Greetings truth seeker. In my last article I talked about how to read the bible. In this article I will elaborate on the levels of Biblical interpretation to help you understand what to look for in scripture and to know where you stand with understanding it. A majority of the different Christian sects come out of these different levels of Biblical interpretation. There are seven levels of Biblical interpretation with each one leading to the other smoothly unless the interpreter gets comfortable with his knowledge. Hopefully after you read this you will be able to identify who you can trust to help you on your biblical journey. You should be able to see who should be teaching the bible, and who shouldn’t be. Nonetheless you will be able to read the bible on your own without much help.
- Reading at face value story book.
- Reading and looking for word definitions.
- Reading to find moral and spirituality meanings.
- Reading to understand cultural differences.
- Reading to understand historical significance.
- Reading to understand prophecy.
- Reading to apply biblical concepts to your life.
Face Value Interpretation.
The first level of Biblical interpretation is really basic. This is simply reading the Bible at face value. Not giving much thought to answer any of the questions who, what, when, where, why and how. This person is more interested in getting the basic plot of scripture. He or she may walk away from the Bible and think it isn’t important and find some other religion to follow. Most of them say they’ve read it but don’t like it or they found a better religion. This isn’t an in depth study at all, they basically just looked at it and walked away.
In some cases a person may like to stay at this level. However, if the individual never challenges themselves to look deeper into scripture they will not have much respect for the Bible. It is good to teach children on this level because they only need to understand the basic plot at a young age.
Looking for Word Definitions.
The second level of biblical interpretation is trying to understand the definitions of the words used. This person isn’t all basic like the first but he or she is aware that there are deeper meanings to almost every word, and the text may mean something different if the true definition is revealed. This is a good level to be at when starting to read the Bible because the biblical text was translated from 3-4 different languages. The true meanings are distorted by the language barrier and we may miss some scriptural importance if we ignore this type of interpretation.
Most adults should start reading the bible at this level. Its a good idea to have a Strong’s Concordance, a Greek and English Bible, and an Etymology dictionary. A pen and notebook for jotting down information is crucial to not get lost in the scriptures. The Biblical word “virgin” means Maiden, an unmarried woman, not a women who never had sex. Although most of their maidens never had sex.
Spiritual and Moral Interpretation.
The third type of interpretation is reading for spiritual meanings and moral justice. This interpretation is good and can go far with implementing the moral aspects of the Bible to ones life. The issue with this is that the reader might get comfortable with this level of interpretation and believe that that’s all the Bible is. Most people are stuck at this level of interpretation. This is what most theologians and preachers base all their teachings on. It can become dangerous to stay on this level because after a while the reader will end up taking verses out of context and giving meaning to a verse that it doesn’t actually mean.
Furthermore, individuals can accidentally or purposefully twist scripture to represent what they want instead of accepting its rightful meaning. Hypocrites, liars and wolves in sheep’s clothing can arise out of this level. If interpreted at this level the right way, the individual will be morally sound and spiritually mature.
Cultural Difference Interpretation.
The fourth level is the start of greater knowledge. Reading scripture with the understanding that it is culturally different than our modern society will help the reader dig deeper. They will be intrigued by the differences and similarities between the two. This individual accepts and prefers the original biblical meanings of scriptures, even the hard to read ones. While most people are trying to apply their modern culture to biblical culture, this person is doing the opposite.
They also realize that the bible and its culture is tied together through the biblical law. They know that this is important to all the biblical characters and can see the narrative through the eyes of the prophets now.
Individuals stuck on this level will try to implement a type of Christ like culture but they might accidently overlook some. We see this with the multiple Christian denominations. All are right but at the same time all are wrong. All of them highlight a specific cultural aspect of the bible and make it their doctrine while ignoring the other 300 important cultural aspects. This is bad because now they are lukewarm. A person at this level of interpretation needs to slow down and keep searching. Keep trying to elevate thyself through the other levels.
The fifth level of Biblical interpretation and the most ignored is understanding the relevance of its historical significance. Yes, aside from most modern belief, the Biblical accounts have happened, they are real accounts. The issue is that those accounts are not highlighted in most history classes in the world. Schools literally skip over these historical accounts as if they didn’t happen leaving a first time biblical reader thinking that this is all a myth. However, the reader who can see the historical characteristics within the text and researches it, is aware that those events most likely happened and are hidden from the public. This individual probably knows more history than the average person and upon reading the bible can see these events and understand them more clearly than someone with just a public high school education.
The city of Ur was a real city in ancient Sumer over 6,000 years ago. Genesis 11:31.
The bad news is that this person might end up believing every conspiracy theory out there and claiming some historical evidence as biblical when it really isn’t. Even at this level of interpretation we have to be careful about being over analytical where we think a correlation is a fact. This person is a whistle-blower and is eager to tell everyone regardless of how they feel. They may also think very highly of themselves because they know and understand more than the average person.
The sixth level of biblical interpretation is reading to understand prophecy. Some people who have read a majority of the Biblical text can get a decent glimpse of the biblical prophecies. A well understood prophecy interpreter can identify prophecies that have passed and the ones to come. They understand the significance in biblical symbols, important numbers, angelic and demonic intervention. This person should know how Christ operates based on what he has done before in scripture. Being able to reveal a prophecy is great, they can help many people watch the times and get ready for that one moment we’ve all been waiting for, judgement.
Accept some people will be stuck on level three biblical interpretation trying to jump to level six prophecy interpretation and accidentally or purposefully teach a prophecy the wrong way or switch the actual meaning of the prophecy. This individual who doesn’t properly train themselves through the scriptures will lead many by the millions astray. They will make scripture look more like a fantasy come true rather than a real event that will soon come to pass. For instance the rapture doctrine….. Yeah that’s not really gonna happen. No one is going up into the sky before the great tribulation. It’s the first resurrection of the saints, not a rapture of the living righteous. Its a big misunderstanding of scripture
Applying Biblical Knowledge.
The seventh and final level of Biblical interpretation is having the knowledge, understanding, wisdom and eagerness to apply biblical culture to ones life. This is the most exciting and aggravating place to be. This person has properly elevated themselves through the first six levels of biblical interpretation. They enjoy the Biblical text and value its historical significance. They understand the prophecies, love the culture and have made a conscious decision to become one with Christ. This person will lay hold of that biblical covenant and keep the Sabbath. Many of them will refuse to participate in any pagan cultural celebrations, foods and people.
This person understands the difference between clean and unclean aspects of life. They are kind, level headed, well mannered, respectful, patient and resourceful. Applying biblical culture is wonderful but it does have its challenges. Since this is a pagan world biblical culture isn’t accepted. Persons at this level are largely ridiculed, ignored or even punished for being like Christ. Sometimes the negativity that they may experience will deter them from fully living a biblically cultured life.
He or she has to remember the first basic teachings of the bible in order to move forward, which is to be humble, do not want more than what is necessary and know that your reward is greater than the pagans.
As we conclude, the seven levels of interpretation is necessary to a student of the Bible. The student must be patient with himself and never get used to a certain level. Strive to move forward for accurate grounding in scripture. That way non of you will fall prey to the man who builds his house on the sand. Once you’ve elevated yourself through these seven levels properly, then you get to preach.