Interpretation or Speculation?

How do we avoid going from interpretation to speculation when reading the Bible? That’s a question I hadn’t given much thought to, until we began our new study in I Timothy last Sunday.

After the greeting, Paul began his letter by urging Timothy to reign in those who were teaching strange doctrines, doctrines based on things that give rise to mere speculation. Beliefs that go beyond simply understanding and applying what we find in Scripture, to speculating about things that may not have been in the mind of the authors, or the Spirit.

We noted, as a case in point, the Fox News report that “Biblical prophecy claims the Rapture is coming April 23.” The article quoted a numerologist who has determined that astronomical events that will be taking place on April 23 are those spoken of in Revelation 12, and they signal the beginning of events leading to the end of the world and Christ’s return.

The article, however, also quoted someone who disagreed. He said, “There is nothing to suggest that April 23 is a momentous date for biblical prophecy, and Christians need to be careful about being drawn into such sensationalist claims.” So the prophetic pronouncement was most likely mere speculation, and the only thing momentous about April 23 is that it is Tina’s 50th birthday!

Speculation came into view again at our Sunday night study. We were looking at the third word of Christ from the cross, which was simply, “Woman, behold, your son!” and “Behold, your mother!” The obvious thing that was taking place is that Jesus was entrusting His mother into the care of John. Our author, who has some amazing insights into the Scriptures, read into that simple statement Mary being declared as the new Eve, the mother of the Mystical Body the Church, and the Queen of Martyrs.

When trying to understand where all that came from, we concluded he must have been looking at the text through a lens that had already been colored to see what he saw. We also acknowledged that we too have a tendency to do the same thing. Doctrines that have been passed on to us, and teachings that are held by those we hold in high regard, can cause us to see things that aren’t actually in the text.

I guess the bottom line is that in order to keep from speculation, we need to be careful what kind of spectacles we are wearing when reading the Scriptures.

God Bless, Rick

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