Archive for the ‘Hermeneutics’ Category

The need of interpreting Scripture by Scripture

Arthur Pink6. The need of interpreting Scripture by Scripture. The general principle is expressed in the well-known words “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13), for while the preceding clause has reference more especially to the Divine inspiration by which the apostle taught, as the authoritative mouthpiece of the Lord, yet both verses 12 and 14 treat of the understanding of spiritual things, and therefore we consider that the last clause of verse 13 has a double force. The Greek word rendered “comparing” is used in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament again and again, to express the act of interpreting dreams and enigmas, and C. Hodge paraphrases “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” by “explaining the things of the Spirit in the words of the Spirit,” pointing out that the word “spiritual” has no substantive connected with it, and thus most naturally agrees with “words” in the former sentence. For these reasons we consider that 1 Corinthians 2:13, enunciates a most valuable and important rule for the understanding and interpreting of God’s Word, namely that one part of it is to be explained by another, for the setting side by side of spiritual things serves to illuminate and illustrate one another, and thereby is their perfect harmony demonstrated. Something more than a confused or vague knowledge of the Scriptures is to be sought after: the ascertaining that one part of the Truth is in full accord with other parts makes manifest their unity —as the curtains in the tabernacle were linked together by loops.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 4 of the Fifth Rule

September 29, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkThe Fifth Rule: the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28):

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).

Unless the scope of each writer be clearly apprehended, those two statements flatly contradict each other. Romans 3:28, is a conclusion from what had been advanced in verses 21-27—all boasting before God being rendered impossible by the Divine method of salvation. From the very nature of the case, if justification before God be by faith, then it must be by faith alone—without the mingling of anything meritorious of ours. James 2:24, as is clear from verses 17, 18 and 26, is not treating of how the sinner obtains acceptance with God, but how such a one supplies proof of his acceptance. Paul was rebutting that legalistic tendency which leads men to go about and “establish their own righteousness” by works; James was contending against that spirit of licentious Antinomianism which causes others to pervert the Gospel and insist that good works are not essential for any purpose. Paul was refuting meritmongers who repudiated salvation by grace alone; James was maintaining that grace works through righteousness and transforms its subjects: showing the worthlessness of a dead faith which produces naught but a windy profession. The faithful servant of God will ever alternate in warning his hearers against legalism on the one hand and libertarianism on the other.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 3 of the Fifth Rule

September 22, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkThe Fifth Rule: the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended and the floods came, and the wind blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24, 25).

How many sermons have had read into them from those verses what is not there, and failed sadly to bring out what is in them, through not understanding their scope. Christ was not there engaged in proclaiming the Gospel of the grace of God and revealing the alone ground of a sinner’s acceptance with Him, but was making a practical and searching application of the sermon He was here completing.

The opening “Therefore” at once intimates that He was drawing a conclusion from all He had previously said. In the preceding verses Christ was not describing meritmongers or declaiming against those who trusted in good works and religious performances for their salvation, but was exhorting His hearers to enter in at the strait gate (vv. 13, 14), warning against false prophets (vv. 15-20), denouncing an empty profession. In the verse immediately before (v. 23), so far from presenting Himself as the Redeemer, tenderly wooing sinners, He is seen as the Judge, saying to hypocrites, “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”

In view of what has just been pointed out, it would be, to say the least, a strange place for Christ to introduce the Evangel and announce that His own finished work was the only saving foundation for sinners to rest their souls upon. Not only would that give no meaning to the introductory ‘Therefore,” but it would not cohere with what immediately follows where, instead of pointing out our need of trusting in His atoning blood, Christ showed how indispensable it is that we render obedience to His precepts. True indeed that there is no redemption for any soul except through “faith in His blood” (Romans 3:25), but that is not what He was here treating of. Rather was He insisting that not everyone who said unto Him, “Lord, Lord,” should enter into His kingdom, but “he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” (v. 21). In other words, He was testing profession, demanding reality: that genuine faith produces good works. They who think themselves to be savingly trusting in the blood of the Lamb while disregarding His commandments are fatally deceiving themselves. Christ did not here liken the one who heard and believed His sayings to a wise man who built his house secure on a rock, but instead the one who “heareth and doeth them”—as in verse 26, the builder on the sand is one who hears His sayings “and doeth them not.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 2 of the Fifth Rule

September 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkThe Fifth Rule: the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (vv. 38, 39) supplies another example of the need for ascertaining the scope of a passage before attempting to explain it. Through failure to do so many have quite missed the force of this contrast. It has been supposed that our Lord was here enjoining a more merciful code of conduct than that which was exacted under the Mosaic economy; yet if the reader turns to Deuteronomy 19:17-21, he will find that those verses gave instruction to Israel’s “judges”: that they were not to be governed by sentiment, but to administer strict justice to the evil-doer—“eye for eye,” etc. But this statute, which pertains only to the magistrate enforcing judicial retribution, had been perverted by the Pharisees, giving it a general application, thereby teaching that each man was warranted in taking the law into his own hands. Our Lord here forbade the inflicting of private revenge, and in so doing maintained the clear teaching of the Old Testament (see Exodus 23:4, 5; Leviticus 19:18; Proverbs 24:29; 25:21, 22, which expressly forbade the exercise of personal malice and retaliation).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 1 of the Fifth Rule

September 8, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkThe Fifth Rule: the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

There is not a little in the Sermon on the Mount which forcibly illustrates this rule, for many of its statements have been grievously misunderstood through failure to perceive their scope or design. Thus, when our Lord declared,

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27, 28),

it has been supposed that He was setting forth a higher standard of moral purity than the one enunciated from Sinai. But such a concept is at direct variance with His design. After solemnly affirming (in 5:17) that so far from its being His mission to destroy the Law or the prophets He had come to fulfill them (i.e., enforce and comply with their requirements), He certainly would not immediately after pit Himself against their teaching. No, from verse 21 onwards He was engaged in making known that righteousness which He required in the citizens of His kingdom, which exceeded the righteousness “of the scribes and Pharisees,” who were retailing the dogmas of the rabbis, who had “made the commandment of God of none effect” by their traditions (Matthew 15:6).

Christ did not say, “Ye know what God said at Sinai,” but “ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,” which makes it unmistakably clear that He was opposing the teaching of the elders who had restricted the seventh commandment of the Decalogue to the bare act of unlawful intercourse with a married woman; insisting that it required conformity from the inward affections, prohibiting all impure thoughts and desires of the heart. There is much in Matthew 5-7 which cannot be rightly apprehended except our Lord’s principal object and design in this address be clearly perceived: until then its plainest statements are more or less obscure and its most pertinent illustrations irrelevant. It was not the actual teaching of the Law and prophets which Christ was here rebutting, but the erroneous conclusions which religious teachers had drawn therefrom and the false notions based on them, and which were being so dogmatically promulgated at that time. The sharp edge of the Spirit’s sword had been blunted by a rabbinical toning down of its precepts, thereby placing a construction upon them which rendered them objectionable to the unregenerate.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Rehearsing the rules previously explained

September 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkIn enumerating, describing, and illustrating some of the laws or rules which are to govern the interpreter, we have already considered:

First, the need for recognizing and being regulated by the interrelation and mutual dependence of the Old and New Testaments.

Second, the importance and helpfulness of observing how quotations are made from the Old in the New: the manner in which and purposes for which they are cited.

Third, the absolute necessity for strictly conforming all our interpretations to the general Analogy of Faith: that each verse is to be explained in full harmony with that system of Truth which God has made known to us: that any exposition is invalid if it clashes with what is taught elsewhere in the Bible.

Fourth, the necessity of paying close attention to the whole context of any passage under consideration.

Fifth, the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The interpreter’s job is to bring out the sense and not merely the sound of the Word

Arthur PinkCarelessness which would not be tolerated in any other connection is, alas, freely indulged in with the Bible. Artists who are most particular in selecting their colors when painting a natural object are often most remiss when assaying to portray a sacred one. Thus Noah’s ark is represented as having a number of windows in its sides, whereas it had but one, and that on the top! The dove which came to him after the flood had subsided is pictured with an olive branch instead of a “leaf” (Genesis 8:11) in its mouth! The infant Moses in the ark of bulrushes is depicted with a winsome smile on his face instead of tears (Exodus 2:6)! Let no such criminal disregard to the details of Holy Scripture mark the expositor. Instead, let the utmost care and pains be taken to ensure accuracy, by scrutinizing every detail, weighing each jot and tittle. The word for search the scriptures” (John 5:39) signifies diligently to track out, as the hunter does the spoor of animals. The interpreter’s job is to bring out the sense and not merely the sound of the Word.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures


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