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Comparison is useful also for the purpose of amplification

November 24, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkComparison is useful also for the purpose of amplification. Not only does one Scripture support and illuminate another, but very often one passage supplements and augments another. A simple yet striking example of this is seen in what is known as the Parable of the Sower, but which perhaps might be more aptly designated the Parable of the Seed and the Soils. The deep importance of this parable is intimated to us by the Holy Spirit in His having moved Matthew, Mark and Luke to record the same. The three accounts of it contain some striking variations, and they need to be carefully compared together in order to obtain the complete pictures therein set forth. Its scope is revealed in Luke 8:18: “Take heed therefore how ye hear.” It speaks not from the standpoint of the effectuation of the Divine counsels, but is the enforcing of human responsibility. This is made unmistakably clear from what is said of the one who received the seed into good ground—the fruitful hearer of the Word. Christ did not describe him as one “in whom a work of Divine grace is wrought,” or “whose heart had been made receptive by the supernatural operations of the Spirit,” but rather as he that received the Word in “an honest and good heart.” True indeed the quickening work of the Spirit must precede anyone’s so receiving the Word as to become fruitful (Acts 16:14), but that is not the particular aspect of the Truth which our Lord was here presenting; instead, He was showing what the hearer himself must seek grace to do if he is to bring forth fruit to God’s glory.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Scripture needs to be compared with Scripture for the purpose of elucidation

November 10, 2015 Leave a comment

Arthur PinkScripture needs to be compared with Scripture for the purpose of elucidation.

“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink; for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee” (Proverbs 25:21, 22).

The commentators are about equally divided between two entirely diverse views of what is signified by the figurative expression “coals of fire” being heaped upon the head of an enemy by treating him kindly: one class contending that it means the aggravating of his guilt, the other insisting that it imports the destroying of a spirit of enmity in him and the winning of his good will. By carefully comparing the context in which this passage is quoted in Romans 12:20, the controversy is decided, for that makes it clear that the latter is the true interpretation, for the spirit of the Gospel entirely rules out of court the performing of any actions which would ensure the doom of an adversary. Yet an appeal to the New Testament ought not to be necessary in order to expose the error of the other explanation, for the Law equally with the Gospel enjoined love to our neighbor and kindness to an enemy. As John tells us in his First Epistle, when inculcating the law of love he was giving “no new commandment,” but one which they had had from the beginning; but now it was enforced by a new example and motive (2:7, 8).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The value of comparing Scripture with Scripture appears in the corroboration which is afforded

Arthur PinkMore specifically. The value of comparing Scripture with Scripture appears in the corroboration which is afforded. Not that they require any authentication, for they are the Word of Him who cannot lie, and must be received as such, by a bowing unreservedly to their Divine authority. No,but rather that our faith therein may be the more firmly and fully fixed. As the system of double entry in bookkeeping provides a sure check for the auditor, so in the mouths of two or three witnesses the Truth is established.

Thus we find our Lord employing this method in John 5, making manifest the excuselessness of the Jews’ unbelief in His deity by appealing to the different witnesses who attested the same (vv. 32-39). So His apostle in the synagogue at Antioch, when establishing the fact of His resurrection, was not content to cite only Psalm 2:7, in proof, but appealed also to Psalm 16:10 (Acts 13:33-36). So too in his Epistles: a striking example of which is found in Romans 15, where, after affirming that “Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers,” he added, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy,” quoting Psalm 18:49, in proof; but since this was a controverted point among the Jews, he added further evidence—note his “And again” at the beginning of verses 10, 11, 12. So also “by two immutable things [God’s promise and oath]… we might have strong consolation” (Hebrews 6:18).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The principal subjects treated in the Scriptures are presented to us more or less piecemeal

Arthur PinkThe principal subjects treated in the Scriptures are presented to us more or less piecemeal, being scattered over its pages and made known under various aspects, some clearly and fully, others more remotely and tersely: in different connections and with different accompaniments in the several passages where they occur. This was designed by God in His manifold wisdom to make us search His Word. It is evident that if we are to apprehend His fully made known mind on any particular subject we must collect and collate all passages in which it is adverted to, or in which a similar thought or sentiment is expressed; and by this method we may be assured that if we conduct our investigation in a right spirit, and with diligence and perseverance, we shall arrive at a clear knowledge of His revealed will. The Bible is somewhat like a mosaic, whose fragments are scattered here and there through the Word, and those fragments have to be gathered by us and carefully fitted together if we are to obtain the complete picture of any one of its innumerable objects. There are many places in the Scriptures which can be understood only by the explanations and amplifications furnished by other passages.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The need of interpreting Scripture by Scripture

Arthur Pink6. The need of interpreting Scripture by Scripture. The general principle is expressed in the well-known words “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13), for while the preceding clause has reference more especially to the Divine inspiration by which the apostle taught, as the authoritative mouthpiece of the Lord, yet both verses 12 and 14 treat of the understanding of spiritual things, and therefore we consider that the last clause of verse 13 has a double force. The Greek word rendered “comparing” is used in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament again and again, to express the act of interpreting dreams and enigmas, and C. Hodge paraphrases “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” by “explaining the things of the Spirit in the words of the Spirit,” pointing out that the word “spiritual” has no substantive connected with it, and thus most naturally agrees with “words” in the former sentence. For these reasons we consider that 1 Corinthians 2:13, enunciates a most valuable and important rule for the understanding and interpreting of God’s Word, namely that one part of it is to be explained by another, for the setting side by side of spiritual things serves to illuminate and illustrate one another, and thereby is their perfect harmony demonstrated. Something more than a confused or vague knowledge of the Scriptures is to be sought after: the ascertaining that one part of the Truth is in full accord with other parts makes manifest their unity —as the curtains in the tabernacle were linked together by loops.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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

How to tell when Biblical authors are drawing conclusions to their previous arguments

Arthur PinkEvery verse beginning with the word “For” requires us to trace the connection: usually it has the force of “because,” supplying proof of a preceding statement. Likewise the expression “For this cause” and words like “wherefore and therefore” call for close attention, so that we may have before us the promise from which the conclusion is drawn. The widespread misunderstanding of 2 Corinthians 5:17, supplies an example of what happens when there is carelessness at this point. Nine times out of ten its opening “Therefore” is not quoted, and through failure to understand its meaning an entirely wrong sense is given to “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” That prefatory “therefore” indicates that this verse is not to he considered as a thing apart, complete in itself, but rather as closely connected with something foregoing. On turning back to the previous verse we find it too begins with the word “wherefore,” which at once shows that this passage is a didactic or doctrinal one, and neither a biographical one which delineates the experience of the soul nor a hortatory one calling unto the performance of some duty.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

When interpreting scripture pay close attention to context

Arthur Pink4. The need for paying close attention to the context is also a matter of first importance. Not only must each statement of Scripture be explained in full harmony with the general Analogy of Faith, but more specifically, in complete agreement with the plain sense and tenor of the passage of which it forms a part. That “plain sense” must be diligently searched for. Few things have contributed more to erroneous interpretations than the ignoring of this obvious principle. By divorcing a verse from its setting or singling out a single clause, one may “prove” not only absurdities but real falsities by the very words of Scripture. For instance, “hear the church” is not an exhortation bidding the laity submit their judgments unto clerics, but, as Matthew 18:17, shows, the local assembly must decide the issue when a trespassing brother refuses to be amenable to private counsel. As another has pointed out, “An ingenious and disingenuous mind can select certain detached verses of Scripture, and then combine them in the most arbitrary manner, so that while they indeed are all the very words of Scripture, yet at the same time, they express the thoughts of the compiler and not the Holy Spirit’s.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

No scripture is to be interpreted without regard to the relation in which it stands to other parts

PinkLet it, then, be settled in the mind of the expositor that no scripture is to be interpreted without regard to the relation in which it stands to other parts. Adherence to this fundamental rule will preserve from the wresting of many a verse. Thus, when we hear Christ saying, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), attention to His previous declaration, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:31), will preclude any idea that He was, in His essential person, in any wise inferior; therefore the reference in John 14:28, must refer to His mediatorial office, wherein He was subservient to the Father’s will. “Must,” we say, for the Son is none other than “the mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6), “the true God” (1 John 5:20). Again, such words as “be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16) must not be understood in a way that conflicts with “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7), but regarded as a symbolical “washing” only. “To reconcile all things unto Himself” (Colossians 1:20) cannot teach universalism, or every passage affirming the eternal punishment of the lost would he contradicted. 1 John 3:9, must be understood in a way consistent with 1 John 1:8.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

No doctrine is to be founded on a single passage

Arthur PinkNo verse is to be explained in a manner which conflicts with what is taught, plainly and uniformly, in the Scriptures as a whole, and which whole is set before us as the alone rule of our faith and obedience. This requires from the expositor not only a knowledge of the general sense of the Bible, but also that he takes the trouble to collect and compare all the passages which treat of or have a definite bearing upon the immediate point before him, so that he may obtain the full mind of the Spirit thereon. Having done that, any passage which is still obscure or doubtful to him must be interpreted by those which are clear. No doctrine is to be founded on a single passage, like the Mormons base on 1 Corinthians 15:29, their error of members of that cult being baptized for their ancestors; or as the papists appeal to James 5:14, 15, for their dogma of “extreme unction.” It is only in the mouths of two or three witnesses that any truth is established, as our Lord insisted in His ministry: John 5:31-39; 8:16-18. Care is to be taken that no important teaching is based alone on any type, figurative expression, or even parable; instead, they are to be used only in illustrating plain and literal passages.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures