Archive for the ‘Hermeneutics’ Category

Rehearsing the rules previously explained

September 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkIn enumerating, describing, and illustrating some of the laws or rules which are to govern the interpreter, we have already considered:

First, the need for recognizing and being regulated by the interrelation and mutual dependence of the Old and New Testaments.

Second, the importance and helpfulness of observing how quotations are made from the Old in the New: the manner in which and purposes for which they are cited.

Third, the absolute necessity for strictly conforming all our interpretations to the general Analogy of Faith: that each verse is to be explained in full harmony with that system of Truth which God has made known to us: that any exposition is invalid if it clashes with what is taught elsewhere in the Bible.

Fourth, the necessity of paying close attention to the whole context of any passage under consideration.

Fifth, the value of ascertaining the scope of each passage, and the particular aspect of Truth presented therein.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The interpreter’s job is to bring out the sense and not merely the sound of the Word

Arthur PinkCarelessness which would not be tolerated in any other connection is, alas, freely indulged in with the Bible. Artists who are most particular in selecting their colors when painting a natural object are often most remiss when assaying to portray a sacred one. Thus Noah’s ark is represented as having a number of windows in its sides, whereas it had but one, and that on the top! The dove which came to him after the flood had subsided is pictured with an olive branch instead of a “leaf” (Genesis 8:11) in its mouth! The infant Moses in the ark of bulrushes is depicted with a winsome smile on his face instead of tears (Exodus 2:6)! Let no such criminal disregard to the details of Holy Scripture mark the expositor. Instead, let the utmost care and pains be taken to ensure accuracy, by scrutinizing every detail, weighing each jot and tittle. The word for search the scriptures” (John 5:39) signifies diligently to track out, as the hunter does the spoor of animals. The interpreter’s job is to bring out the sense and not merely the sound of the Word.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The task of the interpreter is to determine, by strict exegetical investigation, the exact import of the words used by the Holy Spirit

August 18, 2015 2 comments

Arthur PinkThe task of the interpreter is to determine, by strict exegetical investigation, the exact import of the words used by the Holy Spirit, and, as far as he possibly can, give forth God’s thoughts in his own language. It is to ascertain and fix the exact meaning of the terms used in Holy Writ and scrupulously to avoid the interjection of his personal opinions. He must insert nothing of his own, but simply endeavor to give the real sense of each passage before him. On the one hand, he must not ignore, conceal, or withhold anything that is manifestly in it; on the other hand, he must not add to or twist anything therein to suit his own caprice. Scripture must be allowed to speak for itself, and it does so only so far as the preacher sets forth its genuine import. Not only is he to explain its terms, but also the nature of the ideas they express, otherwise he is apt to make use of scriptural terms and yet give them an unscriptural sense. One may discover with accuracy the meaning of each word in a passage, and yet, from some misconception of its scope or bias in his own mind, have a faulty apprehension of what the passage really teaches.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Every preacher must interpret the words in his text according to scriptural usage and not his preconceived ideas

Arthur PinkIn the preceding articles of this series it has been pointed out that 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 God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading,” and to do that the preacher must needs spend many hours every week in his study. Each word in his text must be given its precise and definite meaning according to its general scriptural usage (unless there be very clear intimation to the contrary in the passage before him), or otherwise it would be arbitrary license, and he would expound God’s oracles not by their own terms but by his own fancies or preconceived ideas. The laws of language must never be violated or the meanings of words changed to suit ourselves. We are not to evacuate the true force and import of any term, but to explain it on sound principles, and not by forced constructions or Jesuitical evasions.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The definition of the word “interpretation”

Arthur PinkTHE word “interpretation” has in this connection both a stricter or narrower meaning and a looser or wider one. In the former sense, it signifies to bring out the grammatical force of the passage; in the latter, to explain its spiritual purport. If the expositor confine himself rigidly to the technical rules of exegesis, though he may be of some service to the pedant, he will afford little practical help to the rank and the of God’s people. To discourse upon the chemical properties of food will not feed a starving man, neither will tracing out the roots of the Hebrew and Greek words (necessary though that be in its proper place) the better enable Christ’s followers to fight the good fight of faith. That remark connotes neither that we despise scholarship on the one hand nor that we hold any brief for those who would give free rein to their imagination when handling the Word of God. Rather do we mean that the chief aim of the expositor should be to bring together the Truth and the hearts of his hearers or readers, that the former may have a vitalizing, edifying, transforming effect upon the latter.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 2 Of how the scope or design of the passage matters in interpretation

July 28, 2015 1 comment

Arthur PinkAnother passage where inattention to its scope has resulted in false doctrine being drawn from it is 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. Appeal is frequently made to it in support of the dangerous delusion that there is a class of real Christians who have forfeited all “reward” for the future, having no good works to their credit; yet will enter heaven. Such a concept is grossly insulting to the Holy Spirit, for it implies that He performs a miracle of grace in the soul, indwells that person, yet that he brings forth no spiritual fruit. Such a grotesque idea is utterly contrary to the Analogy of Faith, for Ephesians 2:10, tells us that those whom God saves by grace through faith are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Those who walk not in good works are unsaved, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Scripture declares, “Verily there is a reward for the righteous” (Psalm 58:11), that “every [regenerated] man shall have praise of God” (1 Corinthians 4:5), which certainly could not be the case if some of them are but cumberers of the ground.

Not only is this erroneous interpretation highly dishonoring to God and at direct variance with the plain teaching of other scriptures, but it is refuted by the context. In order to understand 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, verses 1- 10—-must be heeded—so as to determine the subject which the apostle is treating. At the beginning of chapter 3 Paul returns to the charge he had made against the Corinthians in 1:11, where he reproved them for pitting one servant of God against another, with the resultant divisions—-the principal occasion of his writing to them. In 3:3, he points out that such conduct evinced their carnality. He reminds them that both himself and Apollos were “but ministers” (v. 5). He had merely planted and Apollos watered—-it was God who gave the increase. Since neither of them was “any thing” unless God deigned to bless his labors (v. 7), what madness it was to make an idol of a mere instrument! Thus it is clear, beyond any doubt, that the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 3 treat of the official ministry of God’s servants. It is plainer still in the Greek, for the word “man” occurs nowhere in the passage, “every man” being literally “every one,” i.e., of the particular class referred to.

The same subject is continued in verse 8, though there be diversity in the work of God’s servants (one evangelistic, another indoctrinating), yet their commission is from the same Master and their mutual aim the good of souls; therefore it is sinful folly to array one against or exalt him above another. Though Christ has distributed different gifts to His servants and allotted them a variety of ministry, “each shall receive his own reward.” The building itself is God’s, ministers being the workmen (v. 9). In verse 10 Paul refers to the ministerial “foundation” he had laid (see Ephesians 2:20), and what follows concerns the materials used by builders who came after him. If those materials (their preaching) honored Christ and edified saints, they would endure and be rewarded. But if instead the preacher used for his themes the increase in crime, the menace of the bomb, the latest doings of the Jews, etc., such worthless rubbish would be burned up in the Day to come and be unrewarded. Thus it is the materials used by preachers in their public ministrations, and not the walk of private Christians, which is here in view.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Example 1 how the scope or design of the passage matters in interpretation

Arthur PinkSometimes the key to a passage is to be discovered by observing in which part of a book it occurs. A pertinent example of this is found in Romans 2:6-10, which has been grievously wrested by not a few. The grand theme of that epistle is “the righteousness of God”—-stated in 1:16, 17. Its first division runs from 1:18, to 3:21, wherein the universal need for God’s righteousness is demonstrated. Its second runs from 3:21, to 5:1, in which the manifestation of God’s righteousness is set forth. Its third, the imputation of God’s righteousness: 5:1, to 8:39. In 1:18-32, the apostle establishes the guilt of the Gentile world, and in chapter 2 that of the Jew. In its first sixteen verses he states the principles which will operate at the Great Assize, and in verses 17-24 makes direct application of them to the favored nation. Those principles are as follows:

(1) God’s judgment will proceed on the ground that man stands selfcondemned (v. 1);
(2) it will be according to the real state of the case (v. 2);
(3) mercy abused increases guilt (vv. 3-5);
(4) deeds, not external relations or lip profession, will decide the issue (vv. 6-10);
(5) God will be impartial, showing no favoritism (v. 11);
(6) full account will be taken of the various degrees of light enjoyed by different men (vv. 11-15);
(7) the judgment will be executed by Jesus Christ (v. 16).

From that brief analysis (which exhibits the scope of the passage) it is quite evident that the apostle was not making known the way of salvation when he declared, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (vv. 6, 7). So far from affirming that fallen men could secure everlasting felicity by their own well-doing or obedience to God, his design was the very opposite. His purpose was to show what the holy Law of God required, and that that requirement would be insisted upon in the Day of Judgment. Since his depraved nature makes it impossible for any man, Jew or Gentile, to render perfect and continual obedience to the Divine Law, then the utter hopelessness of his case is made apparent, and his dire need to look outside himself unto the righteousness of God in Christ is plainly evinced.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures


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