Hermeneutics and the Interpreter's Role

Dr. Leo Percer gave a brief definition of Hermeneutics in his presentation as being the art and science of interpreting scripture.[1] Klein and all describes Hermeneutics as the practice of explaining the meaning of scripture.[2] The Apostle Paul spoke of the importance of Hermeneutics in his second letter to Timothy. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).[3] Due to the Bible being the manual and GPS for our lives as Christians, it is important that we understand what we are reading correctly so that we can align our lives in accordance to the will of the Father. The reader’s role in Hermeneutics is ensure proper understanding of the scripture in such a way that we would be relay the gospel of truth to those who are lost and to discern false teachings that may derive from others who may distort passages in the Bible to support, endorse and promote falsehoods.

The Bible tells us that the Bereans were faithful students of the Word of God and when Paul preached the gospel to them, they did not just take what he said as the truth merely because he was an apostle. They searched the scriptures for themselves to ensure that what he was teaching lined up with what the Word actually said and by doing so, they were able to ensure that his interpretation of the scripture was used in the proper context. The Bible says, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).[4] The Bereans were considered to be more honorable because of their lack of laziness regarding their own self-study of the Word of God. It is important for Christians to be self-feeders, so that they will be fed a balanced meal on the Word of God, which is done through prayer, proper study, and application. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).[5] We can only hide God’s word in our hearts if we have read and correctly understood it.

In many of today’s churches, pastors are using scriptures for personal, financial and even political gain. Many Christians do not read the Word of God for themselves and therefore, they are fooled into believing whatever the pastor says. For other Christians, they truly do not have an understanding of the Word. Some Christians may have a reading comprehension problem which extends to anything they read, and others may find certain books and passages such are Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation to be too challenging to understand due to their containing numerous symbolisms. This is why those who preach and teach must take the time to ensure that they understand the Word correctly so that when they teach others, they will give them the absolute truth as to God’s infallible word. Those who read and interpret scripture can do much harm if they do not fully have the correct meaning and understanding of the scripture themselves for they may be in danger of living contrary to the will of God and will teach others to do so. The Evangelist Philip was sent by the Holy Spirit to the Ethiopian eunuch so that he could explain the scroll of Isaiah to him. “So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:30-31).[6] The Ethiopian eunuch was then able to take the message to others after it had been explained to him for even though he was reading the scroll, he did not comprehend who the author, Isaiah, had been referring to in his writings. This is why Hermeneutics is so important because proper understanding of the Word allows us to share with others the gospel of Jesus Christ in truth, wisdom and love.

[1] Leo Percer, "Introduction to Hermeneutics," Liberty University Blackboard, 2012,

[2] William W. Klein, Robert L. Hubbard, and Craig L. Blomberg, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2017), 39.

[3] Tim. 2:15 (New International Version).

[4] Acts 17:11 (New International Version).

[5] Ps. 119:11 (King James Version).

[6] Acts 8:30-31 (English Standard Version).

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