As the title implies, scriptural interpretation should be easy. Jesus said that all law hinges on two things (Mark 12:28-31). Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself. This means that love is the single most important element to interpreting the word of God. Love is the key to decipher the code of understanding within the words and letters of the law.
Scriptural Interpretation Should Be Easy
Love God, love your brother and sister, love your neighbor, and love your enemy. This is what God directly told us to do in his word. It is also said to love your parents, your spouse, and your children. Notice that it is never said to love yourself, but to love others as you love yourself. It is natural for us to love ourselves, but not natural for us to love others in the same way. It was also said throughout scripture to not think too highly of ourselves. This was a warning away from the path where all interpretation goes wrong.
Where Interpretation goes Wrong
Interpretation goes wrong when it becomes about your own best interest. When we decide things need to mean something in order to benefit us in some way, interpretation has gone off the rails. Interpretation has to be focused on love for one another and love for God. Loving yourself is natural, but interpretation of the word of God is not. Jesus said that he speaks in parables to the people because it isn’t supposed to be easy to understand.
Why does Jesus Speak in Parables?
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
The Explanation of Gaining Understanding
Scriptural Interpretation should be easy, but since many struggle with it, Jesus then goes on to explain a parable in detail.
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
The Seed Sown Along the Path
This parable of the sower tells you why scriptural interpretation should be easy. If you hear the word but do not understand it, it is because you have allowed the world to block your understanding. Understanding of the word of God was written on our hearts and minds, and if you are unable to understand, you have allowed this understanding to be taken from you. A person here has decided things of the world are better.
The Seed Falling on Rocky Ground
The rocky ground is unyielding, impenetrable, and steadfast. This is a person who builds their understanding around their own salvation and preservation. Their understanding is only surface deep and they are unable to grow roots to mature in their faith and produce gains for God. These people refer to the letters of the law, but don’t search for deeper knowledge. As soon as their belief becomes uncomfortable, their faith is tossed aside.
The Seed Falling Among the Thorns
Fear and corruption rule this group of people. The thorns represent the traps of the world, the things that make us sin against God and each other. Fear of losing that which is worldly prevents us from following the word of God. These people don’t listen because it does not provide fruit for them, and in doing so, they do not provide fruit for God.
The Seed Falling on Good Soil
No one is prevented from being in this group except by their own hearts. Where we choose to build our faith is our own choice. You can do it on good soil that will allow you to mature and build roots within your faith, or you can choose the path, the rock, or the thorns. The roots and good soil will help you blossom and mature as a Christian, and you’ll be firmly planted to withstand strong winds, rain and other worldly forces.
But, What is Good Soil?
A place of worship that is based around love of God and each other. Any place where two or more meet in Christ’s name and the focus is on love, that is good soil. If the place is about correcting sin in others because you love each other, or about correcting sin in yourself because you love God, you are in good soil. Relationships with each other and with God are the roots that bring maturity and fruitfulness. Acts of concern for the well-being of others strengthens and grows those relationships. Those relationships keep you upright when the world tries to knock you down.
Scriptural Interpretation Based On Love
Scriptural interpretation should be easy, because if you base it on love everything makes sense. God built a nation of Israelites to show us that despite all the bad, he loves his people. The Old Testament is filled with God’s mercy on behalf of an undeserving people. This doesn’t mean love doesn’t include consequences, there will always be consequences for sin, but in every case mercy was shown to his people. God is faithful to us despite the fact we are not faithful to him.
God sent Jesus to save all mankind from death, to die upon the cross for all of our sins, in the hope that we will hope for life in Christ. The bible is a story of love, God’s for us, ours for him, and ours for each other. When any scripture is in doubt, ask yourself three questions.
- Does this interpretation show God’s love for us?
- In this interpretation, does it show our love for God?
- Does this interpretation show our love for all others of mankind?
If you answer no to any of these, the interpretation is not based on the greatest commandments and is wrong. Scriptural interpretation should be easy. Don’t fill in gaps with other things, all it takes is love to understand.