Some claim we can prove anything from Scripture, but God tells us to rightly divide the word of truth (2Ti 2:15), implying there’s a wrong, deceitful way to handle it. (2Co 4:2)
If all scripture is God’s Word, given by inspiration (2Ti 3:16), then we can’t pick and choose proof texts to prove a point while contradicting other verses; if our thesis is inconsistent with any portion of the Word of God, we haven’t proved anything.
The nature of language is that it is often imprecise; words have different connotations in different contexts, so we must carefully consider both the local and the entire context of Scripture when wrestling with any particular text. God generally says things in many different ways, so when looking at one context on a topic, compare scripture with scripture and look carefully at related contexts and counter examples as well as proposed proof texts. In theology, a text out of context is a pretext. Just because a word can mean a certain thing, doesn’t mean it does mean this in a given context.
We must also learn to reason correctly, to derive insight and wisdom from truth, leading us to more truth. (Lk 12:28) This is a learned skill, and not so common among us. We tend to feel more than we think, leaving our theology — our knowledge and beliefs about God — shallow and fragile.
I find wholesome theology a rare thing; I’ve never yet read a doctrinal statement which did not, in my view, evidently violate some portion of the Word of God. I could certainly be wrong, most likely am somewhere, and would love to know where so I could correct it. But I’m not surprised at finding so little understanding of God in religion. So few seek to know Him as He is. (Php 2:21)
One thought on “Rightly Dividing”
In summary, to rightly divide the Word of God, the interpretation:
– must not contradict any other scripture; we must be able to reconcile the interpretation with all of scripture without doing injustice to the context and/or grammar of any other biblical passage.
– must not force the grammar of the passage at hand or deviate from the plain meaning of all the words in the text, unless:
—–[A] doing so would necessarily be inconsistent with the immediate context, and
—–[B] a special/unique definition is reasonably required and/or understood from history and/or the larger context which validates and supports the wording of the immediate context.