The word “canon”, as used to describe the books of the Bible, means – “a body of rules, principles, standards. The books of the Bible recognized by the Christian church as genuine and inspired”(Webster’s Dictionary). The question arises: how do we know that only the sixty-six books contained in the canon are the only inspired books and that there are no others? The answer to this necessitates a very careful examination and comparison of the Biblical writings with the other writings that are presented, recognizing the fact that all facts must be substantiated throughout the complete manuscript.
INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE
Hermeneutics is the study of the correct principles of Scripture interpretation. Although most of the Bible is written in simple language, some passages are a challenge to the greatest of minds. The doctrine of interpretation does not declare that there are no problems interpreting the Scriptures.
The first most important principle is to differentiate between an observation of what the text says, the interpretation of what it means, and the application to be applied today. There is only one primary meaning to each passage, while the implications and applications may be numerous. Correct interpretation reveals what God is saying and helps to provide a link between ancient and modern times, and the overall rule is to accept each statement with a general and accepted meaning that makes sense. Let us examine seven principles, not complete, that will be an aid to Bible Study:
- Trace the truth all the way through the Bible.
- God has used human terms to reveal His point of view to us.
- Follow through all the passages on a given subject then extract an acceptable conclusion.
- All words, grammar, expressions should be examined in their proper context.
- Use the same grammatical and historical interpretation throughout the Scriptures; do not “spiritualize”
- The Bible teaches only one system of faith – eternal salvation; a “falling away” doctrine is not taught. There are different emphases and dispensational distinctions that should be observed. Cross references and parallel passages should be compared.
- The final authorization for any controversy must be the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek for the New Testament.
As physical objects are illuminated with light, so the Holy Spirit illuminates the inspired Word of God giving us a true understanding as we follow the principles of interpretation outlined previously. The Holy Spirit will give us the understanding that we require as we trust Him to open our spiritual eyes to what God is saying: “but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth….As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him.” .
God can use any method to speak to mankind but He has done so through His one perfect Book – The Holy Bible. Since the Bible is inerrant (free from error) and infallible (incapable of error), it is the final authority for our Christian faith and Christian living.