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The right laws of interpretation may be obtained by observing the manner in which the Old Testament is cited in the New

March 24, 2015 2 comments

Arthur Pink2. The second principle which the expositor must make a most careful study of is that of scriptural quotation. Not a little help in ascertaining the right laws of interpretation may be obtained from diligently observing the manner in which and the purpose for which the Old Testament is cited in the New. There can be little room for doubt that the record which the Holy Spirit has supplied of the way in which our Lord and His apostles understood and applied the Old Testament was as much designed to throw light generally on how the Old Testament is to be used by us as it was to furnish instruction on the particular points for the sake of which passages in the Law or the prophets were more immediately appealed to. By examining closely the words quoted and the sense given to them in the New Testament, we shall not only be delivered from a slavish literalism, but be better enabled to perceive the fullness of God’s words and the varied application which may be legitimately made of them. A wide, but generally neglected, field is open for exploration, but instead of endeavoring here to make a thorough canvass of the same, we shall simply supply a few illustrations.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

There is a fundamental harmony between Judaism and Christianity

March 17, 2015 2 comments

Arthur PinkThat there must be a fundamental harmony between Judaism and Christianity appears in the fact that the same God is the Author of both, and is unchanging in His perfections and the principles of His government. The former was indeed addressed more to the outward man, was transacted under visible forms and relations, and had respect primarily to a worldly sanctuary and earthly inheritance; nevertheless, they were all of them a “shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1).

“In the New Testament we have a higher, yet very closely related, exhibition of truth and duty than in the Old, which involves both the agreements and differences of the two covenants. The agreements lie deeper and concern the more essential elements of the two economies; the differences are of a more circumstantial and formal nature” (Fairbairn).

Personally, we would say that the principal variations appear in that in the one we have promise and prediction, in the other performance and fulfillment: first the types and shadows (the “blade”), then the reality and substance or “full corn in the ear.” The Christian dispensation excels the Mosaic in a fuller and clearer manifestation of God’s perfections (1 John 2:8), in a more abundant effusion of the Spirit (John 7:39; Acts 2:3), in its wider extent (Matthew 28:19, 20), and in a larger measure of liberty (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:2-7).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Christ always drove his arguments home with an appeal to Old Testament scripture

March 10, 2015 4 comments

Arthur PinkWhether the speaker is Christ or one of His apostles, at almost every vital point he clinches his argument by an appeal to the Old Testament scriptures, proof-texts therefrom being found in almost every page in the New. Innumerable examples might be adduced to show that both the ideas and the language of the former have given their impress to the latter— more than six hundred expressions in the one occurring in the other. Every clause in the “Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55) and even in the family prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is drawn from the Old Testament. It therefore behooves the student to give equal attention to both of the principal divisions of the Bible, not only thoroughly familiarizing himself with the latter but endeavoring to drink deeply of the spirit of the first, in order to fit him for understanding the second. Unless he does so, it will be impossible for him to apprehend aright much in the Gospels and Epistles. Not only is a knowledge of the types necessary to comprehend the and-type — for what would “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7) mean to one ignorant of Exodus 12; and how much in Hebrews 9 and 10 is intelligible apart from Leviticus 16? but many important words of the New Testament can be correctly defined only by referring back to their usage in the Old Testament: such as “firstborn, redeem, propitiation,” etc.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The New Testament is a continuation of and a complement to the Old

March 3, 2015 1 comment

Arthur PinkIn many respects the New Testament is a continuation of and a complement to the Old. The difference between the old and new covenants referred to in Hebrews is a relative and not an absolute one. The contrast is not really between two opposites, but rather between a gradation from the lower to the higher plane—the one preparing for the other. While some have erred in too much Judaizing Christianity, others have entertained far too carnal a conception of Judaism, failing to perceive the spiritual elements in it, and that under it God was then as truly administering the blessings of the everlasting covenant unto those whom He had chosen in Christ as He is now, yea, that He had done so from Abel onwards. Rightly, then, did Calvin rebuke the madness of our modern dispensationalists when reproving those of their forerunners who appeared in his day, saying, “Now what would be more absurd than that Abraham should be the father of all the faithful, and not possess even the lowest place among them? But he cannot be excluded from the number, even from the most honorable station, without the destruction of the Church.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

There is no conflict between the testimony of Christ and the Apostles

February 24, 2015 2 comments

Arthur PinkMost certainly there was no conflict between the testimony of the apostles and that of their Master, for He had expressly enjoined them to teach their converts “to observe all things whatsoever I have [not shall!] commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Nor did the doctrinal system of Paul differ in any wise from that enunciated in the Old Testament. At the very beginning of the first epistle bearing his name he is particular to inform us that the Gospel unto which God had separated him was none other than the one

“He had promised afore by His prophets in the holy scriptures” (Romans 1:1, 2);

and when he stated that the righteousness of God was now revealed apart from the Law, he was careful to add, “being witnessed by the law and the prophets” (3:21). When he vindicated his teaching on justification by faith without the deeds of the Law, he did so by appealing to the case of Abraham and the testimony of David (Romans 4). When he admonished the Corinthians against being lulled into a false sense of security because of the spiritual gifts which had been bestowed upon them, he reminded them of the Israelites who had been highly favored of God, yet that did not keep them from His displeasure when they sinned, even though they “did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did drink the same spiritual drink” (1 Corinthians 10:1-5). And when illustrating important practical truth, he cites the history of Abraham’s two sons (Galatians 4:22-31).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The preacher must recognize the inter-relation and mutual dependence of the Old and New Testaments

February 17, 2015 2 comments

Arthur PinkComing now to those principles which are to guide the student in his efforts to interpret God’s Word, we place first and foremost the need for recognizing the inter-relation and mutual dependence of the Old and New Testaments. We do so because error at this point inevitably results in a serious misunderstanding and perverting of not a little in the later Scriptures. We do not propose to enter into a refutation of the modern heresy of “dispensationalism,” but to treat of this section of our subject constructively. After a long and careful comparison of the writings of that school with The Institutes of Calvin, and our observation of the kind of fruit borne by the one and the other, it is our conviction that that eminent reformer was far more deeply taught by the Holy Spirit than those who claimed to receive so much “new light on God’s Word” a century ago. We would therefore urge every preacher who possesses Calvin’s Institutes to give his very best attention to its two chapters on “The Similarity of the Old and New Testaments” and “The Difference of the Two Testaments.”

The similarity of the two Testaments is much greater and more vital than their dissimilarity. The same triune God is revealed in each, the same way of salvation is set forth, the same standard of holiness is exhibited, the same eternal destinies of the righteous and the wicked made known. The New has all its roots in the Old, so that much in the one is unintelligible apart from the other. Not only is a knowledge of the history of the patriarchs and of the institutions of Judaism indispensable for an understanding of many details in the Gospels and the Epistles, but its terms and ideas are identical. That it is entirely unwarrantable for us to suppose that the message proclaimed by the Lord Jesus was something new or radically different from the early communications of God appears from His emphatic warning:

“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)

—to vindicate and substantiate them, to free them from human perversions and misrepresentations, and to make good what they demanded and announced. So far from there being any antagonism between the teaching of Christ and Divine messengers who preceded Him, when He enunciated “the golden law” He stated, “for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

It is at the feet of God that the preacher must take his place

February 10, 2015 2 comments

Arthur PinkIt is at the feet of God that the preacher must take his place, learning from Him the meaning of His Word, waiting upon Him to open its mysteries, looking to Him for his message. Nowhere but in the Scriptures can he ascertain what is pleasing or displeasing unto the Lord. There alone are opened the secrets of Divine wisdom, of which the philosopher and scientist know nothing. And as the great Dutch Puritan rightly pointed out,

“Whatever is not drawn from them, whatever is not built upon them, whatever does not most exactly accord with them, however it may recommend itself by the appearance of the most sublime wisdom, or rest on ancient tradition and consent of learned men, or the weight of plausible arguments, it is vain, futile, and, in short, a lie. ‘To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.’ Let the theologian delight in those sacred Oracles: let him exercise himself in them day and night, meditate in them, draw all his wisdom from them. Let him compass all his thoughts on them, let him embrace nothing in religion which he does not find there” (Herman Witsius).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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