I’ve had my exegetical feathers ruffled lately.
Sorry, that’s another BIG word. The process of exegesis is that of investigating a text for the purpose of understanding its intended meaning. It’s a beautiful thing when the text being studied is the Bible. On the other hand, eisogesis is the process of taking to the text rather than taking from the text. I have seen countless examples of this since becoming a Christian, even in an otherwise very good Sunday School class at a local church.
Several weeks ago, I heard a teacher state that Nathanael was “surely thinking of…” [he completed the sentence]. This morning I heard someone else say that the Apostle John was clearly implying that Nicodemus had witnessed Jesus’ cleansing the temple.
What’s the problem?
We don’t know. We don’t have proof. We simply have no idea what Nathanael was thinking as he sat under the fig tree (John 1:45-51). We also have no evidence within the text that Nicodemus was in the temple when Jesus drove out the money changers (John 2:13-21).
Someone told me a story last week which relates to this topic. His friend was visiting an Anglican church in England recently. The female pastor stood up to read her text for that particular Sunday. After doing so, she commented that since no one really knows what the passage means, she did not want to waste time offering her two cents. Instead, she ascended her social issue soapbox and began “sharing.”
It’s a BIG word, but I love the truth it conveys when applied to the Bible. The perspicuity of Scripture means that the Bible is clear in its intended meaning. The passage that the lazy woman refused to put forth the effort to study has a meaning. Every book, section, passage, verse, sentence, phrase and word has meaning. Most are clearly understood with very little labor. I guess that is why I become irritated when pastors, teachers and writers either knowingly or unknowingly communicate what isn’t there rather than to draw our attention to what actually is there.
There is so much there!
I love this historic assertion from the Westminster Confession of Faith:
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all (2 Pet. 3:16); yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (Ps. 119:105, 130).
You do not have to be a seminary graduate to understand God’s Word! Admittedly, there are a few challenging passages of Scripture. However, the overwhelming majority of the biblical text can be read and understood by “the unlearned.” In other words, it is clear!
How thankful we should be for such a gift!
Beware of mishandling the Bible. And repent when you do so (we’ve all done it)!
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).