Hermeneutics - Lesson 29

Application Guidelines

Dr. Todd Miles delivers a comprehensive lesson on hermeneutics, emphasizing the crucial role of application in understanding the Scriptures. He begins by revisiting the concept of the bridge connecting God's mind to human understanding, highlighting that application is the final and essential step in this process. Seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance, understanding original context application, and finding present parallels are emphasized. Dr. Miles stresses personal, practical, specific, measurable, and time-bound applications for tangible impact.

Todd Miles
Lesson 29
Watching Now
Application Guidelines

I. Introduction

II. Guidelines for Application

III. Principles for Application

A. Principles

B. Proverbs

C. Comparison or analogy

D. Rely on the Holy Spirit

E. Original context

F. Personal

G. Practical

  • This lesson explores John the Baptist's role as the Messiah's forerunner, his imprisonment for condemning Herod's affair, and Jesus' response in Matthew 11, rooted in Old Testament prophecies. Jesus' omission of judgment references confuses John about the Messiah's timing. Believers in the New Covenant, with deeper insight into Jesus, are seen as greater. The lesson promotes patience during suffering and the duty to identify Jesus as the Messiah.
  • This lesson on hermeneutics teaches you to approach the Bible with humility, seek divine guidance, analyze context, consider character roles, examine structure, use cross-references, apply sanctified imagination, and emphasize Jesus in interpretation, all while relying on the Holy Spirit.
  • This lesson introduces general and special revelation, emphasizing their roles in inviting people to know God and providing specific truths for salvation. It explores the process of inspiration, defining it as a concurrent work of a holy God and a human author, ensuring every word of Scripture is both human and divine, crucial for biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson reveals the Bible's divine authority, unity, and human relevance, stressing accurate interpretation for life transformation.
  • Learn about hermeneutics, understanding author intent, and different views on interpretation. Dr. Todd Miles discusses realism vs. non-realism, authorial authority, and introduces speech act theory to show how the Bible engages with readers, transforming beliefs and behavior.
  • This lesson delves into theological text interpretation, emphasizing that meaning is human-made, not inherent. Authors, not readers, shape text meaning. Accurate Bible interpretation hinges on understanding God's authorship, emphasizing His lordship, knowledge, and obedience. Presuppositions about God and human nature are vital for accurate Bible interpretation.
  • From this lesson, you will gain insights into the challenges of translating the Bible, understanding the continuum of translation philosophies, and the importance of selecting a translation that balances accuracy and readability in contemporary language. Dr. Todd Miles underscores the significance of using the best available manuscripts, avoiding theological bias, and staying updated with the latest knowledge of language and culture to ensure a quality translation.
  • From this lesson, you will gain valuable knowledge and insight into hermeneutics and biblical interpretation. You will understand that hermeneutics is not about uncovering hidden secrets but about utilizing your natural ability to interpret communication. Reading and becoming familiar with the Bible is crucial for effective interpretation, and it is essential to address biblical illiteracy.
  • Learn the significance of interpreting Bible passages in the context of redemptive history. Discover the Bible's continuous narrative, emphasizing revelation's progression and God's plan through the David and Goliath story. See how context ensures accurate interpretation, connecting the Bible's parts into a cohesive story of God's redemption.
  • Understanding the Bible through biblical theology is crucial, as it reveals the overarching narrative of God's redemptive plan, centered on His glory and the role of Jesus Christ, enabling a more profound comprehension of individual Bible passages and their relevance to our lives.
  • Dr. Todd Miles underscores the vital role of historical and cultural context in interpreting the Bible. Understanding the era when a passage was penned is crucial for grasping its genuine significance. Using examples like the virgins' parable and Revelation 3:14-22, it demonstrates how historical context aids in discerning interpretations and adds depth to the message. The text emphasizes that, while the Bible offers some historical context, external sources can also enhance comprehension. In conclusion, historical and cultural context is essential for accurate biblical interpretation.
  • In this lesson on Hermeneutics by Dr. Todd Miles, the focus is on understanding the cultural context when interpreting biblical texts. Dr. Miles emphasizes that culture plays a significant role in both the biblical author's writing and the reader's interpretation. He discusses the concept of cultural conditioning, highlighting that everyone, including the biblical authors, the original audience, and modern readers, is influenced by their respective cultures.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Miles highlights the significance of studying words in their original language and using etymology to decipher their original meanings.
  • Learn how recognizing and applying literary genres in the Bible is crucial for accurate interpretation, avoiding misinterpretations, and approaching Scripture with a nuanced understanding.
  • In this lesson, you will gain an understanding of interpreting biblical narratives. It begins by discussing the distinction between historical narratives and parables, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the markers of historical narrative.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Miles review biblical narrative interpretation. He emphasizes the importance of context, adding that each narrative should be examined within the broader biblical and book context. He illustrates this with Mark Chapter 5, where Jesus interacts with demons, breaking from the norm to underscore his authority.
  • From this lesson on Hermeneutics and Law, you will gain insight into the intricate relationship between the Old Testament law and New Covenant believers. Dr. Todd Miles emphasizes the challenge of applying ancient laws to contemporary life and introduces the key factors for understanding them: comprehending the nature of covenants and situating oneself in the timeline of redemptive history. This process is likened to using a mall map to find a destination.
  • Dr. Todd Miles discusses prophecy's significance beyond predicting the future. It validates God's deity, reveals future realities, and guides our present actions. Most prophecy is about forth-telling and emphasizes covenant understanding.
  • In this Hermeneutics lesson, you'll gain insights into the challenges of interpreting prophecy, including wrong expectations, historical context, conditional fulfillment, and various forms of prophetic proclamations, while also being reminded not to let contemporary agendas override the biblical text.
  • In taking this lesson, you gain insight into the concept of typology in biblical interpretation. Typology involves finding resemblances between Old Testament figures, events, and institutions and their fulfillment in the New Testament, particularly in relation to Jesus Christ.
  • Learn about poetry in the Bible by exploring Hebrew poetic parallelism and its emotional power in Psalms. Discover how poetry enhances biblical narratives and offers unique insights.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles discusses various types of psalms found in the Psalter and delves into their unique characteristics and theological significance. He begins by providing a list of different kinds of psalms, emphasizing that this list is not exhaustive but illustrative, highlighting the diversity of poetry within the Psalms.
  • By studying this lesson, you gain insight into essential figures of speech in the Bible and learn to interpret them effectively, enhancing your hermeneutical skills and deepening your understanding of the Scriptures.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles discusses the interpretation of parables. Parables are a specific literary genre with their own rules of interpretation. Parables are designed to teach a single point, although there might be exceptions. Historical context remains essential in understanding parables, as they are shaped by the situations of the day. 
  • This lesson explores Proverbs and wisdom literature, focusing on its distinct genre, interpretation rules. Dr. Miles highlights its purpose, living wisely with God. It emphasizes the fear of the Lord, touches Ecclesiastes' question of meaning, and Job's theodicy.
  • In this lesson on interpreting epistles, Dr. Todd Miles underscores the importance of understanding their structure, argumentative methods, and central theological focus on Jesus Christ and the gospel, even when addressing practical issues within the early Christian communities.
  • Dr. Todd Miles delves into apocalyptic literature, emphasizing its distinct features like revelatory communication and angelic guidance. It unveils profound truths through visions, promoting understanding and righteous conduct.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Todd Miles explores the concept of perspicuity, which refers to the clarity of the Bible. He begins by explaining that perspicuity is a theological term used to describe how clear the Bible's teachings are. It means that the Bible is written in a way that its teachings can be understood by anyone who reads it, seeks God's help, and is willing to follow it.
  • This lesson provides practical guidelines for applying biblical principles. Dr. Miles emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit, examining the original context, and identifying parallel situations in the present. He encourages applications to be personal, specific, measurable, and time-bound, ensuring they lead to tangible actions in your life.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the Holy Spirit's vital role in biblical interpretation, going beyond changing hearts to enabling comprehension and acceptance of the text. Dr. Todd Miles stresses the Spirit's role in illuminating the Bible, making it relevant to believers, challenging the idea that unbelievers interpret it as effectively, and emphasizing the importance of understanding the text's intent. The ultimate aim is not mastery but being mastered by the text, with the Holy Spirit as a key player.
Hermeneutics is the science and art of the interpretation of the Bible. It's a science because it is an orderly process based on rules you can apply. It is an art because of the nuances in communication and translation.


Dr. Todd Miles
Application Guidelines
Lesson Transcript

You remember early in this course, I had the illustration of the bridge where you're trying to get from the mind of God to the mind of Todd. And I said that, yeah, there's inspiration and there's transmission and translation and then interpretation. But the final step and you haven't really gotten from the mind of God to the mind of Todd until the Scriptures are applied. Application, rightly understood application. That's all part of this, this bridge of Revelation. And then we thought about speech act theory, where God is doing something in the text with an illocutionary intent or a goal with all of his illocutionary force in power and that we're supposed to perlocute, that is, we're supposed to respond and we should respond appropriately because God is a good communicator. And so because God is trying to do something in his communication to you and to me, the application phase, if you will, it's not just a phase, but it's really the culminating phase of the hermeneutical endeavor. So let's think about developing principles for application. I'll give you some vocab first, meaning we've been talking about meaning this whole entire class, that the meaning of a text is, is that pattern of meaning the author will to convey by the words that he used. And I know that's not a very good definition to use the word in the definition, but implication are those meanings in a text by which the author was perhaps unaware but nevertheless legitimately fall within the pattern of meaning that he will add. And the application to that or the illustration was Paul says don't get drunk on wine. And the implication would be don't get stoned on crack cocaine either. Even though Paul probably was not aware of crack cocaine, that still is an implication of his willed pattern of meaning. And then significant significance would be how a reader responds to the meaning of a text. Now, how when we are applying the words of Scripture, how do we determine what is relative versus what is absolute? And we've talked about this a bit already, a problem often encountered when trying to determine what's normative. Am I supposed to do it as written or what is cultural? That is, maybe this is relative to them, but there's some other way that I'm supposed to apply it today. That's that's a problem that's often encountered. And we could we could oftentimes fall into all sorts of mistakes. Sometimes people will relativitivize the absolutes or they will absolutize the relatives. The church has has has gone in all sorts of different directions when it comes to sexual ethics that I think are very, very clear in the  Bible. And yet, you know, within your own church is probably how easy it is for us to baptize our own impulses, to take the things that we like the best and make them into absolutes, whether it be in worship, music, Bible translation. Should I have an altar call or not? Why don't you have an altar call? You have to have an altar call, even though those words are never actually in the Bible anywhere, although inviting people to hear and respond to the gospel, that seems to be a pretty significant thing biblically speaking. All right. So let's let's think through some principles for determining what is normative. To introduce this, let's ask how are we supposed to be like Jesus. Be like Jesus? I know we're told that Jesus is our example. We're supposed to follow in his steps. How am I supposed to do that? Can I walk on water? Can I raise the dead? Are there certain spheres where we're able to do it in certain spheres where we are not able to do it? Okay, well, what about foot washing? And John, chapter 13, verse 14. It seems to be a command. If I then your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. That language of ought implies duty and responsibility. I should do it. Of course, Jesus did say also that I've done this for you as an example. But how do we normalize that and make foot washing mandatory in our services? We talked a bit about that already. One of the ways that I think through is that culturally relative or not, that is, am I supposed to obey it as written? Is can I develop a biblical theology of the thing itself, or do I look for an underlying principle and think of a culturally relevant way to obey it? And in this case, with foot washing, I can't really develop a biblical theology of feet or of washing feet, but I can develop a theology of of hospitality and service, in particular service, sacrificial service, which is the whole point. And Jesus, of course, gives us a clue. I'm doing this for you as an example. There's there's passages in the Bible that say, Let the women keep silent in the church. But in the same book we have, women are to pray and prophesy in the church. So which one is it? What are we supposed to do? Hard to pray and prophesy in the church if you are silent in the church. How are we supposed to navigate this? Jesus says that one must be born again to see the Kingdom of God. That's John. Chapter three. Elsewhere, he says, you have to give up your possessions to enter the kingdom. Do we universalize that passage? The advice that he gave to the rich young man in the Sermon on the Mount were instructed not to make oaths. Yet in the Book of Acts, Paul puts himself under an oath in Romans nine. God puts himself under an oath. Just interesting. He swears by himself. And then we need to think through issues related to cultural sensitivity. We're told, greet one another with a holy kiss. In some cultures, that may go off really well. In others, not so much. So what would be some ground rules for how to think through this? I've already told you that that that there is a sense in which every statement of the Bible is both absolute and relative. I told you that that they're all relative and that they're a product of language and they're all culturally linked. And we hear words in a certain way, and those words mean things to us. And yet, because it comes from God himself, everything is absolute. All Scripture is God-breathed. All of it is useful for us. So here are some principles. First off, seek the balance of Scripture. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. A colleague of mine likes to say we need to come to a conclusion that makes the most sense of all the biblical data. All of it. Not just most of it, but all of it, with the fewest difficulties. Second, never mandate on the conscience of any believer what is demanded only once in Scripture. Now I recognize that God does not have to say anything more than once for it to be true. But He might have to say something numerous times for it to get through to us. We are dumb, sinful, culturally bound is foot washing like this. The Lord's Supper is mentioned many times, foot washing only once, and again, think in terms of a biblical theology when deciding what to apply. Repent in sackcloth and ashes. How many of us have done that? We talked about this. I can't come up with a theology of ashes, but that seems to be a cultural manifestation of repentance or self-abnegation or something of that nature. But I can think of a biblical theology of repentance and contrition. Great. One another with a holy kiss. Same sort of thing we looked at at head coverings. I would encourage you to think through that principle. Can I develop a biblical theology of the specific thing? There are sometimes, as we discuss with the Lord's Supper, where even though culturally it might appear weird, we hang on to the literalness of those particulars because it's vested with a biblical theology, and we're supposed to bring all that to bear when we practice it. Be especially careful in the interpretation of Proverbs because they're neither universal promises nor case law. Proverbs Chapter 26, verses four and five is a really good example of this verse for answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. The very next verse answer a fool according to his folly, less tby wise in his own eyes Both makes sense, but which one is it? That's the point of the wisdom literature. It's the dropping of counsel and advice. And it takes wisdom and dexterity and sensitivity to know what to apply at the right time. Matthew, chapter 12, verse 30, jesus says, Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. In Mark 9:40, jesus says something a little different, for the one who is not against us is for us. Well, the latter one's far more generous. He's got lots of friends. You don't have to just be for Jesus. You can be merely not against him. And he'll take it. But Matthew 12, you have to be for him. Those two texts don't go together in purely mathematical terms, but they're not contradictory. If we put them in context and we take them as as wisdom literature as as proverbial. Owe no man anything. The Bible tells us. Well, that's not a text about finances. I don't know that that specifically means don't take out a home mortgage. Remember that a text without a context becomes a pretext for a proof text. And we don't want to do that. I probably got that from D A Carson. Comparisons and analogies must be thoroughly, thoughtfully delimited, usually by observing contexts near and far. Jesus rarely turned down anybody who wanted healing. The Bible says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Therefore, Jesus will always heal unless he chooses not to. Which is the case. It appears to be most of the time, since most people, that is everyone eventually dies until Jesus returns. What about what? Jesus Christ died on the cross. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore what? Well, Jesus, the same. Yesterday, today and forever. He's not dead. He rose from the dead. And so whatever the same yesterday, today and tomorrow means it can't mean that Jesus is in every way, always the same. We have to think about what this passage means. And so, yeah, we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We are to imitate Him. There are context where we must imitate Jesus specifically, and then there are contexts where it will be difficult to do that either because of our situation or the distinction between him as, say, Lord of the Universe and us as a humble creature. Okay, that was some background. Let's let's look at some principles for writing applications. Number one, look for principles rather than a blueprint for behavior. It strikes me as I read through the New Testament, the emphasis on growth in wisdom. Next time you're doing your Bible read through and you get to the New Testament, especially once you get past the Book of Acts. Look at the pastoral instruction and how important growth in wisdom is. You could almost say that sanctification is growth in wisdom. It's pretty remarkable. And so it takes dexterity. It takes sensitivity. It takes wisdom to know how to apply things appropriately. Therefore, principles rather than a blueprint. I don't think God is interested in cookie cutter Christians or giving us a cookbook for how to behave an ethical code book in all situations. Rather, what he wants us to do is to have the mind of Christ. That's not to say that there's not a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do. I'm not denying that. I'm saying that a lot of times the difficult issues aren't where there's an obvious right or wrong thing, and that's where God wants us to be Christ-like. That's where the rubber really meets the road. Second, seek the help of the Holy Spirit as you seek to apply the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit is the agent of our sanctification. He is the agent of our transformation. And so it seems only right as Trinitarian Christians, which is really there's no such thing as a non Trinitarian Christian, but we are Trinitarian. You might as well give credit to the person of the Godhead where we can. And this is the Holy Spirit domain. So seek his help. Ask him specifically, it seems to me. Observe third, how the principles that you discovered were applied in the text addressing the original situation. That might be a good indicator for how we can apply it. It might not be exhaustive. It might not be totally appropriate depending on the culture or context, but it's at least a good place to start. And then look for parallel, not necessarily identical, but parallel situations in your context. Remember, applications must flow out of the text of Scripture. Do your study, and then the application should flow from what the Scriptures say and are doing. Don't read your desired applications on to the text. Application should be personal. It should be about you. I was once told that I can have desires for other people, but I can't have goals. And I think that's that's helpful. It doesn't do any good for me to have a goal. I can hope a person will do something. I can desire a person to do something, but I can't have the goal that they do something. So when I come up with an application from a text, it should be an application for me, not for someone else is running joke in our family. My wife is really good at making New Year's resolutions for all of us, but never for herself. This works kind of the same way. Applications should be personal and applications should be practical. They should be practical. They should be something that you can do. I'll get into this a little more later in a second. Applications, it seems to me, could be broken into two distinct types. There's the theoretical and there's the practical. Theoretical applications are necessary, I suppose, for laying the foundation for the practical. They might be more theological axioms or ethical axioms. But they don't tell you what to do. They don't tell you what to do. We want the practical kind, the kind where I can say, where I can ask someone else, Would you ask me if I did this? And the answer when they ask me that will be yes or no. You won't be like, Well, I'm not sure if I did that. That would be a poorly worded application. Applications should not be limited to the spiritual area of your life. We're not Gnostic anyway, so don't think while I'm reading the Bible, therefore all I can have or spiritual applications. Well, it might be true all you can have or spiritual applications. But because we are spirit people, every aspect of our life is spiritual. The Lord is not just the God of one aspect of your life. He owns every piece of you. Applications should apply to political, economic aspects of your life. They should be utilized locally, nationally, globally. They should be applied to both believers and unbelievers. That is how I interact with them. Applications should be specific. I'll give you more on that here in a second. And when possible, applications should be measurable. I mentioned earlier about principles and I cited Walt Kaiser and how he has this this ladder of of particularity. And some commands are very, very particular. Others are more general. And what we want to be able to do is we want to get to a place where we can take the general principle or maybe the specific application and apply it in a legitimate way to where we're at today. And it could be that a command is so particular that it's culturally relative, and I need to come down that ladder to something. There's a more general truth or a more general ethical command. But I don't want to go too far. The bottom of the ladder would be love God, love your love your neighbor as yourself, which is a great thing to do. But that doesn't really guide our behavior. But we also I used the example earlier of build a railing around your house. Well, no one really has that. Does that mean we're off the hook for that command has no relevance to us? Yeah. Not if Second Timothy 3:16 is true. All scripture is God breathed, including that command, make a railing around your roof. So what am I supposed to do? So we come down to maybe a passage that says Not a passage, but a command, take care of people. Do what you can to take care of people when you're there on your property. Okay. So that's that's a good application. And we can take that one and then we can go move across to the ladder of our life and then we move up the ladder into stuff that's very particular. And the example I used was, okay, so my principles take care of people when they're on my property. That's a good way to go down the ladder of loving my neighbor as myself. But that's too vague. So as take care of people when they're on your property, I'll go up to something very specific that I can actually do. Therefore, I will shovel the snow off my sidewalk so that people don't slip and fall. Maybe something like that. Okay. All right. So applications should be specific. Applications should be measurable. An application should be personal, as I said earlier, and applications should have timeframes attached to them. So if I do a Bible study and I'm convinced that I need to reach out and be kind to my neighbor, that's that's the take away. Then I want to write an application that is personal, specific, measurable, and and time frames. Otherwise, it's not going to be very helpful. Now, what do I mean by that? First off, an application should be personal. It should be something I can do. I already described why that is. Second, an application should be specific. That is, it's something that I can either do or that I can do. Not something where there would be any question as to whether I do it or not. Therefore, not just specific, but measurable. At the end of the day, I will be able to ask myself, Did I do this? And it would be yes or no. Either did it or I didn't, and I want to attach some time frames to it so I can hold myself accountable because I think a lot of times we do Bible study, we come up with applications. They're either not personal or they're not specific, they're not measurable, they're just vague and they're out there and I haven't attach any time frames to it at all. So if I did a Bible study and I came to the conclusion I need to love my neighbor, maybe you're even studying Jesus's words. Love your neighbor as yourself. I didn't think, how am I supposed to apply this? If your application is, I'm going to love my neighbor as myself. Okay. Good luck with that. Good luck with that. How do you know whether you've done it or not? I have no idea. So write an application that is personal for you. It's specific, It's measurable and is with time frames. So I could write something like this to apply. Love my neighbors myself. I'm going to go to my elderly neighbor's house next door, John, and I'm going to mow this line for him. And I'm going to do that by Friday. So when? And then I can seek accountability. Camille, By Friday, will you make sure that I've mowed the lawn for John and then Friday can come and Camille can ask me? Todd, have you made the line for John yet? Which is another way of saying, Todd, have you loved your neighbor as yourself? But this time, I can say. Yes, I did. Yes, I did. So I actually applied that again so often. Our applications are vague. We don't have timeframes attached to them and we end up not applying the word of God. So whenever whenever I do a Bible study methods class, when it comes to writing applications, those are the kind of things I'm looking for personal, specific, measurable to where you can ask yourself, did I do it or not? And then some time frames and if possible, plan of accountability always helps, too.