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The law of comparison and contrast

27. The law of comparison and contrast. While this rule is much less important to the expositor than many of the others, it is of deep interest; and though little is known, yet this principle is accorded a prominent place in the Word. And in view of what has been termed “the pair of opposites” which confront us in every sphere, it should occasion us no surprise to find this canon receiving such frequent illustration and exemplification in the Scriptures, and that in several ways. God and the Devil, time and eternity, day and night, male and female, good and evil, heaven and hell, are set one over against the other. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth has its two hemispheres, the northern and the southern. So also there are the Old and New Testaments, the Jew and the Gentile, and after the days of Solomon the former were split into two kingdoms; while throughout all Christendom we find the genuine possessor and the graceless professor. Whatever be the explanation, we are faced everywhere with this mysterious duality: the visible and the invisible, spirit and matter, land and sea, centrifugal and centripetal forces at work, life and death.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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Now it is obvious that if the temporal things lasted forever there could be no contrast between them and the things which are eternal

The connections in which the Holy Spirit has employed the word aionios leave no room whatever for any uncertainty of its meaning in the mind of an impartial investigator. That word occurs not only in such expressions as “eternal destruction,” “everlasting fire,” “everlasting punishment,” but also in “life eternal” (Matthew 25:46), “eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9), “eternal glory” (1 Peter 5:10); and most assuredly they are timeless. Still more decisively, it is linked with the subsistence of Deity:

“the everlasting God” (Romans 16:26). Again, the force and scope of the word are clearly seen in the fact that it is antithetical to what is of limited duration:

“the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Now it is obvious that if the temporal things lasted forever there could be no contrast between them and the things which are eternal. Equally certain is it that if eternal things be only “age long” they differ not essentially from temporal ones. The contrast between the temporal and the eternal is as real and as great as between the things “seen and unseen.” Again, in Philemon verse 15 aionios (rendered “for ever”) is set over against “for a season,” showing that the one is the very opposite of the other — “receive him for ever” manifestly signifies never banish or turn him away.

Before leaving this subject it should be pointed out that the absolute hopelessness of the condition of the lost rests not only on the fact that their punishment is said to be eternal, but on other collateral considerations which are equally final. There is not a single instance recorded in Scripture of a sinner being saved after death, nor any passage holding out any promise of such. On the other hand, there are many to the contrary.

“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1),

which would not be the case if, after “ages” in purifying fire, he was ultimately admitted into heaven. To His enemies Christ said, “ye… shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21) death would seal their doom. That is equally certain from those fearful words of His, “the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29), which excludes every ray of hope for their recovery in the next life. For the apostate “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).

“For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy” (James 2:13).

“Whose end is destruction” (Philippians 3:19). Therefore is it written at the close of Scripture,

“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still” (Revelation 22:11)

—as the tree falls, so will it forever lie.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

As a means for interpreting the Scriptures lexicons are greatly overrated…. To us it seems very unsatisfactory, yea, profane, to turn to heathen poets and philosophers to discover how certain Greek words were used

26. The origin of words. An enormous amount of time, research and study has been devoted thereto, and men of great erudition have embodied the results of their labor in volumes which are massive and expensive. Yet in the judgment of the writer they are far from possessing that value which has often been attributed to them, nor does he consider they are nearly as indispensable to the preacher as many have affirmed. Undoubtedly they contain considerable information of interest to etymologists, but as a means for interpreting the Scriptures lexicons are greatly overrated. A knowledge of the derivation of the words used in the original Scriptures cannot be essential, for it is unobtainable to the vast majority of God’s people. Moreover, the attempts to arrive at such derivations are often not at all uniform, for the best Hebraists are far from being agreed as to the particular roots from which various words in the Old Testament are taken. To us it seems very unsatisfactory, yea, profane, to turn to heathen poets and philosophers to discover how certain Greek words were used before they were given a place in the New Testament. But what is still more to the point, such a method breaks down before the Holy Spirit’s actual employment of various terms.

In view of what was said under the eighteenth canon of exegesis, we do not propose to write much on this one. Instead, we will confine ourselves to a single example, which illustrates the closing sentence of the preceding paragraph, and which will at the same time give the lie to an error which is very widespread today. Many of those who deny that the wicked will be punished everlastingly appeal to the fact that the Greek adjective aionios simply signifies “age lasting,” and that eis ton aiona (Jude 1:13) and eis aionas aionon (Revelation 14:11) mean “to the age” and “to the ages of ages” and “for ever” and “for ever and ever.” The simple reply is, Granted; yet that is nothing to the point at issue. True, those Creek expressions are but time terms, for the sufficient reason that the minds of the ancients were incapable of rising to the concept of eternity. Therefore the language employed by those who were destitute of a written revelation from God makes nothing either pro or con concerning the endlessness of the bliss of the redeemed or of the misery of the lost. In order to ascertain that we must observe how the terms are used in Holy Writ.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

For the purpose of impressiveness other declarations are introduced with the word “Behold”

For the purpose of impressiveness other declarations are introduced with the word “Behold”; “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1, and cf. 1 John 3:1).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

The importance of heeding the Divine emphasis in intimated in a number of ways

The importance of heeding the Divine emphasis in intimated in a number of ways. “The verily, verily” with which Christ prefaced some of His weightiest utterances. His use of the interrogative rather than the affirmative in such cases as

What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

so much more forceful than “It would profit a man nothing if,” etc. In order to call urgent attention to what He has just said, Christ’s “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear” is used again, with a slight variation, in each of His addresses to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. Several notable statements of Paul are prefaced with “This is a faithful saying.” When he explains the significance of Melchizedek he gives point to this principle:

first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace” (Hebrews 7:2, and cf. James 3:17)

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

In the Greek emphasis is indicated by the order of words in a sentence

In the Greek emphasis is indicated by the order of words in a sentence:

“Now of Jesus Christ the birth was on this wise” (Matthew 1:18);

“But commendeth His love toward us” (Romans 5:8).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Hebrew Parallelism

In the Old Testament many examples are found of what is called Hebrew parallelism, in which the same thought is expressed in different language. For instance,

“He shall judge the world in righteousness, He shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness” (Psalm 9:8).

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, and compare Isaiah 1:18). In other cases the truth is driven home by a contrast:

“The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but He blesseth the habitation of the just” (Proverbs 3:33, and 15:17).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures