When You Are Reading, You Are Interpreting

➡ Average Reading Time: 2 minutes

I grew up in the South in a small Pentecostal church. Several things were important to the folks that attended this church. They were important because the pastor drilled them into the flock. First, they must come to church on Sunday morning, including Sunday school, plus Sunday evening and Wednesday evening. Second, they must tithe. Third, they must read the Bible daily. What I began to notice as I grew in this environment was that there was no public reading of the Bible when the church gathered in the building on these appointed occasions and there was no help for those who were trying to follow the guideline of reading their Bible daily. How reading the Bible worked out in my home was the “Promise Box” method.[ref]Winn Griffin, “Promise Box Syndrome,” Article: Training Jesus Followers. (accessed August 1, 2019).[/ref]

It was years before I discovered the beauty of the whole story of God.

This little box was filled with 200 colored cards each one with a different verse or fragment of a verse printed on it. Reading the sacred text was executed by picking a different colored “promise card” every morning and reading the verse or fragment of a verse that was printed on each card. In my home and in my early church experience, reading Scripture was a combination of reading “small bits” from the “promise cards” and hearing “small bits” expounded in topic after topic. It was years before I discovered the beauty of the whole story of God. Even then I still had to learn that just reading was not enough to understand what God was saying. I had to acknowledge that when I was reading, I was interpreting and that I needed to become a better reader-interpreter of the sacred text so that I could live into its story.

Every reader of Scripture is an interpreter of Scripture. We will either do a good job or a bad job at this task. Have you ever thought about why Scripture is interpreted in so many different ways? Why two perfectly capable teachers can draw opposite conclusions from the same text? And then, as you read it, you draw yet another conclusion. Each reader, then giving ample praise to the Holy Spirit for their reading of the text. How does this happen?

Read and study theses studies called “God Has Spoken, But What Has He Said,” to find some clues that will help you become a better Bible reader.

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Read Me First


Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.


I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."


Happy Reading!

Read Me Second


Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.


Happy Reading!

Read Me Third


The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.


Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.


Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)