Full Project -EXEGESIS OF NEHEMIAH 8: 1-12 AND ITS IMPACT ON CHURCH GROWTH IN NIGERIA

Full Project -EXEGESIS OF NEHEMIAH 8: 1-12 AND ITS IMPACT ON CHURCH GROWTH IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

One of the long battled and yet persisting problems of the Church throughout her history is the subject of heresy. Divergent and complicated doctrines are built upon unjust and decontextualized Bible texts. The ruling throne of God’s Word have in many occasions being intentionally relegated and disdained by some men in a bid to fulfill ambitious goals. Those who devote their lives and get trained just to do and uphold the inflexible standards of the Word by interpreting what it says, are far less to the ones on the other side. The effects of such erroneous practices are grievously undermined; as those who engage in them do not show concern for the growth of God’s own people nor consider their abominable and condemnable stand before God. Many church activities commence and close without opening of a related Bible text to the program; and in some instances where Scriptures are read, there would be no adequate justice done to it, so as to know what the Lord has to say for the church to run by. This is one of the main explanations for the nose-diving growth of many Christians in Nigeria. Some members of Nigerian Churches do not know what the Word says about their lives and situations, talk less of taking decision based on it. In fact, Church Growth in the Nigerian context is emphasized on large population of membership, financial strengths and on how gigantic and aesthetic a church edifice looks.  Hence, this research work: Exegesis of Nehemiah 8: 1 – 12 and Its Impacts on Church Growth in Nigeria is aimed at revealing the need for biblical exegesis considering its influences on the life and conducts of the Church. The methodology adopted is historical survey type, consulting library materials on the subject matter. The researcher thereby calls on Church leaders and leadership at different levels in various places to consider the importance attached to engage in biblical exegesis and its consequential expositions for the projected and advantageous growth and development of the Church.

 

TABLE OF CONTENT

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

  • Background to the Study
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Significance of the Study
  • Delimitation of the Study
  • Limitation of the Study
  • Research Procedure
  • Definition of Terms
  • CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURES
    • Concepts of Biblical Hermeneutics
    • Historical Development of Biblical Hermeneutics
    • Fundamental Qualities and Qualifications of a Biblical Interpreter
    • Related Issues to Eisegesis
    • Effect of Exegesis and Eisegesis on Church Growth
  • CHAPTER THREE: BIBLICAL BASIS FOR EXEGESIS
    • Old Testament Concept of Biblical Exegesis
    • New Testament Concept of Biblical Exegesis
    • The Exegesis of Nehemiah 8: 1-12
  • CHAPTER FOUR: A Study of Nehemiah 8: 1 – 12 in the Context of the Nigerian Church
    • Brief History of Church in Nigeria
    • Biblical Interpretation Activities in the Nigerian Church
    • Challenges of Biblical Interpretation in the Nigerian Church Today
    • The Implication of Nehemiah 8: 1 -12 for Church in Nigeria
    • Yields of Correct Biblical Interpretation
    • Means of Ensuring Correct Biblical Interpretation
    • Data Presentation, Analyses and Discussions
  • CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
    • Summary
    • Conclusions
    • Recommendations

APPENDICES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

This section focuses on preliminaries, which includes background of study, statement and purpose of the study, the significance of the study; pointing out the beneficiary of this research. The limitation and delimitation, research procedure and definition of terms were all included in this section.

1.1       Background of the Study

Taking either random or selective sampling of believers of various Church denominations or gatherings today, one of the things that would obviously be discovered will be that there are several differences in doctrinal beliefs, teachings and their consequential effects on individual-denomination or personal spiritual growth and conducts. It is although undisputable and salient that the growth of the church must be numerically on the increase and that; perpetually. But this biblically, is never intended at the expense of the spiritual aspect (leading to sound ethical living) which better proves and authenticates beyond any reasonable and pathological doubt that one is a believer of Christ Jesus. In fact, Jesus during His earthly ministry had a crowd of “so-called disciples” around Him until (according John 6: 41 – 68) when many of them deserted Him on the account that He taught what was considered to be too hard to absorb. Many scribes or interpreters of the Gospel who just ought to be as householders; bringing out from the perfectly stored treasures of the Word to other members of the house are either untrained, unjustly

 

sentimental, or are even apathetic to the eternal reward of the kingdom of God, thereby selfishly serving their own bellies or are never of Christ at the first instance.

The above depicts the pained heart of the researcher and hence the undertaking of this endeavor. It is of the strong opinion of the researcher that the growth of the church should first and foremost be measured by the conducts of the believers toward God, the brotherhood and the unbelieving community all around, which would testify to the authenticity of the professed Christian Faith. However, the process to actualizing the goal (Church Growth) might be protractedly hampered, if the main tool (Exegesis) is not given its proper place and placement.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Placing side by side the contemporary effects of biblical interpretation with the purpose of God for all believers; (which is that each and every one who answered God’s call of salvation may grow into the fullness of Christ), there exist a lot of short falls and thereby calls for considerations and adjustment measures. More so, that a lot of people equate substantial numeric growth experienced in some church organizations as same in that of the body of Christ.

For instance, the population statistics of Christians in Nigeria comprise 40%[1]  of the population. Christians are dominant in the southern and central in Nigeria. According to the Pew Research Center, Nigeria has the largest Christian population of any country in Africa, with more than 85 million persons in Nigeria belonging to the church with various denominations[2] . Could this be true of the population of the Church indeed?

In addition, many church leaders are learning several secular and worldly gimmicks to grow their congregations. In doing this, they might even (intentionally) dare to water down the message of Christ so as to get a fuller assembly. It is so disheartening that numerical strength comparison in an unhealthy competitive manner is even on-going among parishes under same Church organization and between different churches of varying appellations for show of success, power, influence and personal glory. The question may then arise; could there be true growth, if the ministry of the word is incorrectly or selfishly carried out? How could one know which bible preacher or interpreter is true to the Word? Is there any need for training so as to be efficient or should one depend only on the power of the Holy Spirit? What could be the impact of both false and correct interpretation of the Word on the hearers? What is even the meaning of Church growth; a mere increase in the numbers of an assembly or something more?

Seeing the alarming effects of unwholesome biblical interpretations on the growth or health of the church in Nigeria, this study examined and proffered the means by which the body of Christ can experience growth (which could otherwise be seen as health, life, conduct or even renewal of the believer) in the real sense of it, and that by correct interpretation which is basic to exposition or preaching.

1.3       Purpose of the Study

This research targets at the following:

  1. To examine the importance of the tool of biblical hermeneutics in the interpretation of the Bible text.
  2. To make known the importance of biblical interpretation for church growth.
  3. To validate the relationship between the life, training, qualifications and theological world-view of the Bible interpreter and Bible interpretational endeavours.
  4. To authenticate that church growth should be measured and primarily emphasized on the qualitative; then the quantitative.
  5. To prove that the believer’s life, relationship and conducts towards God and then the worlds around are the true and primary tests for church growth.
  6. To also confirm that unwholesome living among some Christians could be as a result of wrong interpretation and application of Bible text.

1.4       Significance of the Study

  1. It will help both the leadership and followership of the Church know that church growth is grossly dependent on correct biblical interpretation endeavours.
  2. It will make the readers know that church growth is primarily about the quality of Christ’s life in the life and conduct of the believers and the numerical increase could then be appreciated on the same premise.
  3. This study will expose the fact that the life and qualification of Bible interpreter play a leading role in achieving church growth, thus throwing cautions to the bible interpreters on their attitude towards one of the two major assignments as clearly said by Apostle Peter – Acts 6: 4.
  4. It will serve as a source material and benefitting to Bible students, church folks and leaders and for future research in related areas to the subject matter.
  5. The work will uplift the truth, thereby culminating into dispelling deceptions about the subject matter.
  6. During the course of the research work, the wealth of knowledge and experience of the researcher would be enhanced.

1.5       Delimitation of the Study

This work is basically to examine the influence that correct interpretation of Bible text has on the growth of an individual or group of persons, who are known as church, through the instrumentality of biblical exegetes. Nehemiah 8: 1 – 12 is taken as the pericope for exegetical purpose, while The Nigerian Church is taken as a case study.

This research is not aimed at discussing the whole concept of Church Growth and Hermeneutics. Its concern is basically to establish the essence of biblical interpretation to Church growth.

1.6       Limitation of the Study

The fact that people’s bias could not be taken away from them while providing answers to questions (especially in the case of unstructured questionnaires or interviews) may limit the accuracy of the outcome to the research.

1.7       Research Procedures

The historical approach, being the fitting procedure is thereby mainly chosen by the researcher. For the purpose of the research, articles, journals, books, internet, were consulted and questionnaire and interviews to selected groups were administered and analyzed. Samples were randomly drawn from the population of Bible believing, mainstream churches (domiciled in Lagos with uniformity in their organizations and operations in all their branches all over Nigeria) and few new generation denominations. Questionnaire was administered to Church Members and Assembly Pastors with minimum of 3 years of salvation experience and 5 years of active pastoral ministry respectively. Also, 4 Senior Lecturers of LIFE Theological Seminary were interviewed on this subject matter.

The libraries consulted were:

  1. LIFE Theological Library, Ikorodu, Lagos State
  2. National Open University (E-Library)
  3. Other E-Libraries
  4. Personal Library
  5. Internet Sources

1.8       Definition of Terms

For the purpose of this study, the following terms are deemed fit to be distinctively defined as follows:

Eisegesis:

Is the process of interpreting a text or portion of the text in such a manner that the process introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text. Eisegesis is best understood when contrasted with Exegesis. While the latter is the process of drawing out the meaning from a text in accordance with the context and discoverable meaning of its writer, the former occurs when a reader imposes his or her interpretation into and onto the text. As a result, exegesis strives for objectivity while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective[3] .

 

 

Exegesis:

Exegesis (/ɛksəˈdʒiːsɪs/; from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι, “to lead out”) is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for work with the Bible; however, in modern usage “biblical exegesis” is used for greater specificity to distinguish it from any other broader critical text explanation. Exegesis includes a wide range of critical disciplines: textual criticism is the investigation into the history and origins of the text, but exegesis may include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds for the author, the text, and the original audience. Other analyses include classification of the type of literary genres presented in the text and analysis of grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself[4] . One who practices exegesis is called an exegete (/ɛksɪˈdʒiːt/; from Greek ἐξηγητής). The plural of exegesis is exegeses (/ɛksɪˈdʒiːsiːz/). Adjectives are exegetic or exegetical (e.g., exegetical commentaries). In biblical exegesis, the opposite of exegesis (to draw out) is eisegesis (to draw in), in the sense of an eisegetic commentator “importing” or “drawing in” his or her own purely subjective interpretations into the text, unsupported by the text itself. Eisegesis is often used as a derogatory term[5] .

Christian:

The name given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach, to the followers of Jesus, and it may also be a label by which they were distinguished as a new sect differing from the Jews whose religious practices were similar to that of the Church. It was first used at Antioch. The names by which the disciples were known among themselves were “brethren,” “the faithful,” “elect,” “saints,” “believers.” But as distinguishing them from the multitude without, the name “Christian” came into use, and was universally accepted. This name occurs but three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).[6]

Darrell W. Robinson, in his input to the Holman illustrated Bible Dictionary describes a Christian thus:

The Greek suffix-ianos was originally applied to slaves. It came to denote the adherents of an individual or party. A Christian is a slave or adherent of Christ. The word is used three times in the N.T. Believers “were first called Christians in Antioch” because their behavior, activity and speech were like Christ (Acts 11:26 HCSB). Agrippa responded to Paul’s witness, “Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?” (Acts 26:28 HCB). He spoke of becoming an adherent of Christ, whose daily life and behavior facing adversity is like Christ.[7]

 

Church:

On the basis of the Greek word “ekkaleo,” a composition of two words: ek and kaleo meaning out of and call respectively, the Church may therefore be defined as an individual or a group of persons who answered God’s call of love which is demonstrated in the salvific work perpetuated by Christ and so believe on Him as Saviour and Lord.

 

Church Growth:

Qualitative spiritual activities going on in the life of an individual or group of persons (who answered God’s call of salvation) gradually resulting such into the full stature of the person of Christ and thereby authenticated by progressive ethical, day-to-day conducts; upon which quantitative or otherwise increase could be said to be true.

Growth:

Growth in a simple definition is an inside-out increase. Growth is seldom random[8] . It occurs according to a plan that eventually determines the size and shape of the individual or organism[9] . It is a desired, transformational increase of a thing or being from its minutest stage to the highest peak it can attain (according to its inherent capacity), and its sustenance thereof; provided the available healthy conditions.

Hermeneutics:

It is the study of the principles and methods of interpreting a text, and in this case; a bible text.

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