Interpreting Scripture – Let’s Learn from the Puritans

 (in Deutsch HIER!)

J. I Packer explains that, „to the Puritans, no discipline was so exacting, and no labor so rewarding as the interpretation of the scriptures. The soundness of their method is unquestionable; we shall do well to follow in their footsteps. That will mean asking six questions of each passage or text that we seek to expound:

1. What do these words actually mean?

2. What light do other scriptures throw on this text? Where and how does it fit into the total biblical revelation?

3. What truths does it teach about God, Jesus Christ, and man in relation to God?

4. How are these truths related to the saving work of Christ, and what light does the Gospel of Christ throw upon them? (What truths does it teach regarding the Gospel?)

5. What experiences do these truths delineate, or explain, or seek to create or cure? For what principal purpose do they stand in scripture?

6. How do they apply to myself or others in our actual situation? To what present human condition do they speak, and what are they telling us to believe and do?“

 John Newton (1725-1807), the author of the great hymn Amazing Grace reminds us: 

„They who study the Scriptures, in a humble dependence upon divine teaching, are:

  • convinced of their own weakness,
  • taught to make a true estimate of everything around them,
  • gradually formed into a spirit of submission to the will of God,
  • discover the nature and duties of [important] situations and relations in life and the snares and temptations to which they are exposed.

The word of God dwells richly in them, is

  • a preservative from error,
  • a light to their feet,
  • and a spring of strength and consolation.

By treasuring up the doctrines, precepts, promises, examples, and exhortations of Scripture, in their minds, and daily comparing themselves with the rule by which they walk, they grow into an habitual frame of spiritual wisdom, and acquire a gracious taste, which enables them to judge of right and wrong with a degree of readiness and certainty, as a musical ear judges of sounds.

And they are seldom mistaken, because they are influenced by the love of Christ, which rules in their hearts, and a regard to the glory of God, which is the great object they have in view.“

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