Matthew 6:10, Hermeneutics and Exegetics

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

//Hermeneutics and Exegetics—two big buzzwords that Bible scholars love to use. Just being able to pronounce these buggers is enough to establish your scholarly credibility, right?

Don’t be intimidated. Let me give it to you simply, so you understand what they mean, and how you can practice them yourself.

Exegetics is the study of the original meaning of a text. It requires historical context. Hermeneutics is the next step: how is that understanding relevant to today’s world? Proper hermeneutics is always founded on solid exegetics, but most people want to skip the original meaning and jump right into its current-day application.

Let’s use the topic of the Lord’s Prayer as an example, because it’s still on my mind from my recent review of Robert Cornwall’s book, Ultimate Allegiance. Consider this line: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Reflective exegesis of this prayer recognizes that the earliest Christians were calling for a new age to begin. They held a vision of a kingdom on earth ruled by God. This new age they called the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven. Hermeneutics without exegesis, however, will invariably focus on the heaven part of the verse to the exclusion of the earth part, because today’s Christians dream of living with God up in heaven. Christians today often pray this prayer thinking, “God, come take us up to your home with you,” whereas if they flavored their hermeneutics with proper exegetics they would think, “God, come down and make your presence known in this world.”

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