An author intends for their words to mean something. A good author consider’s their audience and writes in an understandable way that will communicate to them effectively. Unfortunately, the way most people read today is dishonoring and disrespectful to authors.
Surrounded by the culture I am today, most people don’t care what someone meant by what they said. Instead, they will interpret it however they want. You see, there is much confusion on the meaning of words and how to communicate and understand people. This is bound to happen when you call evil good and good evil. You’re bound to not understand what words mean, what people are saying, and what is actually going on because you don’t think words are actually trying to communicate something.
What is worse is that people not only do this to one another, but they do this to the Word of God. People interpret Bible however they want to by disrespecting the authors.
For example, they will take the words: effeminate men will go to hell unless they repent; and they will interpret that to mean you hate effeminate men and want them all to die. Or that you believe you’re better than they are. They essentially interpret the purpose you have in saying what you say.
Today, when the Bible is read, they interpret it thinking they know the mysteries of the cosmos and are allowed to take it whatever way they want to. And this is a major problem. This is a major problem because words lose their meaning in a society like that.
If a word or a sentence means 10,000 things because 10,000 people take them to mean something different, then that is a society that doesn’t know how to communicate effectively.
If you still don’t see a problem with this, then never get upset again when someone misunderstands you. Because your words don’t mean anything and we can take them however we want them to mean, right?
We must let the author mean what he means. We must let the author tell us what he means. And that means, instead of taking it to mean what we want, we get rid of our preconceived beliefs about a text and we look at it and think about what the author is trying to communicate.
The technique I am going to tell you is a great way to start practicing. It’s not the best way or the only way, but it’s a fun and helpful way.
Here it is, in the form of a question:
How would the author of this book read their words out loud?
The next book of the Bible you want to study, think about this and even try it out loud. Read the Bible and imagine the way the author would want it to be read out loud, and then read it that way.
What this does is get you thinking about the author, and his focus, and his emphasis, and his style, and the voice he’d have, and where he’d raise his voice, or weep, or sing, or shout, or get quiet.
Practice it with this passage, and remember: don’t read it the way you think it should be read, think about the way John would want you to read it. How would John imitate Nicodemus and Jesus in this passage? How would John do the narration? What would John sound like reading out loud this passage?
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Now, of course the problem occurs that John’s native tongue wasn’t English, so we won’t technically sound like John or get it even remotely correct. But, it gets us thinking about what is John communicating, what is he trying to get across, and what would he be emphasizing in his voice in this passage?
Enjoy and let me know what you think.