Click HERE to read the passage
My pondering this week is not so much about the passage itself as it is about the hermeneutical principle that the passage demonstrates. “Hermen who?”, you might ask, if this is a word that is not familiar to you. Hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpretation concerning the books of the Bible.
Paul demonstrates a primary hermeneutical principle here in Romans 11 that is important to understand. He is grappling with an issue that even he is trying to wrap his astute mind around – the issue of what about the people of Israel when it comes to salvation. This is his issue. But we all have our own issues when it comes to trying to understand passages of Scripture. Particularly ones that we don’t necessarily like what they say. Perhaps it is an issue about marriage or divorce or sex or hell or the role of women or church government or abortion. There are lots of issues that people disagree on regarding matters of interpretation.
Hermeneutical principle numero uno goes like this: Let Scripture interpret Scripture. In other words, if there is a passage that you don’t understand, look at the whole body of Scripture regarding that subject and let God’s Word speak for itself. This is what Paul is doing in this passage. Notice the number of other Scripture references from the Older Testament that Paul uses in this passage to help explain the dilemma he is dealing with. I count four. This is the way to do biblical interpretation.
But it is not the way that it is usually done nowadays. More often than not here are some of the principles of interpretation that I see being used today:
- People make up their own interpretations to suit the outcome that they desire
- People ask their friends (usually people who are like-minded) what they think hoping to get “interpretational ageeability.”
- People find “scholars” who say what they want them to say
- People dismiss the passage and keep doing what they want to do anyway
No doubt there are other ways. But my point is this. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. I love what Acts 17:11 says about the folks in the church in Berea – “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” They didn’t take Paul’s word for the stuff he was saying but rather searched the Scriptures for themselves to make sure that it was in line with what God had already said.
May it be true also of us!
Next Week’s Passage: Roman 11:11-32
Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-26