Hermeneutics - Lesson 30

Role of the Holy Spirit

From this lesson, you will understand the role of the Holy Spirit in biblical interpretation. The Holy Spirit's involvement is not limited to changing the interpreter's heart but extends to enabling both understanding and acceptance of the text. Dr. Todd Miles emphasizes that the Holy Spirit's role is to illuminate the Bible for believers, making it both understandable and applicable to their lives. He challenges the idea that unbelievers can interpret the Bible as effectively as believers and highlights the importance of grasping the illocutionary force of the text. Ultimately, the goal of biblical interpretation is not to master the text but to be mastered by it, with the Holy Spirit playing a crucial role in this transformative process.

Todd Miles
Lesson 30
Watching Now
Role of the Holy Spirit

A. Introduction

B. 1 Corinthians 2:14

C. Dr. Miles’ proposal

  • 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 
Role of the Holy Spirit 
Lesson Transcript


The last thing that I want to talk to you about is perhaps the most important, and that's the role of the Holy Spirit in interpretation. What role does the Holy Spirit play in interpreting the Bible? The question is, does the Holy Spirit bring understanding? A subsequent question becomes, Can an unbeliever read and understand the Bible like a believer can? What role does the Holy Spirit play? Is the Holy Spirit a substitute for hard work and study? Could you have just skipped this class and prayed for intervention? Is that how the Holy Spirit works? What role does the Holy Spirit play? Well, turn with me, if you will, to First Corinthians chapter two, verse 14, First Corinthians chapter two, verse 14. As usual, Paul is defending his apostolic authority and and such. And he talks about how the Spirit has revealed to him and to those like him these things that access the divine mind. He says, though, in verse 14, but the person without the spirit does not receive what comes from God's spirit because it is foolishness to him. He is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. Another translation. The natural person that is the person without the Spirit does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are folly to Him. He is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. I remember sitting in this hermeneutic class much like this, and this passage was read and it was executed and the translation was basically this by the time the person was done. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are folly to him, and he is not able to accept them because they are spiritually discerned. That is the role of the Holy Spirit is to make the Word of God applicable. He doesn't do anything when it comes to understanding. The problem is that's not what this verse says. It says the natural person does not accept the things, the Spirit of God. He is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned or appraised or judged. Now. An implication of that was that my teacher said, therefore, an unbeliever can write just as good of a Bible commentary as a believer can, because as long as he's following the historical grammatical method, he can do proper exegesis. Why is that? The natural man does not welcome the things of God. He can understand them. He just doesn't like them. He doesn't apply them. He does not receive them. Spiritual things are understood, but they're regarded as false. They're rejected, not received. And one of the rationales for this is otherwise, why have Bible studies? Why have evangelistic Bible studies? Why get together with an unbeliever and point out Jesus his word say in the Gospel of John? If that person is unable to receive them until they get the spirit? The conclusion for this one interpretation was the role of the Holy Spirit is to change the heart of the interpreter, to love the message that is conveyed and understood by the words. So when it comes to exit Jesus, there's really no difference between the believer and an unbeliever and what they bring. Both understand. One believes the other does not. The problem is, that's not exactly what the Scripture says. The Scriptures say. He doesn't accept them. He's not able to understand them. Those are two different words. And those words are not synonymous, it seems to me. So here's my proposal. The Spirit of God illuminates the text for the believer. Axiom Chapter 27. The work of the Holy Spirit Illumination is that work of the Holy Spirit, by which He makes the Bible understandable and applicable to the believer's life. So that differs from the interpretation that I just gave you and that I'm saying he makes the Bible understandable. And I was told Illuminations that work is the Spirit by which he makes the Bible applicable. But I think the Scriptures teach understandable and applicable, and I would even apply First Corinthians 2:14 to that. That means that revelation and communication have already taken place. Now, in order to understand exactly what goes on in this task of illumination, what the Holy Spirit is doing as we interpret it, we need to understand why we need illumination in the first place. It seems to me that there is a moral antipathy towards the truth, and we see this in the Bible and this moral antipathy. We hate what the Bible says or the unbelieving person hates what the Bible teaches. This is where the truth is known. It is actually understood, but then is rejected. At John chapter three, verse 19, John writes, This is the judgment. The light has come into the world and the people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. They saw the light. There's a sense in which they even understood it, but they reject it because their hearts are turned toward evil. They prefer the darkness over the light. In order to hate something, you have to know something about it in order to hate it. Now, you might be prejudiced, you might be wrong, you might be stupid or foolish. But you still know something. Even even something like prejudice is based on the real understanding that there is some difference between you and the other person. And so you illegitimately hate the person on the basis of that difference that you clearly see. The truth is known. And yet you still make up a word and try to conjure up as much hatred for that word as you can. It would be impossible even, you know, it doesn't matter if you grit your teeth. It's still it doesn't matter. You can't hate something that you know nothing about. So so that's one thing the Bible speaks about and why we would need illumination. The truth is known, but we reject it. There's also spiritual blindness at work as well. And here's where the truth is just not known. Second Corinthians Chapter four, verse four. Paul writes. In their case, the God of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. I love Paul's confidence here because people are questioning again his apostolic authority on the basis that, yeah, your message is no great shakes because look, people are rejecting it. And Paul says, There ain't nothing wrong with my gospel message. My preaching is awesome. My preaching is awesome. The reason they're responding has nothing to do with me. It's a them problem, not a me problem. They're blind to the truth. They just don't see it. The God of this age has blinded the minds of the present generation. And so how can they come to know things if they're blind here? They don't even know the truth. On the one hand, the truth is known but hated. On the other hand, the truth is just not known. How can it be both? And Paul in Acts 26:18, probably thinking back to his own conversion and how he was commissioned, said that his task is to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. The Holy Spirit opens the eyes so that they can see and love the truth. To take it back to speech act theory, I would argue this the Holy Spirit is responsible for the per locutionary aspect of the speech act. That. And remember, the per locution is what we do with the message that has been given. The speaker locutes and illocutes, the speaker does things. He might greet. I feel welcomed. That's up to me now. Their words, and depending on how much force or authority they have that that can make a difference. But still, I'm the one who does it. But it's not merely me. The Holy Spirit is doing this as well. He's doing this in me. So first the Spirit illuminates the reader. That is enables, I would argue the Spirit enables the reader to grasp the locutionary point to recognize what the Scriptures are doing. Now, this is an intellectual thing, but the Spirit enables this. I would argue that that we ask, what is God doing in the text? And we understand. We come to understand what God is doing. And in second, and perhaps most importantly, the Spirit convicts the reader, bringing realization and commitment that the illocutionary point of the biblical text deserves the appropriate response. That would be bringing to bear that illocutionary force. We come under conviction of the Holy Spirit. If we understand God is saying that I must repent, God is saying I must repent. And we feel that weighing on our heart. That's that's what God is doing. And there's force and the spirit is bringing that conviction to us. God is saying that I must do this and he is God. So I must do it. I can do it. I will do it. I have to do it. I need to turn. John, Chapter 20, verse 31. You remember why John wrote his gospel? These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ. A nonbeliever perhaps will read that in the Spirit of God will open his eyes and he'll come to realize, well, the God through this book is calling me. Jesus is calling me, calling me, calling me. He is the good Shepherd. He is the one by whom? For whom, through whom I was created. I must repent. And the Spirit enables that. Kevin Vanhooser writes this. He says, The Spirit of God does not alter the semantics of biblical literature. He doesn't change the words on the page. Locution and illocution inscribed in scripture remain unchanged. It's there in the text. The Spirit inspired that, of course. So it's there by his sovereign control, but it's already there. And now the person reads it to go on the spirits agency. What he's doing now consists, rather in bringing the illocutionary point home to the reader, and so achieving the corresponding locutionary effect, whether belief, obedience, praise or some other. I think that's really helpful. Because the goal is not to master the word, but to be mastered by it. Why do I disobey the commands of Scripture? Why do I disobey? Why do I need to reapply or apply the words of the Bible? Because there's something about me that is doing something that's wrong. Something about me ultimately that's thinking wrong. I'll illustrate it this way. I. I had earlier told you about deputizing my, my, my younger son to go up and tell his older brother to put his pajamas on and get in bed. And of course, there's no force. There's no authority. My younger son, the result is inevitably going to be the opposite of my desire. It doesn't even matter if my son were to say Dad has deputized me and given me the illocutionary force necessary to tell you that you're supposed to get in bed. He'd probably say that that would not be terribly persuasive. So then I walk up and I say, Vicente, I want you to brush your teeth and I want you to get in bed. And then 10 minutes later, I go up there and maybe he's still sitting on the floor playing his guitar or whatever it is he's doing. And I you know, I've been to parenting classes, so I go up and I say, What part of brush your teeth and get in bed did you not understand? And I think that's actually a legitimate question to ask, because I think there is something cognitive going on here. There is a lack of understanding, not merely a lack of reception. So I say, did you not understand my locution? Did you understand why? I said? My son would say, Oh, no, I understood to your locution. You said, Put on your pajamas and brush your teeth and get in bed. Quit playing your guitar, brush your teeth, get in bed. And then I look at him and I say, nevertheless, here you sit still with your guitar. Maybe you didn't understand the illocution. Oh, no, Dad. I was able to parse your verb that was in the imperative mood. That was a command. That was a command. And yet here you sit. Here. You sit. Okay. Maybe you did not understand the locutionary force behind my command. He said, Oh, no, Dad, I understand the father son distinction. You are Dad, and I am not. You have authority in my life. And I said, And yet here you sit. What part of put a brush your teeth and get in bed? Did you not understand? And maybe part of this understanding is is even my motivation behind it. The sun. Hey, do you not trust me? Do you not understand that I love you and my commands to you are not arbitrary. They're not a power trip. Your mother and I have not once ever laid awake at night thinking of ways to make your life miserable. Not one time ever. But we have laid awake at night dreaming of ways to bless you because we love you. Don't you understand how much I love you? And at that point, I think Vicente would have to say that was what I was doubting. And hopefully he repents and he puts this put it, puts his guitar away, brushes his teeth and gets in bed. There is something about understanding in all of our obedience and disobedience. Let me illustrate it this way then. For me. Right now. My my daughter is pregnant with twins, which is super exciting for us. And she has enormous anxiety right now because six months ago she miscarried where a baby in her womb in about 12 weeks just died. Inexplicably, Doctor said there was no reason for that to happen. It's very strange. Right now she is at 12 weeks and she is dying inside. And and and I'm not by disposition a worrier, not by virtue, but disposition. I'm just not much of a worry. And yet I can feel in my own heart a little bit of anxiety. So most of that's for her. But some of that's for me. And and as I have this bit of anxiety, I can imagine the Lord saying, Hey, God, Philippians four, six and seven do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, present your request to God, and then the peace of Jesus Christ, which transcends all understanding peace of God, which it will, and it will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. And he would say, What part of that did you not understand? And I would say, Well, I understood the locution. I understood the words. Oh, okay. Well, maybe maybe you just didn't understand what I was doing in the text. Maybe you didn't understand the illocution. Oh, no. I can parse the verbs. That's an imperative or mood. That's a command. Oh, Todd, maybe you don't get the illocutionary force behind my words. The creator creature distinction. So, no, no, I understand your God, and I'm not. I get that. I get that. Okay. What part of do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition for sent your request to God did you not understand? Maybe you don't understand how much I love you. Maybe you think my commands are the commands of a despot, not the commands of someone who loves you? Do you really think Todd that I lay awake at night dreaming up ways to make your life miserable? I haven't done that. Metaphorically speaking. I've probably spent more time lying awake at night thinking of ways to bless you. Certainly not to curse you. What part of do not be anxious about anything? But in everything, my prayer and petition present your request to God that you not understand. And I would probably at that point have to say, I'm so sorry. That's what I was doubting. That's what I was doubting. And I think that's what the Spirit of God does in interpretation for us. He brings understanding and acceptance. Now they're jointly tied together because our understanding or our acceptance is tied to our understanding, not necessarily understanding of the words on the page, but understanding of all the other stuff that goes into responding rightly to God's Word. What he's doing in the text, the authority, the force behind his words, but perhaps most of all, the love that motivates them. And that's why biblical interpretation is so important. And that's what this class has been about.