Go back to:or of the Salvation vs. introduction
This information is vital to letting the Scriptures interpret themselves. If you ignore the following counsel, you will be misled.
Read your Bible daily. (Psalm 1:1-3 [par|int]) Do not neglect your Bible reading. Do not read with a preexisting bias. Get familiar with the accounts in the Bible. Read the accounts, read about the accounts. Study, research, meditate. Identify the subject under discussion and the point being made. Consider various viewpoints. This is not obsession, but is the means by which you can gain the knowledge to live the life God wants for us and the foundation upon which you can seek and find the one and only truth.
The apostle Paul instructed the Thessalonians to "make sure of all things, hold fast to what is fine." (1 Thessalonias 5:21 [par|int]) He wrote that because they were not doing as much as they should in that regard. He said that the Boroeans "were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they accepted the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11 [par|int]) The research required to do that is substantial, but well worth it. Unfortunately, despite the advent of the internet, research today is more difficult than it was for them back then. Back then, Hebrew was still a living language and the only Scriptures they needed to check were the Hebrew Scriptues with a translation into Greek by the very people who spoke both languages, and many Hebrew-speaking Jews living that gentiles could ask help from. So there really were no language issues for them to research and fewer false beliefs to combat.
That said, the following level of research is not for everyone and that is okay. Those with faith who rely upon Jehovah's holy spirit to guide them toward the truth are just as capable of finding it so long as the truth is truly what they are seeking. They rely upon the ring of truth which Jehovah reveals to them. But note that Paul referred to those who dig deeper as being "more noble-minded", thus being worthy of greater note, and to those who do not, he reminds to "make sure of all things."
For those who claim to need facts, deep research is necessary. You do not have to be an expert, it does not take an expert in Koiné Greek grammar to understand the words written by an expert in Koiné Greek grammar, but being aware of the controversies, the various viewpoints, and the basics of Koiné Greek grammar is essential to not being duped.
Good research also requires that you do more than compare translations. Comparing translations only highlights the differences resulting from the controversies; it does not tell you what the cause of those differences are. Thus you need to go deeper, finding out the history of the doctrine, what the rules of grammar are relating to the verse, review differing opinions and commentaries, analyze the context, compare scriptures with scriptures, and make clear sense of the information provided in the scripture. (See Part 4: Testing the "Proofs".) To be sure of something, we cannot simply rely upon the words of others, but we can rely upon the word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 [par|int]; Hebrews 4:12 [par|int]; 2 Peter 1:19-21 [par|int])
In so doing, you must use every tool at your disposal to get at the truth along with preparing your heart to accept whatever the truth may be. (2 Chronicles 30:18-20 [par|int]; Ezra 7:10 [par|int]) To go this deep, you will need access to a variety of commentaries (Do not leave out the literature of Jehovah's Witnesses, as they provide reasons for their viewpoints and can point you to additional research material,) a Greek-English Interlinear translation of the New Testament based upon the NA-27 or NA-28 composite manuscript, an introductory Biblical Greek Grammar and a Biblical Greek-English Lexicon. Some variation of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance can also help, but know that it has biases according to the Anglican Church, but it is still a scholarly work. (The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon and the Greek-English Lexicon by Joseph H. Thayer are excellent sources to find the truth of word meanings.)
The Hebrew scriptures do not usually need as much attention as the Greek because there exist many Hebrew copies that come from before the Catholics purged the Christian scriptures for the reason that the Jews maintained them and not the Catholic church who had no problem tossing spurious texts into late manuscript copies of the Greek Scriptures and destroying untampered copies.
Consider every viewpoint you can find on each scripture, poking holes until only the truth is left. Because, to get at the truth, you must be determined to find and accept the truth and not simply look for confirmation of what you already believe. And if you come across new infomation, always be willing to reexamine and revise your understanding.
Do you think careful personal research is required to get at the truth of the scriptures? If not, state your disagreement in a comment below.
Let the Bible SpeakWhen interpreting prophecy, it must be understood that the interpreter is interpreting the words of God. This should not be done without using the word of God to interpret itself. (2 Peter 1:20, 21 [par|int])) Looking outside the Scriptures to interpret scripture, forcing an interpretation without scriptural evidence of that interpretation is not only ill-advised but is unscriptural. (Genesis 40:8 [par|int]) Unscriptural interpretation puts the narrative in Satan's hands. (1 Timothy 4:1 [par|int])
So the most important thing in research is to rely upon the Bible, not "scholars". The Jews in Jesus day relied upon their "scholars", the scribes and Pharisees, and yet Jesus called those men "blind guides". (Matthew 15:14 [par|int]; 23:15, 16 [par|int]) Those "scholars" called Jesus' diciples: "uneducated and ordinary men". (Acts 4:13 [par|int]) Indeed, speaking of those 'scholars', Paul wrote:
"For Christ sent me . . . to declare the good news; and not with wisdom of speech . . . For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise men perish, and the intelligence of the intellectuals I will reject.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this system of things? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not get to know God through its wisdom, God was pleased through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing. . . . Because a foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and a weak thing of God is stronger than men.
For you see his calling of you, brothers, that there are not many wise in a fleshly way, not many powerful, not many of noble birth, but God chose the foolish things of the world to put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world to put the strong things to shame; and God chose the insignificant things of the world and the things looked down on, the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no one might boast in the sight of God. But it is due to him that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who has become to us wisdom from God, also righteousness and sanctification and release by ransom, so that it may be just as it is written: "The one who boasts, let him boast in Jehovah."
So when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with extravagant speech or wisdom declaring the sacred secret of God to you. For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and him executed on the stake. . . . and my speech and what I preached were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might be, not in men’s wisdom, but in God’s power.
Now we speak wisdom among those who are mature, but not the wisdom of this system of things nor that of the rulers of this system of things, who are to come to nothing. But we speak God’s wisdom in a sacred secret, the hidden wisdom, which God foreordained before the systems of things for our glory. It is this wisdom that none of the rulers of this system of things came to know, for if they had known it, they would not have executed the glorious Lord. But just as it is written: "Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Corinthians 1:17-2:9 [par|int])
Seminary-trained scholars do not speak from holy spirit, but they speak the wisdom of men as they learned from their schools. (Matthew 15:9 [par|int]; 1 Timothy 6:20-21 [par|int]) Jesus himself said; "I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children." (Matthew 11:25 [par|int])
The Bible itself instructs us on how to interpret it. Paul continued:
For it is to us God has revealed them through his spirit, for the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.
For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So, too, no one has come to know the things of God except the spirit of God. Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit that is from God, so that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God. These things we also speak, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by the spirit, as we explain spiritual matters with spiritual words.
But a physical man does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know them, because they are examined spiritually. However, the spiritual man examines all things, but he himself is not examined by any man. For “who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, so that he may instruct him?” But we do have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16 [par|int])So it does not take a genius to interpret the scriptures. It takes holy spirit, faithfulness to the word of God and listening to Jesus. (Luke 6:46) Jesus himself said, "Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17 [par|int]) What is "God's word"? It is the good news about Jesus Christ that we received from those who were appointed by God to deliver it to us in the Scriptures. Thus, it is the entirety of the Scriptures. God's word is described as "the sword of the spirit" (Ephesians 6:17 [par|int]) because it "is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints from the marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12 [par|int])
At 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 [par|int], Paul left no room for any other documents as the source of truth when he said, "All [Holy] Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work." At Romans 15:4 [par|int], Paul said, "For all the [Holy Scriptures] that were written beforehand were written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope."
The apostle John wrote:
Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired statement, but test the inspired statements to see whether they originate with God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you know that the inspired statement is from God: Every inspired statement that acknowledges Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh originates with God. But every inspired statement that does not acknowledge Jesus does not originate with God. . . .
They originate with the world; that is why they speak what originates with the world and the world listens to them. We originate with God. Whoever comes to know God listens to us [the apostles]; whoever does not originate with God does not listen to us. By this we distinguish the inspired statement of truth from the inspired statement of error.
Beloved ones, let us continue loving one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. Whoever does not love has not come to know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:1-8 [par|int])
Peter confirmed all these things when he wrote:
"No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we made known to you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather, we [the apostles] were eyewitnesses of his magnificence. For he received from God the Father honor and glory when words such as these were conveyed to him by the magnificent glory: 'This is my Son, my beloved, whom I myself have approved; Yes, these words we heard coming from heaven while we were with him in the holy mountain.
"So we have the prophetic word made more sure, and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place (until day dawns and a daystar rises) in your hearts. For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were moved by holy spirit." (2 Peter 1:16-21 [par|int])
Jehovah's Witnesses have the truth, not because they understand the interpretation of everything in the Bible, but because they are willing to improve in their understanding of the Scriptures and not cling to unscriptural ideas, just as the above scripture highlights. Something which other nominal Christian groups are unwilling to do.
To check the Scriptures, we need these things:
- Spiritually connect with holy spirit through prayer to the only true God, Jehovah in Jesus' name. (Ezra 7:10 [par|int]; John 16:23 [par|int])
- Humility to understand that the reason for checking the Scriptures is not to draw away others after ourselves, but to "make sure of all things". (Acts 20:29, 30 [par|int]; 1 Thessalonias 5:21 [par|int])
- Accept the accurate knowledge about Jesus Christ as the Son of the only true God, Jehovah. (John 17:3 [par|int]; 1 John 4:15 [par|int])
- Use the Scriptures as your only source of interpretation. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 [par|int]; 1 John 4:6 [par|int]) As Joseph said, "Do not interpretations belong to God?" (Genesis 40:8 [par|int])
If you find differences between your understanding and that of your religion, that does not mean just up and leave it or go start a new one just because you found one little thing you disagree with. Paul identified the formation of sects as being a work of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19, 20 [par|int]) Apostasy is not far from self-righteous ones. (2 Timothy 3:5-7 [par|int]; Jude 16 [par|int]) Humility is what allows one to find truth. (Psalm 138:6 [par|int]) Paul urged true Christians to "speak in agreement". (1 Corinthians 1:10 [par|int]) But if we cannot speak in agreement with the salvation message preached by one religion then we must find the one with the correct salvation message, and that is what this series is meant to demonstrate.
Of course, you do not need to explore every little thing in minute detail before you have enough proof of which organization has the truth; if you already recognize which one consistently proves right while all the others are clearly wrong, then that is the organization with the truth.
We are confident that in studying this way, one can only be lead further toward Jehovah's Witnesses, not away, because one will see their integrity in holding to the Scriptures, integrity that no one else has.
Do you think the Scriptures are the only documents needed to interpret scripture? If not, state your disagreement in a comment below.
Start at Part 1
Go to: Part 4: Testing the "Proofs"