Page 1

Principles of Interpreting the Bible Observation, Interpretation, Application (O-I- A) Method Bible 10

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? After good Observation work (6 Revealing Questions, Literary & Background work), the following guidelines should be used to determine an accurate interpretation of a given passage:

THEGOALOFINTERPRETATION:1 MEANING,MANY APPLICATIONS. WHAT WASTHEONETHINGTHEAUTHORWASTRYINGTO CONVEYTO THEORIGINALAUDIENCE? 1. Always interpret in the historical context. Answer: What did the author mean for the original readers? 2. Always remember that the objective of the interpreter (you) is to determine the meaning of the author in the cultural and historical context. GUIDELINES: 1. Interpret the bible like any other book – Don’t read into it and don’t sensationalize it. 2. Remember the book is a Divine book – it is authoritative (can be applied to our lives), without error, and has unity (it won’t contradict itself). 3. Remember Scripture is its own interpreter – use cross-references. 4. Interpret literally unless otherwise told to do so (similes, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, etc.) 5. Interpretation must correlate to other scriptures and be affirmed. 6. The Bible is a divine book, so one part won’t contradict another part. 7. The Bible is a divine book, so it’s revelation progressesover the time of the book. 8. You must determine whether a passage is normative (for all time) or prescriptive (just for those of a certain time period but not for today). 9. Don’t interpret the passagefor today – that moves to application. 10. Use the OT to help interpret the NT when appropriate.

Example: “That is some turkey!” a). A weird person. b.) A bird. c.) 3 strikes in a game of bowling. d.) A failure in a theatrical production. Exercise: Read Colossians 1:15. What does it mean that Jesusis the “firstborn over all creation”? A). Jesuswas born first in his family and so He is heir of all things. B). Jesuswas a created being. C). Jesusis supreme over all creation. D). Jesusexisted before all creation. Updated 10/25/09