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In pursuit of scriptures’ interpretation

Sunday word BY PROSPER TINGINI

The contents of the Bible include history, laws, prophecy, poetry, proverbs, songs and letters. Some of these might need interpretation for people to understand, while others don’t necessarily need it. History, for example, is a chronological sequence of events as they happened. It is a narration of facts, as they occur. Sections of the scriptures that are historical in nature do not necessarily need an interpretation, unless it’s a translation from one language to another.

Laws are the dos and the don’ts. They tell us what to do and what not to do. The important thing is to know and understand what to do. Jesus Christ at intervals touched on the law. While stating the law as it stood, he most often magnified it, broadening it to make it bigger. As an example, in Matthew 5:27-28, he spoke on an already existing simple law, saying: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus knew everyone understood the adultery aspect of the law. He only sought to expand its horizon to encompass areas that could lead to the commitment of the act. Unless there is jargon attached to it, the law is as is stated. It only needs to be highlighted and not necessarily interpreted.

Prophecy is an area that needs an interpretation of God’s will, in one form or other. It comes in various forms. It is a revelation of things to happen or as an answer to something that has already happened, eg, a dream interpretation, a vision of something unusual and its explanation. Prophecy should be a representation of the divine will. Interpretation of the will of God is the focus. Once that will is made known, then there is no further need for interpreting the prophecy. People then need to wait for the prophecy’s fulfilment, as all prophecies have “to come to pass”, as a test to the prophecy. God picks and anoints people with the powers of prophecy, the ability to foretell and interpret divine matters. Prophecies point to the future. Past prophecies are matched to past events or to things still pending.

Literally, a proverb is a traditional saying which is in common use. It can be called an adage, a maxim, or a general truth. It can be a principle or a rule of conduct. It is a saying that gives advice. In our scriptures, we have the proverbs of Solomon, son of David, King of Israel. Proverbs 1: 1-7 explain the purpose of proverbs: “That men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight, receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice and equity; that prudence may be given to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth. That wise men also may hear an increase in learning, and the men of understanding acquire skill, understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”.

Solomon is well-known for his wisdom; hence his proverbial teachings are well-documented. For more wisdom, please let’s read the proverbs of Solomon in the Bible. They are self-explanatory. Most preachers avoid this book because of the lack of wisdom for its interpretation.

Songs and poems are words of praise meant to glorify something of importance and spoken in hymns. There are numerous songs and poems composed by various individuals in the scriptures. Among the songs, we have the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32. We also have a whole book consisting of eight chapters all dedicated to the Song of Solomon. Songs and poems are meant to sweeten the language. The lyrics bring good flavour to the description of feelings for the cherished things.

Psalms are sacred songs. In the Bible we have a huge selection of 150 songs composed by David at various stages of his life, which were meant to either console him through prayers to God, or to express his feelings on events around him. Singing is a loud expression of either joy or sorrow. To sing is to celebrate. We should join in the singing before we can try to interpret the songs’ meanings. We have to feel it first.

Letters are meant to convey messages in writing. The greatest concentration of letters is found in the New Testament. The first sacred letters written in the scriptures are of the hand of God, in the form of instructions from the Almighty, the Creator, to mankind. These are to do with the laws and commandments given through Moses at Mount Sinai during the Jewish exodus era. Exodus 32: 15-16 reads: “And Moses turned, and went down from the mountain with the two tables of the testimony in his hands, tables that were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.”

Paul’s letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillipians, Colossians, Thessalonians and to Timothy, Titus and Philemon were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is important to note that these letters did not come directly from the Father, or the Son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit had converted Paul from a persecutor of Christians to a staunch believer in Christ, to show its power. Though guided by the Holy Spirit, his words and teachings should be treated as subservient to the spoken words and teachings of God the Father, and those of His Son, Jesus Christ. Contents of Paul’s letters that reflect a deviation from the original teachings should be highlighted and scrutinised, without downplaying his role.

The source of all biblical truth doesn’t change. God is the truth, the light — the way. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke these words in John 14 and 15. Nowadays many people are searching for the truth in wrong places, from the wrong people and wrong books. Some people believe miracles are the truth. Others chase riches and power through church corridors, prophets and other avenues. In Luke 12:15, Jesus spoke: “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

In interpreting the scriptures, every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible. Nothing revealed in the scriptures will be hidden from those who ask in faith. A prophecy is only true when every word of it comes to pass.

lProsper Tingini is the president of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: ptingini@gmail.com

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