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No doctrine is to be founded on a single passage

Arthur PinkNo verse is to be explained in a manner which conflicts with what is taught, plainly and uniformly, in the Scriptures as a whole, and which whole is set before us as the alone rule of our faith and obedience. This requires from the expositor not only a knowledge of the general sense of the Bible, but also that he takes the trouble to collect and compare all the passages which treat of or have a definite bearing upon the immediate point before him, so that he may obtain the full mind of the Spirit thereon. Having done that, any passage which is still obscure or doubtful to him must be interpreted by those which are clear. No doctrine is to be founded on a single passage, like the Mormons base on 1 Corinthians 15:29, their error of members of that cult being baptized for their ancestors; or as the papists appeal to James 5:14, 15, for their dogma of “extreme unction.” It is only in the mouths of two or three witnesses that any truth is established, as our Lord insisted in His ministry: John 5:31-39; 8:16-18. Care is to be taken that no important teaching is based alone on any type, figurative expression, or even parable; instead, they are to be used only in illustrating plain and literal passages.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Those who covet originality, and have a penchant for bringing out something new or startling, without regard to the analogy of faith, are sure to err

Arthur PinkTo say that all our interpretations must conform strictly to the Analogy of Faith may sound very simple and obvious, yet it is surprising to find how many not only unskilled but experienced men depart therefrom. Of course, those who covet “originality,” and have a penchant for bringing out something new or startling (especially from obscure passages) without regard to this basic principle, are sure to err. But as J. Owen observed, “Whilst we sincerely attend unto this rule, we are in no danger of sinfully corrupting the Word of God, although we shall not arrive unto its proper meaning in every place.” For example, when we learn that “God is a spirit” (John 4:24), incorporeal and invisible, that prevents us from misunderstanding those passages where eyes and ears, hands and feet are ascribed to Him; and when we are informed that with Him there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17), we know that when He is said to “repent” He speaks after the manner of men. Likewise, when Psalm 19:11, and other verses make promise of the saints being rewarded for their gracious tempers and good works, other passages show that such recompense is not because of merit, but is bestowed by Divine grace.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The exposition made of any verse must be in agreement with the Analogy of Faith

Arthur PinkThe exposition made of any verse in Holy Writ must be in entire agreement with the Analogy of Faith, or that system of truth which God has made known unto His people. That, of course, calls for a comprehensive knowledge of the contents of the Bible—sure proof that no novice qualified to preach to or attempt to teach others. Such comprehensive knowledge can be obtained only by a systematic and constant reading of the Word itself—and only then is any man fitted to weigh the writings of others! Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, there are no contradictions therein; thus it obviously follows that any explanation given of a passage which clashes with the plain teaching of other verses is manifestly erroneous. In order for any interpretation to be valid, it must be in perfect keeping with the scheme of Divine Truth. One part of the Truth is mutually related to and dependent upon others, and therefore there is full accord between them. As Bengel said of the books of Scripture, “They indicate together one beautiful, harmonious and gloriously connected system of Truth.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Constant care must be taken to conform all our interpretations to the Analogy of Faith

Arthur PinkConstant care must be diligently taken strictly to conform all our interpretations to the Analogy of Faith, or, as Romans 12:6, expresses it, “let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.” Charles Hodge, who, for doctrinal soundness, spiritual scholarship, and critical acumen, is unsurpassed, states that the original and proper meaning of the word “prophet” is interpreter—one who declares the will of God, who explains His mind to others. He also says that the word rendered “proportion” may mean either proportion, or measure, rule, standard. Since “faith” in this verse must be taken objectively (for there were “prophets” like Balaam and Caiphas, who were devoid of any inward or saving faith), then this important expression signifies that the interpreter of God’s mind must be most particular and scrupulous in seeing to it that he ever does so in accordance with the revealed standard He has given us. Thus “faith” here is used in the same sense as in such passages as “the faith” in Galatians 1:23; 1 Timothy 4:1, etc.; namely the “one faith” of Ephesians 4:5, “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3) — the written Word of God.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 5-Of how the Old Testament is cited in the New

April 28, 2015 3 comments

Arthur PinkIn Galatians 4:24, the inspired pen of Paul informs us that certain domestic incidents in the household of Abraham “are in allegory,” that Hagar and Sarah represented “the two covenants,” and that their sons prefigured the kind of worshippers those covenants were fitted to produce. But for that Divine revelation unto and through the apostle we should never have known that in those facts of history God had concealed a prophetic mystery, that those domestic occurrences prophetically shadowed forth vitally important transactions of the future, that they illustrated great doctrinal truths and exemplified the difference in conduct of spiritual slaves and spiritual freemen. Yet such was the case, as the apostle showed by opening to us the occult meaning of those events. They were a parable in action: God so shaped the affairs of Abraham’s family as to typify things of vast magnitude. The two sons were ordained to foreshadow those who should be born from above and those born after the fles —that even Abraham’s natural descendants were but Ishmaelites in spirit, strangers to the promise. While Paul’s example here is certainly no precedent for the expositor to give free rein to his imagination and make Old Testament episodes teach anything he pleases, it does intimate that God so ordered the lives of the patriarchs as to afford lessons of great spiritual value.

We have, above, designedly selected a variety of examples, and from them the diligent student (but not so the hurried reader) will discover some valuable Divine hints and helps on how the Scriptures are to be understood, and the principles by which they are to be interpreted. Let them be reread and carefully pondered.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 4-Of how the Old Testament is cited in the New

April 21, 2015 2 comments

Arthur PinkIn Romans 10:18, more than a hint is given of the profound depths of God’s Word and the wide breadth of its application. “But I say, Have they not heard [the Gospel, though they obeyed it not—v. 16]? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world”—quoted from Psalm 19:4. The publication of the Gospel was not restricted (Colossians 1:5, 6), but was as general and free as the Divine declarations of the heavens (Psalm 19:1). “The universal revelation of God in nature was a providential prediction of the universal proclamation of the Gospel. If the former was not gratuitous, but founded in the nature of God, so must the latter be. The manifestation of God in nature is for all His creatures to whom it is made, in pledge of their participation in the clearer and higher revelations” (Hengstenberg). Not only did Old Testament prophecy announce that the Gospel should be given to the whole world, but the heavens mystically declared the same thing. The heavens speak not to one nation only, but the whole human race! If men did not believe it was not because they had not heard. Another example of the mystical signification of certain scriptures is found in 1 Corinthians 9:9, 10.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 3-Of how the Old Testament is cited in the New

April 14, 2015 2 comments

Arthur PinkIn Romans 4:11-18, we have a remarkable example of apostolic reasoning from two short passages in Genesis, wherein God made promise unto Abraham that he should be a father of many nations (17:5) and that in his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed (22:18). Since these assurances were given to the patriarch simply as a believer, before the Divine appointment of circumcision, Paul drew the logical conclusion that they pertained to Jews and Gentiles alike, providing they believed as he did and thereby had imputed to them the righteousness of Christ, that the good of those promises belonged unto all who “walk in the steps of his faith.” Therein we are plainly taught that the “seed” of blessing mentioned in those ancient prophecies was essentially of a spiritual kind (cf. Galatians 3:7-9; 14:29), including all the members of the household of faith, wherever they be found. As Stifler pertinently remarked, “Abraham is called father neither in a physical sense nor a spiritual: he is father in that he is head of the faith clan, and so the normal type.” In Romans 9:6-13, the apostle was equally express in excluding from the good of those promises the merely natural descendants of Abraham. Romans 10:5-9, supplies a striking illustration of this principle in the way that the apostle “opened” Deuteronomy 30:11-14. His design was to draw off the Jews from regarding obedience to the Law as necessary unto justification (Romans 10:2, 3). He did so by producing an argument from the writings of Moses, wherein a distinction was drawn between the righteousness of the Law and the righteousness of faith. The Jews had rejected Christ because He came not to them in the way of their carnal expectations, and therefore refused the grace tendered by Him. They considered the Messiah was far off, when in fact He was “nigh” them. There was no need, then, for them to ascend to heaven, for Christ had come down from thence; nor to descend into the deep, for He had risen from the dead. The apostle was not merely accommodating to his purpose the language of Deuteronomy 30, but showing its evangelical drift. As Manton said, “The whole of that chapter is a sermon of evangelical repentance” (see vv. 1, 2). It obviously looked forward to a time after Christ’s ascension when Israel would be dispersed among the nations, so that the words of Moses there were strictly applicable to this Gospel dispensation. The substance of verses 11-14 is that the knowledge of God’s will is freely accessible, so that none are required to do the impossible.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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