Bible Interpretation: Steps Involved in Interpretation of New Testament Letters
In the book “Journey into God’s Word: Your Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible (pp. 100-102), Duvall and Hays teach the four steps of the Interpretative Journey for the New Testament letters. These steps, when utilized properly, helps us grasp the meaning in the scriptures Galatians 5:16-18, but also gives us an understanding of how we interpret things in the modern world as opposed to those in the biblical world. Step one of the Interpretative Journey for the New Testament letters asks the reader to “Grasp the text in their town.” By this the author wants the reader to understand the difference in culture and time, as well as understand that the message Paul was trying to teach when writing that letter to the Galatians. In chapter 5:16-18, Paul states very clearly and to the point, “Let the holy spirit guide your lives, then you wont be doing what your sinful nature craves.”
This powerful verse allows the reader to understand how great the fight between the flesh and the Spirit are. These three verses allowed Paul to reassure that anyone who walks in the path of the Spirit will less likely give in to the urges of the Flesh. Those who do right to fulfil their obligation to the Spirit are slowly cleansing their own soul of their sinful desires. ‘Measure the width of the river to cross’ is step two of Interpretative Journey for New Testament letters. The biblical audience and modern day interpretations of the scriptures in Galatians form the proverbial river that we must measure in order to cross. The biblical audience found themselves in a fight between the flesh and the Spirit. We in modern times also have the same battle to overcome. The river however I think was much higher in biblical times because of the constant strain for acceptance and understanding that they lacked in first-century theology.
I think finding a clearer path in the Spirit in earlier times was much easier to find and hold onto since the majority of life was home and church, unlike today which many do not believe in the Spirit. Step three asks us to “Cross the Principalizing Bridge.” To give ones entire devotion to the Spirit is a very hard, daunting task that can sometimes feel like the wrong path.The theological principle is to walk in the Spirit. To give in to ones sinful desires to the flesh seems like an easier route. However the second theological principle is to Not give into the evils of the flesh, but to believe in the Spirit and walk in his light. Both biblical day Jews and modern day Christians face this decision everyday. This makes the theological principles timeless and apparent in the text. It follows the scripture and pertains to both audiences. The final step in the Interpretative Journey for New Testament letters is “Grasp the text in our town.” This step is used to ask oneself how modern day Christians utilize apply the theological principles by giving two real-life stories that focus on them.