The Starting Point of Hermeneutics
When one begins this hermeneutical journey, he or she needs to begin systematically by understanding that all interpretation starts in one of three different categories. Observation: which answers the question: What does the passage say? (Acts 17:11, ESV), “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
Interpretation: which answers the question: What does the passage mean? (Prov 2:3,5, ESV), “Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
Application: which answers the question: How does the meaning of this passage apply to me? (2 Tim 3:16-17; Rom 15:4, ESV), “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”, “For whatever is written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
You will assuredly have individuals communicate to you that the Bible can be interpreted anyway one delights. That is why precise interpretation and correct application rests on the accuracy of your observations. Martin Luther stated, “We must not make God’s Word mean what we wish. We must not bend it, but allow it to bend us, and give it the honor of being better than we can make it.” So, we must take great care not to expound our own minds instead of God’s. (2 Pet 1:20, ESV), “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” A major principle of interpretation used by the Puritans was the idea, firmly rooted in Scripture, meaning that all of God’s Word points to Christ. It does not point necessarily to what we desire it to, but it always unequivocally points to Christ. Renown Theologian John Owen argued, anyone reading Scripture must always keep in mind this fundamental principle namely.