Rightly Dividing - Lesson 1

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The Need and Tools of 
Rightly Dividing the Word

by Don Treadway, February 2000


1. The name of our study is hermeneutics - the science of interpretation.

a. Hermes was a spokesman for the Greek gods. (Mercury)
b. We must interpret all of the time.

2. God gave us a book we can understand, the Bible, if we put froth the effort.

a. God also gave us nature but we need to study it to understand it.
b. If He tried to give us a book we can understand and failed, what does that say about God's wisdom and power.

3. The problem of different idea about the Bible is with man not God.

a. Our laws were written by wise and able men but ask any two lawyers and you will get two different interpretations.
b. Creeds were devised to simplify things and look at the division caused by them.

4. God does not inspire all these interpretations.

a. Truth is never contradictory.

5. God has chosen the word method of revelation and all of the problems inherent in this method.

a. There is no need of a revelation if we need an interpretation.
b. He also chose to give this revelation to just a few to whom we must look for information and instruction.

6. The bible gives us example after example of looking to the word for authority.

a. Ezra 7:10 "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments."
b. Deut 29:29 "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."
c. Nehemiah 8:1-8 "And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." 
d. Psalm 1:1-2 "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."
e. Psalm 19:7 "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple."
f. Psalm 119:1:1ff "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments."
g. Luke 16:29-31 "Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
h. II Tim 3:15 "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
i. II Tim 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
j. I Tim 4:13 "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."

7. A correct hermeneutic will go a long way toward healing some of the division in the church.

a. John 17: 20-21 "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
b. I Cor 1:10 "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
c. II Thess 3:6 "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
d. All division is not a result of sin.
e. The Bible is not at fault.

8. A correct hermeneutic will go a long way toward the questions of the unbelievers.

a. Some unbelief is a result of sinful lives.
b. Bad interpretation is the cause of some unbelief.
c. The answer to bad interpretation is not no interpretation but a good interpretation.

9. How else can we find our way to heaven?

a. We get many different answers to this question, this discourages many from looking for themselves.
b. Acts 10:34-35 "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:  But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."


1. A good translation or translations is the starting point.

a. The sixty six books were in three different languages.
b. We are at the mercy of the translators so we had better know what they had in mind when they did their work.
c. The science of translation has two major questions to answer - text and linguistics (or language).

2. The question of text is based on internal and external evidence.

3. The question of language is answered by one of three different theories.

a. The Literal theory which gives the exact words and phrasing as the original language.
b. The Dynamic Equivalent theory which attempts to give the equivalent words and idioms from the original   language.
c. The Free theory sometime called a paraphrase does not attempt to use the exact words of the original language.

4. A chart that might help us see this relationship.


 Literal                                                                         Equivalence                                                   Free


KJV                     RSV                 NRSV                     NIV                     GNB                                Phillips

NKJV                                                                           NAB                     JB


5. A good dictionary is helpful to look up words we may not know.

4. A bible dictionary is helpful for looking up words that may not be in a standard dictionary.

5. A concordance will enable us to find other uses of the same word.

6. A bible atlas is very valuable in discovering the geographic relationships between different areas.

7. A handbook will help us to understand the customs of the time.


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