July 2, 2014 Bible Interpretation by Pastor Bob Parts 1 to _
The theme of these series of posts is the Bible and its proper interpretation. For those in the majority, me included, there is a lack of proper instruction in the right way to go for the study of scripture. If you are lucky to be born in Greece the Greek language is second nature to you and you do not have to worry about the proper translation of the New Testament as the original is in Greek.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the same principle applies. If you lack the knowledge of Greek and Hebrew you have to rely on translations. Thanks to Pastor Bob he has devoted his time to the education and sharing of his vast years of accumulated knowledge and insight in the Word. This is not to say that us readers are not required to scrutinize his work against the Bible, but in my opinion he is a source of vast experience and knowledge. Thanks Pastor Bob.
Pastor Bob (4 May 2014)
“Bible Interpretation – 1“
All:Some thirty years ago I suddenly realized that our English Bible translations do not always do a thorough job in translating the Greek and Hebrew to English in a clear understandable way for us and thus, created or added to the confusion and cause more questions that go unanswered for us to say, “I got it now.”I am not a strict literalist and I will explain in this series. I thought the readers might enjoy a little clarity to understanding their Bible. The issue that divides so many people, churches, denominations, and society resolves to a single issue of what is commonly known in theological schools as “Hermeneutics”The larger issue is knowing what the “keys” are and “how to use them”. The most important Bible prophecy text is Daniel 9:24-27, and yet is so confused by those trying to interpret the Bible for others and themselves. In this series you will get a seminary or good Bible college level course on “Hermeneutics”. All without the exams and tests. Might I add at no dollar cost.The Bible is made up of five basic kinds of genre or writings:1. Narrative2. Epistles3. Wisdom Literature4. Poetry5. ProphecyUnderstanding the meaning is not as simple as so many seem to believe or postulate. The Apostle Paul in dealing with the issue of tongues (languages) in 1 Corinthians state “God is not the author of confusion”. (1 Cor. 14:33).According to Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings to search out a matter.”Most of humanity’s problems arise out of communications problems. This I believe every Dove could agree upon. That said, it requires serious diligence, and fidelity to the Word of God.to glean its whole truth.The understanding of Scripture is far more complex than most folks are aware of or are ready to admit; and I suggest that doctoral division and differences often are the result of poor training in foundational hermeneutics. The Lord Christ Jesus gave to the disciples specific “keys” of interpretation, which they used in interpreting the Old Testament. Discovering “Apostolic Hermeneutics” in a day when men will not hear sound teaching demands a lot of patience.Hermeneutics is both a science and an art.God has spoken to His people the Israelites. Whenever man communicates, the exercising of interpretation, whether it is art, music, law, history, poetry, or literature; it calls for the ability of an enlightened informed interpreter.Consider the ways that God has spoken through His Word:Dreams (Numbers 12:6; Joel 2:28; Matthew 1:20)Visions (Numbers 12:6; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; Acts 9:10,12).Angel of the Lord (Genesis 18; Exodus 3; Judges 6 & 13)Similitudes (Deuteronomy 4:12,15,16; Daniel 10:16; Hosea 12:10; Romans 5:14; Hebrews 7:15)Figures (Romans 5:14; Hebrews 9:9,24; 11:19; 1 Peter 3:21)Type (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 10:6,10)Shadow (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1)Example (1 Corinthians 10:6; Hebrews 4:11; 8:5; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 7)Pattern (Exodus 25:9; 1 Chronicles 20:11,12,19; 1 Timothy 1:16; Hebrews 8:5)Sign (Exodus 3:12; Isaiah 7:11,14; Matthew 12:39; John 20:30)The Holy Spirit (John 12:33; 18:32; 21:19; Acts 11:28; Revelation 1:1)Allegory (Galatians 4:24)Mystery (Ephesians 1:9; 3:9; 5:32; 1 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 1:20)Dark Sayings (Numbers 12:8; Psalm 49:4; 78:2; Proverbs 1:6; Daniel 8:23)Riddle (Judges 14:12; Ezekiel 17:2)Proverb (Proverb 1:6; Luke 4:23; 2 Peter 2:22)Parable (Matthew 13:3,10,13,34,35; Mark 3:23; Luke 8:10)Audible Voice of God (Genesis 3:8; Numbers 7:89; Deuteronomy 5:22-28; Psalm 103:20)Prophecy (Proverb 1:6; Luke 4:23; 2 Peter 2:22)Writings (Exodus 31:18; 33:16; 1 Chronicles 28:19; 2 Chronicles 35:4; Daniel 5:5)These are merely some of the examples and there are many more that we don’t obviously notice when studying the Word of God. There are over 200 linguistic and grammatical tools employed by God in the 1189 chapters of the Bible. Most people are totally unaware of the depth of the Scriptures. Very few notice the nuances of the text, the idioms and idiomatic expressions. God has encoded within the text constructs and truths that evade the average church going individual, and in many case, even the pastor they trust with their spiritual guidance.Most pastors today are not trained sufficiently to be good interpreters of the Word. This is the reason for the growing apostasy and heresy in the church, i.e., the prosperity gospel; name it and claim it; the word of faith movement; health, welfare, and prosperity; the emergent church movement, even the seeker friendly church; and others. They originated in a misuse or violation of Biblically sound hermeneutics. This is why you have the mega ministries of Benny Hinn, Joel Ostein, Paula White, Joyce Meyers, and a host too many to name of mammon leaches.The heart of interpretation the Bible is well established in the Old Testament surprisingly. There are between the Old Testament and New Testament, about 14 different words that speak to the discipline of hermeneutics.There are qualifications of an interpreter of the Word of God that one must have. Otherwise, hermeneutics becomes a source of confusion, rather than order. False cults have developed systems of hermeneutics by which the Word of God is misinterpreted, and heresy is forced out of truth, and darkness is presented as light.The Scriptures speaks about three categories:1. Legal interpretation2. False interpretation3. True interpretationExamples of:1. Legal (Acts 13:27; John 18:28; John 5:39,40)2. False (2 Corinthians 4:2; Ephesians 4:14; 2 Peter 3:16)3. True (Luke 24:27; Job 33:23; 2 Timothy 2:15)Remember, these are references to what we refer as the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament; the Scriptures of which the early church was reading.Predicated on whether the interest is there I will follow up with what defines the qualifications of an interpreter. There are many and they are all Biblical. I don’t want to do more unless the interest exists. I have served too many churches whose idea of Bible study was a mile wide and an inch deep.Today, hermeneutics falls into five basic categories of methods of interpretation, each having its own set of rules and principles. These are the:1. Allegorical method2. Mystical method3. Devotional method4. Rational method5. Literal methodIn this post we will examine the first category: the Allegorical method.The Allegorical method, originated through the union of Greek philosophy and religion. With the rise of philosophy, the Greeks began to realize that they could not interpret their religious writings literally and still hold to their philosophy. The Apostle Paul issued a warning about listening to the vain philosophies of men. If both were taken literally they would be contradictory. Because of their new found loyalties to the philosophies they had to conclude, in order to reconcile the two, that their religious writings meant something other than what they literally said. The method they created to do this was called allegorism. I used to teach once a year at a Bible college, a course on “Philosophy from a Christian Perspective”. I will share a little tidbit of knowledge about philosophy. Most of the known philosophers were recruited into the secret societies of the Illuminati, Freemasonry, Jacobins, or the Perfectobilists.The allegorical method presumes that beneath the plain and obvious sense of Scripture lies its true meaning. It believes that what the words of Scripture literally say are only external “chaff” which hides the true spiritual “what” of the Word. In allegoricalization, a passage with obvious literal meaning is interpreted using a point-by-point comparison, which brings out a hidden spiritual meaning not evident in the plain language of the text. This method has been applied to the whole of Scripture by allegorists both ancient and modern day. As an example, Pope Gregory, the so-called great interpreter of the book of Job said, “The patriarch’s three friends denotes the heretics; his seven sons are the twelve apostles; his seven thousand sheep are God’s faithful people and his three thousand hump-back camels are the depraved Gentiles.”Centuries have proven the allegorical method to be quite inadequate in the interpretation of Scripture. The error of this method begins at its foundational assumption: that what God said in plain language is not really what He meant.It is a dangerous method in that there are no Scriptural boundaries to guide its implementation. Without any doubt, this is the reason for the great variety of contradictory theological positions among allegorists. Through the allegorical method Scripture is interpreted apart from its grammatical-historical meaning. What the author was trying to plainly communicate is almost totally ignored and what the interpreter desires to say is forced upon it. An excellent example is Revelation 20 where we find the expression “a thousand years”. The allegorist rejects the idea of it means what it says. They argue their bloomers off saying it means simply a long time, an infinite period, but it certainly does not mean 1,000 years. Elsewhere, they will agree that it means 1,000 days, like in the passage where the Tribulation is 1,260 days.My response to this kind of babble is the highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know about.The Greek word “Chilioi” is that of a number for 1,000 and it represents a literal 1,000. In classical Greek it was used from the time of Homer and means “a thousand”. Herodotus used it of “a thousand” horses. As his demonstration of love for God, Solomon offered “a thousand burnt offerings” to the Lord, found in 1 Kings 3:4. In the New Testament Peter used “Chilioi” to describe the timeless dimension of God “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” -(2 Peter 3:8). It is used six times in Revelation 20, and it is used three more times elsewhere in Revelation. It means there will be a millennium age and it will be a thousand years long, 1,000, What do you suppose that people do not understand?!Allegoricalism obscures both the literal and figurative elements in Scripture. By exalting the interpreter’s intentions and ignoring the author’s intended meaning, the allegorical method fails to reach the basic goal of interpretation and must be discarded.Extreme Typology borders on allegoricalization. However, it must be recognized that these two are not always synonymous. The interpreter must also be careful not to confuse the practice of allegorization with figures of speech called allegory.As I stated previously, this method is widely used by preachers and pastors in churches that trace their heritage back to the Reformation. Luther waged a war on behalf of the issue of “Justification by faith”, yet he brought with him a lot of baggage to Rome’s daughter churches. Chiefly among the baggage Luther passed on to the reformation churches that followed, the idea of “Replacement” Theology where the church replaced Israel in God’s Master Plan. He brought with him the entire method of allegoricalization of Scripture. This included Bible prophecy.I have made it clear that Steven “Mark” Wohlberg of the SDA cult violates the interpretation over and over to the point an individual is totally confused about dozens of topics. He is like trying to pick up mercury.All of the denominations that broke from Rome in 1541 and following, retained the allegorical method of interpretation. It comes as no real surprise when you have studied church history as to why there are so many divisions and it all results from a faulty hermeneutics. The ecumenical movement has further conflicted the Protestant churches which really don’t protest anything anymore. It has only been a decade since the Lutheran churches stopped calling the pope the antichrist. If my memory serves me correct, it was 1996 or 1997 when the official Lutheran position stopped calling the pope the antichrist.I’ve been debating JW’s and SDA’s for years. The day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, I was washing my new car and debating two JW’s. If you figure that it comes to fifty years and I’m not allegoricalizing a bit. That’s fifty years or 50!In hermeneutics we used the journalistic method of inquiry: who, what, when, where, and why? YOu can’t be fooled by the counterfeits when you utilize a standard of analysis. In my formal seminary education I was required to outline the particular book of the Bible being used in class. For example my course on the Gospel of Mark, the class had to outline the English text, using appropriate Greek grammatical tools and be able to defend specific points with the Greek nuances.When I was in elementary school, 7th & 8th grade English, I never thought or even imagined that I would have to use those skills ever again. I was so wrong. You couldn’t get church folks to come to this type of Bible study today even if you paid them to come.If you stay with me, I will cover the other four methods of interpretation, known as Hermeneutics. I just need to know there is an interest in your learning Hermeneutics. You will never be deceived by the “Replacement” Theology crowd ever again.There will be a “Millennium” and it will be a thousand years, 1,0000 years. Don’t be deceived those who reject the true meaning of the Greek word “Chilioi“.Pastor Bob
Pastor Bob (18 May 2014)
““Bible Interpretations -2”“
All:The interpretation of the Bible is by far one of the least understood disciplines outside of theological academia. Different institutions, Bible colleges and theological seminaries have their favorite approach to the discipline. In some cases these institutions have a predisposition to a particular denominational bent. Because most of the readers at this site are mostly untrained minds, I wanted to provide you an overview summary as well as a comprehensive foundation that will permit you to be able to hold your own when doing your own Bible study. Whether you study alone, with a family member, a spouse, or a small group, or perhaps a church group, what I share will facilitate your ability to offer guidance to others as well.
After all, if you don’t have meaningful and appropriate tools, the task, whatever it be, requires a lot more effort and expense of time, money, and resources. If you have ever done any carpentry or construction, you know what I am talking about. Trial and error is a poor teacher and a terrible waste of time, money, and resources.
In the first part of this series of posts, I noted the five most common categories in the discipline of Bible Hermeneutics. For review, these included:
1. Allegorical method.
2. Mystical method.
3. Devotional method.
4. Rational method.
5. Literal method.
Based upon what I shared in part one you can begin to see how people came to making assumptions, and the drawing of conclusions; and furthermore why we have such diversity about beliefs concerning the Bible and its content. This is especially true if one has not been given some training, as for example, a study Bible, or a competent teacher at church or your Sunday school. I covered a basic overview of the “Allegorical” method in part one. It is the preferred and most common found in among Catholics, as well, mainline Protestant denominations.
We turn now to the second method of interpretation of the Bible. The “Mystical” method is closely associated with the “Allegorical” method of interpretation. Some Bible scholars even view the two as synonymous. The origin of the “Mystical” method can be traced to the Jewish Hagadic method of exegesis (explanation by exposition and deductive logic). The “Mystical” method was developed during the inter-testamental period (the 400 years between Malachi and Matthew, a time in which God did not speak to the Israelites.
The “Mystical” method like the “Allegorical” method take discretionary liberties by reading into the text interpretations of meaning not plainly there. The “Mystical” method presumes that hidden beneath the surface of the words and their plain sense interpretations. Using the “Mystical” method, a passage of Scripture with obvious literal meaning is interpreted to have a number of exalted spiritual meanings. Because of the professed desired to reach beyond the letter into the spirit of the word much can be lost. The function of this method has also been called or referred to “Spiritualizing” the text.
History has proven the “Mystical” method to be misleading and of little value in the interpretation of Scripture. The error in its foundational assumption goes beyond that of the “Allegorical” method in that it often presumes that a Scripture may have any number of meanings, and it may be in fact true. In other words, in the authoring Scripture, it meant many things other than those he actually said. The objection to this is, that if God did not mean what He said, then how can the interpreter discover what He did mean? Instead of regarding Scripture as a sensible communication from God, mystics turn it into a riddle and make it say almost anything other than what God meant for it to say. Differing from the “Allegorical”, which tend to follow some comparison, spiritualizers are more erratic, not bound by any law. They each become a law of interpretation to themselves. By exalting the interpreter’s intentions and ignoring the author’s intended meaning, the “Mystical” method fails to reach the basic goal of interpretation and must be discarded if you intend to have clarity of communication.
The third method of interpretation is known as the “Devotional” method. Like the “Mystical”, the “Devotional” method of interpretation originated with the Hagadic style of exegesis of the same inter-testamental period. In seeking to apply the Scriptures to their lives, Jewish scribes began to interpret them in the light of their own life situations. In their zeal for application they produced faulty interpretations in church history.
This method had its greatest emphasis among the Pietists of the Post-Reformation period. Thus, it has also been known as the Pietistic method of interpretation.
The “Devotional” method believes the Bible was written for the personal edification of every believer and that the personalized hidden meaning can only be revealed by the shinning of a greater inner spiritual light. 1st John 2:2 is often used as a proof-text for this: “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” It searches the Scripture to discover meaning that will build up the spiritual life. In interpretation that which is most important is not what God said to others, but what He is saying to the interpreter. Thus, to interpret the Scriptures “Devotionally” is to search beyond their plain obvious meaning for spiritual meaning applicable to the believer’s life. As an example of “Devotional” interpretation, some well-meaning Christians have interpreted Matthew 10:9,10,19 to mean that in their evangelizing they should neither take any material provision nor make any spiritual preparation.
The “Devotional” interpretation is by and large the most common method of Bible study found in churches, men’s groups, women’s groups, and particularly – liberal churches.
Time has proven the devotional method to be quite dangerous as a system of interpretation. The chief danger of this method is that in seeking to apply Scripture personally the interpreter may ignore the plain literal sense of what God was saying to those in particular historical setting, and thus apply Scripture self-centeredly. The “Devotional” interpretation falls prey to “Allegorizing” or excessive Typology, and often become a substitute for requisites for exegetical and doctrinal studies of the Bible.
This does not rule out “Devotional” practical, and edifying use of Scripture. Certainly, this is a prominent part of and purpose of Scripture, and the Word of God is of no value to the believer unless it is applied to his/her life practically. The interpreter must recognize that Scripture is meant to be applied devotionally, but that this can only be properly done after it has been interpreted literally and historically. “Devotional” interpretation must also be harmonized with doctrinal interpretation.
You have no idea as to how these first three methods of interpretation influence and shape a church’s beliefs and doctrine. When I left the the United Methodist Church and went Non-Denominational, I candidated at many different churches in a three-state area. During that time I did pulpit supply, worked for funeral homes, served various short-term interim pastor positions. As a result of this experience, I have preached in some four hundred different churches. Just as an example, I candidated at a church, going through multiple interviews in the process. I pulled the plug on a “call” once I learned the church board did not permit their pastor to marry couples where one or both individuals had a previous divorce. It was part of their charter. I have experiences enough to know that no two churches are alike for hundreds of reasons.
Next time, I will deal with the remaining two methods of interpreting Scripture. Once we move past the most common methods of interpretation, we will begin to examine the many principles that enhance your understanding of God’s Holy Word. As you grow in the knowledge of the tools I share, you will find your vision and use of the foundational principles broaden your depth and perspective on God’s Word will expand exponentially.
Pastor Bob (1 June 2014)
““Bible Interpretation -3”“
All:There was an interesting post on ‘Prophecy News Watch’ on May 19th by a Kelly Givens. It was entitled “Why aren’t we teaching Christians how to study the Bible?” Her reflections and questions are both genuine and reflective of a serious problem that exists in Christendom. Kelly hit the nail on the head when she noted that many church leaders are about telling people what to believe about finance, gender roles, healthy relationships, purity, culture wars, but not about what it says, what it means, and how it should change them. She notes, “or perhaps we have assumed that kind of knowledge isn’t really that important.” Truth be known, most sermons today are not Biblically based or exposited.
This bright lady’s words are insightful, ‘So we continue to tell people this is what you should believe about marriage and this is what you need to know about doctrine and this is what your idolatry looks like. But because we never train them in the Scriptures, they have no framework to attach these exhortations to beyond their church membership or their pastor’s personality or their group leader’s opinion.”
She continues, “More importantly, they have no plumb line to measure these exhortations against. It never occurs to them to disagree with what they are being taught because they cannot distinguish between our interpretation of Scripture itself, having little or no firsthand knowledge of what it says.”
Another statement that speaks volumes, “but spending time wrestling with Scripture on our own should be paramount. And knowing how to spend time in the Word should be a lesson taught in every Christian church and a priority of every Christian leader to pass on to those whom God has given them to lead.”
Her words were music to my ears. In my years of pastoral ministry I was driven in impressing upon my folks it was just as important that they knew why they believed what they believed. The lady who authored the article went on to suggest some sources for people to draw upon, one of which she named was Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries. Kay Arthur is a rock solid expositor of the Word, advocate of the “Inductive Method” of Bible Study. Kay Arthur’s web site offers a library of Bible study material and I would encourage the reader to check out her site.- “Precept Ministries” if you are not familiar with her.
In this installment we want to look at the last two primary methods of understanding the Bible. Heretofore I have covered the first three of the most basic methods of hermeneutics.
The fourth method is known as the “Rationalistic” method. It has its seeds in ancient history. The “Rationalistic” method bloomed during the post-Reformation period and is still strong today. Through recent centuries the seat of rationalism has been in Germany, where the schools of higher criticism have attempted to undermine the authority of Scripture. There are many different methods that fall under this category because of their common characteristics. Following the Franco-Prussian War and the devastation of Europe, German schools of theology fell sway to people like Julius Wellhausen. He influenced a whole generation of church leaders that followed a path we know as the “Social Gospel” Emphasis was on “social justice” and “social welfare”, and it virtually transformed Europe and America as theologians influenced by Wellhausen filled the academic chairs of America’s seminaries.
It was the early 1920’s when new Bible colleges and seminaries were founded to counter the Wellhausen doctrines and returning focus to the message of making disciples for the Lord Christ Jesus. Wellhausen from the last few decades of the 19th century and well into the 20th century took the Christian church into what we know as “liberalism”. He and his followers could not bring themselve to believe that a loving God would have permitted the devastation of the continent that came with the Franco-Prussian War. He threw out the proverbial “baby with the bath water”.
He came up short in answering for himself the four significant questions we all have to ask sooner or later, that being: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? and How am I going to get their?
The rationalistic method presumes that the Bible is not the authoritative inspired Word of God. It interprets Scripture as a human document in the light of human reason. With the rationalist, “nature is the standard, and reason is the guide.” If the Bible can be made to harmonize with the knowledge of the interpreter, then it is to be understood as meaning what it says, but if not, it is to be regarded as mythical, or used by way of accommodation to underpin a rational view of something else.
Thus, a sort of educated modern mentality is used to judge and interpret Scripture. As an example of rationalistic thinking/interpretation, and to explain away the supernatural, Lazarus is said to have gone into a coma rather than having died, and Jesus is said to have only appeared to have walked on water; to undermine the authority and the veracity of Scripture, historical events such as the crossing of the Red Sea and the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ are explained as either fanciful exaggerations or contrived myths. We now know this to be not true, and since the mid-1990’s that Exodus crossing of the Red Sea is factual and based upon the work of Dr. Lennert Moller, documented in his book ‘The Exodus Case’ Surprisingly, many of the Rationalist school of interpretation of the Bible do not want to even read the work of Dr. Moller because it is revolutionary scholarship. Prior to the publishing of his book the world did not have one stitch of evidence to prove the Bible story of the Exodus was factual. Belief of the Exodus event had to be strictly on or by faith! Pastors of this line of hermeneutics refuse to look at the evidence. I will share an example of my experience on this issue.
After leaving full time pastoral ministry in 1998, I went non-denominational after leaving the United Methodist Church. I pursued a non-traditional form of evangelism. Because my style was unique, it was difficult at first to open pastors up to it. I offered a presentation to churches within about a 75 mile radius of my home. The presentation is called “Mining the Diamonds and Nuggets of the Bible.” As I developed it and built the presentation it became such that I had to develop several formats for its presentation. Most pastors open to it were troubled by the length, saying their people would not sit for longer than 45-minutes. The reality was that people would not only sit for 45-minutes, they would sit for two hours, and then at the close, they would stay around for two more hours of questions and answers. The full-blown presentations were such that I had to do it in a variety of weekend or week long format almost like the old days when a revival service lasted a week or two. I have a 13-block program that proves the Bible is Truth, and is the Word of God.
The point of this is to note that in the Rationalistic method pastor’s mindset, the “Supernatural” is dismissed or rejected completely. The evidence relative to the Exodus crossing event, is so profound that the “Supernatural” cannot be denied. The key thing about the crossing at Yom Suph at the Waddi Watel, there is a underwater landbridge that spans the eleven miles across the Red Sea point where the Jews crossed over. The underwater landbridge is approximately 250 meters below the surface of the water, and on either side of the half-mile wide landbridge the water depths drops off between 5,000 and 8,000 feet in depth on the other sides of the landbridge. When you consider the landbridge portion is still 250 meters below the surface, you still have to explain away the issue of how could the water be parted to permit the crossing at all. Dr. Moller’s book is filled with hundreds of color photos, including those taken by underwater remote cameras showing chariot wheels, and other debrise of the Egyptian period of the time of the Exodus. As I said, until Dr. Lennert Moller’s research came to light, we had absolutely no proof of or evidence that the Exodus crossing was a historical event. You simply believed by faith.
No longer is that the case. What I discovered about pastors was they aren’t interested in knowing the whole story because it upsets their theological construct. They were so engrained with the “Rationalistic” concept of interpreting the Bible they were tripped up by what was obviously “Supernatural”.
Several generations have proven this method to be little more than the method of unbelief. In fact, rationalistic exegesis could be better termed “Exit-Jesus”. If you ever heard of the “Jesus Seminar” group that used to meet in the 1990’s; they used color balls to vote upon what Jesus said and what Jesus did not say, is a manifestation of this Rationalistic school of interpretation. When the Jesus Seminar group concluded their many meetings, they had concluded that most of what Jesus said, recorded in the Scripture, He never said!
Although claiming the title “Rational,” this method is probably the most irrational. It is virtually uninterested in what the writers literally said, but cares only for what the interpreter thinks they should have said. It exalts the god of reason above the authority of the Word of God. By it the interpreter sets himself up as the standard of truth and only sees value in Scripture as it confirms his conclusions. For the interpreter who views Scripture as the inspired Word of God, the rationalistic method in all its forms must be rejected.
My wife works as a part-time church secretary for a United Presbyterian church that has a woman pastor. Her constant theme is being an “open-accepting-loving” church. With her “tolerance is a virtue”. She is a case-study in why the UPCUSA is in rapid decline. The UPCUSA headquarters are in Louisville, KY. Several years running now they have announced staff layoffs. Things are so bad, that last year the UPC moved out of the National Council of Churches facilities in NYC, and the NCC itself is in rapid retreat for its very existence. It moved last year out of New York to a United Methodist office in Washington, DC as I recall.
The fifth basic method of Hermeneutics is the “Literal” method. In terms of Scripture, the Literal method of interpretation of the Bible is the oldest in existence. It is said to have originated with Ezra, and called the father of hermeneutics. The progress of its history tracks through the Palestinian Jews, Jesus Christ, the Apostles, the School of Antioch, the Reformers, to the Fundamentalist Conservatives of today.
The “Literal” method of interpretation assumes that the words of Scripture in their plain evident meaning are reliable; that God intended His revelation to be understood by all who believe; that the words of Scripture communicate what God wants man to know; and that God based the communication of Truth on the regular law of governing written communication, thereby intending for it to be interpreted by those same laws. This is not to deny the Holy Spirit’s involvement in both the production and interpretation of the Bible.
The expression “literal sense” may be defined as: The usual, customary, and socially accepted meaning conveyed by words or expressions in their particular contexts. It involves that which a particular word meant to the original writers and readers. It recognizes that a word may have different meaning in different contexts and thus be interpreted in light of its contextual usage. It contends that though a word may possibly have several meanings, in any one particular usage it generally will have but one intended meaning. This method is also called the Grammatico-Historical method because, in order to determine the normal and customary usage of Bible language, the accepted rules of grammar and rhetoric must be considered and the historical and cultural aspects of Bible times must be taken into consideration.
The literal sense does not exclude the figurative aspects. Some interpreters have used the term figurative in opposition to the term literal, as though the figurative meaning of words were opposed to the literal sense. However, in that figurative language is a part of normal conversation, it also is encompassed by the literal system of interpretation. In fact, the figurative such a idioms, idiomatic expressions are quite common in the Greek and Hebrew. This is an aspect of understanding the Bible that few Christian have any knowledge of, something that comes from who they learn the Bible from. Ferreting out the “hidden in plain site” meanings is a challenge to the pastor, as a result of inadequate training or the absence of learning in the Biblical languages. It becomes a real challenge because Bible colleges and seminaries simply have downgraded curriculum and excluded this aspect of Bible teaching. You have people who attack the “Hebrew Roots” movement of teaching the Torah. We have much to learn, however, it does not imply we are to become like Jews of old in order to benefit from the rich material available to the student of the Word. Recently, Jim Bramlett posted a post that linked to a video revealing the Virgin Birth in the Hebrew text. If you haven’t viewed it, do so, go back to the posts of Memorial Day weekend and take advantage of the deeper study of the Hebrew text. We can benefit greatly, despite that few of us have the functional working use of the Hebrew the speaker has. I have been studying Hebrew and Greek for thirty years and it would likely be at least thirty more years before I could teach as the gentlemen on the video that Bro. Jim linked the Doves to.
The Literal method does not exclude the spiritual meaning. Some interpreters have used the term spiritual in opposition to the term literal as though the spiritual meaning of Scripture were opposed to its literal meaning, Under the title of the “Spiritual” method, some interpreters have “spiritualized” Scripture to mean something other than what it says. The Literal method, while rejecting “spiritualization”, does admit the spiritual substance and nature of the Scriptures. The criticism of those that “spiritualize” Scripture is due to their extending it to virtually mean every word and passage, when that is obviously incorrect. The fact is the Bible is a spiritual book conveying spiritual Truth and therefore must be spiritually interpreted. This can be done by accepting as sufficient the luminated literal meaning of the words.
The Literal method does not exclude application. Some interpreters confuse interpretation with application. The task of the literal interpretation is first to discern the meaning of God’s Word, and then, upon that basis, to apply it. A general rule of the literal method is: “There is one interpretation, but many applications.” While as I understand the Bible, in particular, any book, this is not a hard and fast rule. I say this in light of the deeper understanding the Hebrew “PARDS” concept of unpacking the text. This is a subject for later explanation once we have got enough foundational understanding under our belts.
The Literal method does not exclude depth of meaning. In that God is the virtual author of Scripture, some Truths therein are patent, outward, and obvious, while in others are latent, inward, and hidden. Historical events do have spiritual significance, like the Exodus, and certain figures of speech, such as Types, Symbols, Parables, and Allegories, do have hidden meanings is solidly based on the earthly sense of the words and necessitates that interpretation remain within the proper boundaries of Truths plainly revealed in God’s Word.
In conclusion, the Literal method stands out among the rest as the only sound, safe, sensible approach. It is much maligned, largely because it is so correct in bringing people to a place where they can know God. What else could we expect from God’s nemesis Lucifer, but to attack anything that would lead us to the Father, through the Son. Each of the other methods have proven inadequate in that they lack God-given and well-defined boundaries.
As you can see, from learning the five basic methods of interpretating Scripture is not an art nor a science, one or the other situation, it is both a science and an art. Many people will argue for one or the other, but one has to maintain a balance or tension, such as to avoid falling into a trap. We have looked at the major theological interpretative methods used by the Christian world. I was going to take up next the more controversial methods being used throughout the church around the world, but upon second thought, I decided to side step that topic for later. Most of those came on the scene in the last seventy years or so. This includes the “Word-Faith” movement; the Prosperity movement, the “Charismatic” movement, the Purpose Driven” movement, the “Emergent” church movement, the “Kingdom-now” movement, its sister the “Dominion” movement, and so many more that you should be aware as not to be duped or drawn into cult-like groups. I do hope this series of posts are helpful in broadening your understanding of how the Bible is understood by different people and for the reasons they do so.
God bless until the next time,
Pastor Bob (15 June 2014)
““Bible Interpretation -4”“
All:In my next post I was going to deal with the history of hermeneutics in the universal church from Pentecost forward, but I thought we would begin with an ancillary aspect of this topic first, because of the times in which we are living and the interest in Bible prophecy, that being the churches understanding of how prophecy has been understood over the centuries. Everyone is interested in prophecy, and we are aware of how the SDA cult uses this topic as a fishing expedition to catch the innocent.
We live in what I consider to be the culmination of the ages. Following this church history thread we will broaden our understanding in the larger panorama of how the church understood its relationship throughout time in history. Our word “history” is really [His-Story]. I would gamble that college history majors are oblivious to this fact since secular academic institutions filter out any references to Christian roots of culture.
Most Christians are unaware of the diversity of opinion, understanding, and interpretation of history of prophecy. I majored in history at a Christian college as part of my pre-ministry program at a United Presbyterian college. Historically, the church from the time of Pentecost has went through major shifts, even being whipsawed at times, from the forces of tyranny and geo-political events from wars and its aftermath.
The heart of the matter of one’s view regarding Bible prophecy is the system as an integral part of hermeneutics, or in the principles upon which Scripture is interpreted. Since the Bible claims to be verbally inspired, and every word is God-breathed, it must be interpreted according to the rules of grammar and context, and in complete harmony with the rest of the inspired record. 2 Peter 1:20 reads, “No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.”
Unfulfilled prophecy must be treated in a similar fashion to fulfilled prophecy, and this means that a literal interpretation is the only legitimate method. Symbolism in Scripture has its God-given interpretation. No Scripture should be taken allegorically without specific Biblical evidence, that God has intended it as such.
Historically speaking, church historians will acknowledge that the predominant view among Christians in the Post-Apostolic period of the second and third centuries AD was that Christ Jesus’ coming would be Pre-Millennial, and that He would establish a literal kingdom on Earth lasting 1,000 years.
Philip Schaff, in his ‘History of the Christian Church’, vol. 2, page 614, notes that Barnabas, Papias, Justin Marytr, Irenaues, Turtullian, Methodius, and Lactantius who wrote from the late 2nd century to the early 4th century, ALL held to a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ Jesus following His Second Coming. It was also generally held that just before Christ Jesus came there would be a time of great tribulation during which the Antichrist would reign. I would add that Dr. Schaff, himself, was an opponent to pre-millennialism, actually reflective of the time in which he wrote.
There is no doubt that Irenaeus (102-202 AD), a disciple of Polycarp, who in turn had been a disciple of the Apostle John were Pre-Millennial. In chapter 29 of his book ‘Against Heresies’, Irenaeus wrote: “When in the end the church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, there will be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of time, neither shall be… There is therefore in the beast, when he comes, a recapitulation made of sorts of iniquity…”
There is no doubt that Iranaeus firmly believed in the Pre-Millennial return of Christ Jesus, and it could be argued that he believed the church would be caught up before the Tribulation. Such evidence refutes the disingenuous attempts by some to deceive people into thinking that the concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture began with Margaret MacDonald and Charles Darby in the mid-to-late 1800’s. That is a lie, a deception, and an intentional piece of disinformation to demean as well as detract from the Pre-Millennialism/Dispensationalism approach of understanding the Bible.
The issue of whether the church would go through the Tribulation did not figure prominently in the second and third centuries AD writings.
The fierce persecuton of the Post-Apostolic period suggest that the church would go through the terrible time. This was known to church historians as the “ten pagan persecutions”, period and believers might well be excused for thinking the Tribulation had already begun. In the Apostle Paul’s day the Thessalonian church thought that they were going through the Tribulation and Paul had to correct their wrong teaching -(2 Thessalonians 2:2-3). The Apostolic New Testament writers of the first century, however, clearly taught that the Rapture would occur before the Tribulation.
It wasn’t until the late 4th century that the literal interpretation of Scripture began to be replaced by an allegorical interpretation which “spiritualized” the great promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as well as Moses and David. The nation of Israel was seen to be the church in the Old Testament, and all prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah, which foretold a literal Messianic Kingdom ruled by the Lord Jesus from the throne of David in Jerusalem, were applied in a symbolic way to the church. You can understand the misapplying of Scripture because where earlier believers saw themselves in relation to the prophecies.
This change in outlook was influenced by the events within the Roman Empire after 313 AD when Emperor Constantine gained control over the church. Christianity became a “state” religion of the Roman Empire. To many it appeared as if the Kingdom of God had arrived, as the Emperor appointed bishops, presided over church synods, and determined orthodox doctrine. No longer did the church leaders see the coming of the Lord as the hope of the church, but drunk with ecclesiastical authority and power they interpreted the promises of a literal kingdom, yet to be fulfilled, as the union of church and state.
Augustine was not the first to deny a literal kingdom on earth. Origen (230 AD) allegorized Scripture and attacked the “Chiliasts” who held to a future literal kingdom of Christ of 1,000 years on earth. Origen also taught that Christ was a created being, and mingled Greek philosophy with Christian teachings.
Around 360 AD, Dionysius of Alexandria “prepared the ground for the rejection of the book of Revelation” at the Council of Laodicea. He also allegorized the Scriptures.
Even after the fourth century there were still those who held to the Pre-Millennial return of Christ, but Christendom was sinking into apostasy and the predominant view became Amillennial.
Augustine was initially Pre-Millennial prior to writing his book, ‘The City of God’, between 413 and 426 AD. He referred to others of his time who continued to hold onto the Pre-Millennial view.
However, the grand vision of the Roman Empire as the Kingdom of God was shattered, for within a hundred years Imperial Rome imploded from corruption from within, and the last emperor finally vacated the throne in Rome in 476 AD. The eastern portion of the Roman Empire continued on with Byzantium (Constantinople) as its capital, until it was overrun by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 AD.
As Rome crumbled before barbarian hordes a different explanation was required by the official church that has departed from the absolute authority of Scripture. If the Kingdom of God was not the secular Roman power, then it must be, in a “spiritual” sense, be expressed as the Catholic church.
Around this time Augustine published his famous book, ‘The City of God’ (413-426 AD), in which he “spiritualized” the literal promises of a Kingdom of God on earth and applied them to the church. Later he added the teaching that one church should enforce adherence to its doctrines, and this teahing gave rise to the Inquisitions and the Crusades. The Roman Catholic church accepted Augustine’s philosophy of history, and Protestant reformers likewise accepted the Amillennial (no Millennium) view expressed in ‘The City of God’ , except that they held the view that the Kingdom of God was the Reformation church.
As a history major in college, I had to read Augustine’s works and then again in seminary. Placing yourself in a Medieval Europe setting it becomes quite evident how powerful the thinking of Augustine quickly took over the church. Protestant Reformers added to Augustine’s “Amillennial” view and doctrine that the Papacy was the Antichrist. Having done this, they then had to explain the book of Revelation, inserting the Papacy into the 13th chapter of Revelation. Then the chapters before and following needed a historical explanation. Thus arose the historist view of prophecy, which endeavored to see the history of the Middle Ages described in the book of Revelation. The unscriptural “year-day theory” was thus used to explain all of this.
Basically, historicism denies the Antichrist will be an individual and asserts that the “man of sin” is really the Papacy (a system). It dates the rise of the Papacy to secular power at 538 AD in the days of Pope Virgilius, and then count 1,260 years (instead of days) to 1798 AD, when Rome was captured and made a French Republic and Pope Pius VI was taken a prisoner to France, where he died in 1799 AD. This was supposed to be the deadly wound of the Beast which was healed in Revelation 13:3. Seventh Day Adventists hold a very similar view.
>From this information, again we see absence of clarity of Bible prophecy with each generation of Christians and it aids in our understanding of why different ages believed differently.
The start date of Papal secular rule is generally regarded as 538 AD, however, some historians disagree. Many reputable secular historians place the commencement as the reign of Pope Gregory the Great (590-604 AD), because he assumed temporal power to drive out the Lombards who had attacked Rome in 592 AD; prior to this he saw the church as subservient to the state.
The SDA movement began with a monumental blunder using the year/day theory. William Miller claimed the 2,300 days that the Temple was to be defiled by Antiochus Epihanes (171-165 BC) was a prophecy of Christ’s Second Coming. He thought the “70 weeks” prophecy of Daniel 9 was part of the prophecy of Daniel 8, and got the wrong start for the 70 weeks at 457 BC, instead of 445 BC. He then calculated 2,300 years from 457 BC to 1843 AD. When Christ did not appear, he (Miller) changed the date to Autumn of 1844 AD. When this date failed he admitted his error, however, Ellen G. White, unwilling to admit failure of the year/day theory, claimed the calculations was correct but that the prophecy really meant that in 1844 Christ would enter the sanctuary in the Temple in heaven to begin an “Investigatory work” which will continue unil the Second Advent.
Between 1844 and the Second Coming Christ is supposed to be checking all records to see who is worthy of the first resurrection. Her blasphemous doctrine of the sanctuary teaches that our sins are being transferred to the sanctuary in heaven and Christ will cleanse it when He takes our sins and places them on Satan, who will ultimately be punished for them! This “make it up along the way” theology became a face-saving explanation of a massive blunder in prophetic interpretation and had been a complete denial of the substitutionary work of Christ who has already borne our sins in His body on the cross! This is one of several reasons that places the SDA’s in the category as a cult. The SDA cult see Ellen G. White as God’s prophet.
In all of the attempts to explain history, church leaders, repeatedly, failed to go back to the Word of God. They misunderstood the Pilgrim nature of the church and envisioned a state church. They were blind to God’s great plan for the nation of Israel, and totally missed the Blessed Hope – the Rapture of the church. An honest exegesis of Romans 11 and Ephesians 3 could have opened their eyes.
Historicism also confuse the Harlot woman – “MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT” of Revelation 17, with the Beast. Religious Rome or the Papacy, RIDES Political Rome, and is utimately destroyed by the Antichrist and his ten kings in the second half of the Tribulation -(Rev. 17:16 to 18:24). THE WOMAN CAN’T BE THE BEAST.
The Reformers opposition to Rome influenced their understanding to such a degree that identification of the Papacy as Antichrist became the main feature of their eschatology. If they were right, how do you explain the last two hundred years of Roman Catholicism? Why is the Beast’s “deadly wound” at the END of Papal dominance (1798) and not BEFORE the 1,290 days as indicated in Scripture?
Two factors need to be borne in mind:
1. The Reformers were emerging from the terrible “Dark Ages”, and they saw the need to be justified by faith alone, and that the Scriptures was the sole authority in matters of doctrine, they nevertheless carried much of the baggage of Rome into the Reformation: Infant baptism, the priestly system of church government, the union of church and state, vestments, anti-Semitism, and many other relics of Rome went unchecked by the Reformers.
2. Prophetic truth was sealed up until the last days, and it was difficult for many Christians through the centuries to appreciate just how far they had progressed in God’s plan. Daniel did not underestimate his own prophecies, and was told: “Shut thou up the vision“, for it shall be for many days … and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” -(Daniel 8:26-27). At the conclusion of his book, he writes: “I heard, but I understood it not….and he said, go thy way, Daniel: for the words are sealed up till the time of the end
.” –(Daniel 12:8-9).Since we are approaching the end of the age we expect that prophetic truth will become clearer now than it was five hundred years ago. This is especially so in light of such amazing event as the re-estabishment of the nation of Israel, the revival of the Roman Empire (EU), the fundamentalist Islamic revolution, the rise of the USA (“Young Lions” of Tarshish) as a world power, the population explosion, world travel, etc.
The Amillennial and historical interpretations of Scripture were the product of the apostasy of the Middle Ages. The modern era Amillennial teaching is largely linked to Roman Catholicism’s Augustinian thinkers and Calvinistic Reformed Theology, and is particularly antagonistic towards Dispensational Pre-Millennialism.
In the 1700’s non-conformist Christians began to understand the prophetic significance of the seven letters to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. They saw themselves as the Philadelphia church, and taught the Pre-Trib Rapture. The period produced an abundance of preachers and teachers, that foresaw the restoration of Israel and their conversion during the Great Tribulation. The Blessed Hope of the church again has burned brightly, and multitudes now listened for the imminent trumpet call, when the church will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air before the Day of the Lord.
The Reformation had made the Scriptures available to the everyday man in the street, and Christians could now search “the scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” –(Acts 17:11). As early as 1560 AD the Geneva Bible taught in the marginal notes of Romans 11 the future conversion of Israel. Ian Murray stated that from the first quarter of the 17th century, belief in a future conversion of the Jews became common place among the English Puritans.
The 1700’s and 1800’s were centuries of great revival and missionary activity. The Word of God was highly esteemed and believed in its literal sense. The result was that the prophecies concerning Israel’s return to the Land and the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on earth came to the forefront. In addition, there was a clearer understanding of the true nature of the church as the body of Christ. The old ecclesiastical system was seen to be contrary to what the Word taught. Once believers distinguished between the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church, and understood the priesthood of believers, the whole Pre-Millennial teaching became obvious. Premillennial teaching went hand-in-hand with vigorous evangelism, tract distribution, and personal witnessing. The thought that Christ could come at any moment to snatch away His bride, the church, before the Tribulation begins, motivated the church for evangelism.
Beginning around the early 1900’s there came a new influence into the church known as Pentecostalism, or Charismatic Christianity. What people seem to miss is the root of this came out of Catholicism and it eventually spread to all denominations as well. The main feature of this movement is to receive direct revelation from God, either by speaking in unknown gibberish, receiving a word of knowledge, or seeing visions. This is what are called extra-Biblical revelation, that is, revelation from outside the Bible. The Charismatic movement, initiated by the Jesuits in contemplative prayer, and non-traditional church music, has provided the underpinnings of a global universal church for which Rome will sit atop.
The prophecies that have been recorded from such experiences frequently proclaim a system of eschatology which is in conflict with sound exegesis of Scripture. One would be consistent with what had already been revealed in the Word, and would be in agreement with each other. Experience shows that this is not the case. Such prophecies are by false prophets and are part of the last days deception. The Bible warns against adding to, or taking away from the words of Bible prophecy. “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written of in this book.” -(Revelation 22:18).
At the time of the Reformation, a Spanish Jesuit of Seville, Alcazar, taught the Preterist view which holds that all the prophecies of the book of Revelation were fulfilled in 70 AD, and that Nero was the Antichrist. Historians suggest that this also was to counter the Reformation teaching that the Papacy was the Antichrist. To support this teachng, modern-day Preterists claim an early date for the writing of the book of Revelation; after all, Revelation could not be written in 96 AD if it foretold the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. There is a big problem with Preterism, but mot people in the church could be deceived. No one reads those old writings of the early church fathers anymore.
Irenaeus (120-202 AD) states that John wrote the book of Revelation at the end of the reign of Emperor Domition, which places it at precisely 96 AD. He states that John lived to the reign of Emperor Trajan who began to rule in 98 AD. Other writers, namely Eusebius and Jerome, confirm and agree with Irenaeus.
There has been a revival of Preterism teachings in the last twenty-five years. It claims that Jesus foretold His return in the days of the Apostles, yet John spoke of Christ’s future return after the other apostles had died. If Jesus returned during the days of the apostles there is no recorded historical documents to that effect. None!
It would have been noted somewhere in the historical record. There is an abundance of secular writings of the era, far more than what you might think. It is hard to imagine that Christ Jesus’ returned in the first century AD without so much as a byline by Roman, Jewish, or Christian groups.
The awful destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD is seen by Preterists as the Great Tribulation, although Scripture clearly states that Christ Jesus would come “immediately after the Tribulation”. -(Matthew 24:29-30). It is hard to see how anyone could consider such a view today. The main thrust of the Preterists seems to be that of attacking the Dispensational theological hermeneutic.
The Pre-Millennial view is the only system of eschatology which consistently follows these hermeneutical principles. Amillennialists, who hold to a verbally inspired Bible, take a literal approach to prophecies of Christ’s first coming, yet when they come to eschatology they abandon these essential rules and then wander in the maize of speculation, imagination, and spiritualization. The allegorical method is used to support their eschatology; it permits the twisting of Scripture to reinforce a preconceived system.
Pre-Millennialism is not only the historic faith of the church, but it is also the only view that rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
Pastor Bob (22 June 2014)
““Bible Interpretation -4 (Addendum)”“
All:In Part 4 of this series of posts I need to clarify an aspect of the 20th century Pentecostal and Charismatic movement.
It is always problematic about how comprehensive to be, what to include or exclude. If you get too detailed, interest may be lost, and if you get too brief, detail can be lost.
The Greek word for “tongues” in Acts 2 is “ethnos” or languages. It is not the undecypherable ramblings associated with many pentecostal or charismatic groups. There is another Biblical word for a heavenly prayer language, “glossolalia” which is a more correct rendering elsewhere it is found in Scripture. The text in Acts 2 refers to the former when those present at the delivery of the Holy Spirit baptism, they spoke in up to 15 different languages, representative of areas from where they came. Paul talks of the latter as somehing that should be done in private. Its not to be used as a sign of super-spirituality, as often found in the United Pentecostal Church denomination.
Visions, real or fake, cannot be verified and this is always subject to legitimate debate. Ellen G. White of the SDA group claimed her visions were ALL from God and yet every prophecy she made in her lifetime was totally false or proven to be in error sooner or later in her lifetime. A Biblical prophet had to be 100% right, and just one mistake disqualified a person as a prophet of God in the Bible. Such a strict requirement obviously was for very good reasons.
Words of knowledge, in my understanding, is valid and can be validated by the coming to pass of what ever that word of knowledge is or given. I have experienced in my life time, many times, a word of knowledge. We associate this with what we know as “Intuition”. I find when this happens to me a bit scary, because most of us do not operate in the spiritual world as we ought to, largely due to the distractions and our busy world of activities. I usually receive them [word of knowledge] between 3 am and 5 am. I try to write them down immediately when awaken because after two or three hours it is easy to forget.
In modern day parlance, we refer to this as listening to the “right” brain hemisphere for men. Women have a greater gift of “Intuition” because of the physiology of what takes place at birth on the 8th day of delivery of the male child. 80% of the sensory wiring between the “left” and “right” hemispheres of the brain are burned off when the male baby is bombarded with Prothombrin or Vitamin K (a blood clotting agent), which actually prevents a male child from bleeding to death as a result of circumcision conducted at a Jewish ceremony, which had to be performed precisely on the 8th day following birth. As a result of all this, the male child is “brain-damaged” from this event in terms of being able to later in life to listen to “Intuition”. I’m serious, we are “brain-damaged”. Female babies do not experience this flooding of the body” with Vitamin K and therefore retain all the fibers that connect the Left and Right hemispheres of the brain. This also explains the ability of women to be better multi-taskers, whereas men are not good multi-taskers. Men have to train themselves to learn to tap into the right brain where “Intuition” originates. Unless a male is trained to learn how to tap into their Intuition they go through life unaware. It can be done and takes years of discipline to do. Circumcision in the Bible was a sign or symbol between God and man/woman relationship. It was to serve as a reminder of the spiritual relationship that exists between humans and their Creator. Today, circumcision has a whole set different set of meanings and purpose.
Watchman Nee, the home missionary to China back in the early 1920’s wrote a book called ‘The Spiritual Man’ and he devoted a whole chapter, some 40+ pages on the topic of Intuition being the means by which God spoke to man. I can tell you that whenever I failed to pay attention to intuition, I got in a heap of hot water. Every time I paid heed to the intuitional tug I was blessed. Some may call it conscience, but none the less this is a medical fact as to why men really need a help mate.
Everything in the Bible regarding the phenomena as to what is heard from God, required witnesses to validate such experiences as being genuine.
Ellen G. White and her cult followers have been responsible for putting guilt trips on millions without substance simply because she declared she had heard or received a vision or a dream from God. It is a known fact that all of her prophecies were totally wrong. The SDA church/cult considers her words, and writings, to be equal to Scripture.
My point is that all too often people listen to the messenger, but fail to practice the principles of Acts 17:11. Remember, false teachers like Benny Hinn take in as much as $475-million dollars a year, from people naive enough to believe that he is a prophet of God. The Bible is our plumb line, not our emotions. Always test the spirits from where such dreams, visions, words of knowledge, come from.
Pastor Bob (29 June 2014)
““Bible Interpretation -5”“
All Doves:My last post in this series focused on how the universal church dealt with interpreting the prophetic message of the Bible over the past two thousand years. My focus was narrowed in scope to enable the reader to understand a bit of church history. Where we stand today provides us a 20/20 view when we look backwards in time. This look back is important because matters of interpretation have not always been with such clarity when you understand the world as it existed, in any time period of the past. The world is not static and particular religious views were not made nor did they exist in a vacuum. Church leaders made decisions, good or bad, based upon their perceptions of their world around them. This is evident in the issue today when it comes to “Replacement” theology.
It is equally obvious in the Roman Catholic Church, where the church formally never admits it is wrong. This is not to say the Vatican may issue an apology about clergy-abuse of children and women but it never really changes, or initiates policies and practices to reform or rectify its past and even present wrongs concerning abuse. It still continues to move its priests accused of molesting children, youth, and women. It has paid out in legal damages, nearly $2-billion, over the past fifteen years, yet seek to paper-over these issues instead of coming clean and reporting the perpetrators to law enforcement. Many cardinals flat out state they have no responsibility to report to the civil authorities the heinous acts of their priests.
History serves to show the origin, progress, and development of Hermeneutical principles. It gives as well, a working knowledge of the different periods, schools of thought, and methods of Biblical interpretation. In addition, it shows what external forces and internal pressures were brought to bear upon the interpreters of the Scriptures.
Without question, communications can become a nightmare between two parties over something very minor. I see that when I watch the local police blotter they call the local news. How, much more, communications has muddied the waters of faith when most clergy today are not even trained in the Biblical languages. Today, perhaps 5% of clergy are fluent in Greek and Hebrew. Most of them could not conjugate a Hebrew or Greek verb if their paycheck depended upon it. And yet people will continue to argue, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that they are right concerning the three occurrences of “He” of Daniel 9:27, even when the evidence clearly shows they are completely wrong.
One may look at the search by God’s people through the centuries to discover what God meant by what He said. A knowledge of the history of Biblical Hermeneutics can be a valuable safeguard, and at times, a guideline, in helping the interpreter avoid the problems faced by previous interpreters. The more one understands the proper principles of interpretation, the better qualified he/she will be able to handle the Word of God as an interpreter of the Divine Communication.
Since the fall of man he has by nature been spiritually and mentally dull concerning the things of God. The Scriptures attest to this fact: Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:13-17; Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2; 2nd Peter 3:16; Luke 24:45; etc. Think about it, sin cut off fellowship with God by the giving His Word. That message must be interpreted for man.
The history of hermeneutics has been more fully studied by amply qualified men, and in greater depth than I care to go into. As in part 4, I’m not interested in cataloging history, but rather prefer to interpret it. It will be seen that the prevailing attitude toward the Scriptures during any particular period generally affected the methods by which the Scriptures were interpreted.
The First Hermeneutics were those of the Jews, covering the period from 457 BC to 1975 AD. It was basically the literal and allegorical methods. Ezra was the Father of Hermeneutics. Jews of those early centuries saw themselves as the chosen people but for all the wrong reasons. They saw their actions and behavior without any sense of accountability. They saw their actions with impunity. However, when they lost the three most important things to them as a nation they were crushed.
When the Jews lost these three things they were psychologically and religiously devastated:
1. The Torah
2. The Temple
3. The Land
The “Seventy” years of captivity in Babylon were devastating in every conceivable way imaginable. In captivity, the Jews resorted to the sacred writings for comfort and strength. The Law and the Prophets became their refuge when bereft of all the externals of the Mosaic religion. At the close of the “seventy” years of captivity in Babylon, a remnant of the Jews returned to Palestine, less than 50,000 in number. Far more remained behind in the land of their captivity because they had acclimated to a culture where they had spent their entire life.
Today, Christians and non misunderstand the real meaning of the Torah or what is commonly known as the “Law”. Torah, means a lot more than “Law”, and correctly understood means “teachings”. Obedience to the “Law” was much like telling a child not to touch a hot stove top, because of what it meant in consequences or self harm. For 3,500 years man, Jew and Christian or Gentile have interpreted “Law” “nomos” as an inviolate “legalistic” form of obedience. For example, when Martin Luther went to Rome to obtain copies of the Greek Scriptures, because he needed it for his role in teaching his students, he experienced an “aha” moment. Luther originally was studying for the legal profession before his spiritual crisis, where he was nearly killed by lightning under a tree. Luther was fluent in Latin, not Greek or Hebrew. His understanding of the the “Law” biased his understanding of the Greek Scriptures. When he read Romans 1:17 in Greek, his life was transformed in the blink of an eye. You see, the Greek word for where it refers to the “righteousness of God” and that it is imparted by God through faith was the Latin word “justice”. In Latin, the word for “righteousness” is “Iustitia” and it means “justice”.
The meaning of the two words, one Latin and one Greek are about as far apart as night and day. You might even say that the Reformation began over Luther’s new understanding of what the expression “justified by faith” really meant. While he was in Rome, he witnessed the debauchery of the Vatican which greatly troubled him of the Church’s selling indulgences or “get out of hell free” cards as if it was a game of Monopoly.
When the remnant of Jews returned from Babylon to rebuild the Temple, the Babylonian Jews had learned to speak Aramaic, not Hebrew. This added to a language gap between them and their Scriptures. Ezra the scribe, and along with him a number of Levites, undertook the task of translating and interpreting the sacred writings.
All of this heretofore goes to my point that illustrates that in interpretation it is essential to first bridge the linguisitic gap. All hermeneutics is first based on translation. You can easily begin to understand why the strict “legalists” become perplexed with correct linguistics and grammar of the text. Luther’s transformation set into motion a chain of events that cost millions their lives, and then following with the Jesuit Counter-Reformation
So we see in the efforts of Ezra and the Levites the first intimation in Scripture of Jewish interpretation and formal exposition of the Word of God. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah show how the area of the Law pertaining to mixed marriages, observances of feasts and fasts were interpreted quite “literally” to the people by the great priest and scribe. In summary, Ezra established a “literal” and practical method of interpretation. The literal interpretation is the most natural and common sense method.
With no Temple, it became pragmatic to form the synagogue, much like a home church, where Jews gathered for worship and religious study. The synagogue dates to the time of the Babylonian captivity. The Great Synagogue, in Jewish history was an assembly or Council of 120 members, which later came to be known as the Sanhedrin. I don’t need to go into the organization structure other than to note they set about to put “a hedge about the Law”. The centralized ecclesiastical authority originated with noble motivation, but it degenerated to the point where it defeated its original purpose. By missing the “Spirit” of the Law they descended into only a position of defending the “letter” of the Law. We have numerous comments in the Gospels where Jesus confronted the legalism of the Pharisees and the Scribes. You see the same thing today in these groups that enslave folks into the bondage of legalism. They revel in getting their kicks by their boasting over-zealousness in implying they are super-spiritual.
In the generation succeeding Ezra and Nehemiah, and with the end of the prophetic voice with the Prophet Malachi; Various schools of interpretation emerged in the “silent years” between the Old and New Testament where God was silent towards His people.
In the efforts to place “a hedge around the Law’, they formulated an authoritarian interpretation while they guarded the Law to the letter, they also accommodated numerous traditions which they placed alongside the Law. This became to be known as the “Oral Law” which over the centuries gained equal status with the “Written Law” in authority. The “Oral Law” came out of Babylon when they returned from captivity. Jesus Christ rebuked them for this because the “Oral Law” made the “Word of God” “null and void“.
Over the next few centuries the Jews originated a false tradition, teaching that Moses had received the Oral Law at Mt. Sinai. They claimed that he (Moses) passed it on to Joshua, who then gave it to the elders. The elders passed it on to the prophets, and later it came into the hands of the rabbis with codification of the Mishna, then came the Babylonian Talmud, which attacked Jesus Christ, his mother, Christians, etc. Rabbis began to write commentaries on the Mishna, which were known as the Gemara.
The situation then has been repeated in the 20th century by endless books on pet issues. The error became so manifest that it became to be known as “Letterism“, which sees great significance in the minutest of details. This arose when men began to worship the Scriptures and forget their author. Historically, the pendulum swings from one extreme to another. I have my own pet expression that has been core with me:
Truth without Grace is simply “Legalism”
Grace without Truth is merely “Sentimentalism”
After the siege of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the dispersion of the Jews in Israel led to cultural and sectarian division within Judaism. The Palestinian Jews accepted the inspiration and authority of Scripture. They developed some sound principles in relation to the Literal interpretation of the Scriptures They failed to produce sound exegesis because of their yielding to traditionalism, letterism, and exclusivism..
The Alexandrian Jews in Alexandria, Egypt were Hellenized and developed a system of hermeneutics distinct from the Palestinian Jews. They were saturated with Greek culture, philosophy, and it was followed with the admittance of apocryphal books into the Septuagent. The Septuagent proved to be important in that it was published between 275 and 250 BC. It actually proved to be reliable enough to validate the Old Testament accuracy nearly a thousand years later. Unfortunately, the Alexandrian Jews fell under the spell of Greek philosophy. They translated the Septuagent Scriptures back into Hebrew from the Greek, but they followed a liberal hermeneutic.
They proceeded to add books of philosophy, fiction and legend to the Scriptures. They rejected Greek religion but began to adopt Greek philosophy. They adopted the Greek “allegorical” interpretation. It was the “Golden Calf” that was to them a perfect marriage which we might consider them to be like carnal Christians today. Scripture was largely platitudes and self enhancement, showing how proud they were about their religion.
There were smaller groups of Jews, such as the Kararites, the Cabalists, the French Jews, and the modern Jews. With the exception of the Kararites, that followed the Biblical Agricultural calendar, most of the rest were afar from the Scriptures.
I want to move on to the Apostolic Hermeneutic period, which lasted from 26 Ad to 98 AD. The period of the Apostolic Hermeneutics reaches from the ministry of Jesus Christ unto the death of the Apostle John in 98 AD. The Apostolic Hermeneutic period was a time when the “Literal” method prevailed. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the New Testament writers infallibly interpreted the Old Testament in their writings.
Jesus Christ, the perfect interpreter, the Living Word Himself could infallibly interpret the written Word. He was the personified interpreter of the Old Testament: the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets. During His ministry, He interpreted to His disciples, from the Scriptures, the things concerning Himself. He opened their understanding accordingly. Rules or principles of interpretation were part of His very nature and being, for He was God’s Word to man, incarnate; He was the bridge between God and man. The communication gap were bridged in and through HIm. Because of the purity of His hermeneutics, Jesus was able to expose all corrupt interpretation. He condemned the Halachic and Hagadic tradition of the Jewish elders because they had made the Word of God of no effect -(Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-9). He reproved the Pharisees and scribes, the authorized interpreters of the Law, for their legalistic handling of the Scriptures, which brought the people into total bondage. -(Matthew 23:1-33). Christ also rebuked the Sadducees for their ignorance of the power of God and of the Scriptures -(Matthew 22:29).
One can gain a whole new insight of Christ Jesus merely by studying the passage that dressed-down or reproved the religious elite of His day. They became meaningful in pastoral ministry that few pastors latch on to. The religious leaders of His day were blinded by unbelief and false hermeneutics; thus they crucified the very Messiah whose coming their own Scriptures foretold. -(Acts 13:27).
The following is a list of examples of the principles Jesus Christ used in His interpretation of the Old Testament.
1. The Context Principle: -(Matthew 22:41-46) – Jesus interpreted Psalms 110:1 in the light of the whole context of the Old Testament, which attests to the Deity of the Messiah.
2. The First Mention Principle: -(Matthew 19:3-9) – Jesus used the first mention of marriage in Genesis 2:24 to interpret the Mosaic commandments concerning divorce.
3. The Election Principle: -(Matthew 12:15-20) – On the basis of the election principle, Jesus interpreted Isaiah 42:1-4 to be a reference to His own election as the chosen servant of God.
4. The Covenant Principle: -(Matthew 12:1-4) – When dealing with the violation of the Sabbath Day, Jesus brought in David, a covenant man, as a witness. Because David was involved in a higher covenant, as was Jesus, he was able to transcend the ceremonial law of the Mosaic Covenant.
5. The Ethnic Division Principle: -(Matthew 10:5,6) – In commissioning the twelve apostles to go only to “the lost sheep of the House of Israel,” Jesus used the ethnic principle to interpret and apply an Old Testament prophetic thread. -(Jeremiah 23:1-4; 50:6,17; Ezekiel 34:1-19).
6. The Chronometrical Principle: -(Luke 21:20-24) – Jesus utilized the chronometrical principle to interpret a certain prophetic portion of Daniel -(Daniel 11:33).
7. The Christo-Centric Principle: -(Luke 24:27-44) – On the road to Emmaus, Jesus used the Christo-Centric principle to interpret portions of the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets to the two disciples.
8. The Moral Principle: -(Matthew 24:36-39) – Jesus used the moral principle to interpret the days of Noah and draw them into a spiritual lesson.
9. The Symbolic Principle: -(Matthew 21:42-44) – In interpreting two statements from the Old Testament, it seems apparent that Jesus used the symbolic principle to refer to the rock as being symbolic of Himself.
10. The Parabolic Principle: -(Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23) – With the parabolic principle Jesus interpreted His own parable of the sower.
11. The Typical Principle: -(Luke 11:29,30) – Jesus identified Jonah’s experience as typical and then interpreted it using the typical principle.
Interestingly, the disciples, were inspired interpreters. The Lord Christ Jesus poured out His Spirit upon His apostles. There is no doubt that great understanding and illumination came to them by the Holy Spirit -(John 16:9-16; Luke 24:27,44; 2 Corinthians 3:14-18). They became the infallible interpreters of the Old Testament writings. This is seen by their use of the Old Testament in the New Testament. The Apostles rejected the “allegorical” interpretation of the Old Testament as practiced in the Alexandrian school. Paul condemned Jewish fables, Jewish traditions, endless genealogies, false knowledge, Greek philosophy and the Jewish Midrashim. He (Paul) knew of these things and counted them all refuse for the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. -(Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 1:4; 4:7; 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:14-16; 23). The following list are examples of some of the Principles the Apostles used in their interpretation of the Old Testament.
1. The Context Principle: -(1st Peter 2:4-10) – In verse 6, Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16 and then interprets it by drawing from the context of the Old Testament other relative statements) -(Psalm 118:22,23; Isaiah 8:14; Exodus 19:5-6; Hosea 1:6,9,10).
2. The First Mention Principle: -(Hebrews 6:20-7:21) – In interpreting the statement from Psalms 110:4 concerning the Melchisedec priesthood, the writer of the Hebrews (most likely was the Apostle Paul) uses the first mention of Melchisedec priesthood the writer to Hebrews uses the first mention of Melchisedec in Genesis to prove his identity.
3. The Comparative Principle: -(Romans 3:1-23) – In verse 4 Paul quotes Psalm 51:4 and substantiates his interpretation by comparing it with other references from the book of Psalms.
4. The Progressive Mention: -(The writer of Hebrews quotes a phrase from Habakkuk 2:4 and then draws many examples from the context of the entire Old Testament to develop his interpretation.
5. The Election Principle: -(Romans 9:6-13) – Here Paul uses the election principle to interpret a phrase from Genesis 21:12 “In Israel shall thy seed be called”.
6. The Covenantal Principle: -(Hebrews 8-10) – In Hebrews 8:8-12 a quotation is made from Jeremiah 31:31-34. The writer then proceeds to use the covenantal principle to expound the meaning of the quotation.
7. The Ethnic Principle: -(Galatians 3:1-29) – In verse 8 Paul quotes Genesis 12:7 – “In thee shall all nations be blessed.” He then uses the ethnic principle to show the interpretation and fulfillment of that phrase.
8. The Chronometrical Principle: -(2nd Peter 3:1-13) – Peter quotes Psalms 90:4 in verse 8 and then interprets it by the chronometrical principle.
9. The Christo-Centric Principle: -(Hebrews 10:1-14) – The writer to the Hebrews utilized the Christo-Centric principle to interpret Psalm 40:6-8.
10. The Moral Principle: -(1st Corinthians 9:9-12) – In dealing with the commandment of Moses concerning oxen, Paul draws out the moral principle contained in it and applies it to this situation.
11. The Symbolic Principle: -(1st Peter 2:4-8) – In dealing with the symbol of the stone, Peter appeals to several Old Testament passages which interpret its meaning.
12. The Typical Principle: -(1st Corinthians 10:1-11) – Here Paul uses the typical principle to interpret the Exodus of Israel from Egypt.
13. The Allegorical Principle: -(Galatians 4:21-31) – In this passage, Paul develops and interprets an allegory using people and places from the Old Testament.
As this post has illustrated, the Apostolic Period, affirmed a “Literal” Interpretation from the days of Jesus Christ through the era of the Apostles, and ending with the death of the Apostle John in 98 AD. As is the case in much of life, the Second Law of Physics eventually takes over and comes into motion, whereas “Entropy” takes hold and things go from order to disorder. Entropy is just part of the curse on the Creation.