Friday, August 24, 2012

Scripture interprets Scripture

In my study today, I came across a troubling verse - Acts 13:48 "All who were appointed for eternal life believed."  This was from Paul's first missionary journey.  My first reaction - what?  only certain people are appointed for eternal life??  But, then, I was told by my instructor, Beth Moore in the study "To Live is Christ", to allow scripture to interpret scripture.  Here's what we found:
  • 2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but EVERYONE to come to repentance.(NIV) (emphasis mine)
  • John 1:12-13 - Yet to ALL who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (NIV) (emphasis mine)
Beth Moore goes on to show us the meaning of the word "appointed".
Tasso, the original word for appointed is used figuratively in the New Testament and means "to set in a certain order".
She goes on to say that a paraphrase of Acts 13:48 might help.
"When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed (next in order) for eternal life believed." In other words, the Jews in Pisidian Antioch had been given their opportunity; and now it was the Gentile's turn. 
This struck me this morning.  In recent weeks, I've become increasingly concerned over biblical illiteracy.  Some methods of bible study encourage you to read a passage, observe it (whatever jumps out at you), and then apply it to your life.  Through teachers like Beth Moore and Kay Arthur (Precepts), I've learned never to take anything at face value.  Dig deeper.  To the above method of Read, Observe, Apply, I add Investigate.  Find out what the scripture means.  Here are some ways you can do that:
  1. Read the entire passage to grasp the context.
  2. Look up words in their original form, like we just did for "appointed"
  3. Allow scripture to interpret scripture.  Don't just take a commentator's word for what it means - many of them disagree!
  4. Investigate - ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, how
The best way I know to investigate scripture is Precepts, which means Truths.  This method uses scripture to interpret scripture, using Greek and Hebrew definitions of words.  You can find studies for individual and group settings at

I challenge you when reading the scriptures, don't take verses and claim them by themselves without investigating the truth, the context.  The example above shows where one could easily be confused by examining just one verse, and not knowing the true meaning of the word "appoint".  Allow God's Precepts, His Truths, to come alive to you through His Word.  Allow Him to be your Instructor, using His text - the Scriptures.

May God's blessings be upon you as you investigate His Word.

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