions, to adapt it to their personal beliefs, or to include or exclude themselves from the subject.

Next Eve made an intentional addition to the text: "neither shall you touch it." These words are totally foreign to the original command. Marginal notes and traditions like these were often inserted into the text. Furthermore, the words inserted are legalistic which are designed to replace the freedom Eve deflated previously (her second change — "You may eat"). Many deliberate forgeries with a legalistic flavor have been inserted by those copying the text.

Finally, Eve came to the point every willful scribe comes to. She introduced a dogmatic alteration which was exactly opposite to the original. Instead of "dying you shall die" (emphatic) she said "peradventure you die" (a possibility). Maybe you will die. Maybe there is life after death. Perhaps there is no resurrection. The same change of doctrine took place during the time of Paul: "…of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already…" (II Timothy 2:17 and 18). The same kind of error appears in the writings of Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch just forty years after II Timothy was written. This type of error is the most dangerous and the most difficult to recognize because it has been adopted by so many theologians that the passing of it into the text was generally unobstructed. Nevertheless, these forgeries are discernible in the Word since they do not flow with the many clear verses on the subject.

When men late in the first century failed to recognize the integrity of God's Word as it was given to the apostles, they began changing it to suit their own thinking. As early as the second and third centuries, the manuscripts of the New Testament contained so many variations that Origen, a third-century church leader who lived in both Alexandria and Caesarea, said:

Nowadays, as is evident, there is a great diversity between the various manuscripts, either through the negligence of certain copyists, or the perverse audacity shown by some in correcting the text, or through the fault of those who, playing the part of correctors, lengthen or shorten it as they please.

It is obvious that many text corruptions were already present in these first two centuries. Furthermore, the earliest manuscripts which we have today are two almost complete Greek uncials, and two partial Aramaic texts in Estrangelo script from the fourth century and less than fifty fragments (most are only a few verses) from the third and fourth centuries. The solution to the problem in recovering the original text then is to go beyond the existing manuscripts and the text corruptions of the early centuries.

The manuscripts, translations, and versions which we have today contain many errors: some intentional; others unintentional. However, the general thread of truth contained in the Bible is not lost. Where there appear to be discrepancies, the researcher must compare the texts keeping foremost in his mind the integrity of the original God-breathed Word. No scripture may be interpreted or expounded so as to be incongruent or contradictory to any other scripture. All textual variants must be considered in light of this axiom. A textual theory which does not take into account the divine origin of the text can never ascertain the original documents.

Some critics say that most deliberate textual changes were introduced into the text by A.D. 200. This is significant in the history of the text since:

  1. doctrines of the second-century church differ considerably from the first-century as seen in the variance of writings,
  2. roots of second-century doctrinal error can be seen in the late first-century apostasy, and
  3. changes in church doctrine are directly proportional to changes in the Biblical text.

Differences between New Testament doctrine and second-century writings are evident. Pagan customs were adopted by Christian groups, legalism displaced justification by faith, belief in life after death was substituted for the hope of Christ's return and the resurrections, love of suffering and death developed, and changes were made in Christology.

Roots of this error can be seen in II Timothy. All Asia turned from Paul (II Timothy 1:15). Men said the resurrection had passed (II Timothy 2:17 and 18). Leaders left Paul (II Timothy 4:0ff). Men turned to myths (II Timothy 4:4). Regarding the next forty years, Christian history is silent. When writing resumed in the early second century, the doctrine of the church had changed. These changes in doctrine (witnessed by the writings of Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin, and others) are similar to the changes (deliberate forgeries) in the New Testament manuscripts during the second century.

The love of suffering and death as seen in Ignatius' letter to the Romans is certainly different from the New Testament's treatment of death as an enemy (I Corinthians 15:26). This attitude, coupled with the belief in life after death influenced by the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus (II Timothy 2:17 and 18), led to changes in the New Testament text.

(1 Timothy 4:10 KJV) For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach [oneidizometha], because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

In the Stephen's text as well as the majority of Greek manuscripts, Aramaic manuscripts, and Coptic manuscripts, this reading "suffer reproach" is preserved. However, many of the old uncials and certain cursives read agonizometha, "we fight." This is an athletic term used seven other times in the New Testament (five of which are in Paul's writings). It is used in I Timothy where believers are instructed to "fight the good fight of faith." Oneidizo, "to reproach," is used nine other times but not once in Paul's writings to the Church. Changing from "we fight" to "we are reproached" is an obvious softening of the words by a second-century text corrupter who saw much reproach in the persecutions but had little fight left for the spiritual contest.

Similarly, a scribe in the late first century or early second century added the word "death" to John 21:19, believing there was glory in death.

(John 21:19 KJV) This spake he [Jesus], signifying by what death [thanato] he [Peter] should glorify God…

This addition to the text has remained in almost every manuscript since. Only a couple of late cursive manuscripts preserve the reading which omits "death" and the original hand of several omit the verse entirely. There are no other scriptures which indicate glory in death, but rather there is glory in the resurrection (Lazarus, Christ, I John 3:2, for examples). Christ told Peter in verse 18 of John 21 that when he was young he did as he wanted to, but when he would grow up (spiritually), he would depend on another (God) to gird him and bring him where God willed, not Peter. This he said signifying by what means Peter would glorify God. Peter would glorify God by following Jesus Christ. Then Jesus said in verse 19, "Follow me."

Truth has only one interpretation, which is self-evident and not subject to critical examination. Truth itself can be ascertained, but not analyzed. Men's words and the variations man has introduced into the Biblical text may be analyzed, but not the truth inherent in the text.

Through studying the Word on the basis of Biblical research principles and a God-breathed original, we can again declare the truth as originally given in the first century. A system of Bible translation which takes only the external evidence (MSS) into consideration without weighing the inherent evidence of the Scriptures fails to produce the best translation. No translator can translate accurately if he fails to understand the subject concerning which a word or words are used. All translators should work from the inside to the outside. All manuscripts have the words or marks of having been in the hands of ecclesiastical men, men who have amended the text to support their stand. A researcher must consider the inherent accuracy of the text and then seek to convey the exact thoughts and meanings of the original in current vernacular. Such a rendering is a literal translation according to usage.

Most people would look at even one of the books of the Bible, let alone the whole Bible, and declare it to be "bigger than I am able to comprehend." Who can comprehend God in full? Yet through Biblical research of God's written Word, we can come to a greater understanding of God's will as those who have gone before us in research and teaching. Truly our times are a reformation in Biblical research.

To delve further into these truths, let us consider what the Scriptures say about themselves.

(2 Timothy 3:16 KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Not just select verses, but all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and it is profitable, according to II Timothy 3:16. The words of people may not always be profitable, but all Scripture is God-inspired and profitable.

(2 Peter 1:20-21 KJV) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The Greek word rendered "prophecy" in II Peter 1:20 and 21 is derived from a verb that means "to speak forth" or "to speak out," and the Greek word rendered "Prophecy" is used in the Bible of that which is spoken forth or that which is spoken out. According to verse 20, that prophecy which is specifically referred to in this record is the "Prophecy of the scripture," that is, that which was spoken forth and which was also written in the Scripture.

Verse 20 also notes that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. The reason it is not of any private interpretation is given in verse 21, which says that the prophecy — referring to the prophecy of the Scripture — did not come "by the will of man," but rather it came to be because "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

The words rendered "the Holy Ghost" in verse 21 may also be rendered "the Holy Spirit," and they are used in verse 21 to refer to God. Since God moved people to speak His Word, then the prophecy of the Scripture is God's Word. Therefore, the Scriptures had one Author, Who is God, although there were many writers who wrote what the Author told them to write. The writers would have written using words from a language and vocabulary with which they were familiar, but the words that they wrote were words that God told them to write.

(Acts 17:10-11 KJV) And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

How appropriate it is that the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily rather than some other documents or opinions to see if what Paul and Silas were saying was true. The prophecy of the Scripture was written by holy men of God who were moved by the Holy Spirit, and the Bereans searched the Scriptures as a checkpoint for what others taught.

Taking into account that the words in the Scriptures as they were originally revealed were composed of words that God told people to write gives us to understand that those God-inspired words must have been perfect, complete, and internally harmonious as they were originally revealed to holy men of God. Therefore, the Scriptures as they were originally revealed must have been without any errors, discrepancies, or deficiencies. However, adding extraneous words or personal interpretation and opinion to the words in the Scriptures may disrupt the perfection and internal harmony of the God-inspired Scriptures. Thus it is necessary to search the Scriptures and to allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves. On that basis, there are certain considerations that are essential to the study of the God-inspired Scriptures.

  1. To search the Scriptures and to say what the Scriptures say without embellishing them with other opinions and misleading terms, it is necessary to consider the exact words that are written in each verse and to consider those words in their context. It would not be considered proper to misquote, to misrepresent, or to misuse material from any other author. Likewise, it would not be proper to use a verse from the Scriptures for a purpose other than that for which God, the Author, intended it to be used, as indicated by the exact words used in each verse and by its context. Therefore, in considering a record from the Scriptures, we should read and look carefully at the words in each verse and at the context, and we may even need to read the entire book in which that record was written to grasp its complete context.
  2. In addition to the context, it is necessary to consider other passages in the Scriptures that deal with the same subject or incident. Recognizing that God's words would be without any errors, discrepancies, or deficiencies as they were originally revealed to holy men of God, we would expect to find that passages in the Scriptures dealing with the same subject may augment and complement each other but that they would not contradict each other. One record may give certain details regarding a subject or an event, while another record dealing with the same subject or event may supply added details. For example, the four Gospels may record information regarding an identical event with complementary details regarding what occurred. One record may also state something literally while another record dealing with the same subject or event may state the same thing as a figure of speech. However, such divinely inspired differences in records about the same subject or event as well as the context of each of those passages may help us to learn more about that subject or event.
  3. Of equal importance is the consideration of other passages dealing with similar subjects or events that are not exactly the same. Similar subjects or events that are not exactly the same have irreconcilable differences. For example, some events recorded in the four Gospels may be similar to each other, but they are not the same identical event because they occurred at different times, at different places, or with different circumstances, as stated in the records themselves. Likewise, similar subjects from different passages of the Scriptures may not refer to the exact same subject because they were written at different times, at different places, to different people, about different people, about different situations, and for different reasons. Recognizing that those differences are by divine design, we should consider the exact words in each passage that indicate differences in time, place, sequence, people, and circumstances.
  4. Another consideration is an author's privilege to tie related subjects together outside of their chronological order. God, as the Author of His Word, has the same privilege, and thus not all events recorded in the Scriptures may be in chronological order. This characteristic is especially noteworthy in the four Gospels where some events are not recorded in chronological order. Sequencing of concurrent and consecutive events that are recorded outside their chronological order requires the careful consideration of times, locations, and other information given in the records.
  5. There are also forms of expressions in the Scriptures that may appear to be unusual. Since the Scriptures were written thousands of years ago in other languages and other cultures, it is necessary to become acquainted with the vocabulary used in the Scriptures and the peculiarities of the Bible languages. The Scriptures would have been written in the language and vocabulary of the holy men of God who were moved by God to write exactly what He told them to write, as noted previously. Terms in the Scriptures were sometimes used to refer to something different from the same terms as they have been used in other writings. The context and other occurrences of those terms in the Scriptures may help us to understand how those terms are used in the Scriptures.
  6. Other peculiarities of the Bible languages include figures of speech and customs that were used in the lands and times of the Bible. Figures of speech were often used in those languages to state the information in an unusual or non literal sense in order to draw the reader's attention to what was being said. Customs of the lands and times of the Bible were also used to draw upon those things that the original writers and readers were familiar with and that vividly portrayed the Word of God to them. Considering such forms of expressions that are used in the Scriptures is necessary to learning what the Scriptures say.
  7. There are, of course, variations among the many translations of the Bible, and it may be necessary to consult the manuscripts, printed texts, and translations of the Scriptures, as well as concordances, lexicons, dictionaries, and other resources. However, it is especially important to consider all resources in light of the biblical record, its context, and other passages dealing with the same subject in order to understand what God originally revealed to holy men of God.

These are essential considerations in our approach to the study of what the Scriptures say. The studies of the Scriptures on these web pages are presented for consideration, and they are not the final word on a particular subject. The Scriptures themselves as they were originally revealed are the Word of God, and certainly God's Word ought to be consulted and considered as the final word, the accurate word, and the reliable word on these subjects. I pray that these studies will help us to grow in our understanding and appreciation of God's wonderful Word.

If you are interested in gaining a practical understanding of what it means to work God's Word from the inside to the outside using the principles discussed here, click on this topic entitled "Five Crucified" and work it for yourself. This particular topic is easily understood and the underlying truth and integrity of God's Word is dynamically preserved.

 

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The scripture used throughout this web site is quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. All explanatory insertions by the webmaster within a scripture verse are enclosed in brackets. All Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic words are transliterated into English and italicized