Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Steps to the Study of Scripture (Part I)

The Process

The process for effective and beneficial study of the Bible is really very simple. The process involves two (2) basic areas of theological or biblical aspects: exegesis and hermeneutics. Please do not be afraid of these terms nor shun them.

Exegesis comes from the Greek word ἐξήγησις which is a derivative of ἐξηγεῖσθαι, meaning “to lead out.” The idea is that one “draws out” the biblical meaning of a specific passage. This is in juxtaposition to eisegesis which means “to lead into.” More specifically it means to bring presuppositions, meanings, interpretations, or personal biases to a given text.

The specific goal of biblical exegesis or bible study is to “explore the original meaning of the text which then leads to discovering the significance or relevance for today. Exegesis is the careful, systematic, and analytical study of a biblical passage to discover the original intended meaning in order to make a direct application to today’s setting.

Now, lest you think this process is just for the pastor or teacher in the local church, allow me to state emphatically that this is the job or responsibility of every true or biblical Christian. When you are thinking of the pastor’s job of studying the bible in order to prepare studies or sermons, you are thinking of homiletics.

You, as a believer, have the responsibility to study your bible in order to determine God’s original intended meaning so that you can apply those truths to your everyday life situations.

“These Jews were more receptive than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, NRSV)

(II Timothy 3:14-17) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

(Psalms 119:11, ESV) I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

(Psalms 18:11, ESV) Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

The terms exegesis and hermeneutics have been used interchangeably. However, hermeneutics is a more widely defined discipline of interpretation theory: hermeneutics includes the entire framework of the interpretive process, encompassing all forms of communication: written, verbal and nonverbal, while exegesis focuses primarily on the written text.

I do not mention this to intimidate you nor in attempt to show you that I might know something. I only mention this so that I might demonstrate to you, your responsibility to “rightly study” or exegete a passage of Scripture

Your responsibility is twofold: first, you must discover the original intended meaning of the biblical writer and second, make application of that original intended meaning to your life today. You, as a biblical believer must extract from a passage of scripture the essentials that pertain to sound interpretation of Scripture in order to bring that interpretation to bear upon your personal life.

The Exegetical Task

In order to effectively study the bible, you must invoke an encounter between the word of God from the first century and yourself in the twenty-first (21) century. The exegetical task discovers the meaning of a passage of scripture in the first century and then applies that meaning to the present. Do not be afraid of appropriate terms, meanings, or definitions. Do not be afraid of the process of studying your bible!

To be continued Wednesday, July 18th, 2012


Persis said...

Good post! And thanks for clarifying the distinction between homiletics and exegesis.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Most informative Gregg and I learned two new words today.


Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see this concise and helpful post. I've been wanting to write one on this topic too, but you have already done such a good job.

Glad to see the distinctions between exegesis and hermeneutics and homiletics explained. I've noticed that some study groups have the latter two terms confused. Thanks Gregg.

Larri SeamsInspired said...

Excellent post, Gregg! I love that you've pointed out it is our responsibility as Christians to study our Bibles. Being raised Catholic, I was only told to listen to the priest's interpretations, that he would explain what the bible meant. It wasn't until my teen years and my salvation, that someone gently explained I needed to look into the verses myself. I'm forever grateful for that Christian friend. Here's praying that many will see your post and have their eyes opened.