UNDERSTANDING AND APPLICATION of SCRIPTURES

                  UNDERSTANDING AND APPLICATION of SCRIPTURES

 There are four questions which one must answer to gain a full understanding and application of any biblical scripture, text or word:

  • What does it Say?
  • What does it mean?
  • What does it mean to me?
  • How does it apply to my life?

These four questions serve as topical heading as we look together at the Understanding, Meaning and Application of any scriptural text.

 

                                         WHAT DOES IT SAY?

Sounds easy enough until you look at how many different versions there are of Scriptures. Currently, Scriptures have been translated into over 2500 different languages. The original Scriptures were written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Those original texts have all been lost to antiquity. Word for word translation is impossible most of the time. Idioms and colloquialisms in language need to be paraphrased to make any sense in other languages.

 The scriptures we have today have all been translated back and forth between a couple different languages a couple of different times. The Hebrew Talmud was translated into Greek during the second century B.C. The New Covenant was translated into common (Koine) Greek sometime in the third or fourth century.  They were then translated into Latin and back to Greek.

Translating any written text from one language to another is a major undertaking which requires a combination of translation, transliteration, paraphrasing and substitution.

  •  Webster’s dictionary defines translation as, “To put into different words of a different language; to rephrase or paraphrase in explanation”.
  • A transliteration implies the writing of words with characters of one alphabet with characters of another that represents the same sound or sounds.
  • A paraphrase is the rewording of the meaning expressed as an aid in helping to understand the original word.
  •  A substitution is the replacing one sound or word for another where there are no direct counterparts. This is commonly used for proper names.

 Proper names are often a substitution or transliteration. For example; Neither the Greek nor Hebrew language has a “J” sound, and there is no “Y” sound in Greek. Thus, the English proper name Jesus is a substitution for Yeshua (Hebrew) and Iesou  (Greek).

The Greek word Kerugma (Pronounced “kee reg ma”) translated into English is “meaning”. Many Greek words like Kerugma are made up of two or more parts. The Greek word translated meaning, conveys a much fuller thought than the single English word. The first part of the Greek word comes from the root word to proclaim or call out. The suffix ma is the result of that proclamation. A translation/paraphrasing of the word kerugma into English, expresses the thought “what is the meaning of what is being said”. Always look toward the deeper or understanding, and don’t quibble over individual words.

 Greek and Hebrew texts for example, have more than one word which has been translated into English as “prayer”. Here are a few of those words.  

        Definitions: by James Strong, S.T.D.,LL.D.

Hebrew (Palal) : “To entreat, to intervene, to think, to act as a mediator, to interpose, an intercession, a supplication (humble request). The expressed idea is of interceding for or on behalf of someone.  Palal has a reciprocal meaning between its subject and its object. Essentially it is a two way street of communications.”

 

Greek (Deomai) :To have a need. (Enteuxis) : Intersession. Address to God for oneself or for another. (Erotao) : To ask of persons or things. To interrogate, inquire of, to request, entreat, beseech. —- A distinct meaning is “to pray”. (Proseuchomai): Usually to speak out aloud, referring to prayer to God, whether for the obtaining of good or the obtaining of evil. In the NT only in Matt 6:6, — comparison is with Is 44:7 and 1Cor.11:13.

 

The English word prayer encompasses most of the Hebrew and Greek meanings, but in some instances looses a nuance or slight variation. One must look at how and where he word is used.

Today we call the various scriptural translations versions. A version is made up of translations, transliterations and paraphrases from Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Example of commonly used English versions are; the King James Version (KJV), the New American Standard Version (NASV), the New International Version (NIV). The goal of any version is to adhere as closely as possible to the message and understanding of ancient texts. Studying different versions is very helpful in understanding what is being said in the scriptures.

We’ll take a look at the word prayer in three different versions, and discover how the words may different, but the message is the same. Prayers depict a two way communications. The communications/prayers can be between God and man (Superior to inferior) and also between man and God (inferior to superior). When Yeshua (Jesus) prayed to the Father it was superior to superior because they are one (a unity).

 The New Covenant book of Matthew chapter six, verses nine thru thirteen (Matt.6:9-13) gives us a model pray. Keep in mind that original texts were in narrative form. Chapters and verse designations were added during the middle ages. Unfortunately, chapters and verses disrupt the flow of thought, but are useful in locating specific texts. The NIV and other versions are in a narrative form and designate verses with supra scripts. (A small number placed above the line of text)

These three examples are without chapter or verse designation.

  1. Parallel Greek/English text. (The Nestle Greek Text with a literal English Translation) by Reverend Alford Marshall)

    Thus therefore pray ye: Father of us the (one) in the heavens; Let it be hallowed the name of thee; let it come the kingdom of thee; let it come about the will of thee, as in the heaven also on earth; The bread of us daily give to us today; and forgive us the debts of us as indeed we forgave the debtors of us; and not bring us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil (one).

     

       2. English text from the NIV. (AMG Publishers)

This is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your                   kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

        3. English text from the KJV. (World Publishing Company)

 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hollowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. A-men.    

Now, let’s look at the first couple of lines of from these three versions and note the variances in word translations. The Greek translation is used as the reference. (Without going very deeply into Greek grammar)

  • Note the openings. Three different wordings are used. The Greek translation begins with, “Pray than in this way”. The Greek uses the present Imperative which denotes a continuous must do action or a strong entreaty. The NIV puts it into more of a suggestion (This is how you should pray…). The KJV suggests a model to follow. (After this manner…)
  • The first words in a Greek sentence are the most important. The Greek translation starts out with “Father of us”. This puts us in the right relationship with the Father. ( inferior to superior) The father being superior and us being the inferior.  The NIV and KJV versions start out with the possessive “Our Father”. The possessive “Our” can be and often is misunderstood as the Father belonging to us. The superior to inferior relationship being reversed.
  • The words “let it be hallowed”, “let it come”, and “let it come about”   are all imperatives used as a strong entreaty and not a commands. The inferior is strongly entreating the superior.
  •   The Greek word translated as holy is agios pronounced “a yee os”. This word can also be translated as saint, set apart, sanctified or consecrated. The fundamental idea of holy is separation, devotion, abstaining from earth’s defilement. The secular world misuses the meaning, as It’s  often used as an exclamation. (Such as in “holy cow”, or “holy smoke”.)
  • The Greek uses the possessive “of thee” in reference to the Father. The NIV uses the possessive “your”, and the KJV uses the poetic “thy”.

Hopefully, these little examples assist in helping us determine “What Does it Say”?

                       

                                    WHAT DOES IT MEAN?    

Now that we have a fairly good idea of determining what the scriptures say, next we must find out “what does it mean” (The Greek word Kerguma). How do we go about finding the meaning? One may think that that would be obvious, but it isn’t. We use our current bias, notions, cultures and training when determining the meaning and context for words.

  A word’s meaning may and does change over time, especially if it was used in a different culture thousands of years ago.  Scriptural texts must be put into their proper context in order to determine the meaning in the first century. Remember the old, but true saying “Any scriptural text taken out of context is a pretext”.

 An example of a current word which has change and been expanded within the last thirty years is the word “cool”. The word originally had to do with temperature, and it still does. However, its use today has vastly expanded and is continually changing. Now isn’t that “cool” (A vastly different meaning from temperature)!

All scriptures must be understood in their original context. There are two contexts which must be considered for a full understanding. One must look at both the macro and micro context. Macro and Micro context are both determined by defining and applying answers to five “W’s” and one “H”. (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) Macro context is over arching. Thus, it requires looking into the national, political, historical, geographical, archeological, economical, cultural, and religions of the area and people. This context is arrived at from studies of both the Old and New Covenants, history and extra biblical material.

 Micro context answers the same questions as for determining macro context. (Five W’s and one H) However, it concerns itself with specifics of the texts. Micro context considers the speakers, hearers, messages, history, actions and reactions in relationship with the macro context.

 A good Greek and Hebrew word study dictionary is a great aid determining scriptural meaning and context. Another handy reference is Webster’s New World Dictionary, which presents more than one definition for a word.

   

                                   WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?

 The answer to the question “what does it mean to me” varies widely, depending on whom you ask. Answers can vary from nothing, very little, quite a lot, a whole lot, to who cares. This question is where the meaning of Scriptures becomes personal and speaks specifically to you. You don’t have to accept what others say it should mean to you. Discover their meaning for yourself. Scriptures are a lot more than history or wisdom writings, although they contain both wisdom and history. The scriptures are God “breathed”, or as commonly translated “inspired”. This means that the scriptures are directly and specifically from Father God to you. Avoid letting others folks (me included), tell you what they should, or do mean, without putting them into proper context. Let God Himself speak to you. Why is that important? Because the way you answer the question “what does it mean to me”, is the way you will apply them to your own life. They will become a part of who you are. The way you live and think will continuously change for the better.

 

                                          HOW DO I APPLY IT TO MY LIFE? 

This is where the rubber meets the road! Many folks have much of the scriptures memorized. Wonderful, but remember parrots are also capable of memorizing words. However, parrots have no understanding or comprehension of what they said or what the words mean. We humans do have the ability to reason and comprehend. However, it takes time and a whole lot of effort for us to make changes to our lives and habits. Application of God’s words to one’s life is not easy, and will not be completed in a life time. Psychologists have held that it takes approximately twenty days of repeated activity to break or exchange one habit for another. Here’s a little experiment you can run to test that theory of approximately twenty days. When you get dressed in the morning do you put on your stockings and then your shoes, or do you put on one socking and then the shoe? Regardless of how you do it now change the procedure. You will have to think about the new process for the first few weeks. It will feel uncomfortable, but soon will become the new habit.

Get into the habit of daily scripture reading and going through the “four questions”. For a while you will consider it’s a “must do”, where really it’s a “want to do”.

 

                  UNDERSTANDING AND APPLICATION of SCRIPTURES

 There are four questions which one must answer to gain a full understanding and application of any biblical scripture, text or word:

  • What does it Say?
  • What does it mean?
  • What does it mean to me?
  • How does it apply to my life?

These four questions serve as topical heading as we look together at the Understanding, Meaning and Application of any scriptural text.

 

                                         WHAT DOES IT SAY?

Sounds easy enough until you look at how many different versions there are of Scriptures. Currently, Scriptures have been translated into over 2500 different languages. The original Scriptures were written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Those original texts have all been lost to antiquity. Word for word translation is impossible most of the time. Idioms and colloquialisms in language need to be paraphrased to make any sense in other languages.

 The scriptures we have today have all been translated back and forth between a couple different languages a couple of different times. The Hebrew Talmud was translated into Greek during the second century B.C. The New Covenant was translated into common (Koine) Greek sometime in the third or fourth century.  They were then translated into Latin and back to Greek.

Translating any written text from one language to another is a major undertaking which requires a combination of translation, transliteration, paraphrasing and substitution.

  •  Webster’s dictionary defines translation as, “To put into different words of a different language; to rephrase or paraphrase in explanation”.
  • A transliteration implies the writing of words with characters of one alphabet with characters of another that represents the same sound or sounds.
  • A paraphrase is the rewording of the meaning expressed as an aid in helping to understand the original word.
  •  A substitution is the replacing one sound or word for another where there are no direct counterparts. This is commonly used for proper names.

 Proper names are often a substitution or transliteration. For example; Neither the Greek nor Hebrew language has a “J” sound, and there is no “Y” sound in Greek. Thus, the English proper name Jesus is a substitution for Yeshua (Hebrew) and Iesou  (Greek).

The Greek word Kerugma (Pronounced “kee reg ma”) translated into English is “meaning”. Many Greek words like Kerugma are made up of two or more parts. The Greek word translated meaning, conveys a much fuller thought than the single English word. The first part of the Greek word comes from the root word to proclaim or call out. The suffix ma is the result of that proclamation. A translation/paraphrasing of the word kerugma into English, expresses the thought “what is the meaning of what is being said”. Always look toward the deeper or understanding, and don’t quibble over individual words.

 Greek and Hebrew texts for example, have more than one word which has been translated into English as “prayer”. Here are a few of those words.  

        Definitions: by James Strong, S.T.D.,LL.D.

Hebrew (Palal) : “To entreat, to intervene, to think, to act as a mediator, to interpose, an intercession, a supplication (humble request). The expressed idea is of interceding for or on behalf of someone.  Palal has a reciprocal meaning between its subject and its object. Essentially it is a two way street of communications.”

 

Greek (Deomai) :To have a need. (Enteuxis) : Intersession. Address to God for oneself or for another. (Erotao) : To ask of persons or things. To interrogate, inquire of, to request, entreat, beseech. —- A distinct meaning is “to pray”. (Proseuchomai): Usually to speak out aloud, referring to prayer to God, whether for the obtaining of good or the obtaining of evil. In the NT only in Matt 6:6, — comparison is with Is 44:7 and 1Cor.11:13.

 

The English word prayer encompasses most of the Hebrew and Greek meanings, but in some instances looses a nuance or slight variation. One must look at how and where he word is used.

Today we call the various scriptural translations versions. A version is made up of translations, transliterations and paraphrases from Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Example of commonly used English versions are; the King James Version (KJV), the New American Standard Version (NASV), the New International Version (NIV). The goal of any version is to adhere as closely as possible to the message and understanding of ancient texts. Studying different versions is very helpful in understanding what is being said in the scriptures.

We’ll take a look at the word prayer in three different versions, and discover how the words may different, but the message is the same. Prayers depict a two way communications. The communications/prayers can be between God and man (Superior to inferior) and also between man and God (inferior to superior). When Yeshua (Jesus) prayed to the Father it was superior to superior because they are one (a unity).

 The New Covenant book of Matthew chapter six, verses nine thru thirteen (Matt.6:9-13) gives us a model pray. Keep in mind that original texts were in narrative form. Chapters and verse designations were added during the middle ages. Unfortunately, chapters and verses disrupt the flow of thought, but are useful in locating specific texts. The NIV and other versions are in a narrative form and designate verses with supra scripts. (A small number placed above the line of text)

These three examples are without chapter or verse designation.

  1. Parallel Greek/English text. (The Nestle Greek Text with a literal English Translation) by Reverend Alford Marshall)

    Thus therefore pray ye: Father of us the (one) in the heavens; Let it be hallowed the name of thee; let it come the kingdom of thee; let it come about the will of thee, as in the heaven also on earth; The bread of us daily give to us today; and forgive us the debts of us as indeed we forgave the debtors of us; and not bring us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil (one).

     

       2. English text from the NIV. (AMG Publishers)

This is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your                   kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

        3. English text from the KJV. (World Publishing Company)

 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hollowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. A-men.    

Now, let’s look at the first couple of lines of from these three versions and note the variances in word translations. The Greek translation is used as the reference. (Without going very deeply into Greek grammar)

  • Note the openings. Three different wordings are used. The Greek translation begins with, “Pray than in this way”. The Greek uses the present Imperative which denotes a continuous must do action or a strong entreaty. The NIV puts it into more of a suggestion (This is how you should pray…). The KJV suggests a model to follow. (After this manner…)
  • The first words in a Greek sentence are the most important. The Greek translation starts out with “Father of us”. This puts us in the right relationship with the Father. ( inferior to superior) The father being superior and us being the inferior.  The NIV and KJV versions start out with the possessive “Our Father”. The possessive “Our” can be and often is misunderstood as the Father belonging to us. The superior to inferior relationship being reversed.
  • The words “let it be hallowed”, “let it come”, and “let it come about”   are all imperatives used as a strong entreaty and not a commands. The inferior is strongly entreating the superior.
  •   The Greek word translated as holy is agios pronounced “a yee os”. This word can also be translated as saint, set apart, sanctified or consecrated. The fundamental idea of holy is separation, devotion, abstaining from earth’s defilement. The secular world misuses the meaning, as It’s  often used as an exclamation. (Such as in “holy cow”, or “holy smoke”.)
  • The Greek uses the possessive “of thee” in reference to the Father. The NIV uses the possessive “your”, and the KJV uses the poetic “thy”.

Hopefully, these little examples assist in helping us determine “What Does it Say”?

                       

                                    WHAT DOES IT MEAN?    

Now that we have a fairly good idea of determining what the scriptures say, next we must find out “what does it mean” (The Greek word Kerguma). How do we go about finding the meaning? One may think that that would be obvious, but it isn’t. We use our current bias, notions, cultures and training when determining the meaning and context for words.

  A word’s meaning may and does change over time, especially if it was used in a different culture thousands of years ago.  Scriptural texts must be put into their proper context in order to determine the meaning in the first century. Remember the old, but true saying “Any scriptural text taken out of context is a pretext”.

 An example of a current word which has change and been expanded within the last thirty years is the word “cool”. The word originally had to do with temperature, and it still does. However, its use today has vastly expanded and is continually changing. Now isn’t that “cool” (A vastly different meaning from temperature)!

All scriptures must be understood in their original context. There are two contexts which must be considered for a full understanding. One must look at both the macro and micro context. Macro and Micro context are both determined by defining and applying answers to five “W’s” and one “H”. (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) Macro context is over arching. Thus, it requires looking into the national, political, historical, geographical, archeological, economical, cultural, and religions of the area and people. This context is arrived at from studies of both the Old and New Covenants, history and extra biblical material.

 Micro context answers the same questions as for determining macro context. (Five W’s and one H) However, it concerns itself with specifics of the texts. Micro context considers the speakers, hearers, messages, history, actions and reactions in relationship with the macro context.

 A good Greek and Hebrew word study dictionary is a great aid determining scriptural meaning and context. Another handy reference is Webster’s New World Dictionary, which presents more than one definition for a word.

   

                                   WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?

 The answer to the question “what does it mean to me” varies widely, depending on whom you ask. Answers can vary from nothing, very little, quite a lot, a whole lot, to who cares. This question is where the meaning of Scriptures becomes personal and speaks specifically to you. You don’t have to accept what others say it should mean to you. Discover their meaning for yourself. Scriptures are a lot more than history or wisdom writings, although they contain both wisdom and history. The scriptures are God “breathed”, or as commonly translated “inspired”. This means that the scriptures are directly and specifically from Father God to you. Avoid letting others folks (me included), tell you what they should, or do mean, without putting them into proper context. Let God Himself speak to you. Why is that important? Because the way you answer the question “what does it mean to me”, is the way you will apply them to your own life. They will become a part of who you are. The way you live and think will continuously change for the better.

 

                                          HOW DO I APPLY IT TO MY LIFE? 

This is where the rubber meets the road! Many folks have much of the scriptures memorized. Wonderful, but remember parrots are also capable of memorizing words. However, parrots have no understanding or comprehension of what they said or what the words mean. We humans do have the ability to reason and comprehend. However, it takes time and a whole lot of effort for us to make changes to our lives and habits. Application of God’s words to one’s life is not easy, and will not be completed in a life time. Psychologists have held that it takes approximately twenty days of repeated activity to break or exchange one habit for another. Here’s a little experiment you can run to test that theory of approximately twenty days. When you get dressed in the morning do you put on your stockings and then your shoes, or do you put on one socking and then the shoe? Regardless of how you do it now change the procedure. You will have to think about the new process for the first few weeks. It will feel uncomfortable, but soon will become the new habit.

Get into the habit of daily scripture reading and going through the “four questions”. For a while you will consider it’s a “must do”, where really it’s a “want to do”.