Archive for the ‘Hermeneutics’ Category

The Holy Spirit’s use of words:Example 2

Arthur PinkConsider the grand truth and glorious privilege of adoption. Probably it is not going too far to say that only a very small percentage of Christians entertain any scriptural concept thereof. In human affairs it has reference to a procedure whereby a boy or girl who bears no relation to a man and woman becomes legally their child. From that the conclusion is drawn that on the ground of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and by the Spirit’s work of regeneration those who previously bore no intimate relation to God then become His children. Such an idea is not only crude, but utterly erroneous. John 11:52, makes it quite clear that Christ died for His people under the consideration of their being the children of God, and not in order to make them so: as both the Hebrews in Egypt (Exodus 5) and the heathen in Corinth (Acts 18:10) were owned by God as His before the one was redeemed and the other had the Gospel preached unto them.

“And because ye are sons [and not to make them such], God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).

The Spirit is given to quicken, communicate the nature of sons, and reveal to us our union with Christ.

The inestimable blessing of adoption was bestowed upon the elect by predestination, it being God’s design therein to make them His sons by a mere act of His sovereign will:

“Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:5).

Thus it is neither what Christ has done for them nor what the Spirit works in them which makes them the children of God. Adoption refers to that state of grace into which the elect are brought by virtue of their union with Christ. It is a sonship-in-law, in and through the Son, God appointing them unto union and communion with Him. Adoption conveys the legal right to every blessing we enjoy both here and hereafter.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16, 17).

As holiness is that which fits us for heaven, so adoption or sonship conveys the right thereto.

“Adoption does not so much design the blessing itself prepared in the Divine predestination, or the grace received in effectual calling, as the inheritance to which the saints are adopted, even the heavenly glory: see Romans 8:23” (J. Gill).

The elect were bestowed upon Christ before the foundation of the world in the relation of children:

“Behold I and the children which God hath given Me”(Hebrews 2:13)

will be His own triumphant exclamation at the last day — not one of them lost. It is quite true that by the fall they became alienated from God, and thus in need of His being reconciled to them and they to Him; that they became dead in trespasses and sins, and therefore required to be quickened into newness of life. But observe closely how Galatians 4:4, 5 states it: “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them [previously His] that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” and because we were such the Spirit was given to us. The declaration of adoption was made first in predestination (Ephesians 1:5), afterwards in Christ, and then in the believer. As the Puritan Charnock so succinctly stated it, “Adoption gives us the privilege of sons, regeneration the nature of sons. Adoption relates unto God as a Father, regeneration engraves upon us the lineaments of a Father. That makes us relatively His sons by conferring a power or right (John 1:12); this makes us formally His sons by conveying a principle (1 Peter 1:23). By that we are enstated in the Divine affection; by this we are partakers of the same.”

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

A momentous statement was that, and a right understanding thereof is essential, particularly of the exact meaning of its final word. Determined to deny at all costs the evangelical truth that Christ rendered to the Law a vicarious obedience on behalf of His people, Socinians insist that in this passage “fulfill” signifies to fill out or fill full. But such a definition is entirely arbitrary, and is refuted by the canon of interpretation we are now illustrating. As the scholarly Smeaton pointed out,

“No example of such a usage can be adduced when the verb is applied to a law or to an express demand contained in the spirit of the law: in which case it uniformly means ‘to fulfil’. Thus it is said, ‘he that loveth another hath fulfilled [i.e., kept] the law’” (Romans 13:8). The inflexible usage of language rules the sense in such a phrase, to the effect that Christ must be understood to say that He came not to fill out or to supplement the law by additional elements, but to fulfill it by being made under it.

“Second, ‘fill out’ is inadmissible as applied to the second term or object of the verb: Christ did not come to fill out or expound the prophets, but simply to fulfill their predictions. Whenever the word here used is applied to anything prophetical, it is always found in such a connection that it can only mean ‘to fulfill,’ and hence we must not deviate from its uniform signification. Third, the eighteenth verse must be regarded as giving a reason for the statement made in the seventeenth. But what sort of a reason would be given if we were to render the connected verses thus: I am come to fill out or supplement the law, for verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be ‘fulfilled’?”

Moreover, it is to be carefully noted that the term fulfill was here placed by Christ in direct antithesis to “destroy,” which further determines its scope and meaning, for to destroy the law is not to empty it of its meaning, but to rescind or abrogate it. Thus to “fulfill” is to be taken in its plain and natural sense, as meaning to perform what the Law and the prophets required: to substantiate them, to make good what they demanded and announced. Law can only be fulfilled by a perfect obedience being rendered to it.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Holy Spirit’s use of words:Example 1

Arthur Pink19. The Holy Spirit’s use of words. The correct interpretation of many passages can be satisfactorily established only by a careful investigation of how their terms are employed by the sacred writers, for not a few of them possess an entirely different force from their dictionary meanings. The signification of the words of Holy Writ is to be determined neither by their etymology nor by the sense which they bear in classical writings, but rathe by their actual use in the Hebrew and Creek Scriptures—with the collateral help of the Septuagint version. Each term must be defined in strict harmony with the sense given to it in the Word itself. It is because the average reader of the Bible interprets much of its language in accord with how the same is employed in the common speech of his fellows that he has an inadequate, and often degrading, concept of its expressions. The concordance will stand him in far better stead than the best dictionary. Take the word “chasten.” Upon human lips it means to punish, but such is far from the thought when we read of God’s using the rod upon His children—even “for correction” falls far short. Paideia is only another form of paidon, which signifies “young children” (John 21:5). One can see at a glance the direct connection which exists between “disciple” and “discipline”: equally clear in the Greek is the relation between “chasten” and “child” —son-training expresses it more accurately (Hebrews 12:7).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Words with different meanings:Example 6

Arthur PinkThe word “judgment” is another which calls for real study. There are judgments of God’s mouth which His servants must faithfully declare (Psalm 119:13), namely the whole revelation of His will, the rule by which we are to walk and by which He will yet judge us. Those “judgments” (Exodus 21:1) are the Divine edicts which make known the difference between right and wrong. There are also judgments of God’s hand:

“I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Psalm 119:75).

Those are for the gracious discipline of His children; whereas those upon the wicked (Ezekiel 5:15) are judicial curses and punishments. In some passages they express the whole of God’s providential ways, many of which are “a great deep” (Psalm 36:6), “unsearchable” (Romans 11:33) to any finite mind, not to be pried into by us. They intimate His sovereign rule, for

“righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne” (Psalm 97:2),

likewise the rectitude of Christ’s administration (John 9:39).

“He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:1)

imports the righteous doctrine of His Gospel. In Jude 1:14 and 15 the reference is to the solemn transactions of the last day. “Teach me good judgment and knowledge” (Psalm 119:66) is a request for discretion, a clearer apprehension to apply knowledge rightly. To “do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19) signifies to be equitable and just in our dealings.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Words with different meanings:Example 5

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Arthur Pink“Holy” and “sanctify” represent in our English Bibles one and the same Hebrew and Greek word in the original, but they are by no means employed with a uniform significance, being given quite a variety of scope and application — hence the diverse definitions of men. The word is such a pregnant one that no single English term can express it. That it signifies more than “set apart” is clear from what is said of the Nazarite:

“all the days of his separation he is holy unto the Lord” (Numbers 6:8)

—“all the days of his separation he is separated” would be meaningless tautology. So of Christ,

“holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26),

where “holy” means much more than “separate.” When applied to God it imports His ineffable majesty (Isaiah 57:15). In many passages it expresses a moral quality (Romans 7:12; Titus 1:8). In others it refers to cleansing (Ephesians 5:26; Hebrews 9:13). Often it means to hallow or dedicate to God (Exodus 20:11; John 17:19). As the term is applied to the Christian it connotes, broadly speaking,

(1) that sacred relationship Godward into which grace has brought us in Christ;

(2) that blessed inward endowment by which the Spirit has made us meet for God and capacitated us to commune with Him;

(3) the changed life resulting therefrom (Luke 1:75; 1 Peter 1:15).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Words with different meanings:Example 4

February 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkThe meaning of the term “flesh” appears to be so obvious that many would regard it as quite a waste of time to look up its various connections in Scripture. It is hastily assumed that the word is synonymous with the physical body, and so no careful investigation is made. Yet, in fact, “flesh” is used in Scripture to include far more than the physical side of our being. We read of “the will of the flesh” (John 1:13) and “the works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19), some of which are acts of the mind. We are forbidden to make provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14), which certainly does not mean that we are to starve or neglect the body. When it is said “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14) we are to understand that He took unto Himself an entire human nature, consisting of spirit (Luke 23:46), soul (John 12:27), and body. “In the days of His flesh” (Hebrews 5:7) signifies the time of His humiliation, in contrast with His present exaltation and glory. Again, the average reader of the Bible imagines that “the world” is the equivalent of the whole human race, and consequently many of the passages in which it occurs are wrongly interpreted. Many too suppose that the term “immortality” calls for no critical examination, concluding that it refers to the indestructibility of the soul. But we must never assume that we understand anything in God’s Word. If the concordance be consulted it will be found that “mortal” and “immortal” are never applied to man’s soul, but always to his body.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Four principles of older hermeneutics

February 14, 2017 1 comment

Four principles of older hermeneutics:

#1 The Holy Spirit is the Only Infallible Interpreter of Holy Scripture.

#2 The Analogy of the Scriptures (Analogia Scripturae)

#3 The Analogy of Faith (Analogia Fidei)

#4 The Scope of the Scriptures (Scopus Scripturae)


Source [RBAP]

Words with different meanings:Example 3

February 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkLet us now consider a few examples wherein the same English word is given a number of variants. As in the well-known words of our Lord, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:22), so the word “see” is used in two different senses in Hebrews 2:8, 9: “But now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Jesus…owned with glory, and honor,” where the first refers to open sight, the second to faith’s perception. “Ransom” is by power as well as by price. Sometimes God defended or delivered His people by destroying His enemies: Proverbs 21:18; Isaiah 43:4; Pharaoh and his hosts at the Red Sea. Many have been much perplexed by the markedly different applications made of the word “burden” in Galatians 6:2, 5: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…. Every man shall bear his own burden.” The former has in view the burdens of the Christian’s infirmities, which should be sympathetically, prayerfully and practically shouldered by his brethren and sisters. The latter has reference to individual responsibility, his personal state and destiny, which he must himself discharge, that cannot be shifted upon others. The Greek word for the former is “weights,” or loads— calling for a friendly hand. The latter signifies a “charge,” or trust imposed.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures