3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love.” (Ephesians 1:3–4 (ESV)
If you have followed this blog for any length of time you know that when we do a Bible book study, we endeavor to examine the text word for word. This is especially true when considering a doctrinal epistle such as Ephesians.
Before we go any further into the text, it would be wise to define two distinctly opposite words. Those words are eisegesis and exegesis.
The prefix’ for both words come from the Greek language. The prefix eis is a preposition primarily meaning into. The prefix ek is also a preposition. It means out from or out of.
Exegesis, as it pertains to the understanding and interpretation of Scripture, is the discipline of discovering, or drawing out, the Holy Spirit’s intended meaning contained in the biblical text. This is opposite of eisegesis, in which the interpreter seeks to determine the text’s meaning based upon a preconceived personal bias or opinion.
There are four basic questions the exegetical student of Scripture must ask when studying a particular biblical text. These four questions should be ingrained upon the student’s mind.
First, what did the text mean to the original audience? Regarding the book of Ephesians, the original audience would be the believers in Christ in Ephesus. We discover the intended and original meaning by examining each word in each verse of a particular sentence, of a particular paragraph, of a particular chapter, of a particular section, of a particular book of the Bible. In this case, the particular book of the Bible is Ephesians.
Second, what are the differences between the biblical audience and believers in Christ today? Some differences may be slight, while others may be significant. To discover the answer to this question requires an understanding of the cultural and historical context of the biblical passage. An introduction to a biblical book, found in a good study Bible, will provide this information.
Third, what theological principle(s) are contained in the biblical text? The student of Scripture does not have to read Ephesians very far to discover one of the most profound theological principles in chapter one: the sovereign election of sinners unto salvation by God before the creation of the world.
Fourth, how is the text to be applied in the Christian’s life today? While there is one primary meaning to a biblical text, there may be many applications.
With these four questions in mind, it would be wrong to say. “What does the biblical text mean to me?” Rather, it is more correct to say, “What does the biblical text mean and how may it be applied in my life today?”
Dr. John MacArthur comments, “In many cases, individual feelings and personal experience have replaced sound biblical interpretation. The question ‘What does the Bible mean to me?’ has become more important than ‘What does the Bible mean?’ That is a frighteningly reckless approach to Scripture.”
These four questions will serve us well as we continue our journey through the book of Ephesians. Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!