Bible Interpretation Class – Hiawatha Bible Chapel


Lesson 7 – March 25th  2017

A first step in doing this is determining what parts of Scripture to apply and which to not apply. There are two limitations on application of Scripture, the intended audience and circumstances. Following are some principles that relate to applying the Scripture:

  1. Some Scriptures are Limited to a Particular Audience

  1. Some Scriptures Address a Very Specific Circumstance

  1. We Should Assume That Scriptural Commands Apply to All People for All Time Unless Audience or Circumstances are Otherwise Limited

The following has also been suggested as an answer to the question at hand: All OT laws have been made obsolete by the New Covenant and as written in the OT do not apply directly to us. Given this suggested answer, we note the following:

  1. The NT has numerous laws and commands that are universal laws and apply to us directly because they are given in the NT and there is no reason to limit them by audience or circumstance.

  1. In addition, the NT gives us the greatest (2) commandments:

Along with this approach the principle of principalization has been suggested as a valid thing to do (this has been suggested, among other places, in the book Biblical Law and Its Relevance by Dr. Joe Sprinkle, and we have discussed it some earlier).  This approach suggests that we find the moral or spiritual principle behind the specific command, and then see how it applies to us in our often different circumstances (note: this is only suggested in cases of Scriptures that do not directly apply to us).  For example:

  1. Paul writes to Timothy

  1. Some commands are already given in terms of universal principles

  1. Commands Specific to Certain Audiences or Circumstances can Often Be Principalized

What is a danger of principalization?

With the wrong motive, principalization can be used to avoid accepting the clear teaching of Scripture that we should be accepting and obeying. For example:

Cultural Relativism

How About the Command “Greet one another with a holy kiss?


Practical Questions to Help Find Applications of Scripture in Our Lives

  1. How might this text provoke me to worship God or Jesus?

  1. Does this text contain truths to believe?

  1. Does this text reveal attitudes of mine that need to be changed?

  1. Does this text indicate actions to avoid, or admonitions to be heeded?

  1. Does this text reveal to me sins that need to be confessed and forsaken?

  1. Does the text have examples in the characters to follow or avoid?

  1. Does the text reveal promises to claim?

Some key points about applications of the Bible:

  1. Applications Must be Exegetically Sound

  1. Are there Limitations on the Biblical Truth in a Text?

We need to ask, “Could this truth I see in the text be taken too far?” This would involve the Analogy of Scripture, i.e., balancing what this truth teaches against what other verses teach.

  1. Once Again, We Need to Determine if the Text in Question Applies to us, i.e., if it is Universally Applicable to All Believers in All Places at All Times, or is Limited by Audience or Circumstance

Talking to Ourselves in God’s Name

The following quote is from a man named Calvin Hansen. It deals with impressions we get from the Scripture as to what God is saying to us. Note that these examples may be a little bit silly, but he is trying to illustrate a point, so please hold on:

Most of us have at some time been ‘blessed’ by some word of Scripture… [but] I see the need to inject a word of caution here. Be sure to check what you felt God said to you with what the text actually says. While your heart may be encouraged by some thought you glean, the Bible cannot say anything to you contrary to the intention of the original Author. One evidence of our fallen human nature is that we instinctively latch onto insights which support our prejudices and predilections, while we reject that which goes contrary to our biases and desires. We too easily rationalize that God’s word is saying to us what, in fact, our own human (even carnal) self is reading into the Scriptures. When this happens, we end up talking to ourselves in God’s name.

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