Words and Meaning

“A hermeneutic that enables you to affirm women as pastors is a hermeneutic that will enable you to get most anywhere else you want to go with Scripture.”  – Jason Allen, President, Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary

He’s right.  And it’s happening in churches and denominations across  America.  Words are being re-defined so they can be interpreted to mean what certain groups of people want them to mean, even though it goes against historically accepted use and meaning of those words.   This is a core tenent of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Social Justice (CSJ).

Hermeneutics is simply interpretation; the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy simply says it is the study of interpretation.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says “the study of the general principles of biblical interpretation. For both Jews and Christians throughout their histories, the primary purpose of hermeneutics, and of the exegetical methods employed in interpretation, has been to discover the truths and values expressed in the Bible.”

Interpretation is obviously very important, for example, 1 Timothy 3 in the King James Version (KJV) is different than the New International Version (NIV), as is Romans 16:1.

“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence….” 1 Tim 3 KJV

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. ” 1 Tim 3 NIV

So, using hermeneutics, (and Strong’s Concordance) we find the word “wife” is translated from the Greek word  gyne (goo-nay’).   It is a female noun meaning a woman (of any age).

A woman cannot be the “husband of one wife” UNLESS the tenets of Critical Social Justice / Critical Race Theory have influenced people to accept a new interpretation of the meaning of “wife.”  More and more we hear about “gender-neutral” policies that re-invent definitions of nouns and pro-nouns and blurs the delineation between male and female in the name of “equality.”  “Wife” is being replaced with “significant other” or “spouse” in order to reflect “genderless” or “gender neutral” meaning.

Definition – and interpretation – is important.

A lot of people say the only version of the Bible we should read is the KJV.  I don’t agree with that.  I usually read the NIV, but I often compare passages in other versions (KJV,  NKJV, (New King James Version) HCSB (Holman Christian Study Bible).

As we study the Bible, we sometimes need to look at how versions differ in translation and use the resources (like Strong’s Concordance or Bible commentaries) available to us to discern the truth.  I’ve heard my pastor say more than once ‘the best commentary on scripture is scripture.’

And, he adds, “…we need to carefully examine the word or words in the original language…some translations (such as the Living Bible and others) use “paraphrase translation”…(let’s just get the “sense” of the verse) and that is VERY dangerous when you interpret the “breathed out words of God”.  Other translations such as ESV and CSB attempt to capture the specific meaning of the original words.

So hermeneutics depend upon the presupposition of the interpreter.  Is God’s Word – God’s Words? If so then “faithful to the original language meaning” is vital. And do we interpret God’s word with “cultural and generational changing context” or to an “unchanging truth”?”


We need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and teach us the truth of God’s Word.