Some examples of the most common hermeneutical errors

Rightly dividing the Word of Truth requires the knowledge and application of hermeneutical principles. When these principles are not observed, many varied interpretations of the same verse will result. One of the least understood and perhaps the most abused aspects of biblical explanation is interpreting the Bible grammatically. One cannot interpret a verse contrary to its grammatical structure. Many good men have stumbled at this point.

Let's consider just four simple aspects of grammatical interpretation: time, gender, pronoun/antecedent agreement, and of necessity, context. The following examples illustrate some of the most common hermeneutical errors.

(Prov 29:18 KJV)
Often just the first half of this verse is quoted and frequently an application principle violation is made. Where there is no vision (open revelation from God), the people perish (cast off restraint): but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

The last part of this verse is often not quoted, because if it was the speaker could not make his point (he has a "vision" or burden that came from (God). This kind of subjective thinking distorts the true meaning of the verse which is: If one has God's word and keeps it, he will be happy.

(Ps 12:5-7 KJV)
Gender and pronoun agreement violation: Often verses 6 & 7 are quoted without verse 5 which contains the antecedent for the pronoun "them" in verse seven.

5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

The antecedent for them in vs 7 is found in vs 5: which is: the poor & the needy

Charles Rice, Independent, Fundamental, KJV, Baptist Pastor; who is fluent in both Greek and Hebrew had these comments about verse seven: "I agree with the commentaries. The term "words" is a feminine noun. The "them" of vs. 7 is masculine. I conclude by this and the context that the "them" refers to the poor of verse five.

Matthew Henry's Commentary, Vol. 3, p.281, Ps. 12:7.
"He will keep them (the poor & needy, His people) from this generation. From being debauched by them and drawn away from God, from mingling with them
and learning their works. In times of general apostasy the Lord knows those that are his, and they shall be enabled to keep their integrity."

C. H. Spurgeon, Treasury Of David, Vol. 1, p.143, Verse 7. "To fall into the hands of an evil generation, so as to be baited by their cruelty, or polluted by their influence, is an evil to be dreaded beyond measure; but it is an evil foreseen and provided for in the text. In life many a saint has lived a hundred years before his age, as though he had darted his soul into the brighter future, and escaped the mists of the beclouded present: he has gone to his grave unreverenced and misunderstood, and lo! as generations come and go, upon a sudden the hero is unearthed, and lives in the admiration and love of the excellent of the earth; preserved for ever from the generation which stigmatized him as a sower of sedition, or burned him as a heretic. It should be our daily prayer that we may rise above our age as the mountain-tops above the clouds, and may stand out as heaven-pointing pinnacle high above the mists of ignorance and sin which roll around us. O Eternal Spirit, fulfil in us the faithful saying of this verse! Our faith believes those two assuring words, and cries, Thou shalt, thou shalt.”

John Gill, Online Bible Commentator: Ver. 7. "thou shall keep them, O Lord. Not the words before mentioned, as Aben Ezra explains it, for the affix is masculine and not feminine; not but God has wonderfully kept and preserved the sacred writings; and he keeps every word of promise which he has made; and the doctrines of the Gospel will always continue from one generation to another; but the sense is, that God will keep the poor and needy, and such as he sets in safety, as Kimchi rightly observes: they are not their own keepers, but God is the keeper of them; he keeps them by his power, and in his Son, in whose hands they are, and who is able to keep them from falling; they are kept by him from a total and final falling away; from the dominion and damning power of sin, and from being devoured by Satan, and from the evil of the world: and this the psalmist had good reason to believe, because of the love of God to them, his covenant with them, and the promises of safety and salvation he has made unto them..."

(Eph 2:8 KJV)
Often grace or faith is said to be "the gift of God" in this verse, but the genders do not agree with this rendering.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that [or this-(salvation) is] not of yourselves: it (our salvation) is the gift of God:

Note: Either that or this could be used in the verse above. Both are used as demonstrative pronouns to refer to a thought expressed earlier. In our example it is referring to verse five The relative that, which is in the neuter gender, cannot stand for faith or grace, which are feminine. The antecedent for that and it must match in gender.

(Eph 4:11 KJV)
Hermeneutical Principal of Grammar = One cannot interpret the content of anyone's writings (especially the Word of God) contrary to its grammatical

construction. Rightly dividing the Word of Truth requires the application of this hermeneutical principle in order to be consistent with the rules of syntax that govern each reader of the text regardless ones feelings or opinions.

Verse in question:
(Eph 4:11 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
11 And <kai> he gave some, apostles; and <de> some, prophets; and <de> some, evangelists; and <de> some, pastors and <kai> teachers;

Point of controversy: Is the pastor also the teacher or is the teacher a different office or calling that is being introduced in this verse? How can one know the answer to this question?

There is a rule in Greek syntax that is connected with the presence and absence of the article, called Granville Sharp's rule. It is as follows:

When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case, if the article ?ho (I have to spell the definite article in English), or any of its cases precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle, denoting or described by the first named person. In other words, when two nouns in the same case are connected by the kai, and the first noun is articular, and the second is anarthrous, the second noun refers to the same person or thing to which the first noun refers, and is a further description of it. --- Kenneth S. Wuest THE PRACTICAL USE OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT p. 22 par.

1.Some pron. = An indefinite or unspecified number or portion: We took some of the books to the auction. This was quoted form the American Heritage


Kenneth Wuest comments on Eph. 4:11: "The word 'pastor' is poimen, 'a shepherd.' The words 'pastors' and 'teachers' are in a construction called Granvill Sharp's rule which indicates that they refer to one individual. The one who shepherds God's flock is also a teacher of the Word, having both the gifts of shepherding and teaching the flock. God's ideal pastor is one who engages in a didactic ministry, feeding the saints on expository preaching, giving them the rich food of the word." Page 101 EPHESIANS AND COLOSSIANS IN THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT.

We have both the giving of the rule in the Practical Use of the Greek New Testament and the application of the rule in his comment and commentary on the Book of Ephesians. So based on the rules of Greek syntax one can rightly say that hermeneutically, Ephesians 4:11 is saying, “Pastors even teachers, For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."

(John 20:17 KJV)
Verb parsing must be a part of the exposition.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Nelson #135, KJV Study Bible Notes on John 20:17:
Touch me not is a present imperative, forbidding the continuation of an action already begun. "Stop clinging to me" is a helpful paraphrase.

Adam Clark Commentary John 20:17: Touch me not] mh mou aptou, Cling not to me. 'aptomai has this sense in Job 31:7, where the Septuagint use it for the

Hebrew qbd dabak, which signifies to cleave, cling, stick, or be glued to. From Mat 28:9, it appears that some of the women held him by the feet and worshiped him. (Mat 28:9) And as they (the women) went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, (just moments later after leaving Mary this took place) and worshipped him. This probably Mary did also; and our Lord seems to have spoken to her to this effect: "Spend no longer time with me now: I am not going immediately to heaven-you will have several opportunities of seeing me again: but go and tell my disciples, that I am, by and by, to ascend to my Father and God, who is your Father and God also. Therefore, let them take courage."