The Interpretation Of Scripture -- By: Thomas K. Davis

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 060:238 (Apr 1903)
Article: The Interpretation Of Scripture
Author: Thomas K. Davis

The Interpretation Of Scripture

Prof. Thomas K. Davis

An unintelligent use of the Bible has greatly hindered the spread of pure Christianity. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and contain a perfect rule of faith and life. But to read the Bible without understanding it, is to waste one’s time; and to undertake to expound it toothers without understanding it, is to be a blind leader of the blind. A misinterpreted Bible is a principal source of error in the Christian world. It is, indeed, the stronghold of much of the error that is abroad. A rightly interpreted Bible is the only means of “saving knowledge and healthful civilization, “Many, not to say most, persons, who believe that the Bible contains a revelation from God, seem to cease exercising their reason as soon as they take up the sacred volume. They appear to regard everything contained in it as a direct address from the Almighty to themselves, and they feel as if the statements or directions are to be applied, in every case, literally to themselves and to their own circumstances. Now this blind and unintelligent reading of the Scriptures may be a grievous snare. A literal application to ourselves, in circumstances so widely different from those which existed when the statements were made, or the directions given, may lead us far astray.

The Sacred Writings were originally addressed, in dark periods, to rude peoples, whose point of view, and habits of thought, were entirely different, in many respects, from ours in gospel-enlightened lands. It would not be reason-

able, therefore, for us to apply to ourselves, word for word, and letter for letter, whatever the Divine Being caused to be communicated to them. But it is reasonable to say, that from what the Lord caused to be said to the ancient Jews, or to the primitive Christians, we may properly infer what he would say to us in our circumstances. Of course, whatever spiritual truth was made known to them, and whatever moral duties were enjoined upon them, were intended for all men, and for all time; because that which is spiritual, and that which is moral, is unchangeable. But, along with these spiritual truths and moral precepts, were given statements and directions which were formal and external in their nature, or local and transient in their application; and they cannot, therefore, be applied to ourselves and our times without harm.

Revelation was gradual and progressive. This truth becomes apparent as we read the Scriptures. Our Lord taught that truths are revealed as men are able to bear or to receive them. The Divine Being evidently adapted his communications to the ideas and capacities of the men to whom they were made. Thi...

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