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The Correct Way To Interpret The Holy Bible – Jesus Is The Hermeneutic

How do I interpret the Holy Bible? Is there a proper way of understanding the Old Testament? Is it about me or Jesus?

I’ve heard sermons that discuss David and Goliath. The pastor describes the battle and says, “You see, with Christ, you can defeat the Goliaths in your life,” or some other variation. In most cases, you, the listener, are at the story’s center. To be sure, there are lessons that you can take from the Old and New Testaments that can help you on your Christian walk. However, we must be careful to obey the central theme of the entire Holy Bible – Jesus Christ.

What Jesus said about the Old Testament

Jesus was straightforward in telling His disciples that the Scriptures – all of them – were speaking about Him. Jesus never said or even implied that the Prophets of the Old Testament had them (the disciples) in mind when, through the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they put the words to stones and paper. Here is what Jesus said:

  1. Luke 24:27 – “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
  2. Luke 24:44-45 – “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.”
  3. John 5:39 – “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
  4. Matthew 5:17 – “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

Does “all the scriptures” mean the entire Old Testament?

By the time Jesus became an adult in the 1st century AD, the Old Testament—as recognized in Christian traditions—was already completed. The Old Testament is a collection of texts written over a vast period, roughly estimated from the 12th century BC to the 2nd century BC. These texts were initially written in Hebrew, with some portions in Aramaic, and they were considered sacred scriptures by the Jewish community.

The Christian Old Testament corresponds largely to the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, which is traditionally divided into three sections: the Torah (Law), the Nevi’im (Prophets), and the Ketuvim (Writings). The order of completion for these books is not entirely precise due to variations in scholarly dating. Still, a general, estimated order of when these sections were completed (not necessarily in the order of individual books) is as follows:

  1. Torah (Law) – 5 Books: Traditionally attributed to Moses (13th-12th century BC), though scholars suggest these were written and compiled over a longer period, possibly finalized by the 5th century BC. The books are:
    • Genesis
    • Exodus
    • Leviticus
    • Numbers
    • Deuteronomy
  2. Nevi’im (Prophets) – 21 Books: These include both the Former Prophets (narrative history) and the Latter Prophets (largely prophetic works), completed from the 8th to the 5th century BC. They are, in a possible chronological order of their final compositions:
    • Joshua
    • Judges
    • Samuel (1 and 2 Samuel)
    • Kings (1 and 2 Kings)
    • Isaiah
    • Jeremiah
    • Ezekiel
    • The Twelve Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)
  3. Ketuvim (Writings) – 13 Books: A diverse collection, including poetry, wisdom literature, and historical works, believed to be completed from the 6th to the 2nd century BC. In a rough order of composition:
    • Psalms
    • Proverbs
    • Job
    • Song of Solomon
    • Ruth
    • Lamentations
    • Ecclesiastes
    • Esther
    • Daniel
    • Ezra-Nehemiah (often listed separately as Ezra and Nehemiah)
    • Chronicles (1 and 2 Chronicles)

The exact dating and order of completion of these books are subject to scholarly debate and vary depending on the methodologies and assumptions used. The traditional Jewish canon was solidified around the 2nd century AD, corresponding closely with the Christian Old Testament.

What about the New Testament?

Later New Testament writings contain several passages where Jesus or the authors explicitly mention that the Old Testament writings, laws, and prophets speak about Jesus. These passages highlight the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and teachings through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here are some notable examples:

  1. Acts 3:18 – “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”
  2. Acts 3:24 – “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.”
  3. Acts 10:43 – “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
  4. Acts 13:27-29 – “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.”
  5. Romans 1:2-3 – “(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;”
  6. 1 Peter 1:10-11 – “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”

These passages collectively affirm the New Testament belief in the continuity and fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures in the person and work of Jesus Christ. They indicate that Jesus’s life and mission were the culmination of God’s revelation through the law, the prophets, and the writings of the Old Testament.

In summary

While we—believers—gain from the Holy Scriptures, they, in their entirety, speak about Christ. They speak to His sinless life, death on the cross, burial, and resurrection. It is improper to interpret them with us as the centerpiece. The Holy Bible exists so we can understand what Jesus did for us and lead others to the life-saving work of the Father.

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