I believe that the Bible should be interpreted according to the original intent of the authors. Only when we understand what the original author intended to speak to the original audience can we fully understand what God intends to speak to us today through the same inspired words.
Although this should be or should have been common sense to us, it is still worth pointing out that the Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of the Scripture in the past is the same Holy Spirit who illuminates and helps us in understanding the words today. We should not have an interpretation or application which contradicts the intended meaning or application of the original text to the original audience.1
I believe the original intent of the authors should always be the guiding principle in interpreting the Scripture. This principle should apply whether we are studying a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a pericope, a discourse, or a book. The same principle also apply when we study and apply any form of Biblical criticisms (if you do not know what this means, just skip this for now).
I believe we should have consistency in interpreting the Bible. If we claim the Scripture as sole authority and original intent as the guiding principle in correcting some erroneous teachings, we should be consistent in applying the same principle in other interpretations. Inconsistency in Biblical interpretation leads to confusion and the repercussion can be quite serious. At best, people lose their confidence in our interpretation or teaching, and at worst, people lose confidence in the Scripture altogether!
May the generation to come find us faithful!
- Of course, cultural and temporal relativity should be taken into serious consideration in the study. ↩