The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Read, Part 4 | Interpretation, Part 1

July 18, 2011

This is where it really starts getting fun.  Last time we finished up Observation–simply seeing what the text said on the surface.  Today we’re going to interpret what that text meant for the people to whom it was written.  That will ultimately help us apply the truths in Scripture to our lives today.

The verse we’re studying, Titus 2:4-5:

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

There are 11 parts to Interpretation.  This could take anywhere from one day to a whole week–it really just depends on how in-depth you want to get.  For our purposes here I will not go near as deep as I, or you, ordinarily would.  Today I will go over the first six parts.

1. Look back over your observation.

This doesn’t involve any writing–just simply remind yourself of the things you learned while observing the text.

2. Ask any “why” questions you didn’t ask (or get answered) during Observation.

I usually just jot these down at the beginning of the Interpretation phase.  As I study the text I will almost always stumble upon the answers to these questions or find out that my questions aren’t really as important as I once thought.  If, when I’m through studying, I still have some questions left unanswered that I think merit further study, I will try and find the answer to them.

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • What does the “so that the word of God will not be dishonored” refer to?  All of these characteristics?  Just the “subject to their own husbands?”  Just that the older women should encourage the young?
  • Exactly what does it mean “the word of God will not be dishonored?”
  • What is the significance of “to be sensible?”
  • What exactly does Paul mean “workers at home?”
  • How does this relate to the gospel?

3. Word Studies

Studying the words of Scripture is my very favorite part of Bible study.  I have to be careful, though–it’s easy to get tied up in what the words mean and miss the whole point–Christ and Him crucified!  There are several different ways to study a word.

The easiest way I’ve found to study a word in-depth is to use the Blue Letter Bible (BLB).  There are several different features that are useful when using the BLB.  In this section, I’ll only cover the features that are helpful when conducting a word study.

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

Let’s look at the word “sensible” in verse five.

  1. Type in “Titus 2” and choose the Bible translation you’d like to use.  Press “Search.”
  2. Find the verses you’re studying.  Pick a word to study.  To the left of each verse there are five or six different little blue boxes.  They are labeled, “K,” “C,” “L,” “I,” “V,” and “D.”  The “K” stands for “Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.”  The “C” for “Concordance and Hebrew/Greek Lexicon.”  This is the feature we’ll be using for words studies.  The “L” stands for “List Audio, Study Tools, and Commentaries.”  The “I” stands for “Images/Maps”  The “V” for “Versions/Translations.”  Finally, the “D” stands for “Dictionary Aids.”  Clearly, there is a great deal of information to this resource.  Honestly, I don’t even know half of the amazing things that the BLB offers!  Anyway, click on the “C” next to verse five to go to the concordance/lexicon section.  A box will pop up with some Greek in it.  Well, I don’t know Greek either, but that’s okay.  Under the Greek is a list of the important words within Titus 2:5.
  3. “To be sensible” is the first of the list.  If you click on “sensible” you will be taken to the concordance.  Here you can see everywhere in the Bible where the same word, “sensible” is used.  This gives you a great idea as to what else it can mean.
  4. Go back to the concordance/lexicon list.  The second column is titled “Strong’s.”  This refers to a large concordance that you can use to look up words.  The best thing ever is that BLB has all the information that Strong’s Concordance offers built right in!  This saves several minutes of leafing through thousands of pages squinting just to read the text!  Simply click on the number next to “to be sensible” in the “Strong’s” column.  This will take you to the lexicon.  The most helpful information for me, is usually the “Outline of Biblical Usage.”  This tells you other ways this word is used in the Bible.  Finally, if you scroll further down, you’ll find other places where this exact Greek word is used.
  5. Lastly, I usually click the “K” and the “V” to see if the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and if some different Bible translations might help me learn more.
  6. This is what my notes on this word might look like:
  • Sensible: of a sound mind, sane, in one’s senses; curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate.  1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, Titus 2:2.  discreet (KJV, NKJV), self-controlled (NIV, ESV).

 If I still felt like I needed some further explanation,  I would turn to our other Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias.  I like Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary because it’s linked to Strong’s Concordance–they use the same numerical system.  Zondervan’s Bible Dictionary, and Encyclopedia of Bible Words, as well as Unger’s Bible Dictionary are some of our favorite.

I would also look up other translations of “sensible” (discreet and self-controlled) in these many references and take note of anything new I learned.

Oh, and then I’d do this to any other important words in the passage I’m studying–like encourage, love, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject, and dishonored.

4. Grammatical/Textual Context

This is very similar to the word studies.  Basically, I search through my word study notes and solidify them.  As I’m simplifying my findings I ask the question, Why did the author use this term in this way to these people at this time?  For instance:

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • Sensible: Paul included this command to everyone–not just the young women.  It can be translated “self-controlled,” which is a fruit of the spirit.  So maybe this wasn’t so much a command as a reminder that these believers already have a power to be self-controlled, or sensible–they’re believers after all . . .

5. Historical Context

A very useful tool when finding out the historical context is a Bible Handbook.  We like Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Handbook.  It’s organized by book and so it’s helpful to read the section about the passage you’re studying and the “About” section at the beginning of the book, in this case the “About” section for Titus.

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • A.D. 65 or 66.  False teachers had moved into Crete–this whole letter is instruction to Titus on how to call this unruly population to “good works”–for the sake of Christ.
  • Crete is where, during Paul’s journey to Rome (Acts 27), they decided not to stop and ended up crashing further west on Malta.
  • Later, after leaving Rome, Paul came back to Crete (Titus 1:5)
  • Crete is known for having unruly, creepy people on it

6. Geographical Context

Both a Bible handbook and a Bible Atlas are useful for finding the Geographical Context.  The atlas we have is the Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible.  Don’t think of the “geographical context” as only being “that ol’ map stuff!” (as my old Geography professor used to say).  Geography is much more than just maps.  It’s human history, as well.

so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

  • Crete is an island in the Mediterranean.  The Cretans came from the Minoan culture and were mostly seen as slobs in ancient society.

Sometimes there’s just not a lot to gain from some of the different context studies and that’s okay.  Imagine, though, how important the historical, geographical, and cultural contexts would be if studying an Old Testament battle!

This is all for today.  Next time I’ll go over the Cultural Context, Theological Context, Consultation, The Interpretive Overview, and the The Interpretive Conclusion Statement.

Here is the free printable to help you organize your thoughts while you’re Interpreting the text!

View this document on Scribd

Again, don’t let that green scare you!  When you print it out it should be the sea-foam green found all over home | health | heart!

Finally, Are you confused?  Is something I wrote fishy?  Do you want more information?  Let me know and I’ll help you/correct myself!

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One Response to “The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Read, Part 4 | Interpretation, Part 1”

  1. dalila parkin said

    Wow, how have I not seen this before?

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