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Eisegesis Unplugged

Eisegesis:  the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one's own ideas — compare exegesis (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary 11 Edition).

Exegesis and eisegesis are two conflicting approaches in Bible study.  Exegesis is the exposition or explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis.  The word exegesis literally means “to lead out of.” That means that the interpreter is led to his conclusions by following the text.

The opposite approach to Scripture is eisegesis, which is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading.  The word eisegesis literally means “to lead into,” which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants.

Obviously, only exegesis does justice to the text.  Eisegesis is a mishandling of the text and often leads to a misinterpretation.  Exegesis is concerned with discovering the true meaning of the text, respecting its grammar, syntax, and setting.  Eisegesis is concerned only with making a point, even at the expense of the meaning of words. (Got Questions Ministries—

The purpose of “Eisegesis Unplugged” is to encourage readers and lovers of Scripture to focus first and foremost on what it actually says and means, as written by those whom God inspired.  And since the Holy Spirit is the actual Author, ultimately we are talking about the authority and integrity of God’s Book and the Honor of His Name.

The Passage

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 ESV (Emphasis mine)

This passage is used for all sorts of “personal empowerment,” from the mundane and ordinary to the spectacular and life impacting, and just about every stop in between, where personal accomplishment of something is in view. But is that what it really means? Let’s look at it again.

The Passage in Context

In a letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle writes:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me.  You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  Phillippians 4:10-13 ESV

In context, the passage follows Paul’s thanksgiving for the gift of the Philippians to the ministry, and at the same time Paul speaks of being content regardless of the physical circumstances, whether they are tough or filled with plenty.  In fact, contentment in every circumstance was a common theme of Paul’s in his letters to the churches in Asia Minor.  Earlier in the same letter Paul exhorted:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” v. 4

So What?

Our popular use of “I can do all things…” is more like one of those slogans at the bottom of a beautiful landscape often see scattered around the workplace designed to motivate the worker bees, than the author’s intended meaning.  And since it is not a Biblical promise for success here and now, there is an almost guaranteed ‘downer’, if not spiritual ‘bruising’ when the inevitable happens – one of the ‘things’ doesn’t work out as intended.

The Real Promise

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  v. 19

Whatever our need, whatever our circumstance, we can take them to the Lord in prayer, and He will meet every single one!  It might not be according to our plan, but it will always be better than we could imagine and in accordance with His perfect will.

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