The online dictionary defines Hermeneutics as the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures.

Why study how to interpret Scripture?  Well, sometimes Bible texts can be used in a way that is really deceptive – or even at odds with the Truth of God’s Word as a whole.  Satan did this when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4.  He referenced Scripture that indicated that the angels would not let Jesus get hurt!  But Jesus knew that the meaning of the Scripture was being twisted.  (In fact, the angels let Jesus be crucified!) So He used Scripture to show Satan what God really meant, when he clarified, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (John 4:7)  We need to study all of Scripture to be sure that we are interpreting any one Scripture correctly.

In short, our primary “hermeneutical principle” can be summarized as “Scripture interprets Scripture.”  This means that we use clearer passages of Scripture to interpret, or help explain, unclear or ambiguous ones.  Our study of John’s Gospel shows a very good example of a case where we need to look at more than just one verse to know what God really means in those Scriptures.

In John 3 we see two verses that would strongly suggest that Jesus himself baptized people:

“After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing.” (John 3:22)

“And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.'” (John 3:26)

But it isn’t until John 4 that we get the clarification necessary to correctly interpret those verses:

“Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.” (John 4:1-2)

If one were to dogmatically assert that Jesus poured water on people to baptize them based on John 3, they would be incorrect. In fact, in so doing they would be denying John 4:1-2!

The lesson in all of this is to use Scripture to interpret Scripture and rather than finding one verse in the Bible that makes OUR case, … let us search all of Scripture to see what GOD wants us to learn and know.

May you be blessed in your study of the Word! – PA