Archive for the ‘Hermeneutics’ Category

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

The preacher should be a man of the Book, thoroughly versed in the contents of God’s Word

February 3, 2015 4 comments

Arthur PinkThe preacher should be, above everything else, a man of the Book, thoroughly versed in the contents of God’s Word, one who is able to bring forth out of his treasure “things new and old” (Matthew 13:52). The Bible is to be his sole text-book, and from its living waters he is to drink deeply and daily. Personally, we use nothing else than the English Authorized Version and Young’s concordance, with an occasional reference to the Greek Interlinear and the American Revised Version. Commentaries we consult only after we have made a first-hand and exhaustive study of a passage. We strongly urge young preachers to be much on their guard against allowing commentaries to become a substitute for, instead of a supplement to, their own minute and full examination and pondering of Holy Writ. As there is a happy mean between imagining either that the Bible is so plain and simple that anyone can understand it or so difficult and profound that it would be a waste of time for the average person to read it, so there is between being mainly dependent on the labors of others and simply echoes of their ideas and utterly disparaging that light and help which may be obtained from God’s servants of the past.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The interpreters task is to expound the word of God clearly, so the congregation can understand what it is saying

January 27, 2015 4 comments

Arthur PinkIf the druggist is required by law to follow exactly the doctor’s prescription, if military officers must transmit the orders of their commanders verbatim or suffer severe penalties, how much more incumbent is it for one dealing with Divine and eternal things to adhere strictly to his text book! The interpreter’s task is to emulate those described in Nehemiah 8:8, of whom it is said “they read in the book in the law of the Lord God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” The reference is to those who had returned to Palestine from Babylon. While in captivity they had gradually ceased to use Hebrew as their spoken language. Aramaic displacing it. Hence there was a real need to explain the Hebrew words in which the Law was written (cf. Nehemiah 13:23, 24). Yet the recording of this incident intimates that it is of permanent importance, and has a message for us. In the good providence of God there is little need today for the preacher to explain the Hebrew and the Creek, since we already possess a reliable translation of them into our own mother tongue—though occasionally, yet very sparingly, he may do so. But his principal business is to “give the sense” of the English Bible and cause his hearers to “understand” its contents. His responsibility is to adhere strictly to that injunction,

“let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff of the wheat? saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:28).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The desire to please the congregation has caused a many minister to twist the scriptures

January 20, 2015 6 comments

Arthur PinkTo comply with what has just been said calls for an unbiased approach, an honest heart, and a spirit of fidelity, on the part of the interpreter.

“Nothing should be elicited from the text but what is yielded by the fair and grammatical explanation of its language” (P. Fairbaim). It is easy to assent to that dictum, but often difficult to put it into practice.

A personal shrinking from what condemns the preacher, a sectarian bias of mind, the desire to please his hearers, have caused not a few to evade the plain force of certain passages, and to foist on them significations which are quite foreign to their meaning. Said Luther, “We must not make God’s Word mean what we wish. We must not bend it, but allow it to bend us, and give it the honor of being better than we can make it.” Anything other than that is highly reprehensible. Great care needs ever to be taken that we do not expound our own minds instead of God’s. Nothing can be more blameworthy than for a man to profess to be uttering a “Thus saith the Lord” when he is merely expressing his own thoughts. Yet who is there who has not, unwittingly, done so?

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures


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