Archive

Archive for the ‘Hermeneutics’ Category

The contents of each book are arranged in logical order and necessary sequence

November 21, 2017 Leave a comment

In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul informs us that the Scriptures are profitable “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” and that is the very order which he has followed in his epistles. For Romans is a doctrinal treatise, the Corinthian epistles a reproof of disorders in the assembly, Galatians a correcting of erroneous teaching, and Ephesians describes that walk which alone is worthy of a child of God.

Not only are the books in the Bible unerringly positioned, but the contents of each are arranged in logical and necessary sequence. Thus it is intensely interesting to mark how that each of the patriarchs in Genesis shadowed forth some distinct and fundamental truth concerning the believer. In Abraham we have illustrated that of Divine election and effectual calling. In Isaac we have portrayed Divine sonship (by a supernatural birth) and the life of submission to God’s will. In Jacob we have pictured the conflict between the flesh and the spirit: the two natures in the believer, intimated by his dual name, Jacob Israel. In Joseph we have exemplified the grand truth of heirship: following a season of trial, made ruler of Egypt. Thus the historical order is also the doctrinal and experiential, progressive and climacteric. The five great offerings of Leviticus 1-5 typify as many distinct aspects of the person and work of the Lord Jesus, and invaluable instruction is to be obtained by pondering the sequence of them.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Advertisements

Genesis must open the word for in it is to be found in germ form almost everything which is afterwards more fully developed in the books which follow

November 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Whether its contents he considered historically, doctrinally, or typically, Genesis must open the Word, for it is the book of beginnings. It has been aptly called “the seed-plot of the Bible,” for in it is to be found in germ form almost everything which is afterwards more fully developed in the books which follow. Doctrinally, its theme is that of Divine election, which is the first act of God’s grace unto His people. Then comes Exodus, which treats of redemption by purchase and power (Exodus 6:6; 15:13). The third book, as might he expected, views God’s people as on resurrection ground, being not so much doctrinal as experiential in its character. Leviticus shows what we are redeemed unto, having for its theme fellowship and worship: its key is hung on the door—the Lord speaking out of the tabernacle (Leviticus 1:1). The fourth book deals with the practical side of the spiritual life, tracing out the history of the believer in this world—for four is the number of the earth. “The wilderness” (Leviticus 1:1) is a symbol of the world in its fallen condition, the place of testing and trial. It subject is the walk and warfare of the saints.

The positioning of those four books clearly manifests design in the Divine workmanship, and teaches us the order in which the Truth should be presented. An equally striking illustration is seen in the juxtaposition and order of the last two books of Solomon, for the theme of Ecclesiastes is unquestionably: “No satisfaction to be found under the sun,” while that of the Canticles tells of “full satisfaction in the Son”: over the one may be inscribed: “Whosoever drinketh of this water [the cisterns of the world] shall thirst again”; over the other:

“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:14).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

God is a God of order, so scripture has been ordained to be placed in the order in which we have it

23. The law of order. God’s Word is like His works: designed disposition and minute precision characterizing it throughout. If

“to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

in the natural world, assuredly the same holds good in connection with the spiritual realm and all that pertains thereto. Even those who make no claim to being Christians recognize and acknowledge that “order is heaven’s first law.” God is a God of order, and most unmistakably is that fact displayed all through Holy Writ. Everything therein is methodically arranged and in its proper place: change that arrangement and confusion and error at once ensue. Thus it is of deep importance that we pay close attention to the order in which Truth has been set forth by the omniscient Spirit. The key to many a verse is to he found in noting the position it occupies, its coherence with what precedes, its relation to what follows.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Church’s inheritance is wholly of divine grace and mediatorial purchase

The Church’s inheritance is wholly of divine grace and mediatorial purchase, yet it is not entered into by the heirs of promise without arduous efforts on their part. There is the strait gate to be entered and the narrow way to be trodden (Matthew 6:13, 14). There is a race to be run which calls for temperance in all things (1 Corinthians 9:24-26). There is a fight to be fought (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7), and in order to be successful therein we have to take unto us “the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13) and make daily use of the same. There is a ceaseless conflict with the flesh to be engaged in (al. 5:17), a Devil to be steadfastly resisted in the faith (1 Peter 5:8, 9), an alluring and opposing world to be overcome (James 4:4; 1 John 5:4). While it is blessedly true that “we which have believed do enter into rest” (Hebrews 4:3). Christ’s yoke is taken upon us, nevertheless the divine injunction remains, “let us labor therefore to enter into that rest” (Hebrews 4:11) which awaits us on high, and of which the land flowing with milk and honey was the emblem.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

In like manner, the word “Jews” is applied to two very different classes of people

In like manner, the word “Jews” is applied to two very different classes of people, though few today would think so if they confined themselves to the ministry of a class who pride themselves on having more light than the majority of professing Christians. Nevertheless, such is unequivocall established by the declaration of Romans 2:28, 29: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Surely nothing could be plainer than that, and in the light of such a statement it seems passing strange that there are those—boasting loudly of their orthodoxy, and bitterly condemning all who differ from them—who insist that the term “Jew” pertains only to the natural descendants of Jacob, and ridicule the idea that there is any such thing as a spiritual Jew. But when God tells us, “he is a Jew, which is one inwardly,” He manifestly means that the true “Jew,” the antitypical one, is a regenerated person, who enjoys the “praise” or approbation of God.

It is not only childish, but misleading, to affirm that “Israel” means Israel and “Jew” means Jew, and that when God’s Word makes mention of Jerusalem or Zion nothing else is referred to than those actual places. Those who make such assertions are but deceiving themselves (and others who are gullible enough to heed them) by the mere sound of words. As well aver that “flesh” signifies nothing more than the physical body, that “water” (John 4:14) refers only to that material element, or that “death” (John 5:24) signifies nothing but physical dissolution. There is an end of all interpretation—bringing out the sense of Scripture—when such a foolish attitude be adopted. Each verse calls for careful and prayerful study, so that it may be fairly ascertained which the Spirit has in view: the carnal Israel or the spiritual, the literal seed of Abraham or the mystical, the natural Jew or the regenerate, the earthly Jerusalem or the heavenly, the typical Zion or the antitypical. God has not written His Word in such a way that the average reader is made independent of that help which He has designed to give through His accredited teachers.

We can well imagine those of our readers who have sat under the errors of Dispensationalism saying, “All of this seems very confusing, for we have been taught to distinguish sharply between Israel and the Church, the one being an earthly people and the other a heavenly.” Of course, Israel was an “earthly people”: so too were the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and all the other inhabitants of this world. This writer and his Christian readers are also an “earthly people,” for neither their bodies nor their souls have yet been removed to heaven. In reply, the objector will say that it was Israel’s inheritance which was an earthly one. But we ask, was it? Was the inheritance of the patriarchs an earthly one? Hebrews 11:14-16, plainly shows otherwise, for there we are told “they seek a country,” that after they had entered the land of Canaan “now they [Abraham, Isaac and Jacob] desire a better country, that is, an heavenly.” Was the inheritance of Moses an earthly one? Let Hebrews 11:26, make answer: “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward,” namely the eternal one (cf. Colossians 3:24)! Was David’s inheritance a mundane one? If so, how could he speak of himself as “a stranger in the earth” (Psalm 39:12; 119:119)? Psalm 73:25 shows what his heart was set upon.

It is not sufficient to affirm that Israel’s inheritance was an earthly one: which “Israel” must be definitely stated, and also what the inheritance adumbrated. As the portion which Jehovah appointed, promised, and gave to Abraham and his descendants, that land of Canaan has, throughout the Christian era, been rightly regarded as figuring the heavenly inheritance, to which the members of Christ are journeying as they pass through this scene of sin and trial. In order to obtain the complete typical picture of the varied spiritual experiences and exercises of God’s elect as they were so vividly foreshadowed of old, we have to take into account not only the history of the Hebrews in Egypt and their wilderness journeyings, but also what was demanded of them in order to make their entrance into and occupation of the land of Canaan. As we have so frequently pointed out in our articles on the life and times of Joshua, Canaan is also to be contemplated from two standpoints, natural and spiritual: spiritually, as portraying the heritage of regenerated Israelites, which heritage is to be appropriated and enjoyed now by faith and obedience, but which will not be fully entered into until the Jordan of death has been crossed. Admittedly, great care has to be taken with the Analogy of Faith.

Though Canaan was a divine gift to the natural Israel, nevertheless their occupation thereof was the result of their own prowess. It was indeed bestowed upon them by free gift from God, yet it had to be conquered by them. Therein was accurately shadowed forth what is necessary in order to make an entrance into the heavenly Canaan. The book of Joshua not only displays the sovereign grace of God, exhibits His covenant faithfulness, and the mighty power which He puts forth on behalf of His people, but it also makes known what He required from them in the discharge of their responsibility, and shows that the Lord only fought for His people while they remained in entire dependence on and were in complete subjection to Him. There were formidable obstacles to be surmounted, fierce and powerful foes to be vanquished, a hard and protracted warfare to be waged, and only while they actively concurred did the Lord show Himself strong on their behalf.

“For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to cleave unto Him; then will the Lord drive out all these nations…. Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours” (Deuteronomy 11:22-24).

That was not the “if” of uncertainty, but had to do with their accountability—as the “if” of John 8:31, 51; Colossians 1:23 and Hebrews 3:6, 14 has to do with ours.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The term Israel has a two-fold meaning

“Is He the God of the Jews only? is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith” (Romans 3:29, 30).

What has just been noticed leads us to point out that the terms “Israel,” “Jew,” and “seed of Abraham” all have a twofold allusion. The expression “Israel after the flesh” (1 Corinthians 10:18) is obviously a discriminating one, and would be meaningless were there no Israel after the spirit, that is regenerated Israel, “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). The “Israel after the flesh” were the natural descendants of Abraham, whereas the spiritual Israel, whether Jews or Gentiles, are those who are born again and worship God in spirit and in truth. When the Psalmist declared

“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (Psalm 73:1),

he certainly did not refer to the fleshly descendants of Jacob, for the greater part of them lacked “a clean heart”! When our Lord said of Nathanael,

“Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (John 1:47),

He obviously meant very much more than one who proceeded naturally from Jacob. His language was as distinguishing as when He said,

“If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

“An Israelite indeed” connoted a genuine son of the spiritual Israel, a man of faith and prayer, holy and honest. “In whom is no guile” supplies further confirmation that a saved character was there in view (compare Psalm 32:1).

When Christ said,

“I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24),

He could not intend the fleshly descendants of Jacob, for, as many Scriptures plainly show (Isaiah 42:6; Romans 15:8, 9), He was sent unto the Gentiles also. No, the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” there imported the whole election of grace.

“And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16)

could not possibly refer to the nation, for God’s wrath was on that—it is on the Israel chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son and regenerated by the Spirit that Divine peace and mercy rest.

“Not as though the word of God had taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6).

The Jews erroneously imagined that the promises which God had made to Abraham and his seed pertained only to his natural descendants: hence their claim “we have Abraham to our father” (Matthew 3:9). But those promises were not made to men after the flesh, but to men after the spirit, the regenerate, they alone being the “children of the promise” (Romans 9:8). God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were given to them as believers, and they are the spiritual property and food of believers, and none else (Romans 4:13, 16). Until that fact be grasped, we shall be all at sea with the Old Testament promises (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20, and 7:1; 2 Peter 1:4).

“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).

The children of Abraham are of two kinds, physical and spiritual: those who are his by nature, and those who are connected with him by grace.

“To be the children of a person in a figurative sense is equivalent to ‘resemble him and to be involved in his fate,’ good or bad. To be ‘the children of God’ is to be like God, and also, as the apostle states, it is to be ‘heirs of God.’ To be ‘the children of Abraham’ is to resemble Abraham, to imitate his conduct and to share his blessedness” (John Brown).

So to be “the children of the wicked one” (Matthew 13:38) is to be conformed to his vile image, both in character and in conduct (John 8:44), and to share his doom (Matthew 15:41). Christ said to the carnal Jews of His day,

“If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39).

It is his spiritual children who “walk in the steps of that faith which he had” (Romans 4:12) and who are “blessed with faithful Abraham” (Galatians 3:9). We must be united to Christ, who is “the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1), in order to enter into the blessings which God covenanted unto the patriarch. The double significance of the expression “children” or “seed of Abraham” was plainly intimated at the beginning, when God likened his seed to the stars of the heavens and the sand which is upon the sea shore (Genesis 22:17).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Law being given with a gracious end in view, to pave the way for the Savior

“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions” (Galatians 3:19).

That answer admits of two different significations. First, the immediate purpose in the Law’s being formerly proclaimed and enforced subsequently to the promised inheritance to Abraham and his seed was to place a bridle upon the carnality of the Hebrews and check their sinning—by making known to them God’s will and the fearful penalty of flouting His authority. Second, its ultimate design was to prepare the way for Christ, by demonstrating their need of Him because of their awful guilt. The “because of transgressions” is intentionally general enough to include both: to suppress transgressions, to make manifest transgressors. So too the next verse has a dual meaning: “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one [party] but God is one.” In view of the context (v. 10 onwards, especially 16-19), “God is one” signifies first, that His purpose is immutable. His design was the same in both the Abrahamic and Sinaitic covenants—the Law being given with a gracious end in view, to pave the way for the Savior: hence the question and answer in verse 21. Yet in view of the whole context it is equally clear, second, that “God is one” means that His method of salvation remains unaltered through all dispensations.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures