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Several warnings which need to be heeded when interpreting words and phrases

Arthur PinkBefore stating several more rules which should direct the expositor, particularly those which relate more directly to the interpretation of words and phrases, let us mention several warnings which need to be heeded.

First, do not assume at the outset that all is plain and intelligible to you, for often the words of Scripture are used in a different and higher sense than they are in common speech. Thus it is not sufficient to be acquainted with their dictionary meaning: rather do we have to ascertain how they are used by the Holy Spirit. For example, “hope” signifies very much more in the Word of God than it does on the lips of men.

Second, do not jump to the conclusion that you have arrived at the meaning of a term because its force is quite obvious in one or two passages, for you are not in a position to frame a definition until you have weighed every occurrence of it. That demands much toil and patience, yet such are necessary if we are to be preserved from erroneous ideas.

Third, do not conclude that any term employed by the Spirit has one uniform signification, for that is far from being the case. The force of these cautions will be made the more apparent in the paragraphs that follow.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Every word in scripture has been selected by Divine wisdom and positioned with unerring precision

Arthur PinkGod’s Word then is made up of words, and each one in it is selected by Divine wisdom and positioned with unerring precision. It therefore behooves us to spare no pains in seeking to ascertain the exact meaning of each of its terms and most diligently to scrutinize the exact order in which they are placed, for the right understanding of a passage turns first upon our obtaining a correct understanding of its language. That should be so obvious as to require no argument, yet it is surprising how often that elementary principle is ignored and contravened.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The Lord Jesus repeatedly laid stress on the fact that Holy Writ is of Divine origin and verbally inspired

Arthur PinkThe Lord Jesus repeatedly laid stress on this aspect of the Truth. When making known to His disciples the fundamental requirements of their receiving answers to prayer, He said,

“If ye abide in Me [maintain a spirit of constant dependence upon and remain in communion with Him], and My words abide in you [forming your thoughts and regulating your desires], ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7)

—for in such cases they would request only that which would be for God’s glory and their own real good. Again, He declared,

“the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The expositor of scripture must keep in mind that the words of Holy Writ are of Divine origin and are verbally inspired

Arthur PinkIT is of first importance that the expositor should constantly bear in mind that not only are the substance and the sentiments expressed in Holy Writ of Divine origin, but that the whole of its contents are verbally inspired. Its own affirmations lay considerable emphasis upon that fact. Said holy Job,

“I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (23:12):

he not only venerated God’s Word in its entirety, but highly prized each syllable in it.

“The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6).

We believe that is more than a general statement concerning the preciousness, purity and permanence of what proceeds out of the mouth of Jehovah, for it is to be duly noted that the Divine utterances are not simply likened to silver tried in a furnace, but to “a furnace of earth.” Though the Holy Spirit has employed the vernacular of earth, yet He has purged what He uses from all human dross, giving some of His terms an entirely different force from their human original, investing many of them with a higher meaning, and applying all with spiritual perfection—as the “purified seven times” purports. Thus, “every word of God is pure” (Proverbs 30:5).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

God has supplied us with an unerring standard by which we may test every exercise of our reason upon His Word, namely the Analogy of Faith

Arthur PinkGod has supplied us with an unerring standard by which we may test every exercise of our reason upon His Word, namely the Analogy of Faith. And it is there that we have a sure safeguard against the wrong use of this faculty. Though it be true that very often more is implied by the words of Scripture than is actually expressed, yet reason is not a law unto itself to make any supplement it pleases. Any deduction we make, however logical it seems, any consequence we draw, no matter how plausible it be, is erroneous if it be repugnant to other passages. For example, when we read “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), we may conclude that sinless perfection is attainable in this life, but if we do so we err, as Philippians 3:12, and 1 John 1:8, show. Again, should I draw the inference from Christ’s words “no man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:44) that therefore I am in no wise responsible to come unto Him, that my inability excuses me, then I certainly err, as John 5:40, and other passages make clear.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

While the faculty of reason is vastly superior to our bodily senses nevertheless, it is greatly inferior to faith

Arthur PinkWhile the faculty of reason is vastly superior to our bodily senses (distinguishing man from and elevating him above the animals), it is greatly inferior to faith (the gift of God to His people), and that, in turn, to the Holy Spirit —upon whom we are dependent for the directing of the one and the strengthening of the other. There is much confusion of mind and not a little wrong thinking on the part of the saints concerning the place and extent which reason may and should have in connection with the Scriptures. Assuredly God has not subordinated His word to our reason for us to accept only what commends itself to our judgment. Nevertheless, He has furnished His people with this faculty, and though insufficient of itself it is a valuable aid in the understanding of Truth. While reason is not to be made the measurer of our belief, yet it is to be used as the handmaid of faith, by comparing passage with passage, deducing inferences and drawing consequences according to the legitimate laws of logic. Never is the faculty of reason so worthily employed as in endeavoring to understand Holy Writ. If on the one hand we are forbidden to lean unto our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), on the other we are exhorted to apply our hearts to understanding (Proverbs 2:2).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Augustine and Calvin frequently drew the inference that whatever be freely bestowed by God is something of which fallen man, considered in himself, is destitute

Arthur PinkThose who are familiar with the writings of Augustine and Calvin will have observed how frequently they drew the inference that whatever be freely bestowed by God is something of which fallen man, considered in himself, is destitute. It is an obvious deduction of reason, and a sure canon of exegesis, which is of simple and universal application, that everything which is graciously supplied in and by Christ is wanting in our natural condition. Thus, every verse which speaks of eternal life as a Divine gift, or which makes promise of it to those who believe, necessarily presupposes that we are without it, and therefore spiritually dead. So, too, the Christian’s receiving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:2; 4:6) takes it for granted that in their unregenerate condition they were without Him, having forfeited His indwelling presence by sin; the same being graciously restored to us by the mediation of Christ (John 7:39; Galatians 3:14). As the result of the fall, the Holy Spirit wa —in the exercise of Divine justice—withdrawn from the human heart, and in consequence it was left not only without a Divine inhabitant, but a prey of all those influences—natural, worldly, satanic which, in the absence of the Holy Spirit, inevitably draw the affections away from God; but at regeneration the Spirit is again given (Ezekiel 34:27).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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