Berean Expositor
Quotable / Zingers




Principles of Right Division ©

When dealing with "words" and "language", certain rules or concepts must be applied for those "words" or that "language" to be intelligible.  If there were no methodical approach to the formulation and utilization of that language, it would be impossible for anyone to use it, let alone understand it for its intended purpose (i.e.,communication).  Language and its composite "words" are designed for one thing and that is communication.  Communication can be defined as,

"The exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior."*

*The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition Copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company

It is an "exchange"; something presented from one individual to another.  The Bible is GOD’s communication to us.  It is the expression of HIS thoughts and the presentation of HIS information.  In having this expression recorded by the written word, HE enabled others to view the expression of HIS thoughts.  Returning to the concept of "language", this can be defined as;

"1. a. The use by human beings of voice sounds, and often written symbols representing these sounds, in organized combinations and patterns in order to express and communicate thoughts and feelings.  b. A system of words formed from such combinations and patterns, used by the people of a particular country or by a group of people with a shared history or set of traditions."*

*The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition Copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Language is "written symbols representing sounds…. organized combinations and patterns…. a system of words formed from such combinations and patterns…. used by people…. with a shared history…"  Language possesses structure, order, grammar and style.  In order to understand the language, you must not only understand the individual words, but you must also understand the grammatical rules of sentence structure or syntax.  In other words, you must understand how to fit the words together in an intelligible sequence in order to make sense of or comprehend it.  There must be a methodical approach to the examination of the language in order to learn it.  In other words, there must be keys or guidelines to help you utilize the appropriate tools to fashion the words into logical sequences or patterns.  Now, this may be relatively easy when you are the one doing the communicating or writing.  You know what you want to say and how you want to say it.  However, when you are reading or hearing what someone else has said or written, then these concepts take on a whole new dimension.  I must ask myself,  "Do I understand what I am hearing or reading?"  "Are the conclusions I am drawing from what is being said true to form (i.e., are they what the speaker wants me to conclude and understand)?"  How do we know?

The problems that arise from miscommunication and misunderstandings are vast and have existed for eons.  We can’t avoid all miscommunication or misunderstanding.  That is one of the limitations to language; every speaker has a frame of reference and unless you can be in that person’s mind to see their frame of reference, there are going to be misunderstandings.  Nevertheless, we should deal with these limitations the best we can when they arise.

What about the Bible?  Can we understand what GOD has to say in HIS inspired Word?  The Bible is quite a unique book.  It asserts that it is the Word of GOD and as such, the words contained therein are "spiritual" (1 Cor. 2:12-14).  They are "words pertaining to the earth" (Psa. 12:6) but they are "refined" like silver, to the point that all the impurities are removed.  Although they are words printed with ink on a piece of paper, they are still spiritual.  Because these "words" are "spiritual", there is an element of spiritual insight that must be given by GOD (Psa. 119:18).  In other words, you could read the Bible till you could quote every word but still not arrive at a TRUE understanding or the meaning of it.  It is no different than walking through a food court and coming out on the other side still hungry; just because you went through the court doesn’t necessarily mean you were able to eat.  The spiritual insight could be to you or to the one who is teaching you (Luke 24:27,32; Neh. 8:8; Acts 8:30ff) but, nevertheless, it must still be there.

Now, is that all that is required – spiritual insight?  Well, that is a loaded question.  While it is true in principle, it is not solely true without examination.  In other words, you must examine that for which you desire the spiritual insight before the insight will come.  Much like Jesus Christ’s statement, "Seek and ye shall find".  If you don’t seek, you will never find.  Christ was also found on many occasions to say to the Pharisees, "Have ye not read…" Job acknowledged the greatness of GOD’s Word when he said that he "esteemed the words of his [GOD’s] mouth more than my necessary food".  Paul states in 2 Tim 2:15 that we are to "study to shew ourselves approved unto God…" What are we to seek?  What did the Pharisees not read?  What was the substance of Job’s confession?  What was Paul telling us to study?  The answer to all of these is one *#150 GOD’s Word! GOD expects us to read and study HIS Word.  It is only by reading and studying HIS book that you can ever hope to achieve an understanding of it.  Paul told Timothy, "Consider what I say and the Lord give thee understanding in all things".  It was Timothy’s responsibility to do the "considering".  Paul revealed the Word of God to Timothy; that is "what I say".  But it is the "Lord" that gives the understanding.  Does the Lord give understanding when you don’t consider?  I would conclude that HE does not.  Hence, we have to do our part and GOD will do HIS.

It is the "our part" that we want to deal with here.  In examining the Bible, we need an acceptable approach.  We need an approach that is methodical, logical, sensible, and one the does not ignore or transgress the rules of language and grammar.  Ideally, this approach should be relatively simple and basic without all the contrivances and complexities that mankind endeavors to put on anything it touches.  These contrivances and complexities are oftentimes outside the laws of language and violate the rules of grammar and syntax.  These alternative approaches are frequently invented to deal with apparent contradictions within scripture or are designed with the intent to support an existing theology.  They do nothing more than mar the truth and turn diamonds into dust.  They engender confusion and strife.  We want to avoid all of that in this presentation.  We desire to present keys or guidelines that are simple in themselves and support the interpretation that scripture gives of itself.  Another consideration in studying scripture is the realization that they were not written in our English tongue.  They were originally written in biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek (excepting the Septuagint – Greek version of the Old Testament).  The translation of words from one language to another can pose difficulties in attempting to provide accurate representations of word meanings and nuances.  In addition, there are also Eastern customs, mannerisms and idiomatic expressions (figures of speech) to consider in the overall examination of the Bible as it was written in an Eastern and antiquated culture.  All of these points must be taken into account when you read and study the Bible.

The principles presented in this section do nothing more than follow the normal sequence and progression of language.  When applied to understanding the Bible, it becomes evident that they’re value is incalculable.  They do not violate laws of grammar or syntax of language.  When they are applied without bias, they do not hinder or alter the message; they only unfold it.  We use the term "bias" as that is where we all find ourselves.  We are all biased to some degree (Prov. 21:2).  To the extent that we can neutralize our biases and receive from rather than project into what is written, we will TRULY see and TRULY understand.  The systematic approach we have found to be the most logical, easily applied, least biased and most true to form was that presented by Dr. E.W. Bullinger.  It supports the literality and genuine posture of the Bible and appears to be the most sensible and methodical approach.  We have used this method of biblical examination in our own personal study for years and through trial have found it to be trustworthy.  It truly allows the Bible to speak for and interpret itself to us.  The "Keys to Biblical Interpretation" is an Appendix that appears in a book on Christian sexual ethics entitled, "Sexual Ethics…A Biblical Perspective" written by K. Kent Miller, Roxana L. Miller and Mark A. Van Doren. The book is copyrighted but is yet at this time unpublished.  However it has been reproduced on this web site.  The material in this Appendix was taken from Dr.E.W. Bullinger’s book, "How to Enjoy the Bible".  We have simply condensed much of the information, with some minor additions.

GOD is a perfect GOD and a GOD of Truth (Deut 32:4; Isa 65:16).  HIS Word is perfect and true (Ps 12:6, 33:4, 119:140; John 17:17).  For the Word of GOD to be true and perfect, the words and order of the words must be perfect.  The Word of GOD attests to its own divine inspiration, as stated in II Tim 3:16, and we know from II Peter 1:20 that "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation . . . "

E.W. Bullinger wrote:

"The first great and essential principle which must be ever present with us, when we study the Word of God, as a whole, is not to treat it as something which we have to interpret, but as being that which God has given in order to interpret Himself and His will to us." [emphasis ours]

It is our responsibility as workmen to rightly-divide the word of Truth (II Tim 2:15).  The true word of GOD cannot contradict itself, so we must compare scripture with scripture(s) and word with word(s).  When we follow the principle and rightly-divide the Word of Truth, we then have the true Word.

  Keys To Biblical Interpretation (Appendix B)


  THE CHRISTIAN'S GREATEST NEED     Harden Not Your Hearts  
  The TWO NATURES        
        in the Child of God
  Sexual Ethics: A Biblical Perspective     Death No Gateway To Heaven  

"We write, however for a wider circle, and desire to place before them the testimony of all Scripture on this subject, believing that he who has the truth need not fear the fullest light, but will know beforehand, that if what he holds is truth, the fuller the search the fuller will be the confirmation.  Moreover, if his desire be honest, he will welcome the testimony of all scripture, so that should any error have crept into his creed it may be exposed and put away."  C.H. Welch from "Hell or 'Pure from the blood of all men'"