Read: Psalm 119:97-105

When it comes to hermeneutics, the study of interpreting the Bible, we need to pay attention to many things. We find different genres in Scripture, language, grammar, and all sorts of things. We need to get a hold of the original context of a Scripture to find out first what that verse meant to the people who lived then.

In Sunday school, people say, “What does that verse mean to you?” It doesn’t matter what it means to you. What matters is, what does it mean? What would it mean if you had never lived? What does it mean if you were not on the planet?

Once we know what it means, we can ask, “how can we apply that particular passage of Scripture to our own life?” That requires ‘principlizing’ the text—what principles do we find in it? But we’re not ready to ‘principlize’ a text until we know what it means. If we don’t understand that, we’ll be misapplying it.

Meaning and application are two separate things. Meaning is the significance or denotation, and application is what do we do with it. Both of these things are necessary to a Christian’s health. If all we do is focus on what something means and don’t think about how to live it out, then we’re misunderstanding why God gave us His Word. He gave it to us not just to know it, but to live it out and walk in His Word. His Word is a lamp for our feet and a light to our path when we walk in the truth. To know the meaning but not think about application would be to fall short.

The church suffers from many misapplications because we forget first to get hold of what Scripture means. To try to do everything we find in the book of Acts is going to be wrongheaded. There is a particular era represented in the book of Acts. There were different things happening then that don’t exist today. If we try to make the standard of the book of Acts the standard of what we do today in church, we’re going to be misapplying Scripture.

We always have to hear Scripture first in its context, and then ask, “what difference does this make to how we are supposed to live today?” We worship God by applying those principles.

We would like to thank Walking In Grace / Richard Caldwell for providing this plan.