When Paul wrote to Timothy, the senior apostle urged the younger Timothy to do the work necessary to “rightly handle the word of truth.” The implication is that it is possible to mishandle the word of truth. You only need to listen to a few sermons online or visit a few churches to start your collection of scary examples!
Nuanced technical caveats notwithstanding, it is essential to recognize that every passage says something specific. Our job as we study is to determine, as best we can, what that something is. That is to say that each passage has one accurate interpretation. It cannot mean anything, and it does not mean everything. It means something.
Once we determine that meaning, that one interpretation, we can then begin to evaluate the many potential applications of the passage.
Here is a video on this specific matter:
But if we are going to talk about the rules and principles of interpretation, then are we not embarking on a tedious task? After all, who wants to memorize rules?
You could say the same thing about other processes too. Learning to ride a bike feels tedious, but it opens a new world of adventures for a child. Learning to drive a car safely can feel overwhelming, but it creates new freedom that is a wonderful blessing. Learning anything will involve some rules or principles. The real question is this: is it worth learning?
When we learn to handle the word of truth rightly, we start to see the richness God has put in our Bibles. We get to understand his glorious message to us. We get to enjoy the beauty of the divine revelation in all of its literary splendour. We get to experience the life-change that comes from living a Bible-marked life. The rules of interpretation sound dull, but they are a means to infinite treasure! Boring is not the word; let’s try exciting instead!
Check out the video to see which Bible passage I use to introduce this point!