Archive for the ‘Hermeneutics’ Category

The elucidation of the types

November 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Arthur Pink16. The elucidation of the types. No treatise on hermeneutics would be complete if it ignored this important and interesting department of exposition. Yet such a vast field pertains thereto that it is impossible to do it justice in a few sentences. The New Testament plainly teaches that there is not a little in the Old which anticipated and adumbrated things to come. From earliest times it pleased God to prepare the way for the grand word of redemption by a series of parabolical representations, and the business of the interpreter is to explain the same in the light of the fuller revelation which God has vouchsafed since then. Types belong to that sphere which concerns the relation of God’s earlier and later dispensations, and therefore a type may be defined as a model or sign of another object or event which it depicted beforehand, shadowing forth something which should later correspond to and provide the reality of the same. But the question arises, How are we to avoid the erroneous and the extravagant in our selection and unfolding of the types? Space will only allow us to offer the following hints and rules.

First, there must be a genuine resemblance in form or spirit between any person, act or institution under the Old Testament and what answers to it in the Gospel.

Second, a real type must be something which had its ordination from God, being meant by Him to foreshadow and prepare the way for the better things under Christ. Thus the resemblance between the shadow and the substance must be real and not fancied, and designed as such in the original institution of the former. It is that previous intention and pre-ordained connection between them which constitutes the relation of type and antitype.

Third, in tracing out the connection between the one and the other, we have to inquire, What was the native import of the original symbol? What did it symbolize as a part of the then existing religion? And then the expositor is to proceed and show how it was fitted to serve as a guide and stepping-stone to the blessed events and issues of Messiah’s kingdom. For example, by means of the tabernacle and its services God manifested toward His people precisely the same principles of government, and required from them substantially the identical disposition and character, that He does now under the higher dispensation of Christianity.

Fourth, due regard must be had to the essential difference between the actual natures of the type and the antitype: the one being material, temporary and external; the other spiritual, eternal and often internal.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The expositor needs to be on the alert to detect ironical language

November 22, 2016 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkAgain, the expositor needs to be on the alert to detect ironical language, for it usually signifies the very opposite to what is expressed, being a form of satire for the purpose of exposing an absurdity and to hold up to ridicule. Such language was employed by God when He said,

“Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil” (Genesis 3:22),

and when He bade Israel,

“Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation” (Judges 10:14);

by Elijah, when he mocked the prophets of Baal:

“Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is… in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awakened” (1 Kings 18:27);

by Micaiah when he answered Jehoshaphat,

“Go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king” (1 Kings 22:15);

by Job,

“No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you” (12:2);

in Ecclesiastes 11:9:

“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth… walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes”;

by Christ, when He said,

“A goodly price that I was prised at of them” (Zechariah 11:13);

and by Paul,

“now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us” (1 Corinthians 4:8).

Nor are we to take literally the language of hyperbole or exaggeration, when more is said than is actually meant, as when the ten spies said of Canaan,

“the cities are great and walled up to heaven” (Deuteronomy 1:28),

and when we are told that their armies were

“even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude” (Joshua 11:4).

So too the description given of those that came up against Gideon:

“like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels without number” (Judges 7:12),


“there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee” (1 Kings 18:10).

Further examples are found in:

“They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths” (Psalm 107:26);

“Rivers of water run down mine eyes” (Psalm 119:136);

“A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time” (Isaiah 60:22);

“Their widows are increased to Me above the sand of the seas” (Jeremiah 15:8),

which should be borne in mind when reading Revelation 7:9;

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written (John 21:25).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

It is also very necessary for the expositor constantly to bear in mind that many of the things pertaining to the new covenant are set forth under the figures of the old

November 15, 2016 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkIt is also very necessary for the expositor constantly to bear in mind that many of the things pertaining to the new covenant are set forth under the figures of the old. Thus Christ is spoken of as “our Passover” and as Priest “after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:20). Paradise is described as “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). The New Testament saints are referred to as Abraham’s seed and “the Israel of God” (Galatians 3:7; 6:16); as “the circumcision” (Philippians 3:3), and as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9); while in Galatians 4:26, they are informed that “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Again, the “For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched” (Hebrews 12:18) refers not to any material mount, but to that order of things which was formally instituted at Sinai, the moral features of which were suitably symbolized and strikingly adumbrated by the physical phenomena which attended the giving of the Law. Likewise, “ye are come unto mount Sion” (12:22) no more signifies a material mount than “we have an altar” (13:10) means that Christians have a tangible altar. It is the antitypical, spiritual, heavenly Sion which is in view—that glorious state into which Divine grace has brought all who savingly believe the Gospel.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

How is the teacher to determine when the language is literal and when non-literal?

Arthur PinkIf all Scripture had been couched in highly figurative language and mysterious hieroglyphics, it had been quite unsuited to the common man. On the other hand, if all were as simple as the A B Cs there had been no need for God to provide teachers (Ephesians 4:11). But how is the teacher to determine when the language is literal and when non-literal? Generally, plain intimation is given, especially in the employment of metaphor, where one object is used to set forth another, as in “Judah is a lion’s whelp” (Genesis 49:9). More particularly.

First, when a literal interpretation would manifestly clash with the essential nature of the subject spoken of, as when physical members are ascribed to God, or when the disciple is required to “take up his cross” (live a life of self-sacrifice) in order to follow Christ.

Second, when a literal interpretation would involve an absurdity or a moral impropriety, as in

“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: and put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite” (Proverbs 23:1, 2): giving no quarter to your lusts; and heaping coals of fire on an enemy’s head (Romans 12:20).

Third, refer to other passages, and interpret such a verse as Psalm 26:6, by Genesis 35:1, 2, and Hebrews 10:22.

From all that has been said above it is evident that we must avoid a stark literalism when dealing with sensory or material representations of immaterial things, and when bodily terms are used of non-bodily ones.

“The sword shall devour” (Jeremiah 46:10): to devour is the property of a living creature with teeth, but here by a figure it is applied to the sword. “Let my right hand forget her cunning” (Psalm 137:5): here “forgetting,” which pertains to the mind, is applied to the hand signifying

“may it lose its power to direct aright.” “I turned to see the voice” (Revelation 1:12)

means Him that uttered it.

“Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God”(Ecclesiastes 5:1)

may be taken in both a literal and a figurative sense. In the former, it would signify “let your gait be demure and your speed unhurried and reverent as you approach the place of worship”; in the latter, “pay attention to the motions of your mind and the affections of your heart, for they are to the soul what the feet are to the body.” It is unto the due ordering of our inward man that our attention should be chiefly directed.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Words are used in a literal sense when given their plain and natural meaning; figuratively, when a term is diverted to an object to which it does not naturally or normally belong

Arthur PinkWords are used in a literal sense when given their plain and natural meaning; figuratively, when a term is diverted to an object to which it does not naturally or normally belong. Thus “hard” is the quality of a stone, but when predicated of the heart it is employed figuratively. A figure of speech consists in the fact of a word or words being used out of their ordinary sense and manner, for the sake of emphasis, by attracting our attention to what is said. Not that a different meaning is given to the word, but a new application of it is made. The meaning of the word is always the same when rightly used, and thus figures carry their own light and explain themselves. In the great majority of instances there is no difficulty in distinguishing between the literal and the non-literal. Here too there is a close resemblance between the Word of God and His works in creation. For the most part objects in the natural world are plain and simple, easily distinguished; yet some are obscure and mysterious. There are certain “laws” perceptible which regulate the actions of nature; nevertheless, there are notable exceptions to most of them. Thus we may be sure that God has not employed language which could only confuse and confound the unlearned, yet the meaning of many things in His Word can be ascertained only by hard labor.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

There is a Divinely designed analogy between the natural and the spiritual worlds

Arthur PinkOthers before us have pointed out that there is a Divinely designed analogy between the natural and the spiritual worlds. God so framed the visible realms as to shadow forth the invisible, the temporal to symbolize the eternal. Hence the similitudes so often employed by Christ, drawn by Him from the natural kingdom, were not arbitrary illustrations, but pre-ordained figures of the supernatural. There is a most intimate connection between the spheres of creation and of grace, so that we are taught thereby to look from one to the other.

“By means of His inimitable parables, Christ showed that when nature was consulted aright it spoke one language with the Spirit of God; and that the more thoroughly it understood, the more complete and varied will be found the harmony which subsists between the principles of its constitution and those of His spiritual kingdom” (P. Fairbairn).

Who can fail to perceive both the aptness and the sublimity of the parallel between that allusion from the natural realm and its antitypical realization:

“Until the day break, and the shadows flee away” (Song of Solomon 2:17), where the reference is to both the first (John 8:56) and second appearing of God’s Son in the flesh (Philippians 1:6, 10)?

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Many times in scripture natural things are commonly used and accommodated to explain spiritual things

Arthur PinkThe figurative element is very prominent in the Scriptures, especially so in the Old Testament, where natural things are commonly used and accommodated to explain spiritual things, suiting its instructions to man’s present state, in which he cannot see the things of God except through the glass of nature. Every Hebrew word has a literal sense and stands for some sensible object, and therefore conveys a comparative idea of some impalpable object. While in the body we must receive information via our senses. We cannot of ourselves form the least idea of any Divine or celestial object but as it is compared to and illustrated by something earthly or material. Inward realities are explained by outward phenomena, as in

“rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God” (Joel 2:13),

and “blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Spiritual mercies are set before our eyes under their familiar but expressive pictures in nature, as in

“For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44:3),


“Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let them bring forth salvation” (Isaiah 45:8).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures