Reading the Bible for yourself: modern message in an ancient meaning

Can the Holy Spirit give a new meaning to a Bible text? No, when the Spirit speaks to an individual (the modern reader) through the Bible text it must always be in line with the original meaning of that text as intended by the ancient author at the time of inspiration. The phrase ‘to be in line with’ does not necessarily mean that the message received from the Spirit by the modern reader has to be identical to the intended meaning of the author. The modern reader must, however, be aware of what the intended meaning was, and the new message must be derived from the intended meaning in some form.

A quote from Gordon Fee: ‘Our task is to discover and hear that Word in terms of God’s original intent and then hear that same Word again in our own historical setting, even when our particulars are quite different from those of the original setting.’ (Fee, G., Hermeneutics and the Gender Debate). Although the role of the Holy Spirit is missing in this quote, it is clear that Fee distinguishes between a ‘Word in terms of God’s original intent’ i.e. the ancient meaning, and ‘that same Word again in our own historical setting’ i.e. the modern message the reader receives today.

PS I intend to add to this post as my thoughts on this topic progress. Feel free to join in by posting comments. The broader question is how does God speak personally to us today through the Bible text?


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