What is ‘hermeneutics’?
Biblical Hermeneutics: the science of biblical interpretation that proceeds in terms of carefully established grammatical and historical rules. It is part of the broader field of hermeneutics which involves the study of principles for the text and includes all forms of communication: verbal and nonverbal. Hermeneutic theory limits the imagination of any would-be interpreter constraining interpretation within reasonable, pre-established, agreed-upon guidelines. In the interpretation of a text, hermeneutics considers the original medium as well as what language says, supposes, doesn’t say, and implies. The process consists of several steps for best attaining the Scriptural author’s intended meaning(s), such as Lexical-Syntactical Analysis, Historical-Cultural Analysis, Contextual Analysis, Theological Analysis, and Special Literary Analysis. Proper interpretation demands that we ask the Who? What? When? Where? Why? questions of what we are seeking to interpret. Failure to use good hermeneutic invariably leads to wrong interpretation.
“Biblical hermeneutics” is specifically concerned with the philosophy and science of interpreting the Biblical text. So Biblical hermeneutics would cover both of the following sorts of inquiries and more:
- (Theory:) What role does Divine illumination play in the interpretation of Scripture?
- (Methods:) What process can we follow to determine whether an apparent chiasm was intentional by the author?
Hermeneutics/Principles and Exegesis interpretation for understanding Bible Prophecy:
- The New Testament (NT) writers tell us repeatedly and emphatically that their eschatological hope was nothing but the hope and promises found in the Old Testament (OT) prophets (Acts 3:21-24, 26:6-7, 19-23, 28:20-28; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet 3:1-2; Eph. 4:4; Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:8; Isa. 49:8; 2 Cor. 6:1-2).
- The NT writers tell us that the OT writers did not fully understand:
- The time of the prophecy; nor
- The nature or manner of the things they foretold.
- An example is 1 Pet. 1:10-12, 2:1-10 (OT prophets write/thought the fulfilment of their prophecies related to the physical land, temple, priests, sacrifices, etc. However, Peter and the NT writers provide the true spiritual fulfilment understandings in their writings) (See also: Rom. 16:25-26; 1 Cor. 10:11).
- The NT writers tell us that through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that they, the NT writers, were now revealing the time and true meaning of what the OT prophets had said, explaining what the OT prophecies really meant. (John 16:13, 14:26; Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 1:10-12).
- The NT writers tell their readers that they were living in the time foretold by the OT prophets (1 Pet. 1:10-12, 20, 4:5, 7, 17; 1 John 2:8, 17-18; Heb. 8:13, 10:37; Jam. 5:7-9; Rom. 13:11-12, 16:20, 25-26).
- The NT writers tell us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that they are revealing the genuine nature of these OT prophecies of the –> establishing of the Kingdom à the coming of the Lord and judgement –> and they invariably interpret those things all spiritually, unseen realm and heavenly, because –> see #6 below.
- They tell us that those OT prophecies of –> land, cities, temple, priests, Sabbaths, festivals, etc were all types and shadows of better things that were just about to be fulfilled (Col. 2:16-17; 1 Cor. 10:11; Hebrews chapters 8 – 12).
- The NT writers, because they tell us that the OT writers did not understand the time and manner, and because the NT writers tell us that they through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were now revealing the actual time and manner of those OT prophecies, which were only types and shadows to the OT writers à that they, the NT writers, are the definitive, authoritative, final authority on what the OT prophecies actually meant.
- Example: when we read in Ezekiel 37 of the restoration of Israel to the land, under a New Covenant (NC), with David as their king:
- (vs. 24-25) David was typological as Jesus.
- (v. 25) The land was typological of both the dwelling place in Christ in the church for the living believers in the seen realm, and the heavenly country for the departed believers in the unseen realm. (Heb. 11:9-10, 13-16, 12:22-23)
- (v. 26) The Old Covenant (OC) was typological of the New Covenant (NC).
- (vs. 26-28) The OT Temple was typological of the NC temple of the body of Christ. (2 Cor. 6:16)
** We must accept the final authority of Jesus and His Apostles as written in Heb. 1:1a – 2a, “…in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days, spoken to us by His Son…”
** In the vision on the mount of transfiguration they saw the power of what Jesus’ coming in glory would do à God removed Moses/Elijah (Old Covenant) from their presence and in the emphatic Greek definition says: “Him, hear!” (Matt. 17:2-5, 9; 2 Pet. 1:16)
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 12 Messianic Temple”]