Answers to "Ask Mike"
38. Mike, could you explain ASV Luke 14:25-27? The "hateth not" and "cannot" are what is confusing to me.
(Click on the verse reference above to view it in the RSV translation via GospelCom's Bible Gateway? For more information, see below. -- Editor)
Jesus is using a figure of speech to draw a contrast. What he is saying is that an individual's commitment to discipleship -- loyalty to and love for Jesus -- should be so strong that all other human relationships would pale by comparison. Nothing, not even one's strongest human ties, should compromise one's loyalty to Christ. When loyalty to Christ and loyalty to family conflict, loyalty to Christ should prevail. He is not saying that his followers must despise his earthly relationships. He has merely used hyperbole to make a point.
One common mistake in biblical interpretation is the failure to recognize figures of speech. The biblical writers often used simile, allegory, metaphor, metonymy, hyperbole, and other figures of speech. A key for proper understanding is the attempt to discover what a passage meant to the original readers. Asking good questions of a text assists in that discovery.
Ask who wrote it, to whom did he write it, why was it written, when was it written, and what is the point. It is helpful to know as much about a passage's context as possible when interpreting it. With the plentiful resources available today such as Bible dictionaries, Bible atlases, Bible commentaries, and Bible handbooks, it is not difficult to find the answer to such questions.
Rick Warren, minister of Saddleback Church, says proper understanding of any biblical text requires three steps which he calls the "interpretation bridge." Those steps are:
Excessive literalism -- interpreting all biblical language as if it were literal as opposed to figurative -- is a breeding ground for trouble. On my desk, I current have a book published in 2001 which interprets the Bible so literally they have returned to the view of the universe which predominated prior to Galileo and Copernicus. Arguing from a literalistic interpretation of Scripture, these men affirm that the earth is stationary -- it does not rotate on its axis and it is not moving through space -- and is actually the "center of the universe." Others use literal interpretations to set dates and times for Christ's return. Seeking balance in interpreting Scripture is wise and is often the solution to apparently contradictory biblical statements.
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