Summary: How to Intepret Difficult Passages
How To Deal With Problems
In the Bible
1. Believe that the Bible is the word of God without error, completely true, and entirely inspired by God. Once you approach the scriptures with this presupposition it is just a matter of time before you will see that there are no contradictions, errors, or inconsistencies in the Bible.
2. Just because a problem cannot apparently be solved by one does not mean that there is something wrong with the scriptures. God may eventually reveal to us the solution in His time and for His sovereign purpose.
3. Believe that God’s word is as dependable as the character of God. It is impossible for God to lie.
4. We do not always have to insist that our interpretation is the absolutely correct one. We attempt to show a reasonable explanation for the meaning of scripture. It is never the scripture that is wrong but our understanding that is inadequate.
5. If there appears to be some contradiction in scripture we should reserve judgment. Even people are innocent until proven guilty.
6. When there are accusations of accuracy, truth, or credibility, its probably originating from the devil. Satan’s nature seeks to question, discredit, and undermine God’s authority. Satan has been a liar from the beginning.
7. Normally the truthfulness of the Bible is handled in introduction to the O.T. & N.T.. Here matters of internal and external criticism are dealt with in depth and breadth. If you want to deal at length with these matters read books like Stan Guthrie’s N.T. Introduction.
8. When different authors say things differently this does not mean there is a discrepancy in scripture. For example, Matthew says in 16:16, ``You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Mark says in 8:29, ``You are the Christ.’’ Luke says in 9:20, ``The Christ of God.’’ Realize that Matthew was emphasizing to Jewish readers that Jesus is their Messiah. He stresses the aspects of Jesus as the King. He is trying to show how Jesus in his ministry and life fulfilled the O.T. scriptures. Matthew stressed the Jewishness of the gospel. Matthew stresses the importance of how Jesus is from the Davidic lineage. Therefore Matthew is very sensitive to phrases like the kingdom of heave and our Father in heaven and as Jesus as the Son of David. His perspective would naturally emphasize the Son of the living God.
Mark, on the other hand, emphasizes more of what Jesus DID than what he SAID. Mark’s style is simple, succinct, brief, and fast moving. It reads almost like a newspaper. He uses the word immediately many times. When he says, ``You are the Christ.’’ he is emphasizing the cross, the importance of discipleship, commitment, and the servant’s role of Jesus as opposed to the rulership idea that the Roman Christian might have favored. He is keenly aware of the need to face persecution, suffering, and hardships. While stressing the humanity of Jesus, he does not neglect Jesus Christ deity as is seen in Mk. 8:29.
Luke, in contrast, addresses a Gentile audience with his theme of ``the gospel for everyman’’. He stresses how Jesus came from God to seek and save those who were lost, regardless of their background, education, culture, language, race, or religion. He emphasizes the warm, sensitive, and human side of Jesus. He reveals Jesus as the deliver, the Messiah whom people had waited centuries for. In Lk. 9:22 he stresses how as the Son of Man he shows how he must suffer. Christ was formerly a designation that was reserved for God alone. Here Luke chooses to stress that Jesus is originating from God’s purpose, identity, plans, and power. There is more than one way to express a truth. Its all a matter of perspective and view point!
9. Do not require that every scripture gives you a complete explanation on every aspect of a truth. Scripture promises that it contains everything we need to live life worthy of His calling, able to equip us for every good work, and adequate for our every need, but not necessarily every desire. God’s grace is always sufficient for His will in His way. Hudson Taylor once said, ``God’s will done in God’s way will not lack God’s support.
10. Some aspects of one account may not be relevant to an author’s explanation. For example, John may choose to emphasize the three times that Jesus asked Peter, ``Do you love me.’’ He thought that it was relevant, important, and germane to His theme to stress the importance of loving Jesus not just with phileo love (Friendship), but with agape love (God’s unconditional love) The writer’s purpose must always be considered in our interpretations. Each author has the prerogative to be selective in the accounts he describes.
11. Historical accounts were written with everyday language in N.T. times. Writing from a Greek or Hebrew perspective one would not require an exact transcription of everything that was said like some lawyers would require. The people of the Biblical days would communicate in natural conversational language not worrying about getting every single detail in its place. They used ``Phenomenal language’’-everyday language that speaks of things as they appear. ( McQuilken,p.207) So when the people said, ``The sun is rising, they were speaking from their unscientific but natural perspectives.