The Role of the Holy Spirit in Hermeneutics -- By: Roy B. Zuck
BSac 141:562 (Apr 84) p. 120
The Role of the Holy Spirit in Hermeneutics
[Roy B. Zuck, Associate Academic Dean, Associate Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary]
[Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from chapters 4 and 10 of the author’s book, The Holy Spirit in Your Teaching, rev. ed. (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, Victor Books, 1984), and used by permission.]
Hermeneutics, the science and art of biblical interpretation, is of primary concern to evangelicals because of their commitment to the inerrancy and authority of the Bible. The task of Bible interpreters is to seek to ascertain the meaning of Bible passages to their original hearers and readers and to determine how that meaning relates to readers today.1 Biblical scholars have wrestled and are wrestling with serious hermeneutical issues but comparatively little attention has been given to the Holy Spirit’s role in hermeneutics.
Since inaccurate interpretation of Scripture can lead to improper conduct, one must be sure he is interpreting properly. Adequate application of truth builds on an adequate understanding of truth. A distorted meaning of a Bible verse or passage may result in misguided living.
The Holy Spirit, as the παράκλητος (“Helper”; John 14:16, 26; 15:26), is available to help believers ascertain the correct meaning of the Bible’s statements, commands, and questions. He is involved in the hermeneutical process because He is “the Spirit of truth” who, Jesus said, “will guide…into all truth” (John 16:13). And as Paul wrote, “We have…the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Cor 2:12). John wrote, “His anointing teaches you about all [spiritual] things” (1 John 2:27). Probably “anointing” refers to the Holy Spirit; by metonomy the act of anointing stands for what is given in the anointing, namely, the indwelling Holy Spirit.
BSac 141:562 (Apr 84) p. 121
However, the Holy Spirit’s involvement in teaching believers and guiding them in the truth raises some thorny questions: If true learning comes by the Spirit’s inner working, does this mean that one’s understanding of Scripture is ultimately a subjective matter? If a person senses the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart, does he automatically know the correct view of a Bible verse? If the Spirit int...
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