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Dr. Robert H. Stein wrote,
Tuesday night arrived. Dan and Charlene had invited several of their neighbors to a Bible study, and now they were wondering if anyone would come. Several people had agreed to come, but others had not committed themselves. At 8:00 p.m., beyond all their wildest hopes, everyone who had been invited arrived. After some introductions and neighborhood chit-chat, they all sat down in the living room. Dan explained that he and his wife would like to read through a book of the Bible and discuss the material with the group. He suggested that the book be a Gospel, and, since Mark was the shortest, he recommended it. Everyone agreed, although several said a bit nervously that they really did not know much about the Bible. Dan reassured them that this was all right, for no one present was a “theologian,” and they would work together in trying to understand the Bible.
They then went around the room reading Mark 1:1–15 verse by verse. Because of some of the different translations used (the New International Version, the Revised Standard Version, the King James Version, and the Living Bible), Dan sought to reassure all present that although the wording of the various translations might be different, they all meant the same thing. After they finished reading the passage, each person was to think of a brief summary to describe what the passage meant. After thinking for a few minutes, they began to share their thoughts.
Sally was the first to speak. “What this passage means to me is that everyone needs to be baptized, and I believe that it should be by immersion.” John responded, “That’s not what I think it means. I think it means that everyone needs to be baptized by the Holy Spirit.” Ralph said somewhat timidly, “I am not exactly sure what I should be doing. Should I try to understand what Jesus and John the Baptist meant, or what the passage means to me?” Dan told him that what was important was what the passage meant to him. Encouraged by this, Ralph replied, “Well, what it means to me is that when you really want to meet God you need to go out in the wilderness just as John the Baptist and Jesus did. Life is too busy and hectic. You have to get away and commune with nature. I have a friend who says that to experience God you have to go out in the woods and get in tune with the rocks.”
It was Cory who brought the discussion to an abrupt halt. “The Holy Spirit has shown me,” he said, “that this passage means that when a person is baptized in the name of Jesus the Holy Spirit will descend upon him like a dove. This is what is called the baptism of the Spirit.” Jan replied meekly, “I don’t think that’s what the meaning is.” Cory, however, reassured her that since the Holy Spirit had given him that meaning it must be correct. Jan did not respond to Cory, but it was obvious she did not agree with what he had said. Dan was uncomfortable about the way things were going and sought to resolve the situation. So he said, “Maybe what we are experiencing is an indication of the richness of the Bible. It can mean so many things!”
But does a text of the Bible mean many things? Can a text mean different, even contradictory things? Is there any control over the meaning of biblical texts? Is interpretation controlled by means of individual revelation given by the Holy Spirit? Do the words and grammar control the meaning of the text? If so, what text are we talking about? Is it a particular English translation such as the King James Version or the New International Version? Why not the New Revised Standard Version or the Living Bible? Or why not a German translation such as the Luther Bible? Or should it be the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts that best reflect what the original authors, such as Isaiah, Paul, and Luke, wrote? And what about the original authors? How are they related to the meaning of the text?
It is obvious that we cannot read the Bible for long before the question arises as to what the Bible “means” and who or what determines that meaning. Neither can we read the Bible without possessing some purpose in reading. In other words, using more technical terminology, everyone who reads the Bible does so with a “hermeneutical” theory in mind. The issue is not whether one has such a theory but whether one’s “hermeneutics” is clear or unclear, adequate or inadequate, correct or incorrect. It is hoped that this book will help the reader understand what is involved in the interpretation of the Bible. It will seek to do so by helping readers acquire an interpretative framework that will help them understand better the meaning of biblical texts and how to apply that meaning to their own life situation. – Robert H. Stein, A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible: Playing by the Rules (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994), 11–13.
Author, Text, and Reader
One must have the author, the text, and the reader to accomplish communication. If we remove any one of these three, communication is impossible. However, modern liberal scholarship has caused a bit of confusion as to which one of these three are responsible for the meaning.
The Author as the Determiner of the Meaning
The approach that has been with us from the beginning and is by far the most logical of all is that the author is responsible for the meaning. This approach holds that what Moses, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Matthew, Paul, John or any of the other 34 Bible authors penned, the meaning is what they intended to convey, as they were moved along by Holy Spirit, is found in the words that they used. There are several arguments against this approach, which will be discussed below.
The first objection is that the reader cannot possibly get into the mind of the author, not being able to know what he was thinking as he penned his words. The reader is not capable of sharing the experiences that contributed to the author’s penning of his words. Therefore, they claim that the reader is blocked from accessing what the author meant by his words. This reasoning makes no sense based on how humans come to understand any book. The goal of the reader is not to share in Paul’s experiences or have access to the thoughts passing through his mind at the time he penned his words. The goal is to determine what Paul meant to communicate by the words that he chose to use, and should have been understood by his intended audience.
The second objection is that Paul, like the rest of imperfect humanity, may have fallen short of conveying the message, by choosing the wrong words. First, the irony is that those who write such comments do not believe that there is any chance that they may fail to communicate their message. Even this writer has certainly written a paper or an email that has miscommunicated what I meant to say. However, we must consider two things. (1) Authors, with few exceptions, succeed in conveying their intended message; (2) and we do not have the “Holy Spirit” to move us along (2 Pet 1:21), as was the case with the biblical authors. The process of publishing a work goes through multiple stages. The biblical author would have had a scribe that would have copied down what he was inspired to say. The scribe’s work would have been considered a rough draft. At that point, both the scribe and the author would have gone over the text, making corrections, if necessary. From there the scribe would have produced the authorized text for publishing, which the author would read again and sign.
 This rough draft needed to be checked because, while the author was inspired, the scribe was not.
The third objection is at least more grounded in reality. Here these objectors suggest that we are just too far removed from the author in time (thousands of years), language, custom, and culture, among many other barriers. This argument suggests that these obstacles make our understanding of the author’s meaning impossible. While there is some merit to what they suggest, and it may be a difficult task at times, it is hardly impossible.
The first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy, were written some 3,500 years ago, in a different time, to a different culture, and in a different language. Even the people of that day found them hard to understand, so at times, they asked Moses and the seventy elders to clarify. The same is true in the first century C.E., Matthew through Revelation, 2,000 years ago, represents many, many different cultures, three different languages, and so on. And here is what Peter said about Paul’s letters: “in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Pet 3:16, ESV) Nevertheless, know this; they understood almost immediately, what was meant because it was their time, their language, their circumstances, their idioms, their metaphors, their way of talking and doing. It is not ours, so we must compensate.
If meaning is what Paul meant by the words he used in the letter to the Ephesians, as it should have been understood by those who had read it; then, we have to have the same mindset as those Ephesians. We have to know who wrote the letter, who is the recipient, their historical setting, Bible backgrounds of the time, who are involved, what are the circumstances, what do the technical and religious terms mean in the original language, the idioms, the hyperbole, the metaphors, and far more than one may realize. We have study tools like a good study Bible, word dictionaries, Bible dictionaries, handbooks, and encyclopedias, Bible background books, as well as others so we can arrive at the meaning that was intended by the author.
The author had an intended meaning when he wrote his text, and that meaning is for all time, as long as that text is in existence. However, we need to understand that there are implications that belong to those words as well. What is an implication? Implications are principles that a reader can draw from the text, to apply in his or her life. They fall within the pattern of the author’s intended meaning. Let us look at a few examples from Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. First, Paul’s letter to the Galatians will set the stage.
Galatians 5:19-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Look again at the very last expression in that list, “things like these.” The Bible is not going to provide us with exhaustive lists of everything that we should understand as an example, a lesson, or implication, as this would mean a Bible with tens of thousands of additional pages. How long of a list would it be, if Paul had given the reader an exhaustive list of the works of the flesh? Do we believe that any Galatians who had this letter written to them, thought, ‘wow, that was close; he didn’t list the one I do.’ By closing the list with the words “things like these,” Paul was making his readers aware that they should perceive or discern other things fit the pattern of “these things.”
Matthew 5:21-22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 “You have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever says to his brother, ‘You fool,’ will be brought before the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the fire of Gehenna.
 Gr Raca to, an Aramaic term of contempt
 The Jewish supreme court, which held life and death over the people in ancient Jerusalem before 70 C.E.
 geenna 12x pr. the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, once celebrated for the horrid worship of Moloch and afterward polluted with every species of filth, as well as the carcasses of animals, and dead bodies of malefactors; to consume which, in order to avert the pestilence which such a mass of corruption would occasion, constant fires were kept burning–MCEDONTW
We should take note in each of these that Jesus is giving an implication of what sin leads to, that is an act of heinous sinning. Furious anger is a sin, and in some cases does lead to murder. Let us put it another way; all murder is the result of furious anger.
Matthew 5:27-28 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
 Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:17
 ἐπιθυμία [Epithumia] to strongly desire to have what belongs to someone else and/or to engage in an activity which is morally wrong–‘to covet, to lust, evil desires, lust, desire.’– GELNTBSD
We will notice the phrase “lustful intent,” keying in on the word “intent.” This is not a man walking along who catches sight of a beautiful woman and has an indecent thought, which he then dismisses. It is not even a man in the same situation that has an indecent thought, who goes on to entertain and cultivate that thought. No, this is a man that is staring, gazing at a woman with the intent of lusting, and is looking at the woman, with the intention of piquing her interest and desire, to get her to lust.
Therefore, the author determines the meaning of a text by the words he chose to use, as should have been understood by his intended audience. Within the one intended meaning are implications that must conform to the pattern of the author’s intended meaning. All readers are to discover the intended meaning, as well as any implications. Implications are principles that a reader can draw from the text, to apply it in his or her life. They fall within the pattern of the author’s intended meaning. The Apostle Paul’s command at Ephesians 5:18 is a good example. There Paul writes, “do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery.” Are we to believe that Paul would be fine if the Ephesian congregation members were to get drunk with beer instead? No. What about whiskey, since it was not invented until centuries later? No, the Christian would avoid this as an instrument for getting drunk as well. The principle of what Paul meant was that a Christian does not take in a substance that can affect his or her abilities to make good decisions, in excess. Therefore, this principle would apply to whiskey, wine, beer, bourbon, marijuana, and other things like these of which Paul would not be aware.
Please see the chart below for the pattern of meaning, implications that fit, and the implications that do not.
Pattern of Meaning
The Text as the Determiner of the Meaning
The text does not determine the meaning; it is simply a tool that is used to convey the author’s intended meaning. Whether it is the Hebrew language of Isaiah, or the Greek of the Apostle Paul, the letters, words, phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, grammar, and syntax are used as tools to convey that which the author intends. As scholars have grown in their understanding of Biblical Hebrew and Greek over the centuries, the better tool has been our understanding of what was meant by the original Hebrew and Greek.
The objective of any writer is that he or she wishes to be understood. Therefore, the writers will write in a standard pattern of their language. Those wishing to understand what has been penned must learn the grammar and syntax of that language, as well as knowledge of the writer, the setting, and the customs and culture of that time. The only other option is to have a translation in our language that is reflective of the original. In other words, if there is to be an immediate understanding, such as would have been the case for an original reader, one would need an interpretive translation.
However, dynamic equivalent Bibles (interpretive translations, such as the TEV, CEV, TNIV, NLY, etc.) are not the Word of God, they are mini commentaries, as they take liberties with the text, imposing their own interpretations. Literal translations (ASV, ESV, NASB, etc.), should be preferred, even if more is required of the reader, to get at what the author intended.
The text will not only convey what the author meant, but will pass on cultural, historical, geographical, scientific, and other information as well. Of course, we the reader shall enjoy the subject matter as we try to ascertain what the author wishes to convey, but we do not want to be overly sidetracked by the subject matter. The fact that Paul traveled more than 40,000 miles, the places he sees, the experiences he has are all important, in that these details convey the lengths that Paul would go to in order to fulfill his commission of spreading the Good News. In addition, the subject matter at times may shed some light on the meaning, but for the most part, the geography of some place, the size of the ship on which Paul traveled, will not be the primary concern. Therefore, the author conveys the meaning by the words, as well as the grammar and syntax.
The idea that the reader is the one who determines the meaning is known as the “reader response.” Each of us must determine if an interpretation is correct. However, this is based on the rules and principles of interpretation, as well as a sound knowledge of these rules and principles, which is applied in a balanced manner.
The “reader response” is not of that nature, though. For those who hold to this position, all meaning is equal to another, and all are correct. We can have a set of verses, and 20 people may give different interpretations, and many may seem the opposite of others. Those believing in the “reader “response” will say that all are correct. Under this position, for them, the text allows each reader the right to derive his or her own meaning from the text. This is where we hear “I think this means,” “I believe this means,” “this means to me,” and “I feel this means to me.” The problem with this is that the text loses its authority; God and His author lose their authority over the intended meaning of the text. When God inspired the writer, to express His will and purposes, there was the intention of one meaning, what the author under inspiration meant by the words he used. If anyone can come along and give it whatever meaning pleases them, then God’s authority over the meaning is lost, and there is no real meaning at all.
The reader does have a responsibility for the discovery of the meaning. He must seek out the intended meaning of the author. He goes about this by grammatical-historical interpretation. Of course, this requires each of us to have good tools. First, and foremost we should have at least one or two good books on the correct methods of biblical interpretation. We should have several good literal translations of the Bible (ASV, ESV, NASB, UASV), to make comparisons. We should have a couple word study dictionaries, Bible handbooks, Bible dictionaries, Bible background commentaries, a book on customs and cultures of Bible times, a Bible commentary set, among other tools. This may seem like a lot to invest in; however, we are dealing with
 By “historical” is a reference to the setting in which the Bible books were written and the circumstances involved in the writing. By “grammatical,” we mean determining the meaning of the Bible by studying the words and sentences of Scripture in their normal, plain sense. Roy B. Zuck.
 Another aside from A Basic Guide to Biblical Interpretation is Basic Bible Interpretation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth by Roy B. Zuck.
 Christian Publishing House is currently working on the Updated American Standard Version (UASV). http://www.uasvbible.org/
- an opportunity at a relatively joyous and happy life in this wicked world that we now live in,
- by the correct application of the Bible, as we understand it from our hermeneutical and exegetical studies,
- affording us an opportunity to draw close to God,
- becoming his friend,
- and an opportunity at eternal life.
An Actual Conversation on Facebook
Edward Andrews said to Julien M. Blaquiere
The Bible only has one meaning for each verse. That meaning is what the authors meant by the words they used as understood by their audience. Suppose there are multiple interpretations of a particular verse. In that case, this does not mean that each person has their own individual meaning or their own individual take on the verse. It means that all of them are wrong but one, and that is what the authors meant by what they wrote. Or it is possible that all of them are wrong and have not got to the actual meaning of the verse. If we try to say a verse has multiple meanings for every person, then the Bible verse loses all meaning and all authority.
Tom Ragsdale said to Julien M. Blaquiere about Edward D. Andrews,
Edward said, “If there are multiple interpretations of a particular verse … it means that all of them are wrong but one …”
I would disagree with that. What is important is not what the human author (Matthew or Mark or whoever) meant when HE wrote it, but what God wanted the readers to understand when He inspired the author to write it. The author may want his audience to understand just one thing in a particular verse, but God (who moved the writer to write it in the first place) wants the audience to understand many different things, some of which may not even have occurred to the guy with the pen while he was writing it. So multiple non-contradictory interpretations are possible.
Think of a miracle where God deliberately makes a cloud momentarily appear to resemble something else. From one person’s perspective (looking at the cloud from the west) the cloud looks like a dog. From another person’s perspective (looking at the same cloud from the east), the cloud looks like a dragon’s head. The one person says, “It’s JUST a dog-like cloud, and nothing else.” The other person says, “It’s JUST a dragon-head cloud and nothing else.” Later on, both people meet God and ask Him, “That time when we both saw the same cloud, did you mean it to resemble a dog or a dragon head?” God answers, “Both.”
Properly interpreting scripture sometimes requires that we move from our preferred position into someone else’s position. It’s like looking at a painted fence. One side is painted yellow and the other side is painted white. To say the fence is yellow is true, but it isn’t the whole truth.
Edward Andrews said to Tom Ragsdale
First, see below how my comment is purposely the opposite of what Ragsdale meant because for according to him, I as the reader am the determiner of meaning, so I can give it whatever meaning I want. But he does not notice what I am doing.
“So, I read through all of your comments, every word. So what you are saying is that the meaning is determined by the author’s words, not the reader.
When you wrote: “I would disagree with that. What is important is not what the human author (Matthew or Mark or whoever) meant when HE wrote it, but what God wanted the readers to understand when He inspired the author to write it.” It became apparent to me that you are saying that “Matthew or Mark or whoever” is the one who determines what their writings meant. The Holy Spirit has helped me to appreciate what you mean, that it is the author who determines the meaning. Thank you for making this more clear.”
Tom Ragsdale responds to Edward,
if by “author,” you mean the Holy Spirit and not the human being with the pen and paper, then, yes, you have understood me correctly. There is actually more than one author, even if there was just one guy with the pen. The human author was the secondary author. The Primary Author was God/the Holy Spirit. Regardless of what the secondary author may have wanted his target audience to know from some particular verse he wrote, the main thing is what the Primary Author wanted us to know or believe. We can interpret a passage in a way the human author never knowingly intended, in a way that never even entered his mind. However, our interpretation may still be correct because it’s how God wanted us to interpret it. When that happens, it’s the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to the deeper meaning.
Edward Andrews responds to Tom Ragsdale,
No, you meant the human author in what you said. That is what I understood you to say. You meant the human author was the conveyer of meaning by the words that he (the author) used.
Tom Ragsdale responds to Edward D. Andrews
Wait a minute, Edward … You’re telling me what I meant? I know what I meant. I did NOT mean the words of the HUMAN author determine the meaning. I meant that the meaning is (italics mine) determined by God/the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved the human author to write what he did, and the Holy Spirit helps us understand what God wants us to get from those words. The human author is being guided to say what God wants them to say. The human author may not understand the full meaning of the words and phrases he is using. But God does, and God helps the readers to understand what GOD means, regardless of whether or not the human author (the guy with the pen) understands or doesn’t understand what he’s written. That is made clear in 2 Peter 1:19-21.
Edward D. Andrews responds to Tom Ragsdale,
And there you go, you actually fell for it. Your argument that the reader determines the meaning is self-defeating. This means whatever you write to me, I can say it means ANYTHING because I am the determiner of meaning as the reader of what you the author wrote, according to your argument.
The moment that I, the reader, told you something contrary to what you meant as the author, you react as one might expect, “Wait a minute, Edward … You’re telling me what I meant? I know what I meant. I did NOT mean the meaning …” That would be the same with every Bible author if they were alive. They would be telling you, “You’re telling me what I meant? I know what I meant. I did NOT mean the meaning …”
The author’s words matter and words have authority and meaning. The moment that the reader steals that meaning from the author so that it can mean anything for any reader, words no longer matter and they have lost all authority.
You literally walked into your own trap. I am going to copy and paste this conversation for the next edition of my hermeneutics book.
Biblical Interpretation Explained
Step 1: What is the historical setting and background for the author of the book and his audience? Who wrote the book? When and under what circumstances was the book written? Where was the book written? Who were the recipients of the book? Was there anything noteworthy about the place of the recipients? What is the theme of the book? What was the purpose of writing the book?
Step 2a: What would this text mean to the original audience? (The meaning of a text is what the author meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his readers.)
Step 2b: If there are any words in this section that one does not understand, or that stand out as interesting words that may shed some insight on the meaning, look them up in a word dictionary, such as Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
Step 2c: After reading our section from the three Bible translations, doing a word study, write down what we think the author meant. Then, pick up a trustworthy commentary, like Holman Old or New Testament commentary volume, and see if we have it correct.
Step 3: Explain the original meaning in one or two sentences, preferably one. Then, take the sentence or two and place it in a short phrase.
Step 4: Now, consider their circumstances, the reason for it being written, what it meant to them, and consider examples from our day that would be similar to theirs, which would fit the pattern of meaning. What implications can be drawn from the original meaning?
Step 5: Find the pattern of meaning, the “thing like these,” and consider how it could apply in our modern-day life. How should individual Christians today live out the implications and principles?
Biblical Interpretation Explained
In Greater Detail
Step 1: What is the historical setting and background for the author of the book and his audience? Who wrote the book? When and under what circumstances was the book written? Where was the book written? Who were the recipients of the book? Was there anything noteworthy about the place of the recipients? What is the theme of the book? What was the purpose of writing the book? The first step is observation, to get as close to the original text as possible. If one does not read Hebrew or Greek; then, two or three literal translations are preferred (ESV, NASB, and HCSB). The above Bible background information may seem daunting, but it can all be found in the Holman Bible Handbook or the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
Step 2a: What would this text mean to its original audience? (The meaning of a text is what the author meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his readers.) Once we have an understanding of step 1, read and reread our text in its context. In most Bibles, there are indentations (breaks) where the subject matter changes. Look for the indentations that are before and after our text, and read and reread that whole section from three literal translations. If there are no indentations, read the whole chapter, and get a sense of where the breaks should be, that is, where the subject matter changes.
 Dispensationalism is an evangelical, futurist, Biblical interpretation that understands God to have related to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants in a series of “dispensations,” or periods in history.―Wikipedia.
Step 2b: If there are any words in our section that we do not understand, or that stand out as interesting words that may shed some insight on the meaning, look them up in a word dictionary, such as Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. For example, if the text was Ephesians 5:14, one might ask what did Paul mean by “sleeper” in verse 14. If it was Ephesians 5:18, what does Paul mean by his use of the word “debauchery” in relation to “getting drunk with wine.” I would recommend Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words by William D. Mounce (Sept. 19, 2006) Do not buy the Amazon Kindle edition until they work out the minor difficulty. If we have Logos Bible Software, it would be good to add this book, if it did not come with our package.
Step 2c: After reading the section from the three Bible translations, doing a word study, write down what we think the author meant. Then, find a trustworthy commentary, like Holman Old or New Testament commentary volume, and see if we have it correct. It can be more affordable to buy one volume each time we are assigned a project so that it is spread out over time. If we cannot afford each volume of these commentary sets, Holman has a one-volume commentary on the entire Bible. Check with the minister or pastor because he may allow one to take a volume home for his assignment.
Step 3: Explain the original meaning in one or two sentences, preferably one. Then, take the sentence or two and place it in a short phrase. If we look in the Bible for Ephesians chapter five, one will find verses 1-5 or 6 are marked off as a section, and the phrase that captures the sense of the meaning is, “imitators of God.” Then, verses 6-16 of that same chapter can be broken down to “light versus darkness” or “walk like children of light.”
Step 4: Now, consider their circumstances, the reason for it being written, what it meant to them, and consider examples from today that would be similar to that time, which would fit the pattern of meaning. What implications can be drawn from the original meaning? Part of this fourth step is making sure that one stays within the pattern of the original meaning when we determine any implications for us.
An example would be the admonition that Paul gave the Ephesian congregation at 5:18, “do not get drunk with wine.” Was Paul talking about beer that existed then too? Surely, he was not explicitly referring to whiskey that was not invented until the 1800s. Yes, he refers to these others because they are implications that can be derived from the original meaning because of their likeness to that original meaning.
Step 5: Find the pattern of meaning, the “thing like these,” and consider how it could apply in our modern-day life. How should individual Christians today live out the implications and principles?