“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
Whatever Scripture” we study, we should look under its surface. I’m going to use a couple of words that many people don’t know, but I’ll explain them. To “look under the surface” in God’s Word requires us to use exegesis and hermeneutics.
Exegesis refers to interpreting a specific Biblical text, while hermeneutics means interpreting the meaning. Exegesis is the process of discovering the original and intended meaning of a passage of Scripture, while hermeneutics is the method used for the operation of finding the original and intended meaning of a passage of Scripture. Hermeneutics includes which principles we will use to interpret the text.
Biblical exegesis is the actual interpretation of the sacred book, the bringing out of its meaning; hermeneutics is the study and establishment of the principles by which it is to be interpreted.– The critical study of biblical literature: exegesis and hermeneutics
Forms of the word hermeneutics are found in several places in the Bible. John 1:42 uses the word hermēneuetai, meaning “is translated as.” And Acts 9:36 uses the words diermēneuomenē, “is translated.” So the idea of using a method for understanding Scripture is “baked in.”
When we do a Bible study, we may use a concordance to learn the original words and the meaning of each word. We may use commentaries to gain insights from theologians on a passage of Scripture. We may use Bible dictionaries and books that tell us about the culture surrounding the passage of Scripture. We do this to look under the surface. In this process, we often need to understand how the Biblical culture influences the Scriptures.
So, when the Apostle Paul wrote, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15), We need to understand that Paul was implying that Timothy needed hermeneutics, a reliable method or process for “looking under the surface” of the Scripture we are studying. And he needs exegesis; he needs the commentaries written by Pharisees and scribes over the past 1,500 years.
So, the next time you come across John 7:24, remember that for us to look under the surface of God’s Word, we need hermeneutics and exegesis. These are tools we need to be adept at using.
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