I really need you to understand that what the apostles communicated to the church using their letters is indispensable. Hence, it is necessary that we have a thorough understanding of what they meant by the contextual interpretations of the words they used. For example, what Paul meant by all scriptures are inspired by God in 2 Timothy 3:16 cannot be directly applied to the epistles because the word scriptures there refers to the letters of the Old Testament not the whole bible, seeing that as at the time Paul was writing that letter to Timothy, several books of the bible like the book of Revelation and the book of Acts had not been written. So what they had collated then was the Old Testament books and those were the books Paul called scriptures. Similarly, what Paul was referring to as inspired by God is the message of those books not the words; the words are completely humans’. I make no attempt to deny the fact that the message of the Old Testament books were inspired by God and taught by the Holy Spirit, rather I am establishing the same. Actually, Peter said the prophecy of the Old Testament came as holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21), so those books were inspired. However, my point is, the prophets having received them wrote them down in human languages. The same holds for the New Testament books; they are inspired by God but communicated by men and to understand the inspired message, we must understand the diction of the men that communicated them.
Therefore, the revelations the apostles taught were given to them by Jesus but the usage of words and figures of speech used were exclusively theirs, and it can be traced to their personalities and everything surrounding the original recipients of their letters. Since they wrote to them, they probably used words and expressions the original recipients of those letters were familiar with or able to understand which we might not be able to relate with today except we intentionally put ourselves in the same historical and grammatical environment they were when the letters were written. I know this is not as easy as it sounds but that is usually what differentiates a good bible interpreter from a poor one.
We must always strive to put our mindset and position in the place of the original recipients of these letters. This can be done by tracing their history in the bible and the things that were said about them so that we will be able to relate with the instructions the apostles gave and why they gave them such instructions.
To understand the revelations the apostles wrote in their letters, we must first recognize that these letters were written in the language of men.Therefore, the meaning of the words they used to unveil these revelations or spiritual understandings are limited to the context within which those words were used. Hence, the meaning of the original words they used and the specific ways they used them will be of tremendous importance while interpreting this letter.
We must check some idioms, and figures of speech in other epistles of these authors to be sure of how and why they used them in a particular context.
External interpretations from dreams, experiences or encounters must not be used to interpret the letters since they might not figure those experiences into their letter and simply reading meaning to what they wrote actually destroy the whole purpose of reading the bible. I say it again that experiences such as visions, dreams, and encounters, hearing certain voices, personal opinions, and day-to-day experiences must be put aside while studying the epistles, because the epistles relate a greater message than all our experiences.
If we really desire to get the meaning of what the apostles communicated in their letters, we must be willing to set aside tradition, popular beliefs and the habit of reading meaning to their letters apart from the words they used.
The last thing I want to say in this post is the fact we have to learn bible interpretation with practice. As we apply these principles, we should consult with other people that we know are well grounded so that we can be sure that we are not running on the wrong path.
The days of a spirit saying something outside the scriptures is past, what we have now is the illumination of the Holy Spirit on that which is written that we may see the heart of God in his word. Amen!