I know firsthand how hard it is to understand God’s Word and explain it faithfully, but preachers must pray more and stick to authorial intent. Three common examples of what I think are wrong explanations/applications:
- Matthew 5.3- “Blessed are the poor in spirit” seems to be commonly explained by many great evangelical preachers as “blessed are those who see themselves as spiritually bankrupt.” Does it not feel like that is a little bit of reading NT theology into the text? It is not way off, but perhaps a simpler explanation is comparing it to the “lowly in spirit”/”contrite in heart”. “Oppressed” may even be a better explanation. The beatitudes are for those who the world normally looks down upon. Hopefully the whole sermon on the mount will drive you to see yourself as “spiritually bankrupt” apart from Jesus, but it is a little much to say that is what Jesus meant in that one little phrase in Matt 5.3.
- Acts 1.8- Do we honestly think Luke intends “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth” to be a missions strategy for every local church that will ever exist?
- 1 Peter 3.15- Do you really think Peter, when he says “always being prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in you,” has apologetic conversations about the existence of God and the reliability of the Scriptures in his mind?
Most conclusions are correct theologically, but if we never show people how to get to author’s intent from actual texts, they will never enjoy reading the Bible on their own, and/or struggle more to do it rightly. So pray Heaven reveal the inspired authors’ intents.