Last time, we began to investigate the Historical/Grammatical approach to Biblical interpretation. By way of review, we stated that the best way of determining how the Biblical writer intended for his words to be understood is by observing both the facts of history and the rules of grammar as they apply to the text in question. Now let’s examine the “Grammatical” in the Historical/Grammatical approach.
There are two important concepts in grammar that must be considered. First is morphology that is simply defined as the form of a word. As an example, when dealing with nouns and pronouns, it might be important to know if the nouns are singular, plural, masculine, feminine, etc. Because of the rules of grammar, we can use morphology to determine a pronoun’s antecedent. Another example of the importance of morphology can be illustrated in Luke 22:31. In the phrase “Satan hath desired to have you,” we learn from the Greek that “you” is plural not singular. Christ is not just speaking about Peter but has all the disciples in view.
Whereas morphology deals with the words form, syntax deals with the relationship of the words to each other. Syntax is focused on the usual arrangement of words that make up phrases and sentences. When trying to interpret a particular text, it is important to label the parts of speech of words and phrases. Matthew 26:27 demonstrates the importance of syntax. The phrase “Drink ye all of it” can be interpreted as either “all of you drink it” or “drink all of it.” From Greek, we learn that “all” is in the subjective case, not the objective case. “All” is the subject of “drink” so “all of you drink it” is the correct understanding.
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Bro. Oxendine serves as the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Golden State Baptist College. He has been teaching at GSBC since 2001. He also teaches the College Sunday school class at NVBC.