Knowing Scripture

Luke 1: 1-41 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus ; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. 

Have you ever had anyone ask you if the bible is true or said to you “how can you believe that book?” Maybe some of you have.  I was asked that question many years ago and I really didn’t have an answer that I felt confident about. I really couldn’t defend my faith and I resolved to study scripture so that as Peter said in 1 Peter 3:15  “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”  I think that I can give a good account for the hope that is within me but I’m still learning and growing in Scripture.  Perhaps Theophilus was asked a similar question and went to Luke for an answer.  Luke had an answer ready in the Gospel that bears his name.

Although very little is known about Luke, we can say that he was a seeker of truth as he refers to knowing the exact truth in verse 4.   The early Church Fathers ( Eusebius and Jerome) claimed he was a native of Antioch. Luke was a close companion of the Apostle Paul right up to the time of Paul’s martyrdom.  The Apostle Paul said that Luke was a physician. This would probably explain the painstaking investigation that Luke talks about in the first four verses of His Gospel.  Luke’s main sources were eyewitness’s and the Apostles themselves.  It is also very important to note that while Luke wrote this Gospel, God superintended and guided over Luke and the other scripture writers so that while writing according to their own styles and personalities the result was God’s written Word.  His Word is free from error, authoritative and trustworthy in the original autographs.  

I taught a class and God’s Grace called Bible 101 and I dusted off some of my notes and thought it might be a good time to share them with you. I hope that they help you when studying God’ word so that when asked you might be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you with gentleness and reverence. 

If you can read the Denver Post newspaper, you can read the Bible. For most of us, the problem is not being able to read the Bible it is being motivated to read it. One nationally recognized Bible teacher estimates that 80 percent of Christians have never personally read the Bible cover to cover. The Bible is God’s personal message to us.  We should all read and study it if for no other reason than God commands it. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”  Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 When reading the Bible there are several helpful rules to keep in mind that will make your Bible reading more enjoyable and more rewarding. 

Rule Number 1 - The Bible describes things as they appeared to be not in exact  terms. This is phenomenological Language.  For instance, if the weatherman says the sun rises in the east, he is speaking phenomenologically.  Scientifically speaking, the sun does not really “rise’ in the east. It just appears that way. The Bible is not a science book but when it does speak about science it has not been proven to be in error. 

Rule Number 2 - Interpret the Bible according to the normal rules for grammar, syntax, content and speech. Read the bible like any other book. Be careful however to notice the use of metaphor and hyperbole which is frequently used . An example of metaphor is found in Psalm 98:8 which says “ Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.” Rivers do not have hands and  mountains can’t carry a tune..... a metaphor is being used.An example of hyperbole is found in Matthew 9:35 which says “Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” Does Matthew mean that every single village was visited? Maybe, or maybe he was using hyperbole like a newspaper that says “the entire city turned out for the Super Bowl victory parade.”

Rule Number 3 - When the Bible has incomplete information it is not necessarily incorrect. Many people have set out to disprove the Bible and have not succeeded. New information is always being discovered that further validates the Bible.  When the Bible appears to conflict with “modern science” it is better to await the appearance of additional information than make a quick judgment. 

Rule Number 4 - Be careful to determine what is actually said in a passage and what is not said but implied. For example John 20:19 says “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said “Peace be with you.”  This verse has been used by some to say that Jesus did not have a solid body but that He floated through the door. It does not say anything about that. It is possible that He did, but it is also possible that the door being shut is included to highlight the fact that the disciples were afraid of being found by the Jews. Remember to read each passage in context and do not jump to conclusions that are not stated. 

Greetings from Bavaria!

Matt Schneider

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