The following was presented as a discussion post for Hermeneutics in Liberty University’s John R. Rowling’s School of Divinity. I was to pick one of the following passages and give an overview of the main point(s) of that passage based on the procedures discussed in the texts: Acts 2:42–47; Acts 6:1–7; Revelation 12:7–12; Romans 8:26–27; Hebrews 12:1–2. I was to be sure to offer some kind of specific and measurable application of the principles I discussed. I chose Acts 2:42-47.
Discovering Principles through Generalization
The main points in a passage can be better seen by generalizing a passage. The passage says in summary the people had everything in common, were filled with awe and wonder with the apostle’s miracles, devoted in communing together and communion, they took care of each other, learned from the apostles in the temple, and God saved them everyday (vv. 42 – 47). To put it more generally, the people committed themselves to the apostles teaching and lived accordingly in community.
Checking With Immediate Context
Immediate context will better tell the reader who these people are, the three thousand who were converted at the preaching of Peter (vv. 37 – 41). With the context in mind, one can better see that it was believers who were Jewish in background who had all things in common, committed themselves to the apostles teaching, and lived accordingly (vv. 42 – 47).
Checking with Scholars
After doing the leg work, scholarship can also help in drawing out principles. One scholar points out this is what community life looked like with those first converts in Jerusalem. Another scholar says, “the gift of the Spirit brought about a community which realized the highest aspirations of human longing: unity, peace, joy and the praise of God.” Another points out that sometimes throughout the book Luke will give an update of how the church did after a main event.
Some main principles which can be pulled from this passage are believers will be devoted to the apostles teaching in the New Testament, believers will take care of each other, and believers who are devoted to the apostles teaching will live accordingly.
Application can be done numerous times with these principles. A healthy church will be devoted to the Bible. Those who try to stop the pastor from carefully expositing the scriptures are going against a biblical mandate to teach what the apostles taught. Pastors who teach whatever they want to teach aside from the apostles teaching are not following what the church did right after it was birthed.
For the principal believers will take care of each other, if a believer sees another in need and does not do what he or she can to help that other believer, they are going against a biblical mandate. The person who has received the gospel should be changed by the gospel monetarily as well as the whole of the person. Believers will also want to meet together to meet each other’s needs. If a believer sees another brother who is lacking food, if he or she has food, he should share. A lot of these applications can be seen in the principle if a believer has received the gospel he or she will act accordingly. They will want to meet together, encourage one another, and learn God’s Word together.
To draw principles from a passage one needs to generalize the passage. Then one needs to check with immediate context and what scholars have said about it to make sure one is right. Then one needs to pull out general truths from the passage before applying those principles. If one does this process, then he or she is more likely to get the main points of the passage and rightly apply God’s will for their lives.
If you want more information on studying the Bible and how to interpret it correctly, check out the store section at strivingforeternity.org/store. There are tons of resources to help you get started on your journey to interpreting the Bible better. Also invite Andrew Rappaport and Anthony Silvestro to come to your church and teach you biblical interpretation with their Biblical Interpretation Made Easy Seminar. Andrew Rappaport, Anthony Silvestro, Justin Pierce, and other guests on Apologetics live would also enjoy answering your questions on the live show on Thursdays from 7pm – 9pm CST with the link to the stream yard at strivingforeternity.org/apologeticslive. Lord bless you and strive to make today and eternal day for Christ Jesus.
 John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 118.
 David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 158.
 Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 31.