Hermeneutics Course College Notes

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Hermeneutics Course College Notes Powered By Docstoc

Teacher: Pastor Mike Abendroth

Fall 2005, BBC

    I.      Introduction


What is New England Institute for Biblical Studies?

                    The New England Institute for Biblical Studies is a church-based Bible
                    institute. The New England Institute for Biblical Studies is a ministry of
                    Bethlehem Bible Church and operates under its authority. The New England
                    Institute for Biblical Studies bridges the gap between Sunday School/small
                    group Bible studies and Seminary training. Courses are taught at the Bible
                    college level and targeted to those involved in ministry at the local church. Our
                    desire is to equip the saints for the work of local church ministry.


New England Institute for Biblical Studies offers God’s people the opportunity for concentrated
Bible study at the local church. A complete program of study includes 12 core courses and
optional elective courses. Those completing the 12 core courses will receive a Certificate of
Completion from the New England Institute for Biblical Studies. Each New England Institute for
Biblical Studies course is seven weeks in length and the core courses will be offered once every
four years. Two tracks are offered allowing students to choose a preferred intensity level. The
higher level track includes supplemental reading and projects. Each class will include a lecture
given by the instructor. Questions are encouraged.

New England Institute for Biblical Studies course requirements typically include:

    1. Regular Attendance
    2. Completion of Required Reading
    3. Regular Quizzes & Term Papers

 Students can expect 3-5 hours of study per week. Normally, grades are issued on an A/B/C/fail
                basis at the end of each course. Audited courses are not graded.

    II.       Course Requirements

For “Standard” Students

    1. Attendance

           Dates of Sunday Classes – Sept 8-Oct 20; Thursday nights
           6:30pm - 8:30 pm (Sept 8, 15, 22, 29, Oct 6, 13, 20)
           - Please leave a message @ 508 835-3400 if you cannot attend a class

    2. Reading

              Required Text for Standard Class

                          Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy B. Zuck
                          How to Interpret the Bible for Yourself by Richard Mayhue
                          Knowing Scripture by R. C. Sproul

                          Reading pace:
                          - 7 weeks @ 85 pages per week or
                          - 49 days @ 12 pages per day

           Course Pack will be given to each student at Class #1 (to be purchased Sept. 8).

    Cost – payable to “BBC”

    3. Weekly Quizzes

    4. Short Papers (several)

    III.      Course Goals

              •   To help the student understand the basics in Bible interpretation.
              •   To assist the student in his/her own knowledge of the Bible and increase his/her
                  intimacy with the Savior, Jesus Christ.
              •   To ultimately help the student to be a doer of the Word.
              •   To help the student as he/she teaches others the Word

* This syllabus is more of a digest of information that I believe will be helpful for the student of
the Scriptures. I am indebted to Dr. Mike Vlach1 and Dr. Stephen Lewis (Chafer Theological
Seminary)2 for the majority of this information and much of the arrangement. I have basically
combined and edited their course syllabi. My contribution was including, deleting, or adding to
their massive leg work. In other words, I was simply the non-inspired redactor. ☺

Table of Contents

    I.      Syllabus
    II.     Intro to Hermeneutics
    III.    History of Interpretation
    IV.     Principles of Proper Interpretation
    V.      Appendix I – Reasons to study the Bible
    VI.     Appendix II – Study questions for I Timothy
    VII.    Appendix III – Exegetical Questions
    VIII.   Bibliography (Hermeneutics & Exegesis)

  Vlach, Mike. “Hermeneutics: Principles of Bible Interpretation”. and

    Introduction to Hermeneutics

I. What is hermeneutics?

•   Origin of term

 "The word hermeneutics is said to have had its origin in the name Hermes, the Greek god who
served as messenger for the gods. . . ." (Virkler, p. 15).

“The English word "hermeneutics" comes from the Greek verb "hermeneuo" and noun
"hermeneia." These words are ultimately sourced back to Hermes the Greek mythological god
who brought the messages of the gods to the mortals. He was responsible for communicating
what was beyond human understanding into a form that human intelligence could grasp. He was
also known as the god of science, inventions, speech, writing, literature and eloquence. He was
the messenger or interpreter of the gods, and particularly of his father Zeus. Thus the verb came
to refer to bringing someone to understanding of something in his language (thus, explanation) or
in another language (thus, translation). The English word "interpret" is used at times to mean
"explain" and at other times "translate." In its nineteen usages (both nouns and verbs) in the New
Testament, it is more frequently used in the latter sense, as the following illustrates” (Vlach).

  “Etymologically, hermeneutics took its origins from the Greek "god" Hermes, who brought
  messages from the "gods" to mortals. … Plato was the first to use the term
K H  U P QK H X W L N K           , as a technical term” (Berkhof, p. 11).

OT: The Bible uses the concept of “interpretation” in a different way. The Old Testament
generally uses the concept in reference to the interpretation of dreams (Ramm, Protestan, p. 10-

NT: The New Testament uses five forms with the basic meaning of “to translate” for
H  U P QK H L D   .

I. "Explanation"

"And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained ("diermeneusen") to them the
things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures" (Luke 24:27).

II. "Translation"

        A. Nouns

        1. "hermeneia"

                 I Corinthians 12:10, "the interpretation of tongues"
                 I Corinthians 14:26, "an interpretation"

        2. "diermeneutes"
                I Corinthians 14:28, "if there is no interpreter"

                 “The noun “exegesis” does not occur in the New Testament” (Vines 2-3).

        B. Verbs

        “The verb form, H  F J K H R P D L        , meaning “to lead out” is found in John 1:18
        where it says that Christ “exegeted” the Father to man. This means that Jesus revealed
        and explained the Father and His will to the human race” (Vines, pp. 2-3).

        1. "hermeneuo"

                 John 1:42, "Cephas, (which translated means Peter)"
                 John 9:7, "Siloam (which is translated, Sent)"
                 Hebrews 7:2, "by translation, king of righteousness"

        2. "diermeneuo"

                 Acts 9:36, "Tabitha (which translated is called Dorcas)"
                 I Corinthians 12:30, "all do not interpret it”
                 I Corinthians 14:5, "unless he interprets"
                 I Corinthians 14:13, "pray that he may interpret"
                 I Corinthians 14:27, "let one interpret"

        3. "methermeneuo"

                 Matthew 1:23, "Immanuel, which translated means, God with us."
                 Mark 5:41, "Talitha kum! (which translated means ...)"
                 Mark 15:22, "Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull"
                 Mark 15:34, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabahthani, which is translated . . "
                 John 1:38, "Rabbi (which translated means Teacher)"
                 John 1:41, "Messiah (which translated means Christ)"
                 Acts 4:36, "Barnabas ... (which translated means Son of Encouragement)"

•   A definition

"Hermeneutics is the science and art of Biblical interpretation. It is a science because it is guided
by rules within a system; and it is an art because the application of the rules is by skill, and not
by mechanical imitation." (Ramm, Protestant, p. 1)

"Hermeneutics is a science in that it can determine certain principles for discovering the meaning
of a document. . . . It is also an art . . . because principles or rules can never be applied
mechanically but involve the skill of the interpreter" (Ramm, Protestant, p. 11).

"Hermeneutics, therefore, is both a science and an art. As a science, it enunciates principles,
investigates the laws of thought and language, and classifies its facts and results. As an art, it
teaches what application these principles should have, and establishes their soundness by
showing their practical value in the elucidation of the more difficult scriptures. The
hermeneutical art thus cultivates and establishes a valid exegetical procedure" (Terry, p. 20).

“Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. It is “that branch of theology which defines the
laws applied by exegesis.” It determines the rules which are legitimate in the interpretative
process and those which are not. Considerable confusion has been introduced into modern-day
discussions of hermeneutics. Any effort to incorporate anything of an subjective nature or to
insist that objective interpretation is impossible must be soundly repudiated” (Thomas, p. 13).

"The science that teaches us the principles, laws, and methods of interpretation" (Berkhof, 11).

II. What is the difference between hermeneutics and exegesis?

“Hermeneutics is a set of principles. Exegesis is an implementation of valid interpretative
principles. Meaning is the truth intention of the author. Interpretation is an understanding of the
truth intention of the author” (Thomas, p. 27).

“Exegesis is the actual interpretation of the Bible, and hermeneutics consists of the principles by
which the meaning is determined” (Zuck, p. 20).

“Hermeneutics proper is not exegesis, but exegesis is applied hermeneutics” (Ramm, Protestant,
p. 11).

 “While hermeneutics will seek to describe the general and special principles and rules which are
useful in approaching the Biblical text, exegesis will seek to identify the single truth intention of
individual phrases, classes, and sentences as they make up the thought of the paragraphs,
sections, and ultimately, entire books. Accordingly, hermeneutics may be regarded as the theory
that guides exegesis; exegesis may be understood in this work to be the practice of and set of
procedures for discovering the author’s intended meaning” (Kaiser, p. 47).

“Exegesis can now be defined as the skillful application of sound hermeneutical principles to the
biblical text in the original language with a view to understanding and declaring the author’s
intended meaning both to the immediate and subsequent audiences… Proper exegesis will tell
the student what the text says and what the text means, guiding him to make a proper personal
application of it” (MacArthur, p. 29).

“Exegesis is concerned with actually interpreting the text, whereas hermeneutics is concerned
with the nature of the interpretive process. Exegesis concludes by saying, ‘This passage means
such and such’; hermeneutics ends by saying ‘This interpretive process is constituted by the
following techniques and pre-understandings”’ (Carson, pp. 22-23).

"Exegesis may be defined as the determination of the meaning of the biblical text in its historical
and literary contexts. . . . Exegesis is the actual interpretation of the Bible, and hermeneutics
consists of the principles by which the meaning is determined" (Zuck, pp. 19-20).

“… Hermeneutics sets down principles which govern the understanding of literature. These are
the rules by which a game is played. Rules do not constitute the action entailed in playing the
game, but rather govern the way the game is played. It is the same when comparing
Hermeneutics and Exegesis. The former discipline is theoretical in nature and has the latter as its
practical counterpart. The relationship between the two is, then, that Hermeneutics sets forth the
rules of interpretation and Exegesis applies them to the text” (Thomas, p. 15).

“The word exegesis finds its ultimate source in the Greek verb exhgeomai. This Greek word
is made up of two components, the combination of which means “lead out.” The literal sense of
the verb found in Greek lexicons includes such meanings as “lead” and “show the way.” The
metaphorical senses listed by various sources include “unfold,” “narrate,” “declare,” “interpret,”
“tell,” “report,” and “describe.” These latter meanings conceive of an intellectual type of leading
or a leading of the understanding” (Thomas, p. 11).

“This field of study consists of taking Biblical Introduction, the Biblical Languages, and
Hermeneutics and investigating what is their combined impact upon a given passage of
Scripture. In other words, Exegesis is the step in which the biblical text is interpreted” (Thomas,
p. 13).

Hermeneutics “stands in the same relationship to exegesis that a rule-book stands to a game. The
rule-book is written in terms of reflection, analysis, and experience. The game is played by
concrete actualization of the rule. The rules are not the game, and the game is meaningless
without the rules. Hermeneutics proper is not exegesis, but exegesis is applied hermeneutics”
(Ramm, Protestant, 11)

III. Why is proper Hermeneutics important?

A. So we can know what God has said

"This is the primary and basic need of hermeneutics: to ascertain what God has said in Sacred
Scripture; to determine the meaning of the Word of God. There is no profit to us if God has
spoken and we do not know what He has said. Therefore it is our responsibility to determine the
meaning of what God has given to us in Sacred Scripture" (Ramm, p. 2).

“Proper belief depends on it. As believers, we must make sure we are interpreting God's Word
accurately. We must do so in order to have correct views concerning salvation, Christian living
and our future hope” (Vlach).

2 Timothy 2:15 "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not
need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth."

B. So we can correctly apply what God has said

"We must know the meaning of the Bible before we can know its message for today. We must
understand its sense for then before we can see its significance for now" (Zuck, Basic, p. 10).

“Proper interpretation is essential to proper application. If we do not interpret properly, we may
end up applying the Bible incorrectly” (Vlach).

C. So we can avoid misinterpreting the Bible

“We do not want to be like those who are "adulterating the word of God" (2 Cor. 4:2). Nor do we
want to be like those who "distort" the Scriptures "to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16)”

D. Because the Bible is our sole authority

"Conservative Protestantism takes only the Bible as authoritative, there is no secondary means
of making clear the meaning of the Bible" (Ramm, p. 1). There is no back up plan.

“Unlike Roman Catholicism and other groups, our divine authority comes from the Bible. Thus,
there are no other authorities equal with the Bible that can interpret the Bible for us” (Vlach).

E. Because we are dealing with an ancient book

"The first five Old Testament books were written by Moses around 1400 B.C. The last book of
the Bible, Revelation, was written by the Apostle John around A.D. 90. So some of the books
were written about 3,400 years ago and the latest one was written about 1,900 years ago. This
suggests that in hermeneutics we must seek to bridge several gaps posed by our having such an
ancient book in our hands" (Zuck, pp. 15-16).

        Language gap

        “The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. To formulate rules to bridge this
        gap is one of the most important tasks of Biblical hermeneutics" (Ramm, p. 5).

        •   Time gap

        "Because of the extensive time gap between ourselves and the writers and initial readers
        of the Bible, a huge chasm exists. Since we were not there, we cannot talk with the
        authors and with the initial hearers and readers to discover firsthand the meaning of what
        they wrote" (Zuck, p. 16).

        “For example: Jonah's lack of concern for the Ninevites is better understood when we
        realize the extreme cruelty and sinfulness of the people of Nineveh” (Vlach).

        Cultural gap

        "There is also the culture-gap between our times and Biblical times which the translator
        and interpreter must bridge. Culture, in the anthropological sense, is all the ways and
        means, material and social, whereby a given people carry on their existence. Until we can
        recreate and understand the cultural patterns of the various Biblical periods we will be
        handicapped in our understanding of the fuller meaning of Scripture" (Ramm, p. 5).

        "Great differences exist between the way people in the Western world do things and think
        and the way people in Bible lands lived and thought. Therefore it is important to know
        the cultures and customs of peoples in Bible times. Often faulty interpretations stem from
        an ignorance of those customs" (Zuck, p. 16).

        Geographical gap

        "Most readers of the Bible today live thousands of miles from the countries where Bible
        events took place. The Middle East, Egypt, and the southern Mediterranean nations of
        present-day Europe were the places where Bible people lived and traveled. These extend
        from Babylon in present-day Iraq to Rome (and possibly Spain, if Paul traveled there).
        This geographical distance puts us at a disadvantage" (Zuck, p. 16).

F. So that we can teach it properly

It is difficult to teach something that you do not understand!

“If elephants can be trained to dance, lions to play, and leopards to hunt, surely preachers can be
trained to preach” attributed to Erasmus (Stott, p. 213).

“A solid hermeneutics is the root of all good exegesis and exegesis is the foundation of all truly
Biblical preaching” (Ramm, New Hermeneutics, p. 6).

How does this apply to laymen?

“Interpretation of Scripture is the cornerstone not only of the entire sermon preparation process,
but also of the preacher’s life. A faithful student of Scripture will seek to be as certain as
possible that the interpretation is biblically accurate” (Fasol, p. 41).

“… I assert that expository preaching is really exegetical preaching and not so much the
homiletical from of the message” (MacArthur, p. 29).

“The important thing is that the Scripture should be understood and explained, how it is
explained is secondary” T. H. L. Parker, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1971), 50.

IV. Qualifications For Hermeneutics

A. Must be born again (1 Cor. 2:14)

No one can fully comprehend the meaning of the Bible unless he is regenerate. The unsaved
person is spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:4) and dead (Eph. 2:2).

What is the Spirit’s role of illumination? He does not illumine the unregenerate.

B. Must have a high view of God's Word

C. Must have a prayerful attitude and humility

D. Must be objective

"The Bible student must also approach the Scriptures with sound judgment and reason, seeking
to be as objective in his approach to the Bible as possible, without coming to the Scriptures with
prejudice or preconceived notions" (Zuck, p. 25).

E. Must come to the Text with the desire to know what God said

                                   The History of Interpretation

I. The History of Interpretation

Why is history important?

A. The importance of knowing the History of Interpretation

"A knowledge of the history of biblical interpretation is of inestimable value to the student of the
Holy Scriptures. It serves to guard against errors and exhibits the activity and efforts of the
human mind in its search after truth and in relation to noblest themes. It shows what influences
have led to the misunderstanding of God's word, and how acute minds, carried away by a
misconception of the nature of the Bible, have sought mystic and manifold meanings in its
content" (Terry, p. 31).

        1. Learn from the mistakes of others "By observing the mistakes of those who have
        preceded us, we can be more aware of the possible dangers when we are similarly
        tempted. Santayana's adage that 'he who doesn't learn from history is bound to repeat it' is
        as applicable to the field of interpretation as it is to any other field" (Virkler, p. 48).

        2. “Balanced view of Church Fathers. Many great Christians (e.g., Origen, Augustine,
        Luther) understood and prescribed better hermeneutical principles than they practiced”

B. Two Schools of Interpretation

 "Throughout the centuries since God revealed the Scriptures, there have been a number of
approaches to the study of God's Word" (Virkler, p. 47).

II. Overview of the Schools in Historical Hermeneutics

A. The Literal School

"More orthodox interpreters have emphasized the importance of a literal interpretation, by which
they meant interpreting God's Word the way one interprets normal human communication."
(Virkler, p. 47)

“Gives to words the same meaning they would have in normal, ordinary usage” (Lewis).

"The literal method of interpretation is that method that gives to each word the same exact basic
meaning it would have in normal, ordinary, customary usage, whether employed in writing,

speaking or thinking. It is called the grammatical-historical method to emphasize the fact that the
meaning is to be determined by both grammatical and historical considerations" (Dwight
Pentecost, Things to Come, p. 9).

B. The Allegorical School

"The definition of the allegorical method is as follows: The allegorical method regards the literal,
grammatical, historical sense of a passage as a mere vehicle for getting underneath to a hidden
meaning which is deeper, more profound, and more spiritual" (Rosscup, p. 25).

“With the allegorical method, what the original writer of Scripture is trying to say is passed over
in search of a deeper and more spiritual meaning” (Vlach).

“Gives to words hidden and deeper meanings that were not intended by the original author”

III. Interpretation Throughout History

A. Jewish interpretation during the Old Testament Era

Ezra (ca. 445 B.C.)

"It is generally agreed by all students of the history of hermeneutics that interpretation began at
the time of the return of Israel from the Babylonian exile under Ezra as recorded in Nehemiah
8:1-8. Such interpretation was necessary, first of all, because of the long period in Israel's history
in which the Mosaic law was forgotten and neglected. . . . It was necessary, further, because the
Jews had replaced their native tongue with Aramaic while in exile. Upon their return the
Scriptures were unintelligible to them. It was necessary for Ezra to explain the forgotten and
unintelligible Scriptures to the people. It can hardly be questioned but that Ezra's interpretation
was a literal interpretation of what had been written" (Pentecost, p. 16).

        Neh 8:1 And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and
        they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel.
        Neh 8:2 Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen
        with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.
        Neh 8:3 And he read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning
        until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were
        attentive to the book of the law.
        Neh 8:4 And Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside
        him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah,
        Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand.
        Neh 8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people;
        and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
        Neh 8:6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while
        lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
        Neh 8:7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah,
        Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in
        their place.
        Neh 8:8 And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they
        understood the reading.

"Herein lies the recorded birth of literal Bible exegesis and the formal exposition of God's Word"
(Tan, The Interpretation, p. 41).

B. Jewish interpretation during the Intertestamental Era (400 B.C.—A.D. 10)

    1. The Rise of Letterism

    At first, the interpreters after Ezra kept to a normal, literal method of interpreting Scripture.
    However, as Paul Lee Tan said, "The splendid Bible study movement started under Ezra later
    deteriorated under the rabbis into a school which fanatically worshiped the bare letters of
    Scripture" (Tan, p. 41). This letterism placed undo focus on the letters of the words of
    Scripture. As a result the author's intended meaning was often overlooked and replaced by
    fanciful speculation.

        Critiquing Letterism

         "There is one major lesson to be learned from rabbinical exegesis: the evils of letterism.
        In the exaltation of the very letters of Scripture the true meaning of the Scriptures was
        lost" (Ramm, p. 48).

        "The Jewish rabbis did not really misuse the literal method. Literalism and letterism are
        two different things. . . . Letterism is the premature (not extreme) form of literalism. The
        interpreter who is properly conversant with the literal method of interpretation can never
        be too literal in interpreting God's Word" (Tan, p. 45).

    2. The School of Rabbi Hillel (70 B.C.—A.D. 10(?))

    "He set up seven hermeneutical rules by which the mass of Jewish traditions could be
    deduced from the Scripture. Although some of Hillel's rules were valid and sensible, most
    opened the floodgates to excessive allegorization" (Tan, p. 41).

        a. Ex: "'Eliezer' has the value of 318 in the Hebrew. Since Abraham also had 318
        servants, the rabbis interpreted this to mean that Eliezer was equal to all the rest of
        Abraham's servants" (Tan, p. 43).

        b. Ex: there must be 903 ways of dying because the Hebrew word for death in Psalm
        68:20 has a numerical value of 903 (Tan, p. 43).

        Psa 68:20 God is to us a God of deliverances; And to GOD the Lord belong escapes
        from death.

C. The Rise of Allegorism (B.C.)

        1. Greek Allegorists

        "It may seem strange to list. . . the Greek school, but this is necessary to understand the
        historical origins of allegorical interpretation. The Greeks were not concerned with the
        Sacred Scripture but with their own writings, and in this sense it is improper to classify

        them within the context of Biblical interpretation. But in that their allegorical method was
        adopted by both Jew and Christian they deserve this special attention" (Ramm, p. 24).

        "Greek philosophers while appreciating the ancient Greek writings of Homer (ninth
        century B.C.) And Hesiod (eighth century B.C.), were embarrassed by the immoral
        conduct and by the anthropomorphisms of the fanciful gods of Greek mythology in those
        writings. For instance Phadra fell in love with her stepson Hippolytus. Zeus had to defeat
        the three-headed Typhon. . . . How could the Greek philosophers revere these writings
        and at the same time accept the elements in their writings. . . . To get around this
        problem, the philosophers allegorized the stories, looking for hidden meanings
        underneath the literal writings. . . . The Greek writers in this way were using allegorizing
        for apologetic purposes, to keep the Greek poets from being ridiculed" (Zuck, pp. 29-30).

        2. Jewish Allegorists in Alexandria

        "Jews in Alexandria, Egypt were influenced by Greek philosophy. But they too faced a
        problem: How could they accept the Old Testament and also Greek philosophy,
        particularly that of Plato? Their solution was to do the same as the Greek philosophers
        themselves, namely, to allegorize the Old Testament. The Alexandrian Jews were
        concerned about anthropomorphisms and immoralities in the Old Testament, just as the
        Greek philosophers were embarrassed by those elements in Homer and Hesiod. Because
        of the many Greeks living in Alexandria, the Jews were readily influenced by them, and
        easily took up allegorizing the Old Testament as a way of accepting it along with Greek
        philosophy. They too saw this as a means of apologetics, a way to defend the Old
        Testament to the Greeks” (Vlach).

                 a. Exodus 15:3 "The Lord is a man of war."
                 b. Exodus 32:14: "And the Lord repented of the evil."
                 c. Lot's incest
                 d. Noah's drunkenness

    3. Philo

    "Philo (ca. 20 B.C.—ca. A.D. 54) is the best known Alexandrian Jewish allegorizer. He too
    was influenced by Greek philosophy, yet because of his piety as a Jew he sought to defend
    the Old Testament to Greeks and even more so, to fellow Jews. He was led to allegorize the
    Old Testament rather than always following a literal method of interpretation because of his
    desire to avoid contradictions and blasphemies. Philo stated that allegorizing is necessary to
    avoid seemingly unworthy statements of God, or seemingly contradictory statements in the
    Old Testament" (Zuck, p. 32).

    “For example, the seven-branched candelabrum represents seven planets, Abraham and Sarah
    represent the mind and virtue, Jacob's resting on the stone represents the self-disciplined
    soul” (Lewis).

    "As an exegete, Philo is an example of what not to do" (Mickelsen, p. 29).

D. Jesus' Interpretation of the Old Testament

“Jesus used the normal, literal method of interpreting the Old Testament Scriptures and not the
allegorical method. An examination of Jesus' use of the Old Testament shows: 1) He consistently
treated the historical narratives as straightforward records of fact. The allusions to Abel, Noah,
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David, for example, all seem to be intended and were understood as
references to actual people and historical events; 2) When Jesus made an application of the
historical record, He drew from the normal, as opposed to the allegorical, meaning of the text. He
showed no tendency to divide scriptural truth into levels—a superficial level based on the literal
meaning of the text and a deeper truth based on some derived mystical level; 3) Jesus denounced
the way the religious leaders had developed casuistic methods that set aside the very Word of
God they claimed to be interpreting and replaced it with their own traditions” (Vlach).

“The Scribes and Pharisees never accused Jesus of using any Scripture unnaturally or
Illegitimately” (Virkler, p. 54).

E. The Apostle's use of the Old Testament

“The apostles followed the Lord Jesus in interpreting the Old Testament literally. Though there
are times when the New Testament writers seem to modify the original meaning of the Old
Testament text or seem to use the Old Testament in unnatural ways, there can be no doubt that
on the whole, the apostles and New Testament writers interpreted the Old Testament normally”

"In conclusion, the vast majority of the New Testament references to the Old Testament
interpret it literally; that is, they interpret according to the commonly accepted norms for
interpreting all types of communication— history as history, poetry as poetry, and symbols as
symbols. There is no attempt to separate the message into literal and allegorical levels. The few
cases where the New Testament writers seem to interpret the Old Testament unnaturally can
usually be resolved as we understand more fully the interpretive methods of biblical times"
(Virkler, p. 58).

F. The Early Church Fathers Era (A.D. 100—500)

 "Despite the practice of the apostles, an allegorical school of interpretation dominated the
church in the succeeding centuries. This allegorization sprang from a proper motive—the desire
to understand the Old Testament as a Christian document. However, the allegorical method as
practiced by the church fathers often neglected completely the author's intended meaning and the
literal understanding of a text to develop speculations the author himself would never have
recognized" (Virkler, pp. 58-59).

"From these early church fathers it is obvious that while they may have started out well, they
were soon influenced by allegorizing" (Zuck, p. 33).

        1. The Alexandrian School (Allegorists)

                 a. The Epistle of Barnabas (Early 2nd century, spurious. Written probably by
                 some Alexandrian Christian influenced by Philo.)

                 Concerning the reference to the 318 servants of Abraham (Gen. 14:14), Barnabas
                 believed, "The Greek letter t stands for 300 and represents the cross, and the
                 letters I and e represent 10 and 8 respectively, and are the first two letters in
                 Iesous, the Greek word for Jesus. The 318 servants then become a type of Jesus
                 on the cross." (Zuck, p. 33)

                 Barnabas wrote, God "knows that I never taught to anyone a more certain truth."

                 b. Justin Martyr (ca. 100-164)

                 “Justin said the Old Testament is relevant to Christians by means of allegorizing.
                 He wrote, for example, that Leah represents the Jews, Rachel is the church, and
                 Jacob is Christ who serves both. When Aaron and Hur held up Moses's hands,
                 that represented the Cross” (Lewis).

                 c. Pantaenus (ca. 180)

                 “Teacher of the school at Alexandria, was the first to adopt the allegorical method
                 of interpretation” (Tan, p. 48).

                 d. Irenaeus of Smyrna and Lyons (ca. 130-202)

                 “He taught that Christ is the heart of the Scriptures and that unclear passages are
                 to be interpreted by clear ones. In opposing the Gnostics (Against Heresies) and
                 their fanciful interpretations he stressed that the Bible is to be understood in its
                 obvious, natural sense” (Lewis).

                 e. Clement of Alexandria (150-215)

                 Believed in five senses to Scripture (historical, doctrinal, prophetic, philosophical
                 and mystical). "Clement taught that all Scripture speaks in a mysterious language
                 of symbols" (Zuck, p. 35).

                         (1) Ex. The two fish Jesus used to feed the five thousand represent Greek

                         (2) Ex. The Mosaic Law prohibitions against eating swine, hawks, eagles
                         and ravens (Lev. 11:7, 13-19) represent respectively unclean lust for food,
                         injustice, robbery and greed (Vlach).

                 f. Tertullian of Carthage (ca. 160-220)

                 “Like Irenaeus, his typology bordered on allegorizing. For example, in Genesis
                 1:2 the Spirit's hovering over the waters refers to baptism, and Christ was
                 teaching pacifism when He told Peter to put away his sword” (Lewis).

                 g. Origen (ca. 185-254)

                 "He believed that Scripture is one vast allegory in which every detail is symbolic"
                 (Virkler, p. 60).

                 "Origen so ignored the literal, normal meanings of Scripture that his allegorizing
                 became unusually excessive. As one writer stated, it was 'fantasy unlimited'"
                 (Zuck, p. 37).

                 “He saw a threefold meaning in Scripture (literal, moral, and spiritual/allegorical)
                 based on the Septuagint rendering of Proverbs 22:20-21, "Do thou thrice record
                 them . . . that thou movest answer with words of truth." This threefold sense is
                 also suggested in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 by the body (literal), soul (moral), and
                 spirit (allegorical)” (Lewis).

                         (1) Ex. Noah represents Christ, Noah's Ark represents the Church.

                         (2) Ex. The two donkeys used in Christ's triumphal entry represent the Old
                         and New Testaments.

                         (3) Ex. Rebekah's drawing water at the well for Abraham's servant means
                         we must daily come to the Scriptures to meet Christ (Vlach).

                 h. Augustine (354-430)

                 "Augustine modified allegorism by confining it to the prophetic Scriptures. That
                 is, he interpreted the non-prophetic Scriptures literally and the prophetic
                 Scriptures allegorically" (Tan, p. 50).

                 “In his work On Christian Doctrine (De Doctrina Christiana), written in 397,
                 Augustine developed the principle of "the analogy of faith," by which he meant
                 that no interpretation is acceptable if it is contrary to the general tenor of the rest
                 of Scripture. He held to a fourfold interpretation of Scripture: historical,
                 aetiological, analogical, and allegorical. And yet he stressed only two meanings:
                 the "signum" (the sign) and the "res" (the thing)” (Lewis).

                 Famous poem:

                 “The letter shows us what God and our fathers did;
                 The allegory shows us where our faith is hid;
                 The moral meaning gives us rule of daily life;
                 The anagogy shows us where we end our strife.”

                         (1) Father of Amillennialism

                         "Augustine is best known among students of prophecy as the father of
                         amillennialism. His view of the millennium was incorporated into Roman
                         Catholic theology. Augustine rejected the literal millennium as too

                         materialistic and carnal, and taught that 'the millennium is to be
                         interpreted spiritually as fulfilled in the Christian Church'" (Tan, p. 50).

                         (2) Abuse of 2 Cor. 3:6

                         "He justified allegorical interpretation by a gross interpretation of 2 Cor.
                         3:6 ['the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life']. He made it to mean that the
                         spiritual or allegorical interpretation was the real meaning of the Bible;
                         the literal interpretation kills. For this experimental reason Augustine
                         could hardly part with the allegorical method" (Ramm, p. 35).

                         (3) “In the Fall the fig leaves are hypocrisy, the covering of skin is
                         mortality, and the four rivers are Four cardinal virtues. Noah's
                         drunkenness represents Christ in His suffering and death. The teeth of the
                         Shulamite in Song of Solomon 4:2 are the church "tearing men away from
                         heresy"” (Lewis).

                 i. Jerome (347-419)

                 "Originally followed Origen in his allegorizing." (Zuck, p. 38).

                 Later he became more literal though he still held to a deeper meaning of
                 Scripture. "It becomes clear from these late church fathers that Jerome and
                 Augustine paved the way for two emphases that were to endure for more than a
                 thousand years—allegorization and church authority" (Zuck, p. 41).

        2. The Antiochian School (Literalists)

        "Sensing the rampant disregard for the literal meaning of the Scriptures in the
        Alexandrian Fathers, several church leaders in Antioch of Syria emphasized historical,
        literal interpretation" (Zuck, p. 37)

        ". . . this school of interpreters stood like a Gibraltar amidst a shifting sea of allegorism."
        (Tan, p. 51).

        "The exegetical principles of the Antiochian school laid the groundwork for modern
        evangelical hermeneutics" (Virkler, p. 62).

        “They approached the Bible with a literal historical method of interpretation and they
        stressed the study of Hebrew and Greek and wrote commentaries” (Lewis).

                 a. Doroetheus (240-312)

                 "Helped prepare the way for the founding of the school at Antioch of Syria"
                 (Zuck, p. 37).

                 b. Lucian (died 312) Founder of the School at Antioch.

                 c. Diodorus (died 393) He wrote, What is the Difference between Theory and
                 Allegory. This work refuted allegorical interpretation.

                 d. Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428) The greatest interpreter of the Antiochian
                 school. He wrote, On Allegory and History against Origen and asked, “If Adam
                 were not really Adam how did death enter the human race?” He was also called
                 "the prince of ancient exegetes."

                 e. John Chrysostom (354-407) The greatest expositor of the early church era.

                 "Chrysostom is unquestionably the greatest commentator among the early fathers
                 of the church" (Terry, p. 649).

                 “His works contain about 7,000 quotations from the Old Testament and about
                 11,000 from the New. He wrote commentaries on most of the Old Testament
                 books, and on the epistles of Paul” (Lewis).

                 f. Theodoret (386-458)

                 His commentaries were "among the best specimens of ancient exegesis" (Zuck, p.
                 37; Terry, p. 650).

        What happened to the school of Antioch?

        "Unfortunately, one of the students of the school, Nestorius, became involved in a major
        heresy concerning the person of Christ. His association with the school, together with
        other historical circumstances, led to the eventual demise of this promising school of
        thought. The hermeneutical historian Farrar sighs over the demise of the school:
        'Unhappily for the Church, unhappily for any real apprehension of Scripture, the
        allegorists, in spite of protest, were completely victorious. The School of Antioch was
        discredited by anathemas'" (Tan, p. 52).

G. The Middle Ages (500—1500)

"Little original scholarship was done during the Middle Ages; most students of Scripture devoted
themselves to studying and compiling the works of the earlier Fathers. Interpretation was bound
by tradition, and the allegorical method was prominent" (Virkler, p. 63).

“The Middle Ages was a vast desert so far as biblical interpretation is concerned …There was no
fresh, creative thinking about the Scriptures themselves" (Mickelsen, p. 35).

        1. Fourfold sense of Scripture Augustine's fourfold sense of Scripture became the norm
        for biblical interpretation— literal, allegory, moral and anagogy.

            a. Ex. Jerusalem

            "The city of Jerusalem can be used to illustrate this idea. Literally, Jerusalem refers to
            the historical city itself; allegorically, it refers to the church of Christ; morally, it

            indicates the human soul; and anagogically (eschatologically) it point to the heavenly
            Jerusalem" (Virkler, p. 63).

            b. Ex. Genesis 1:3— "Let there be light.

            “Medieval interpreters interpreted this verse to mean 1) literally—an act of creation;
            2) allegorically—Let Christ be love; 3) morally—May we be mentally illumined by
            Christ; 4) anagogically— May we be led by Christ to glory” (Tan, p. 53).

        2. Church's role in interpreting the Bible

        "During this period the principle was generally accepted that any interpretation of a
        biblical text must adapt itself to the tradition and doctrine of the church. The source of
        dogmatic theology was not the Bible alone, but the Bible as interpreted by church
        tradition" (Virkler, p. 63).

        3. Important figures

                 a. Gregory the Great (540-604)

                 "The beginning of the Middle Ages is usually identified with Gregory the Great,
                 the first pope of the Roman Catholic Church" (Zuck, pp. 41-42).

                 “He justified allegorizing by stating, "What are the sayings of the truth if we do
                 not take them as food for the nourishment of the soul? ... Allegory makes a kind
                 of machine for the soul far off from God by which it can be raised up to Him"
                 (Exposition of the Song of Songs). In the Book of Job, Gregory saw the three
                 friends are heretics, Job's seven sons are the twelve apostles, the 7,000 sheep are
                 innocent thoughts, the 3,000 camels are rich and vain notions, the 500 pair of
                 oxen are virtues, and the 500 donkeys are lustful inclinations” (Lewis).

                 b. Venerable Bede (673-734) Works largely allegorical.

                 “For example, in the parable of the prodigal son, the son is worldly philosophy,
                 the father is Christ, and the father's house is the church” (Lewis).

                 c. The Cabbalists in Europe and Palestine (late medieval)

                 “Practiced letterism to the point of absurdity. They believed that every letter of
                 the Bible had supernatural significance” (Vlach).

                 d. Stephen Langton (ca. 1155-1228)

                 "Archbishop of Canterbury, held that spiritual interpretation is superior to literal
                 interpretation. Therefore in the Book of Ruth, the field is the Bible, Ruth
                 represents students, and the reapers are the teachers" (Zuck, p. 48).

                 e. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

                 “He held that the literal meaning of Scripture is basic, but that other senses are
                 built on it including the allegorical” (Zuck, p. 43).

                 “Aquinas, best known for his major work, Summa Theologia, was greatly
                 influenced by Aristotle. He was the architect of the theology which became the
                 basis for the theology of the Roman Catholic church. He held that the literal
                 meaning is basic, but that other senses are built on it. Since the Bible has a divine
                 author as well as human authors, he argued, it has a spiritual sense. "The literal
                 sense is that which the author intends, but God being the Author, we may expect
                 to find in the Scripture a wealth of meaning." "The things signified by the words
                 (the literal sense) may also signify other things (the spiritual sense)" (Lewis).

                 f. The Victorines

                 Three men, Hugo (1097-1141), Richard (died 1173) and Andrew (died 1175),
                 were known as "the Victorines." They held to a literal sense of Scripture and were
                 "a bright light in the Dark Ages" (Zuck, p. 42).

                 “The Victorines insisted that the mystical or spiritual sense could not be truly
                 known until the Bible had been literally interpreted . . . This emphasis on the
                 literal carried over into an emphasis on syntax, grammar, and meaning, True
                 interpretation of the Bible was exegesis, not eisegesis” (Ramm, Protestant, p.51).

                 g. Nicholas of Lyra (1279-1340)

                 “Is a significant figure in the Middle Ages because he is a bridge between the
                 darkness of that era and the light of the reformation. Though Nicholas accepted
                 the fourfold sense of Scripture common in the Middle Ages, he had little regard
                 for it and stressed the literal. Martin Luther was strongly influenced by Nicholas”

                 h. John Wycliffe (1330-1384)

                 "Wrote that 'all things necessary in Scripture are contained in its proper and literal
                 sense'" (Zuck, p. 44).

                 “He has been called "the morning star" of the Reformation” (Vlach).

                 “He proposed several rules or Bible interpretation: Obtain a reliable text,
                 understand Scripture's logic, compare parts of Scripture with each other, maintain
                 a humble, seeking attitude so that the Holy Spirit can instruct (The Truth of Holy
                 Scripture, 1377, pp. 194-205)” (Lewis).

H. The Reformation (1500's)

"Although historians admit that the West was ripe for the Reformation due to several forces at
work in European culture, nevertheless there was a hermeneutical reformation which preceded
the ecclesiastical Reformatio" (Ramm, pp. 51-52).

"The Reformers built on the literal approach of the Antiochene school and the Victorines" (Zuck,
p. 44).

        1. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

        "Luther stressed the literal sense of the Bible. He wrote that the Scriptures' are to be
        retained in their simplest meaning ever possible, and to be understood in their
        grammatical and literal sense unless the context plainly forbids' (Luther's Words, 6:509)"
        (Zuck, p. 45).

                 a. Luther's view of allegorization

                 Luther himself wrote, "when I was a monk, I was an expert in allegories. I
                 allegorized everything. But after lecturing on the Epistle to the Romans I came to
                 have knowledge of Christ. For therein I saw that Christ is no allegory and I
                 learned to know what Christ is."

                 He also wrote, "Allegories are empty speculations and as it were the scum of Holy
                 Scripture." "Origen's allegories are not worth so much dirt." "To allegorize is to
                 juggle with Scripture." "Allegorizing may degenerate into a mere monkeygame."
                 "Allegories are awkward, absurd, invented, obsolete, loose rags" (quoted by
                 Farrar, History of Interpretation, p. 328).

                 b. Back to the originals

                 Luther's stress on literal interpretation ("sensus literalis") led to emphasis on the
                 original languages.

                 "We shall not long preserve the Gospel without the languages. The languages are
                 the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained" (Luther's Works, 4:114-

                 c. Bible can be understood

                 “Luther strongly believed that every Christian could study and understand the
                 Bible for himself. He also stated that "a layman who has Scripture is more than
                 Pope or council without it" (Vlach).

                 “In his "Analogia Scripturae" ("analogy of faith") he, like Augustine, said that
                 obscure passages are to be understood in light of the clear passages. "Scripture is
                 its own interpreter," he said. Every devout Christian can understand the Bible.
                 "There is not on earth a book more lucidly written than the Holy Scripture"
                 (Exposition of the 37th Psalm)” (Lewis).

                 d. Church authority not equal to Bible

                 “Luther also maintained that the Church should not determine what the Scriptures
                 teach, but rather the Scripture should determine what the church teaches” (Vlach).

                 e. Not always consistent

                 “Though Luther was vehemently against allegorization he occasionally did it
                 himself. Luther believed Noah's Ark was an allegory of the church” (Vlach).

        2. Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560)

        “Luther's companion and a scholar in Hebrew and Greek. He, for the most part, followed
        the literal method of interpretation” (Vlach).

        "His calm judgment and cautious methods of procedure, qualified him for preeminence in
        biblical exegesis" (Terry, p. 674).

        3. John Calvin (1509-1564)

        “Calvin was probably the greatest exegete of the Reformation era. Like Luther, Calvin
        rejected allegorical interpretations” (Vlach).

        John Calvin said, "It is the first business of an interpreter to let his author say what he
        does say, instead of attributing to him what we think he ought to say" (Tan, p. 54).

        “Calvin is known as "one of the greatest interpreters of the Bible." Like Luther, Calvin
        rejected allegorical interpretations (he said they are "frivolous games" and that Origen
        and many others were guilty of "torturing the Scripture, in every possible sense, from the
        true sense"), and stressed the Christological nature of Scripture, the grammatical-
        historical method, exegesis rather than eisegesis, the illuminating ministry of the Holy
        Spirit, and a balanced approach to typology. Calvin had an extensive knowledge of the
        Scriptures, as evidenced by the fact that his Institutes include 1,755 quotations from the
        Old Testament and 3,098 from the New” (Lewis).

        4. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

        “In his break from Catholicism, he preached expository sermons (many of them on the
        Gospels). In his "Sixty-Seven Theses" in 1523 he wrote that "all who say that the Gospel
        is nothing without the approval of the Church err and cast reproach upon God." He
        emphasized the importance of interpreting Bible passages in light of their contexts.
        Pulling a passage from its context "is like breaking off a flower from its roots." In
        discussing the role of the Spirit's illuminating ministry he states that "certainty comes
        from the power and clarity of the creative activity of God and the Holy Spirit"” (Lewis).

        5. William Tyndale (1494-1536)

        “Tyndale stressed the literal meaning of the Bible. According to him, "Scripture has but
        one sense, which is the literal sense" (Vlach).

        6. Anabaptists (1525 ff.)

        “They too stressed a literal interpretation of the Bible” (Vlach).

        7. Summary of Reformation Era

        "The gift of the Protestant reformers to the Christian church consists not only in an open
        Bible but also in the literal method of interpreting the Bible. Unfortunately, however, the
        reformers refused to be involved in the issue of prophetic interpretation, and so the whole
        of Protestantism went the way of Roman Catholic amillennialism by default. This
        omission of the reformers is probably explainable by the fact that truths such as
        justification by faith and the problems of ecclesiology were claiming the immediate
        attention of the reformers as the latter sought to sift through the Roman debris" (Tan, p.

        The Backlash to the Reformation

        Council of Trent (1546-1562)

        A. “The Roman Catholic Church reacted to the Protestant Reformation by its own inner
        reforms known as the Counter Reformation, which culminated in the affirmations of the
        Council of Trent. This Council affirmed that the Bible is not the supreme authority, but
        that truth is "in written books and in unwritten traditions." Those traditions include the
        church fathers of the past and the church leaders of the present” (Lewis).

        B. “The Council also affirmed that accurate interpretation was possible only by the
        Church, the giver and protector of the Bible, not by individuals. "No one--relying on his
        own skill shall--in matters of faith and words pertaining to the edification of Christian
        doctrine--wresting the sacred Scriptures to his own senses, presume to interpret it
        contrary to that sense which the holy Mother Church ... hath held and doth hold; or even
        contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers" (Lewis).

I. Post-Reformation (1600-1799)

"The 200 years of the 17th and 18th centuries were noted for several influential movements and
activities" (Zuck, p. 49).

        1. Confessionalism

        "After the death of John Calvin (1564), the immediate post-Reformation period was an
        age of creeds and the formulation of various theological systems. The Council of Trent
        delineated the proper bounds of Roman Catholic theology and the Protestant churches
        came out in kind with theological statements. With the emphases of the age on creeds and
        church interpretations, there was little progress in sound Scriptural interpretation.
        Nevertheless, after the Reformation, the literal method was firmly established as the

        proper method of Bible exegesis, and a large number of scholars and exegetes arose to
        follow in the footsteps of the reformers" (Tan, p. 54).

                 a. The Westminster Confession (1647)

                 “Approved by the English Parliament in 1647 and by the Scottish Parliament in
                 1649, this confession spelled out the tenets of Calvinism for Britain. On the
                 Scriptures it stated, "The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the
                 Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full
                 sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold but one), it must be searched and
                 known by other places that speak more clearly" (Lewis).

                 b. Francis Turretin (1623-1687)

                 “Turretin taught theology at Geneva and, like Calvin, taught that the Scriptures
                 are inerrant and authoritative and stressed the importance of the original text.
                 These points are included in his work Institutio Theologiae Elenctiacae (1614).
                 In his discussion of Scripture in this work he discussed four major aspects of
                 Scripture: its necessity, authority, perfection, and perspicuity” (Lewis).

                 c. Jean-Alphonse Turretin (1648-1737)

                 “Jean-Alphonse, the son of Francis, wrote De Sacrae Scripturae Interpretandae
                 Methodo Tractatus (1728) in which he stressed these points pertaining to
                 grammatical-historical exegesis:

                         (1) Scripture is to be interpreted like any other book.

                         (2) The interpreter must give attention to words and expressions.

                         (3) The objective of the exegete is to determine the purpose of the author
                         in the context.

                         (4) The interpreter should use the natural light of reason (in this he
                         followed his father who followed Aquinas on the place of reason) and
                         should allow nothing contradictory in the Scriptures.

                         (5) The "opinions of the sacred writers" must be understood in terms of
                         their own times (i.e., the cultural and historical background should be
                         considered” (Lewis).

                 d. Johann A. Ernesti (1707-1781)

                 Ernesti, a classical scholar, is called by Terry "probably the most distinguished
                 name in the history of exegesis in the eighteenth century" (p. 707).

                 According to Hagenbach (quoted by Terry, p. 707), Ernesti taught that "the Bible
                 must be rigidly explained according to its own language, and, in this explanation,

                 it must neither be bribed by any external authority of the Church, nor by our own
                 feeling, nor by a sportive and allegorizing fancy-- which had frequently been the
                 case with the mystics--nor, finally by any philosophical system whatever."

                 Ernesti argued that grammatical exegesis has priority over dogmatic exegesis and
                 that literal interpretation was preferred over allegorical exegesis (Ramm, p.59).

                 “His Principles of New Testament Interpretation (1761) was a textbook on
                 hermeneutics for more than a hundred years. He maintained the thesis that the
                 shills and tools of classical studies were basic to New Testament exegesis”

                 e. Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609)

                 “This Dutch theologian rejected a number of teachings of John Calvin and
                 sparked the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debates” (Vlach).

        2. Pietism

        “Pietism arose as a reaction to the dogmatic and often bitter exegesis of the
        confessional period. Pietists called for an end to needless controversies and a return to
        Christian concern and good works” (Vlach).

                 a. Positively

                 “Pietists combined a deep desire to know God's Word and apply it to
                 one's life. Some pietists actually had a fine appreciation for the grammatical-
                 historical approach to interpretation” (See Virkler, p. 68).

                 b. Negatively

                 "Many later Pietists discarded the grammatical-historical basis of
                 interpretation and depended instead on an 'inward light' or 'an unction from the
                 Holy One.' These expositions based on subjective impressions and pious
                 reflections, often resulted in interpretations which contradicted one another and
                 had little relationship to the author's intended meaning." (Virkler, p. 68)

                 "It falls prey to allegorization especially in the use of the Old Testament. In the
                 effort to find a spiritual truth or application of a passage of Scripture the literal
                 and therefore primary meaning of the passage is obscured; Devotional
                 interpretations may be a substitute for the requisite exegetical and doctrinal
                 studies of the Bible" (Ramm, pp. 62-63).

        3. Rationalism

        "This movement stressed that the human intellect can decide what is true and
        false. The Bible, then, is true if it corresponds to man's reason, and what does not
        correspond can be ignored or rejected" (Zuck, p. 51).

        “Thus man's reason stands in authority over the Bible. The Bible is only to be believed
        when it harmonizes with what man deems reasonable to accept. As a result, doctrines
        such as human depravity, hell, the virgin birth, and the resurrection are rejected.
        Rationalism in regard to the Bible dates back to Hobbes (1588—1679) and Spinoza
        (1632—1677)” (Vlach).

J. Modern Hermeneutics (1800 to the Present)

        1. Liberalism (19th century)

        “Whereas in previous centuries revelation had determined what reason ought to think, by
        the late 1800s reason determined what parts of revelation (if any) were to be accepted as
        true" (Virkler, p. 69).

        With liberalism came the following:

                 a. Overemphasis on human authors

                 The Bible is a human book as opposed to a divine one. "Influenced by both the
                 thinking of Darwin and of Hegel, the Bible came to be viewed as a record of the
                 evolutionary development of Israel's religious consciousness (and later the
                 church's), rather than God's revelation of Himself to man" (Virkler, p. 70).

                 b. Denial of inspiration

                 "For many inspiration no longer referred to the process whereby God guided the
                 human authors to produce a Scriptural product that was His truth. Rather,
                 inspiration referred to the (humanly produced) Bible's ability to inspire religious
                 experience" (Virkler, p. 70).

                 “Historical accounts in the Bible were often taken to be in error” (Vlach).

                 c. Subjectivism

                         (1) Friedrich D. E. Schleiermacher (1768-1834)

                         “Schleiermacher denied the supernatural character of inspiration and
                         rejected the authority of the Bible and stressed the place of feeling and
                         one's self-consciousness (subjectivism) in religion. This was in reaction to
                         rationalism and formalism. Many religions are in the world and
                         Christianity is not the truest” (Lewis).

                         (2) Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

                         “This Danish philosopher, known as "The father of modern
                         existentialism," related reason to the lowest level of human operation,
                         rejected Christendom and its formal rationalism and cold creedalism, and

                         taught that faith is a subjective experience in one's moment of despair”

                 d. Historical criticism

                 "In the 19th century, biblical criticism became prominent. It was rationalistic in
                 its approach with its emphasis on the human authorship of the Bible and the
                 historical circumstances surrounding the development of the biblical text. Being
                 rationalistic, Bible students rejected the supernatural character of the Bible and its
                 inspiration." (Zuck, p. 52)

                         (1) Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893)

                         “In Essays and Reviews Jowett wrote that the Bible is to be
                         interpreted "like any other book," and that this required knowing the
                         original languages. However, to him this meant that the Bible is not
                         supernatural for it has "a complicated array of sources, redactors, and
                         interpolators" which make it no different "from any other literary
                         production”” (Lewis).

                         (2) F. C. Baur (1792-1860)

                         “According to Bauer, the founder of the "Tubigen School," Christianity
                         developed gradually from Judaism into a world religion. Influenced by
                         Hegel (thesis, antithesis, synthesis) he taught that Peter and Paul directed
                         two antagonistic groups but they were finally synthesized in the ancient
                         catholic church” (Lewis).

                         (3) David F. Strauss (1808-1874)

                         “Strauss took a mythological approach to the Bible, which resulted in his
                         denying grammatical-historical interpretation and miracles. Strauss was
                         the first to carry out a consistent "Demythologization" of the Gospels”

                         (4) Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918)

                                  a) “He developed the view of Karl Graf and called it the
                                  Documentary Hypothesis. This views the Pentateuch as being
                                  compiled by different authors--an author, designated as J,
                                  compiled the sections in the Pentateuch that use the name
                                  "Jehovah," the E compiler put together the Elohim sections, D was
                                  the Deuteronomist, and P, the latest, represents the Priestly code”

                                  b) “He believed that in Old Testament history the people
                                  developed from polytheism to animism to monotheism” (Lewis).

                 e. Rejection of hell, six-day creation, virgin birth, and miracles

                 f. Jesus not a Savior from sin but a moral and ethical teacher

        2. Neoorthodoxy (20th century)

        "Neoorthodoxy is a twentieth-century phenomenon. It occupies, in some respects, a
        position midway between the liberal and orthodox views of Scripture. It breaks with the
        liberal view that Scripture is only a product of man's deepening religious awareness, but
        stops short of the orthodox view of revelation. Those within neoorthodox circles
        generally believe that Scripture is man's witness to God's revelation of Himself. They
        maintain that God does not reveal Himself in words, but only by His presence. When a
        person reads the words of Scripture and responds to God's presence in faith, revelation
        occurs. Revelation is not considered to be something that happened at a historical point in
        time which is now transmitted to us in the biblical texts, but is a present experience that
        must be accompanied by a personal existential response" (Virkler, p. 71).

                 a. A comparison

                         (1) Orthodox interpreters says the Bible is the Word of God;

                         (2) Liberals deny the Bible is the Word of God;

                         (3) Neoorthodoxy says the Bible becomes the Word of God when it speaks
                         to you (Vlach).

                 b. Karl Barth (1886—1968)

                 Barth is known as the father of neoorthodoxy.

                 c. Beliefs

                 "Neoorthodox theologians deny the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. The
                 Creation of the universe, the creation of man, the Fall of man, the resurrection of
                 Christ, and His second coming are interpreted mythologically. The Fall is a myth
                 that teaches that man corrupts his moral nature. The Incarnation and the cross
                 teach us that the solution to the problem of human guilt must come from God.
                 These events happened on a different level of history, a mythological level in
                 contrast to actual history" (Zuck, p. 54).

                 “In his Commentary on Romans in 1919 reacted strongly to dead liberalism. He
                 stressed that the Bible is not a human document, that God is transcendent not
                 immanent, and that man is a sinner” (Lewis).

        3. The New Hermeneutic (1940—present)

        “The 'new hermeneutic' has been primarily a European development since World War II
        and is usually attributed to Rudolf Bultmann (1884—1976) and Ernest Fuchs. With the

        "new hermeneutic," the biblical text can mean whatever the reader wants it to mean. The
        new hermeneutic also rejects the Bible as propositional truth and denies its supernatural
        elements. According to adherents of this view, the Bible must be "demythologized." This
        means all "myths" (i.e. supernatural elements) must be stripped away in order to find the
        transcendent spiritual truths. For example, Jesus did not literally rise from the dead.
        Instead, His resurrection speaks of the new freedom His disciples experienced” (Vlach).

        “Rudolph Bultmann, born in 1884, under the influence of Heidegaer's existentialism,
        teaches that the New Testament should be understood existentially by
        "demythologization," that is, by eliminating from it those mythological "foreign"
        elements (e.g., miracles, including the resurrection of Christ) which are unacceptable
        today. This existential approach (getting to the religious-experience core of the Bible) is
        the basis of what is today called "the new hermeneutic," promoted by Hans G. Gadamer,
        Ernst Fuchs, and Gerhard Ebeling” (Lewis).

        4. Literal Hermeneutic

        In spite of all of the shifts away from the grammatical-historical method, there are still
        many who practice this method. This will be discussed in detail in this syllabus.

IV. Conclusion of the History of Interpretation

“This review of the history of hermeneutics shows us how essential it is that we
stay committed to the historical-grammatical approach to interpreting the Bible. Only by this
method can we understand the Word of God correctly” (Vlach).

                        The Basis for the Literal Method of Interpretation

1. Remember the Nature of the Bible

The Bible — Divine and Human

A. Bible as a human book

“Though the Bible is of supernatural origin, it is still a book. As such it was written in languages
that were intended to communicate specific meanings to its readers. The writers of the Bible,
therefore, used signs or symbols on the pages for the purpose of communicating ideas to
someone else. The following are some logical inferences or corollaries that stem from the fact
that the Bible was written by human beings” (Vlach):

        1. Each word, sentence, paragraph and book of the Bible was recorded
        in a written language and followed normal, grammatical meanings,
        including figurative language.

        "This suggests that the Bible was not written in unintelligible code to be deciphered by
        some magical formula. Since it was written in the languages of the people (Hebrew,
        Aramaic, Greek), it did not have to be decoded, deciphered, or translated. Those who
        read the Bible did not need to read into, beyond, or between words for some 'deeper' or
        other-than-normal meaning. . . . The words were immediately understandable. The
        readers knew immediately the concepts being conveyed by the sentences in the Bible.
        They understood them in the way they would normally understand other sentences
        written in their languages. They did not need to call on a wizard, sorcerer, or a person
        with unusual spiritual insight or mystic intuition to convey its meaning" (Zuck, p. 62).

        2. Each book of the Bible was written by someone to specific readers in
        a specific historical, geographical situation for a specific purpose.

        “Since the books of the Bible were written to people who lived in certain locations and
        times we must first seek to understand what the words meant to those initial readers
        before we can know how they apply to us today. Thus we must always ask, "What did
        this passage mean to the original readers?"” (Vlach).

        3. The books of the Bible are influenced by the cultural environment in
        which each writer wrote.

        4. The books of the Bible must be understood according to the context
        they were written in.

        5. The books of the Bible must be understood according to the literary
        form in which it was written.

B. Bible as a divine book

“Though the Bible is a book, it is a unique book in that God is its divine author (2 Tim. 3:16; 2
Pet. 1:21)” (Vlach).

        1. Without error (inerrant)

        “Since the Bible has God as its divine author, it is a fair inference that it is without error
        as originally given” (Vlach).

        2. A unity

        “Since God is the author, we know that the Bible cannot contradict itself. The Analogy of
        Faith principle says there is one unified, consistent, harmonious system of faith (belief) in
        the Bible. Thus no passage of Scripture, when interpreted correctly, will contradict
        another passage” (Vlach).

                 a. Seeming contradictions need to be interpreted in light of the harmony of

                 “James statement in 2:24 that "a man is justified by works" does not contradict the
                 rest of the Bible which clearly declares that salvation is by faith alone (Rom. 4;
                 Eph. 2:8-9). James' point is that works justify, or make evident to other people,
                 that one is truly saved. The justification referred to in Rom. 4:1-5 refers to the
                 judicial act by which God declares a person righteous before God” (Vlach).

                 b. Obscure and secondary passages need to be interpreted in light of clear
                 and primary passages.

                         (1) Ex. Is there a second chance?

                         “Baptism for the dead in 1 Cor. 15:29 cannot mean that a second chance
                         exists for those who die in unbelief. Passages like Hebrews 9:27 and Luke
                         16:19-31 make clear that one's eternal fate is sealed at the time of death”

                         (2) Ex. Future for Israel.

                         “When Jesus said, "the kingdom of God will be taken from you. . ." (Mt.
                         21:43) this does not mean that God no longer has a future for Israel.
                         Romans 11:26 states that "all Israel will be saved"” (Vlach).

                 c. Recognize the progress of revelation

                 “The Progress of Revelation principle states that later Scriptures add to what God
                 has given in earlier portions. These additions add to and supplement previous
                 revelation; they never contradict earlier revelation. Progress of Revelation also
                 means some commands given earlier were changed later” (Vlach).

                         Ex. Prophecy

                         “The book of Revelation adds to the prophetic revelation given in Daniel,
                         Ezekiel and Zechariah” (Vlach).

                         Ex. Afterlife

                         “Heaven and Hell are more fully described in the New Testament than
                         they are in the Old Testament” (Vlach).

                         (3) Ex. Trinity

                         “The Trinity is presented in a fuller way in the New Testament” (Vlach).

                         (4) Ex. Kingdom presentation

                         “Jesus' command to avoid Gentile and Samaritan cities was made at a time
                         when the kingdom of God was still being presented exclusively to the
                         nation of Israel. After Israel's clear rejection of their Messiah, the Gospel
                         was then to be taken to "all the nations" (Matt. 28:19)” (Vlach).

                         (5) Dietary restrictions

                         “Leviticus 11 details what foods were unclean and thus not to be eaten.
                         But in Mark 7:19 it is stated that Jesus "declared all foods clean." Plus, in
                         Acts 10:15 a voice declared to Peter, "What God has cleansed, no longer
                         consider Unholy”” (Vlach).


“Since the Bible is the Word of God it has inherent authority. We must be diligent to learn what
it says and apply it to our lives” (Vlach).

2. Strive for Authorial Intent

A. The Concept

"Hermeneutics may be regarded as the theory that guides exegesis; exegesis may be understood. be the practice of and the set of procedures for discovering the author's intended meaning"
(Kaiser, p. 47).

"Surely the meaning resides in what the author intended by the passage as opposed to what the
readers may take it to mean to them" (Norman Geisler, "The Relation of Purpose and Meaning
in Interpreting Scripture." p. 1).

The latest trend is called “reader-response theory.” It puts too much stress on the what the
interpreter thinks the text means to them.

B. Foundational Theoretical Principles (from Norman Geisler and Duane Litfin, from a joint
statement entitled "Principles of Communication.")

        1. Persons mean things by words, words have no meaning in themselves.

                 a. There is no meaning without a meaner.

                 b. A series of words has meaning only if some person means something by them
                 (Parrots do not mean anything by their sentences; persons can mean something
                 with the same sentences).

        2. The locus of meaning is in the propositions, not in the persons who affirm them.

                 a. Persons cause meaning, but propositions constitute meaning.

                 b. The locus of meaning for the interpreter is the author's meaning expressed in
                 the text.

C. Why We Must Emphasize Authorial Intent

Sandra M. Schneiders, summarizing the ideas of a leading spokesman for the New Hermeneutic,
Paul Ricoeur: "The text becomes, in Ricoeur's terms, semantically independent of the intention
of its author. It now means whatever it means, and all that it can mean, regardless of whether or
not the author intended that meaning. Indeed, as Ricoeur points out, the intention of the author is
no longer available to us in any case. Furthermore. . . it is of the very nature of truly great texts to
be characterized by a certain excess of meaning that could not have been part of the intention of
the author." ("The Paschal Imagination: Objectivity and Subjectivity in New Testament
interpretation," Theological Studies, March, 1982, p. 59.)

"If individual speakers or writers are not sovereign over the use of their own words, and if
meaning is not a return to how they intended their own words to be regarded, then we are in a
most difficult situation" (Kaiser, p. 47).

"The task of interpreters of the Bible is to find out the meaning of a statement (command,
question) for the author and for the first hearers or readers, and thereupon to transmit that
meaning to modern readers" (Mickelsen, p. 5).

“The Term “grammatical-historical interpretation” was used originally by Karl A. B. Keil. The
term “grammatical,” however, is somewhat misleading in our ears today, for normally we mean
the arrangement of words and the construction of sentences. But Keil did not have this meaning
in mind when he used the term. Instead, he had in mind the Greek word gramma, which

approximates what we would mean by the term “literal” (to use a synonym derived from Latin).
Keil’s grammatical sense was what we would call the simple, direct, plain, ordinary, natural, or
literal sense of the phrases, clauses, and sentences. Keil’s use of “historical” meant that the
interpreter had to consider these words in relation to the time, circumstances, events, and persons
in that historical period in which the author wrote. Thus, the grand object for Keil, as it is for us,
was to ascertain the usus loquendi, that is, the specific use of the words, as they were employed
by the writer under consideration and/or as prevalent in the day and age in which he wrote.”
Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker,
2003). 52.


Clinton Lockhart3

Rules of interpretations are based upon Corollaries formed from two (2) axioms.



1. Each Biblical writing was written by someone to specific hearers or readers
in a specific historical-geographical situation for a specific purpose.
2. Each Biblical writing was couched in the cultural setting of the times in
which it was written.
3. Each Biblical writing was recorded in a written language and followed
normal grammatical meanings including figurative language.
4. Each Biblical writing was accepted or understood in the light of its context.
5. Each Biblical writing took on the nature of a specific literary form (genre).
6. Each Biblical writing was understood in account with the basic principles of
logic and communication.



1. The Bible contains MYSTERY
Only supernatural can answer: Prophecy, Parables, Miracles, Doctrine
2. The Bible contains UNITY
It will not contradict itself (all fits together).
It often interprets itself (study all of it).
Its obscure and secondary passages are to be interpreted in light of clear and
primary passages.
3. The Bible contains PROGRESSION


Progressive revelation (from partial to complete).

EXERCISE - Clinton Lockhart (True or False)

1. The true object of speech is the impartation of thought. ________

2. The true object of interpretation is to apprehend the exact thought of the author. ________

3. Language is a reliable medium of communication. ________

4. Usage determines the meaning of words. ________

5. Two writers do not independently express thought alike. ________

6. Every writer is influenced by his environment. ________

7. An author's purpose determines the character of his production. ________

8. Any writing is liable to modification in copying, translating, and the gradual change
of a living tongue. ________

9. By one expression one thought is conveyed, and only one. ________

10. The function of a word depends on its association with other words. ________

11. A correct definition of a word substituted for the word itself will not modify the
meaning of the text. ________

12. One of two contradicting statements must be false, unless corresponding terms have
different meanings or applications. ________

13. Truth must accord with truth; and statements of truth apparently discrepant can be
harmonized if the facts are known. ________

14. An assertion of truth necessarily excludes that to which it is essentially opposed and
no more. ________

15. Every communication of thought, human and divine, given in the language of men,
is subject to the ordinary rules of interpretation. ________

─ Clinton Lockhart, Principles of Interpretation, 2nd ed. (Fort Worth: S. H. Taylor,
1915), pp. 18-31.

3. Use the Grammatical-Historical Approach

A. Defined

"To 'interpret' means to explain the original sense of a speaker or writer. To interpret 'literally'
means to explain the original sense of the speaker or writer according to the normal, customary
and proper usages of words and language. Literal interpretation of the Bible simply means
explaining the original sense of the Bible according to the normal and customary usages of its
language" (Tan, p. 29).

“The meaning of each word is determined by grammatical and historical considerations”

"The aim of grammatico-historical method is to determine the sense required by the laws of
grammar and the facts of history" (Kaiser, Toward An Exegetical Theology, 87).

“Grammatical affirms that these textually based meanings are expressed within the limits of
common language usage. Language is polysemic, which means that any word or phrase or even
any sentence is capable of multiple senses. These limits may be difficult to discern, but they still
exist in theory and remain a legitimate aspect of hermeneutical study and interpretive goals”

“Historical affirms that these textually based meanings refer, depending on their textual usage, to
either historical or heavenly realities, to either natural or spiritual subjects. Moreover, we can
look for allusions and references to situational meanings of the time when the piece was written”

B. Usage

        1. Grammatical Interpretation (Words)

        “The process of determining the exact meaning of something written by ascertaining the
        meaning of words (lexicology), the form of words (morphology), the function of words
        (parts of speech), and the relationships of words (syntax)…In "grammatical
        interpretation" we seek to note how the lexical-syntactical context or setting influences
        our interpretation” (Lewis).

        a. Meaning of Words (Lexicology) (From Lewis):

                 (1) Etymology--How words are derived and developed.

                 (2) Usage ("usus loquendi")--How words are used by the same and
                 other writers.

                 (3) Synonyms and Antonyms--How similar and opposite words are

                 (4) Context--How words are used in certain environments.

        b. Form of words (Morphology) and Function of words (Parts of Speech)-- How words
        are structured and what those forms do.

        c. Relationships of words (Syntax)--How words are related or put together to form
        phrases, clauses, and sentences.

                 (1) Phrases
                 (2) Clauses
                 (3) Sentences
                 (4) Word order and repetition


        A. Procedure in Discovering the Meaning of a Word

                 1. Discover the etymology of the word.

                 2. Discover the usage of the word.

                         a. By the same writer in the same book.
                         b. By the same writer in other books.
                         c. By other writers in the Bible.
                         d. By other writers (contemporary and otherwise) outside the Bible.

                 3. Discover how synonyms and antonyms are used.

                 4. Consider the context.

                         a. The immediate context.
                         b. The context of the paragraph or chapter.
                         c. The context of the book.
                         d. The context of parallel passages.
                         e. The context of the entire Bible.

                 5. Decide which one of several possible meanings best fits the thought of the

        B. Procedures for Discovering the Meaning of a Sentence

                 1. Analyze the sentence and its elements, noting its parts of speech, the kind of
                 sentence it is, the kinds of clauses it has, and the word order.

                 2. Discover the meaning of each key word (see the five points above under "A")
                 and how they contribute to the meaning of the sentence.

                 3. Consider the influence of each part of the sentence on the thought of the whole.

        2. Historical Interpretation (Background/Culture)

        “The process of determining the time in which a writing took place, by analyzing the total
        cultural environment of the times, and the factors and circumstances involved in the
        writing such as the author, readers, date, place, occasion, and purpose, and how those
        factors influence the meaning of the text…In "historical interpretation" we seek to note
        how the historical-cultural context or setting influences our interpretation” (Lewis).

        Dr. Raymond Surburg lists the following presuppositions used by the historical-
        grammatical method as summarized:

            •    The Bible in its entirety is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.
            •    Only the text in the original languages is the determinative one.
            •    The Bible is the supreme and final authority in all theological matters.
            •    The literal meaning is the usual and normal one.
            •    The autographic text is the authoritative one and since errors have crept into the
                 transmission of the text, it is necessary to practice textual criticism.
            •    As literary documents, the Bible is a proper place for literary criticism to answer
                 isogogical questions about individual books.
            •    The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are one complete revelation of God
                 and are not to be separated.
            •    The Scriptures are to be used to interpret Scripture.
            •    The autographic texts are inerrant and do not contain errors or contradictions.
            •    The Holy Spirit is the true interpreter of the Bible.
            •    The Holy Scriptures are profitable "for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and
                 for training in righteousness." (Surburg, pp. 278-288).

        3. Normal Interpretation

        "The principle might also be called normal interpretation since the literal meaning of
        words is the normal approach to their understanding in all languages" (Charles Ryrie,
        Dispensationalism, p. 80).

        4. Plain Interpretation

        "It might also be designated plain interpretation so that no one receives the mistaken
        notion that the literal rules out figures of speech. Symbols, figures of speech, and types
        are all interpreted plainly in this method, and they are in no way contrary to literal
        interpretation" (Ryrie, pp. 80-81).

        "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore,
        take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the
        immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and
        fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise" (David L. Cooper).

        5. Oneness of meaning

        "This principle means that a biblical text has one basic proper meaning or interpretation,
        not two or three. There is one correct interpretation, but after it is ascertained we may

        make several legitimate applications of its relevance to our own lives or the lives and
        situations of other people" (Rosscup, Hermeneutics, p. 60).

C. Defended

There are three significant reasons for holding to the literal method:

    1. Philosophically

    "The purpose of language itself seems to require literal interpretation. Language was given
    by God for the purpose of being able to communicate with mankind…If God is the originator
    of language and if the chief purpose of originating it was to convey His message to humanity,
    then it must follow that He, being all-wise and all-loving, originated sufficient language to
    convey all that was in His heart to tell mankind. Furthermore, it must also follow that He
    would use language and expect people to understand it in its literal, normal and plain sense"
    (Ryrie, p. 81).

    2. Biblically

    "A second reason why dispensationalists believe in the literal principle is a biblical one: the
    prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the first coming of Christ— His birth, His
    rearing, His ministry, His death, His resurrection— were all fulfilled literally" (Ryrie, p. 81).

    3. Logically

    "If one does not use the plain, normal, or literal method of interpretation, all objectivity is
    lost. What check would there be on the variety of interpretation that man's imagination could
    produce if there were not an objective standard, which the literal principle provides? To try to
    see meaning other than the normal one would result in as many interpretations as there are
    people interpreting. Literalism is a logical rationale" (Ryrie, p. 82).

4. Avoid These Errors When Interpreting the Bible

A. Do not make the Bible say what you want it to say

B. Do not spiritualize the text

“To spiritualize (or allegorize) is to go beyond the plain meaning of the passage in search of a
deeper or hidden meaning. The danger with this method is that there are no checks for fanciful
interpretation. The only standard becomes the mind of the interpreter. Stick to the intended
meaning of the text” (Vlach).

        1. Ex. Isaiah and Football?

        “Vineyard Pastor and Promise Keepers board member, James Ryle, makes connections
        between the Colorado Buffaloes football team and the book of Isaiah. He says the Holy
        Spirit told him to turn to Isaiah 21:6 after his team, Colorado, lost the national

        championship when they were beaten by Notre Dame 21-6 in the 1990 Orange Bowl.
        After Colorado's tough loss, the Holy Spirit also revealed to him that God would "reach
        out His hand a second time" according to Isaiah 11:11. This supposedly was fulfilled
        when Colorado, the next season, beat Notre Dame and won the national championship.
        According to Ryle, Isaiah 11:11 also was related to Colorado's 11-1-1 win, loss and tie
        record (see James Ryle, Hippo in the Garden (Orlando, FL: Creation House, 1993), pp.
        77, 182-83)” (Vlach).

        2. Ex. Joel 2:23 Early and Latter Rains

        “Joel 2:23 and its reference to "early" and "latter" rains has been used as a basis for the
        Latter Rain Movement. Supposedly, the "early rain" in this verse refers to the pouring out
        of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the "latter rain" refers to the outpouring of the Spirit in
        the twentieth century. However, Joel 2:23 is addressed to the nation Israel not the
        Church. This passage addresses Israel's future in the millennial kingdom. Plus, the early
        and latter rains mentioned are referring to literal, seasonal rains and not the outpouring of
        the Holy Spirit. What is the real point of Joel 2:23? When Israel is restored to their land
        in the millennium, God will send the proper autumn and spring rainfall for their crops”

        3. Ex. Song of Solomon

        “Many have taken the Song of Solomon to refer to Christ's love for His church. This is an
        unwarranted interpretation. The Song of Solomon is about the greatness of marital love.
        There is nothing in this song that speaks of Christ or the Church, nor is there any NT
        evidence that indicates this song should be taken in any other way than about marital
        love” (Vlach).

                 a. Ex. Rose of Sharon and lily of the valley (SOS 2:1)

                 “These have nothing to do with Christ. Instead, this passage refers to the young
                 Shulamite comparing herself with tender flowers” (Vlach).

                 b. Ex. His banner over me is love (2:4)

                 “This often used phrase of children's songs and banquet halls does not refer to
                 Christ but to Solomon's protective care of his bride” (Vlach).

C. Do not prooftext

“Prooftexting is stringing together an inappropriate or inadequate series of Bible verses to prove
one's theology” (Vlach).

"Put another way—it is enticing, but wrong, to form one's theology apart from a complete
inductive study of Scripture. It is wrong, having done this, to start looking for biblical texts that
seem to support our conclusions, all without carefully interpreting the text to which we appeal"
(Mayhue, p. 75).

        1. Ex. The "Name it and claim it error."

        “The Prosperity movement loves to quote John 14:14, "If you ask Me anything in My
        name, I will do it." They interpret this verse to mean that we can claim by faith whatever
        we want (ex. car, riches, etc.) as long as we tack on "in Jesus name" at the end of our
        request. They do not stress that to pray "in Jesus name" means to pray according to what
        Jesus desires not what we selfishly crave. Plus other texts reveal that answered prayer is
        based on praying according to God's will (1 John 5:14-15); praying with an obedient
        heart (1 John 3:22) and praying with right reasons and not selfish motives (James 4:1-3)”

        2. Ex. The homosexual movement error

        "The gay community's prooftexting their sinful (not alternative) life-style from the Bible
        marks another major error. They misinterpret selected texts to make their point [i.e.
        David and Jonathan's friendship in 1 Samuel 19:1; 20:41]. Then they ignore clear
        Scriptures that unquestionably prohibit homosexuality, such as Leviticus 20:13; Romans
        1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; and 1 Timothy 1:9-10" (Mayhue, p. 78).

        3. Ex. The hyper-Calvinist error

        Often, John 3:16, and other passages, are interpreted in light of an extreme theological
        system, in this case, hyper-Calvinism. They then interpret “the world,” as the elect
        instead of humanity in general.

D. Do not isolate texts from their context (isolationism)

"Closely associated with prooftexting, yet somewhat different, is isolationism. This occurs when
we fail to interpret a single Scripture text in light of its context. We isolate the Scripture from its
immediate literary surroundings." (Mayhue, p.80).

        1. Ex. Matt. 18:19-20

        "How many times have you heard someone claim an answer to prayer by quoting
        Matthew 18:19-20? 'Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything
        that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where
        two or three are have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.' If you
        look carefully at the verses, you will note that they are inseparably linked to Matthew
        18:15-18. The two or three gathered have not assembled to pray but rather to enact
        church discipline" (Mayhue, p. 80).

        2. Ex. James 1:5 and Divine Revelation

        “Mormonism's roots reach back to 1820 when Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism,
        supposedly received direct revelation after reading James 1:5, "But if any of you lacks
        wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and
        it will be given to him." Smith allegedly was visited by God and told not to join any
        existing church "for they were all wrong" (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith, 2:15-19).

        From Joseph Smith and the church he founded would come such beliefs as a denial of the
        Trinity, God having a human body, Jesus being the spirit brother of Satan, salvation by
        works and other heretical doctrines. James 1:5, though, does not validate receiving
        subjective experiences and revelations that contradict other portions of the Bible. James
        1:5 is about asking God to help us live godly while facing trials” (Vlach).

        3. Ex. Does 2 Cor. 3:6 condemn literal interpretation?

        “"The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." Does this verse warn against taking the Bible
        too literally or seriously? No. Paul is not even addressing the issue of literal versus
        spiritual interpretation. Context reveals that the "letter" is the Old Covenant—the Mosaic
        Law (i.e. "letters engraved on stones" (v.7)). Thus the contrast is between the Old
        Covenant, which reveals man's sin and thus kills, and the New Covenant which gives
        life” (Vlach).

        4. Ex. 2 Peter 2:20 and losing salvation

        “Some people use this verse to teach that a believer can lose their salvation: "For if after
        they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior
        Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has
        become for them than the first." The "they" in this passage, though, is referring to false
        prophets as mentioned in 2:1. This passage is referring to false prophets and not true
        believers” (Vlach).

E. Do not apply specific promises made to Israel to other nations (nationalizing)

"This type of misinterpretation happens when we see our own country as the recipient of national
promises made by God in the Bible to Israel." (Mayhue, p. 90) In other words, avoid taking
specific promises to Israel and applying them to other countries such as the United States. Ex. 2
Chronicles 7:14 and the United States Many Christians like to claim this passage for the United
States: "and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My
face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and
will heal their land." This verse though has nothing to do with the United States. As Mayhue
says, "Don't miss this! God's promise to Solomon and Israel has nothing to do with America or
any other country where Christians live today. No matter how spiritual or unspiritual America
becomes, the outcome of our national history will not rest on the condition of 2 Chronicles 7:14
but rather on the sovereignty of God" (Mayhue, pp. 91-92).

F. Do not replace Israel with the Church

“The Bible never confuses Israel with the Church. Though there are similarities between the
nation Israel and the Church, unconditional, eternal promises to the nation Israel should not be
spiritualized and transferred to the Church” (Vlach).

        1. Ex. Genesis 13:14-17 ("for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your
        descendants forever")

        “God promised a literal land (Canaan) to a literal people (Abraham's descendants—the
        Jews). The land cannot be spiritualized to mean salvation or heaven. Nor does the church
        inherit these promises at the expense of national Israel” (Vlach).

        2. Ex. Romans 11:25-26 ("thus all Israel will be saved")

        “Many Amillennialists, including John Calvin have taken "Israel" in verse 26 to be a
        reference to the church composed of both Jews and Gentiles. The special context of
        Romans 9-11, though, shows that of the eleven times "Israel" is used in this section it
        always refers to biological Jews and never refers to Gentiles” (Vlach).

G. Do not pour current thinking into the biblical text (embellishing)

        1. Ex. Six-day Creation (Genesis 1-2)

        “A normal, literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2 shows that God created the world in six,
        twenty-four hour days. The Hebrew word for "day" (yom) when accompanied by a
        numerical adjective (i.e. fifth day), is never used figuratively. It is always understood
        normally. However, with the increasing belief in evolution and an old earth, some have
        tried to reinterpret the days of creation not as literal twenty-four hour days, but as long
        periods of time. Thus "six days" is just figurative for a long period of time, which can
        include millions of years” (Vlach).

        2. Ex. Do we need to love ourselves first to love others? (Matt. 22:39)

        “Many in Christian psychology have twisted this passage to mean that we must learn to
        love ourselves in order to love others. Yet in this passage, self love is not encouraged but
        assumed ("for no one ever hated his own flesh. . ." (Eph. 5:29)). The point is that we need
        to show the same concern for others that we naturally show ourselves” (Vlach).

        Mayhue says, "In Matthew 22 Jesus speaks of two commands—loving God and loving
        our neighbor. There is no third command to love ourselves. As a matter of biblical record,
        there is no command in Scripture to love ourselves. At times, it appears that the basis for
        self love comes more from Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs than from the Bible"
        (Mayhue, pp. 100-01).

        3. Ex. Psychology and redefining of terms

        Psychology's influence in the church has often led to a twisting of biblical terms and their

                 a. Sin

                 “For example, note Robert Schuller's redefining of what sin is: "Sin is any act or
                 thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem"
                 (Robert Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, p. 14).

                 b. Hell

                 "And what is hell? It is the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from
                 God— the ultimate and unfailing source of our soul's sense of self-respect. . . . A
                 person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem" (Schuller, pp. 14-15).

                 c. Being born again

                 "To be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive
                 self-image—from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust"
                 (Schuller, 14).

H. Avoid making all phenomena and experiences in the Bible normative for today

        1. Ex. Experiences of Moses, prophets and apostles and other biblical men

        Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book, Revival, says that God's revealing of His glory to Moses
        in Exodus 33:18-23 is something all believers should seek: "Now Moses knew of the
        glory of God. He had not seen it, but he believed God. He had accepted the revelation and
        he had had odd manifestations here and there. And on the strength of this he said, 'Now
        let me see thy glory, let it be manifested.' And that should be our position. . . . We know
        that God is there in all his glory, and the necessity is that we should be moved, as Moses
        was, to desire the manifestation of this glory. It is almost inconceivable, is it not, that
        there should be any Christian who does not offer this prayer of Moses?" (Lloyd-Jones,
        Revival, pp. 216-18).

        “Lloyd-Jones also gives other examples of experiences in the Bible that believers should
        be experiencing today: Isaiah's vision of the Lord sitting on His throne (Isa. 6:1-7); John's
        vision of Christ on Patmos (Rev. 1); Saul's encounter with Christ on the Damascus road
        (Acts 9); and the apostles' seeing Christ transformed before them on the Mount of
        Transfiguration (Matt. 17). Concerning experiences like these Lloyd-Jones says "we must
        never forget that all this is possible at any time to the individual"” (Vlach).

        "If anything is clear from a reading of the Bible, this fact is clear: God speaks to His
        people. He spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis. He spoke to
        Abraham and the other patriarchs. God spoke to the judges, kings, and prophets. God was
        in Christ Jesus speaking to the disciples. God spoke to the early church, and God spoke
        to John on the isle of Patmos in Revelation. God does speak to His people and you can
        anticipate that He will be speaking to you also" (Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King,
        Experiencing God, pp. 131-32).

        "We must see if the principle in the passage is taught elsewhere. If what happened to
        someone in Bible times is considered normative for all believers, it must be in harmony
        with what is taught elsewhere in Scripture" (Zuck, p. 285).

        2. Raising the dead

        “The fact that Elijah and Peter were able to raise people from the dead (1 Kings 17 and
        Acts 9:36-43) does not mean that God intends all believers to be raising people from the
        dead. The Bible never says this activity is normative for believers today” (Vlach).

        3. Paul's trip to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-10)

        4. Casting out demons

        “Casting out of demons was done by Christ and the Apostles to validate their
        proclamation of the nearness of the Kingdom (Matt. 10:5-8; 12:28). Nowhere in the
        instruction to the churches are believers told to be casting out demons” (Vlach).

        5. Polygamy

        "Abraham, Jacob, David, and others had more than one wife. Does this mean polygamy
        is acceptable, as some believe? No, this is not an acceptable practice. Even though God
        did not specifically condemn them individually for such a practice, as far as the scriptural
        record is concerned, we know polygamy is wrong because God gave Adam one wife and
        He said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
        and they will become one flesh' (Gen. 2:24) and because numerous passages in the New
        Testament speak of marital fidelity to one's wife (e.g., Matt. 5:27, 31-32; 1 Cor. 7:2-3;
        Eph. 5:22-23; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Thes. 4:3-7)" (Zuck, p. 286).

I. Do not dismiss a text as cultural simply because it does not seem to fit with the ideas of
modern society (culturizing)

        1. Ex. Husband leadership in the home (Ephesians 5:22-33)

        “Modern society often rejects role distinctions between men and women. Thus, the idea
        of the husband being the leader and the woman being subject to her husband is often
        rejected as being cultural and limited to Paul's day. Yet there is nothing in the context to
        limit these commands to the time of Paul's day. In fact, the instruction to husbands is
        based on Christ's example of loving the church” (Vlach).

        2. Ex. Male Elders (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

        “Scripture makes clear that women are not to hold authority positions over men in the
        church. Many Christian churches, though, allow women to be elders and pastors.
        Passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15, which explicitly prohibit leadership positions for
        women, are dismissed as the product of a male-dominated society. Nothing, however, in
        1 Timothy 2:11-15 indicates that its commands were limited to that time and culture. In
        fact, male leadership is rooted in the creation order (2:13) and the fall (2:14)” (Vlach).

J. Do no overpersonalize the Bible

In your Bible study, do not "suppose that any or all parts apply to you or your group in a way
that they do not apply to everyone else. People tend to be self-centered, even when reading the
Bible. When the big picture of God's redemptive history fails to satisfy, they may fall prey to the

temptation to look for something that will satisfy their personal needs, cravings, or problems.
They can forget that all parts of the Bible are intended for everyone, not just them" (Fee and
Stuart, p. 92).

        1. Ex. "The account of Balaam's talking donkey was meant to show that I talk too

        2. Ex. In the book, Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby applies the account of Jesus'
        raising of Lazarus as proof that God would heal his daughter's sickness (p. 190).

5. Choose the Right Tools for the Job

I. Choosing the Right Bible

“The first step in understanding God's Word is finding the right Bible. The books of the Bible
were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Since most of us are not experts in these
languages it is imperative that we seek a good English translation of the Bible” (Vlach).

Translation Theories

A. New American Standard Bible (NASB 1977; 1995 Update)

        1. The NASB is based on the earliest and best manuscripts available.
        2. The NASB is a literal translation of the original languages.

B. Supplemental Versions

        1. English Standard Version (ESV)

        This conservative make-over of the RSV is very readable and an excellent translation. I
        still prefer the NASB for precise Bible study, but I often read the ESV. It uses the
        Alexandrian text types like the NASB which makes it preferable to the KJV and the

        2. King James Version (KJV)

        “The KJV is a literal translation written in 17th century English. Many enjoy this version
        because of it literary quality. Some of the language, though, has become outdated and
        potentially confusing. The manuscripts used by the KJV translators are of slightly less
        quality than those used by the NASB and the NIV” (Vlach). One major advantage that
        the KJV gives is that it often clues the student into second person plural pronouns (“ye”)
        whereas the other English translations do not.

        3. New King James (NKJV)

        “The New King James is based on the same manuscripts used by the KJV translators. The
        New King James differs from the KJV in that much of the language has been updated,

        making for easier reading” (Vlach). Most NKJV Bibles now contain footnotes stating,
        “NU”. This is the Nestle Alland/United Bible Societies manuscript reading that is older
        and more reliable.

        4. Comments about the NIV

        “The NIV is purposely less literal in its translation in order to be a smoother reading
        translation. The advantage of this version is that it is easier to read than the more literal
        versions. The disadvantage is that it is not always as accurate in its translations as the
        literal versions” (Vlach).

        This translation theory is called “dynamic equivalence” and tends toward “phrase by
        phrase” translation instead of “word for word.” Additionally, when the Greek text is
        ambiguous, the NIV usually, and often correctly, takes sides and translates the way they
        think it should be read. The bad news is that the Bible reader does not even know there is
        an issue and cannot delve into the text himself.

Literal                           Dynamic Equivalent                Paraphrase
KJV (12th grade)           RSV    NIV (8th grade)    GNB            Living
NASB (11th grade)                 NAB                NEB
NKJV (11th grade)

If the Greek text is ambiguous, should our translations be? Yes, it will drive you to study!

Ex. James 1


James 1:4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not
lacking anything.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without
finding fault, and it will be given to him.

James 1:6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a
wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

James 1:7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;

James 1:8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

James 1:9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.


James 1:4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing.

James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously
and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf
of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:7 For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,

James 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 1:9 But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position;

Notice the lack of particles in the NIV. This makes James seem like the Proverbs of the NT,
when in reality, each of these verses are carefully linked together as the NASB demonstrates.

Don’t forget that translations have theological ‘bias’:

    1.   KJV – anti-Calvinist (vs Geneva)
    2.   NASB – 4-point Calvinist (1 Tim 2)
    3.   NIV – evangelical
    4.   RSV – first edition – Isa 7:14 (“woman”); 2 Tim 3:16 (‘all Scripture which is

C. Choosing a Study Bible

After choosing a Study Bible’s translation, the most important thing to look for in a Study Bible
is notes that help you understand what the Text says and means. Personal application type
Bibles should be avoided.

    •    The MacArthur Study Bible (New King James only) - Helpful, detailed notes compiled
         by John MacArthur and the Masters Seminary faculty. The discrepancies of the
         Byzantine text are cleared up in the study notes. This is the best study Bible ever
    •    Ryrie Study Bible – Good notes and a premil understanding of the OT.
    •    New Geneva Bible (New King James) – Good notes but amil in nature and is not out of

II. Choosing Bible Study Aids

A. Bible Dictionary

“A Bible dictionary serves as a quick source of a wide variety of information presented in
comprehensive style” (Vlach).

    J. D. Douglas, The New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1962).
    Merrill F. Unger, Unger's Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1957).

B. Bible Encyclopedia

“Helps understand the people, places and customs of the Bible” (Vlach).

    •   James Orr, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids: Wm. B.
        Eerdmans, 1930). Five volumes.
    •   Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids:
        Zondervan Publishing House, 1975). Five volumes.

C. Concordance

"A concordance lists each English word used in a particular translation. It is invaluable for
quickly tracing what the Bible says about a person, a place, a word, or a theme. Also when you
are frustrated because you can remember a verse but not its location, the concordance will help
you locate this verse" (Mayhue, p. 37).

Englishman's Greek Concordance (London: Bagster, 1903).

D. Bible Atlas

"You will find a Bible atlas invaluable when studying the Old Testament historical books, the
gospels, and Acts. These books will come alive when you can reconstruct the route of Paul's
missionary journeys, trace the path of the Exodus, or follow the flow of Christ's life" (Mayhue, p.

E. Bible Commentary

“Commentaries give interpretations of the Bible book being examined. Commentaries are good
to use when you are having trouble determining the meaning of a passage” (Vlach). These range
from a one volume commentary on the entire Bible, to multiple volumes on only one book of the

F. Systematic Theology

"All that the Bible says about a subject or doctrine is usually not confined to just one passage. A
theology volume will provide thorough biblical background for the subject you are dealing with.
. . . A theology volume allows you to see the facet you are studying in light of all the rest that the
Bible teaches on the subject" (Mayhue, p. 38).

G. Word Studies

“Since the Bible is made up of words, it is necessary to check the meaning of key terms. A good
word study will allow you understand the key terms of Scripture so that you will have a greater
understanding of the text. Basic definitions of Greek and Hebrew terms are given” (Vlach).

    •   Joseph H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (New York: American
        Book Co., 1889).
    •   W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon: of the New Testament (Grand
        Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.).
    •   H. E. Dana and J. R. Mantey, Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New York:
        Macmillan, 1960).
    •   Archibald T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (New York: Harper and
        Row, 1952).
    •   W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, N.J., 1962).
    •   Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies from the Greek New Testament for English Readers
        (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans).
    •   Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
        (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1974) nine volumes.

H. Interlinear Bible

Usually sold as OT only or NT only (due to size and publishers), this tool helps the student see
the actual biblical languages with the English translation on the next line. A great tool for all.

Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (London: Samuel Bagster and
Sons, Ltd., 1959).

I. Bible Survey

“Basic, introductory material concerning the authors, dates, purposes, themes and outlines of the
Bible” (Vlach).

J. Hebrew and Greek Bibles

The payoff for original language study is immediate and immensely gratifying. Many Internet
sites have these that can be cut, then pasted into the student’s project. I recommend the 4th UBS
Greek text.

K. Bible Difficulty Books

        •   Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
        •   Robert H. Stein, Difficult Passages in the New Testament: Interpreting Puzzling Texts
            in the Gospels and Epistles (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990).
        •   Walter Kaiser, F.F. Bruce, Manfred Brauch, Peter Davids, Hard Sayings of the Bible
            (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996).
        •   John W. Haley, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977).
        •   David E. O’Brien, Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties (Minneapolis:
            Bethany House Publishers, 1990).

6. Determine the Context

I. Introductory matters concerning context

A. A definition

"The word context is composed of two Latin elements, con ("together") and textus ("woven").
Hence when we speak of the context, we are talking about the connection of thought that runs
through a passage, those links that weave it into one piece" (Walter Kaiser, p. 71).

"Context refers to that which goes before and that which follows after" (Howard Hendricks, p.

B. Importance of context

"Neglect of context is a common cause of erroneous interpretation and irrelevant application"
(Mickelsen, p. 99).

“People often want to take a verse or passage of Scripture and make it mean what they want it to
mean. But disregarding context is one of the greatest problems in Bible interpretation. By taking
a verse or passage out of its context we may completely misunderstand its true meaning. Always
remember "context determines meaning!"” (Vlach).

C. Reasons for studying context

        1. Multiple meanings

        “Words, phrases and clauses may have multiple meanings. Examining how they are used
        in a given context can help determine which of several meanings is more likely. For
        example, the term "board" can refer to a piece of timber, a table on which food is served,
        food itself (i.e. room and board), a board of directors or the deck of a boat” (Zuck, pp.
        104, 106).

        2. Thoughts expressed in association

        “Thoughts are usually expressed by a series of words or sentences that are in association
        with each other— not in isolation from each other. Thus the meaning of a verse or
        passage is almost always controlled by what precedes and what follows” (Vlach).

        3. Avoid false interpretations

        "In fact, every major cult is built on a violation of the principle of context" (Hendricks, p.

                  a. Ex. Psalm 2:8

                  "Psalm 2:8, 'Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance, the ends of
                  the earth Your possession,' is sometimes used by missionaries to speak of

                 anticipated conversions on their mission fields. The preceding verse, however,
                 makes it clear that these words are spoken by God the Father to God the Son"
                 (Zuck, p. 106).

                 b. Ex. Ezekiel 37:16-17

                 “Mormonism holds that the joining of the two sticks in this passage refer to the
                 joining of the Bible with the Book of Mormon. But the context clearly indicates
                 that what will be joined together is the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel—
                 "And I will make them one nation in the land" (v.22) The real meaning of this text
                 is that Judah and Israel will once again be reunited into one nation when God
                 brings His people back into the land (Ralph H. Alexander, "Ezekiel," in
                 Expositor's Bible Commentary, v. 6, p. 927).

II. Principles for determining context

A. Determining the context of a book

"Good exegetical procedure dictates that the details be viewed in light of the total context.
Unless the exegete knows where the thought of the text begins and how that pattern develops, all
the intricate details may be of little or no worth. This ability—the ability to state what each
section of a book is about and how the paragraphs in each section contribute to that argument—is
one of the most critical steps. If the exegete falters here, much of what follows will be wasted
time and effort" (Kaiser, p. 69).

        1. Read the book you are studying multiple times

        "Context is the most important hermeneutical principle. By reading and familiarizing
        ourselves with the entire book, the expositor can relate each passage to the overall
        context of the book" (John MacArthur, "A Study Method for Expository Preaching," in
        Rediscovering Expository Preaching, p. 219).

        2. Find out the historical situation facing the author and his readers

        “By looking at the internal information of the book or by using a good Bible introduction,
        survey book or commentary you can help answer the following questions: Who was the
        writer? To whom was he writing (e.g. believers, unbelievers, Jews, Gentiles, apostates or
        those in danger of apostatizing)? What was the historical situation facing the author and
        readers?” (Vlach).

        "Unless we have a knowledge of the writer's background, supplied through historical-
        cultural and contextual analysis, our tendency is to interpret his writings by asking, 'What
        does this mean to me?' rather than 'What did this mean to the original author'" (Virkler, p.

                 a. Ex. 2 Thess.

                 “Paul wrote this book because his readers thought they were already in the Day of
                 the Lord (2:2)” (Vlach).

                 b. Ex. Lamentations

                 “Reading Lamentations will make little sense unless one realizes that Jeremiah
                 was writing a funeral dirge bemoaning the destruction of Jerusalem by the
                 Babylonians” (Vlach).

                 c. Ex. Colossians

                 “Paul wrote Colossians partly to combat early Gnosticism and the dangers of
                 legalism, asceticism, and the denial of Christ's deity” (Vlach).

        3. Look for the author's purpose in writing the book

        "Note if the author has explicitly stated in his preface, conclusion, and/or constant
        refrains throughout the book what his intention is. The rest of his work can then be
        systematically skimmed to note how this explicitly stated purpose and plan have been
        worked out" (Kaiser, p. 71).

                 a. Ex. John 20:31

                 "these things have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the
                 Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

                 b. Ex. Ecclesiastes 12:13

                 "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His
                 commandments, because this applies to every person."

                 c. Ex. 1 John 1:4; 2:1; 2:26; 5:13

                 “Four times John uses the formula "these things" to state his purposes in writing 1
                 John. He wrote 1 John so his readers may have joy (1:4), may not sin (2:1), may
                 not be deceived (2:26) and may know they have eternal life (5:13)” (Vlach).

                 d. Ex. Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1

                 “Luke's purpose in writing was to present an orderly account of the life of Jesus
                 and the beginning of the Christian era” (Vlach).

                 e. Ex. 1 Tim 3:14-15

                 The purpose of this pastoral epistle is explicitly set forth. Paul said, “I am writing
                 these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I

                 write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of
                 God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

B. Determining the context of a word or phrase

"The first responsibility of every interpreter is to note carefully what precedes and what follows
any verse or passage which he is interpreting" (Mickelsen, p. 102).

    1. Check the immediate context. The sentence in which a word is used clarifies the meaning.

            a. Ex. World

            “What does the term "world" (kosmos) mean? It depends on the immediate context.
            World can mean: 1)The world of people (John 3:16); 2) The organized system of evil
            in rebellion against God (1 John 2:15-16) or 3) This physical planet (John 17:5)”

            Kosmos is used 112 times in the Johannine writings alone.

            b. Ex. Saved or Salvation

            “These terms do not always mean deliverance from sin. They can mean: 1) Israel's
            deliverance from her enemies (Luke 1:71); 2) deliverance from physical danger (Acts
            27:20; Matt. 24:13); 3) deliverance from physical sickness (James 5:15) and 4)
            deliverance from sin (John 3:17)” (Vlach).

            c. Ex. Spirit

            “The word "spirit" (pneuma) is used a variety of ways in the New Testament. It is
            used of the wind (John 3:8), the life breath (Rev. 11:11), the temper of the mind
            (Luke 9:55), the life principle or immortal nature of man (John 6:63), the perfected
            spirit of a saint in the heavenly life (Heb. 12:23), demons (Matt. 10:1; Luke 4:36) and
            the Holy Spirit of God (John 4:24; Matt. 28:19). John 3:8 is an example where
            pneuma (spirit or wind) is used twice in the same context. It is used of the natural
            wind and the Holy Spirit” (Milton S. Terry, "The Use of Words in Various Contexts,"
            Rightly Divided, ed. Roy B. Zuck, p. 134).

2. Check the paragraph or chapter context.

"The context of the paragraph or chapter is sometimes helpful in clarifying a word, phrase, or
sentence that is not made clear in the sentence in which it is used” (Zuck, p. 109).

        a. Ex. Temple

        “Jesus, in John 2:19, spoke of destroying "this temple." What is the temple Jesus was
        speaking of? Verse 21 explains that the temple of which Jesus spoke was His own body”

        b. Ex. Fire

        “Does "fire" in Matthew 3:11 ("He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire")
        refer to a literal fire of hell or does "fire" refer to the spiritual fervor Christ will give? The
        fact that "fire" in verses 10 and 12 refer to a fire of judgment indicates that the fire in 3:11
        also refers to judgment. The fire, then, refers to eternal torment” (Vlach).

        c. Ex. Seeing the Kingdom

        “What did Jesus mean when He said to His disciples, "There are some of those who are
        standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His
        kingdom (Matthew 16:28)"? The fulfillment of this promise came in the following
        chapter with the Transfiguration (ch. 17). Jesus gave Peter, James and John a preview of
        the kingdom that would be established at Christ's second coming” (Vlach).

3. Check the book context.

        a. Ex. Sin.

        “1 John 3:6-10 cannot mean that a Christian never sins, in view of what John wrote in
        that same epistle in 1:8, 10 and 2:1” (Zuck, p. 109).

        b. Ex. Prophets.

        "In Ephesians 2:20 does the word prophets refer to Old Testament prophets or New
        Testament prophets? As one examines the other ways Paul used prophets in Ephesians—
        in 3:5 and 4:11—it becomes clear that in those verses he was referring to New Testament
        prophets. Therefore it is likely that he means the same thing in 2:20" (Zuck, p. 104).

        c. Ex. Divorce

        "The brief statement of Jesus on divorce in Matthew 5:31-32 has a parallel in Matthew
        19:3-12 where the interpreter has more context" (Mickelsen, p. 106).

4. Check parallel passages.

"Parallel passages also serve as helpful contexts for ascertaining the meaning of certain words or
sentences. Parallel passages may be verbal parallels, in which the same or similar words, phrases,
or sentences occur, or idea parallels, in which the same or similar ideas are expressed but in
different words" (Zuck, p. 110).

        a. Ex. Matthew—Mark—Luke
        b. Ex. 1 and 2 Kings—1 and 2 Chronicles
        c. Ex. Romans—Galatians
        d. Ex. Ephesians—Colossians
        e. Daniel—Revelation
        f. 2 Peter—Jude

5. Check the entire Bible context.

        a. Ex. The dead

        "Does Ecclesiastes 9:5, 'The dead know nothing,' teach soul sleep, the view that the dead
        have no consciousness till they are resurrected? No, because that view would contradict
        other verses in the Bible that teach that the dead are conscious (Luke 16:23-24; 2 Cor.
        5:8; Phil. 1:23). Interpreted in the light of all Scripture, the verse in Ecclesiastes does not
        mean unconscious existence. How then is it to be understood? The context of the
        paragraph suggests that the dead will no longer have personal knowledge or firsthand
        experience of the things they experienced in this life, including the emotions of love,
        hatred, and jealousy and the happenings of daily life (Ecc. 9:6), and rewards for
        accomplishments (v. 5)" (Zuck, pp. 110-11).

        b. Ex. Security of salvation

        “Does Hebrews 6:4-6 and its mention of falling away from the truth teach that a true
        believer can lose his salvation? It cannot for other passages clearly teach that a believers
        salvation is eternally secure (Rom. 8:31-39; Rom. 5:9-10; John 10:28-29; Philippians 1:6;
        Hebrews 7:25). When interpreted correctly, Hebrews 6:4-6 is speaking of unbelievers
        who know the truth but stop short of committing to it and being saved” (Vlach).

        c. Ex. The Kingdom "at hand"

        “Many have taken Jesus' statement that the "kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17)
        to mean that the Kingdom began with Christ's earthly ministry. But other passages clearly
        show that Jesus did not see the Kingdom as having begun during His earthly ministry
        (see Acts 1:6-7; Luke 21:20; 22:16). When Jesus declared the Kingdom as "at hand," He
        meant that it was "near" not that it had arrived. It was near while the King was present
        and in the offer of the Kingdom to Israel (Matt. 10:5-7). After the clear rejection of the
        Messiah by the leaders of Israel (Matt. 12), the Kingdom was no longer presented as "at
        hand" but as something that would take place in the future (Luke 21:20)” (Vlach).

Cultural Context

I. Introductory matters concerning culture

A. Definition of culture

"Webster defines 'culture' as the total pattern of human behavior [that includes] thought, speech,
action, and artifacts, and as the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits. . . of a racial,
religious, or social group.' Thus culture includes what people think and believe, say, do, and
make. This includes their beliefs, forms of communication, customs and practices and material
objects such as tools, dwellings, weapons, and so forth. An individual's culture includes several
spheres of relationships and influences—his interpersonal relations with other individuals and
groups, his role in his family, his social class, and the nation or government of which he is a part.
Religion, politics, warfare, law, agriculture, architecture, business, economics, and the geography
of where one lives and travels, what he and others have written and read, what he wears and the

language(s) he speaks—all these leave their mark on how he lives, and if he is an author of a
Bible book, on what he wrote" (Zuck, p. 79).

B. Importance of cultural studies

"Cultural matters are not niceties we may search out if we have the time but which we may
ignore under the pressure of time and circumstances. They are indispensable for the accurate
understanding of Holy Scripture" (Zuck, p. 79).

C. Scriptures—a foreign land

 "When we go to the Scriptures, it is as if we are entering a foreign land. Just as we may be
puzzled by the way people do things in other countries, so we may be puzzled by what we read
in the Bible. Therefore, it is important to know what the people in the Bible thought, believed,
said, did, and made. To the extent we do this we are then able to comprehend it better and
communicate it more accurately. If we fail to give attention to these matters of culture, then we
may be guilty of eisegesis, reading into the Bible our Western 20th-century ideas" (Zuck, p. 79).

D. Transporting ourselves to Biblical times

“Understanding the Bible properly requires that we clear our minds of all ideas, opinions, and
systems of our own day and attempt to put ourselves into the times and surroundings of the
Apostles and Prophets who wrote. To the extent that we seek to transport ourselves into the
historical situation of the Bible writers and disengage ourselves from our own cultures, to that
extent the likelihood of our being more accurate in interpreting the Bible increases" (Zuck, p.

II. Examples where knowledge of culture contributes to proper interpretation

A. Political (national, international and civil matters)

        1. Ex. Jonah's reluctance to go to Nineveh

        "The Ninevites were atrocious in the way they treated their enemies. . . . No wonder
        Jonah did not want to preach a message of repentance to the Ninevites! He felt they
        deserved judgment for their atrocities" (Zuck, p. 81).

        2. Ex. Instruction for slaves and masters (1 Peter 2:18; Eph. 6:5)

        "In order to better appreciate the writings of men such as Paul, we need to understand
        how greatly slavery permeated his society. Our concept of the word "servant," which
        usually refers to a slave, is inadequate to convey the emotional and social impact. Too
        often we think of a household servant, and office worker or a member of a construction
        crew. When Paul used the word "servant," he often meant "slave" (The primary meaning
        of doulos is slave, with an emphasis on bondage) (William L. Coleman, Today's
        Handbook of Bible Times and Customs, p. 134).

        3. Ex. Third position in Babylon (Daniel 5:7, 16)

        “Why did King Belshazzar offer Daniel the third position in his kingdom and not the
        second? The reason is that Belshazzar was only second in command himself. His father,
        Nabonidus, was actually first in command though he was temporarily out of the country”

        4. Ex. The Samaritans

        “Understanding who the Samaritans were will help one's understanding of the gospels.
        The Samaritans were descendants of the Jews who remained in Palestine after the
        Assyrians defeated Israel. They came from mixed marriages between Jews and Assyrian
        settlers who entered the Promised Land. They also set up their own worship system
        where they built their own temple and sacrificed animals. Because of their mixed heritage
        and worship system, they were despised by the Jews. Understanding Jewish hatred for
        Samaritans helps us understand the significance of Jesus' willingness to speak to a
        Samaritan woman (John 4), the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and the
        account of the Samaritan leper who returned to give Jesus thanks (Luke 17:11-19) (J. I.
        Packer, Merrill Tenney and William White, The Bible Almanac, pp. 509-10).

B. Religious

        1. Corban in Mark 7

        "In Mark 7. . . Jesus upbraids the Pharisees soundly for their concept of corban. In the
        practice of corban a man could declare that all his money would go to the temple treasury
        when he died, and that, since his money belonged to God, he was therefore no longer
        responsible for maintaining his aging parents. Jesus argues that men were using the
        Pharisaic tradition to render God's command (the fifth commandment) of no account.
        Without a knowledge of the cultural practice of corban, we would be unable to
        understand this passage" (Virkler, p. 79).

        2. Meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Cor. 8

        "What was the point of meat being sacrificed to idols which Paul discussed in 1
        Corinthians 8? No one today sits down to a meal in the home of a guest and asks if the
        meat had been sacrificed to idols. Obviously this custom pertained to a cultural setting
        different from today. The point is that people in Corinth would buy meat in the
        marketplace, offer some of it to pagan idols in one of several temples, and then take the
        rest of it home for dinner. Therefore some Christians felt that eating such meat involved
        them in idol worship" (Zuck, p. 84).

        3. Elijah, Baal and Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18)

        “Why did Elijah choose Mount Carmel as the place for his showdown with the 450
        prophets of Baal? The followers of Baal believed that Mount Carmel was the home of
        Baal. Showing the supremacy of Yahweh on Baal's home turf would be devastating to the
        followers of Baal” (Vlach). Baal was the fire and lightening god.

C. Economic

        1. Ex. Giving of sandal

        "Why did Elimelech's closest relative give his sandal to Boaz? (Ruth 4:8, 17) According
        to the Nuzi tablets (Nuzi Tablets JBL 1937, p. 53-56), discovered in present-day Iraq, in
        excavations from 1925-1931, such an action symbolized releasing one's right to land he
        walked on. This was done when a sale of land was completed" (Zuck, p. 84).

        2. Ex. How much is a "denarius"? (Rev. 6:6)

        “A denarius is one day's wage. In Revelation 6:6 famine conditions will be so bad that a
        full day of work will barely be enough for a man to feed his family” (Vlach).

D. Legal

        1. Ex. The Stolen Blessing

        “In Genesis 27, Jacob deceives his father, Isaac, and receives the blessing that was
        supposed to be for Esau. When the plot was discovered, Isaac could not change the result.
        Why? It might seem strange to members of Western society that such importance was
        placed on an oral blessing or testament. However, recent discoveries have verified that an
        oral benediction (in those days) was legally as valid as a written last will and testament”

        2. Ex. Daniel, Darius and the lion's den (Daniel 6)

        ‘When King Darius of Medo-Persia was tricked into making a decree that would send
        Daniel to the lion's den, why didn't he simply revoke his former decree since he wanted
        Daniel to live (Dan. 6:14)? Once a decree was made in this empire, no one, not even the
        king, could revoke it (see Esther 8:8)” (Vlach).

        3. Ex. Elisha’s request for a double blessing

        In II Kings 2:9 did Elisha want twice as much spiritual power as Elijah had? This
        question can be solved by Deuteronomy 21:17 and the double portion of the inheritance
        that the firstborn received.

E. Agricultural

"The Jewish involvement with the land was reflected in the teachings of Jesus Christ. His
imagery and illustrations gave His listeners vivid pictures, such as a sower, pouch at his side,
flinging seed across a newly plowed field. He frequently used metaphors about rich ripe grapes
and fruitful vines" (Coleman, p. 145).

        1. The Fig tree (Mark 11:12-14)

        "Why did Jesus denounce a fig tree for having no fruit when it was not even the season
        for figs? In March fig trees in Israel normally produce small buds followed by large green
        leaves in April. The small buds were edible 'fruit.' The time when Jesus 'cursed' the fig
        tree was the Passover, that is, April. Since the tree had no buds it would bear no fruit that
        year. But 'the season for figs' was late May and June, when the normal crops of figs
        ripened. Jesus' denouncing of the tree symbolized Israel's absence of spiritual vitality
        (like the absence of the buds) in spite of her outward religiosity (like green leaves)”
        (Zuck, p. 86).

        2. Vines and the Vineyard

        "The vine was of great importance in the religion of Israel. It was used as a symbol of the
        religious life of Israel itself, and a carving of a bunch of grapes often adorned the front
        exterior of the synagogue. The symbolism was based upon passages such as Psalm 80
        and Isaiah 5:1-5 where Israel is God's vine. The importance of the vine is why the
        Pharisees took the point so angrily when Jesus told the story of the wicked tenants in the
        vineyard (Matthew 21:33-41, 45-46)" (Ralph Gower, The New Manners and Customs of
        Bible Times, p. 111).

        3. Samuel’s request for rain

        “What is so unusual about Samuel calling on the Lord for rain at the time of the wheat
        harvest in I Samuel 12:17? Because from April to October there was no rain. It would
        be like calling for snow in July and August in So. California” (Lewis).

        4. Why did Amos call the women of Bethel "cows of Bashan" in Amos 4:1?

        “Bashan area in NE Israel was very fertile and the cows do not have to struggle to eat but
        instead become fat and lazy” (Vlach).

        5. Mustard Seed

        “Why did Jesus call the mustard seed the smallest seed in Matthew 13:31-32? Was this a
        botanical error? In one year it could grow 15-30 feet. Of those that were planted in that
        area it was the smallest known of that day (the orchid seed is smaller)” (Lewis).

F. Architectural

        1. "How could four men let a paralytic man down through a roof? (Mark 2:1-12) Most
        houses in the Western world are built with slanted roofs, but in Bible times roofs were
        flat and often were made of tiles. Therefore it would be no problem for these men to
        stand on the roof, remove some of the tiles, and let the man down" (Zuck, p. 86).

        2. How could Rahab have her house on the wall (Joshua 2:15)?

G. Clothing

"What is meant by the command 'Gird up your loins' in Job 38:3; 40:7; and 1 Peter 1:13? When a
man ran, worked, or was in battle, he would tuck his robe under a wide sash at his waist so that
he could move about more easily. The command thus means to be alert and capable of
responding quickly" (Zuck, p. 87).

H. Domestic

        1. “Burying the Father – In Luke 9:59 a man who wanted to be Jesus' disciple wanted to
        first bury his father. Was Jesus' denial of this request insensitive? Actually to bury one's
        father meant to wait until one's father died (which could take years) so one could receive
        their inheritance. Thus Jesus' denial stressed the urgency of following Him immediately”

        2. “John's leaning on Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13:23). Back then people did not sit
        in chairs at meals as we do today. They were either on the floor or on couches. To lean on
        someone, then, was not considered rude” (Vlach).

I. Geographical

        1. Passing through Samaria

        “What was significant about Jesus passing through Samaria (John 4)? The Jews would
        not defile themselves by walking through the land of the Samaritans, who the Jews
        considered half-breeds. Jesus would not partake in this Prejudice” (Vlach).

        2. Lukewarm water

        “In Revelation 3:16 the church at Laodicea was referred to as "lukewarm." This
        undoubtedly is a play on the lukewarm water the people had in that city. The water in
        Laodicea was channeled six miles from Hieropolis. When the water left Hieropolis, it
        was hot, but by the time it reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm” (Vlach).

        3. Going down from Jerusalem

        "Why did Jesus speak of a man going 'down' from Jerusalem to Jericho when Jericho is
        located northeast of Jerusalem? (Luke 10:30) The elevation drop in the 14 miles from
        Jerusalem to Jericho is more than 2,000 feet. Obviously going from Jerusalem to Jericho
        then was to go down in elevation" (Zuck, p. 88).

J. Social

        1. Mourners

        “Why when Jesus went to the house where a little girl had died, were there flute-players
        and a noisy crowd (Matt. 9:23)? It was the custom then that when a person died, the
        family would hire professional mourners to show how much they cared for their lost
        loved one” (Vlach).

        2. Sackcloth and ashes

        "The Israelites used sackcloth as a ritual sign of repentance or a token of mourning…The
        New Testament also associated sackcloth with repentance (see Matt. 11:21). The
        sorrowful Israelite would clothe himself in sackcloth, place ashes upon his head, and then
        sit in the ashes. Our modern Western custom of wearing dark colors to funerals
        corresponds to the Israelites' gesture of wearing sackcloth" (Packer, p. 477).

        3. Why did Boaz go to the gate to discuss Naomi (Ruth 4:1)?

        4. Why did Paul say in II Corinthians 2:14 that Christ "leads us in His triumph in Christ"?

        “TRIUMPHUS, a solemn procession in which a victorious general entered the city in a
        chariot drawn by four horses. He was preceded by the captives and spoils taken in war,
        was followed by his troops, and after passing in state along the Via Sacra, ascended the
        Capitol to offer sacrifice in the temple of Jupiter” (Triumphus by William Ramsay, M.A.,
        Professor of Humanity in the University of Glasgow, pp. 1163-1167 in A Dictionary of
        Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875).

III. Cultural relevance and present day application

A. The issue of culture

"One of the most important issues Bible interpreters face is the question of culturally conditioned
Bible passages. That is, are some passages of the Bible limited to that day by the culture setting
and therefore not transferable to our culture, or is everything we read in the Scriptures normative
for today…If some passages are limited. . . then how do we determine which ones are
transferable to our culture and which ones are not?" (Zuck, p. 90).

B. The options

There are three ways to approach this issue of culture and present day application:

        1. Modify the scriptural principle and the behavioral command which expresses that
        principle in light of historical changes.

        “For example, according to this view, the commands that women should not teach or
        exercise authority over men (1 Timothy 2:12) or that women should be subject to their
        husbands (Ephesians 5:2) should be rejected because we now live in an egalitarian
        society which does not recognize the role distinctions between men and women. Thus,
        the principle and the working out of the principle must both be rejected. HOWEVER, if
        one accepts the Bible as the unchanging Word of God, this approach is unacceptable”

        2. Observe the scriptural principle and always abide by the accompanying behavioral

        “Thus, the command to "greet one another with a holy kiss" mentioned five times in the
        New Testament should be observed in principle and in practice. HOWEVER, the
        behavioral commands of biblical times do not always carry the same meaning in other
        cultures in other eras” (Vlach).

        3. Observe the scriptural principle and either:

                 a. “keep the biblical expression described or

                 b. if the biblical expression does not carry the same meaning today, look for a
                 way that principle can properly be expressed in one's own culture.

        Using our previous example of greeting one another with a holy kiss, the following may
        be drawn. The principle is to greet one another. However, in our day a proper greeting is
        usually done by a handshake or a hug. Thus, a handshake or hug properly expresses the
        biblical principle” (Vlach).

        “Since a behavior in one culture may have a different meaning in another culture, it may
        be necessary to change the behavioral expression of a scriptural command in order to
        translate the principle behind that command from one culture and time to another" (Henry
        A. Virkler, "A Proposal for the Transcultural Problem," in Rightly Divided, ed. by Roy B.
        Zuck, p. 240).

C. Principles to determine relevance for today

        1. Are the verses in question “prescriptive,” or “descriptive?”

                 a. Prescriptive

                 Col 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of

                 Col 4:5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of
                 the opportunity.

                 Col 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so
                 that you may know how you should respond to each person.

                 Eph 2:11 Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who
                 are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed
                 in the flesh by human hands--

                 b. Descriptive

                 Paul's being caught up to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12) Paul does not command
                 others to do this. It is a simple description of what happened to him.

                 Slain in the Spirit – garden scene


        2. Does the passage itself limit the audience?

        "All Scripture should be received as normative for every person in all societies of all time
        unless the Bible itself limits the audience" (McQuilkin, p. 245).

        Ex. Offer of the Kingdom to Israel (Matt. 10:5-15)

        “The twelve apostles were told to preach the nearness of the kingdom. But they were to
        avoid the paths of the Gentiles and Samaritans and only preach to the lost sheep of the
        house of Israel. Certain factors make this text only applicable to the disciples. First, this
        command came at a time when the kingdom was being offered to Israel, something that is
        not happening today. Second, the apostles were given unique delegated authority by the
        King (10:1). Part of this authority included the ability to perform miracles. Third, after
        Christ's resurrection, the command is given to go "make disciples of all the nations"
        (Matt. 28:19)” (Vlach).

        Ex. God's command to Abraham to sacrifice his son (Gen. 22:1-19)

        It is not transferable to anyone else because God only told Abraham to do this.

        Healings; sign gifts; apostles

        3. Does the Bible revoke the command?

        "When the Bible clearly gives a command and nowhere else nullifies that command, it
        must be accepted as the revealed will of God" (Zuck, p. 93).

                 a. Not Revoked:

                          (1) Capital punishment (Gen. 9:6)
                          “Capital punishment is considered a permanent command because, after
                          being given in Genesis 9:6, it is nowhere revoked. Plus this command is
                          rooted in a universal principle that man is made in the image of God”

                          (2) Being baptized (Acts 2:38)

                          (3) Observing Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:24)

                          (4) Loving God and neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39)

                 b. Revoked:

                          (1) The Mosaic Law

                         “The Law was the rule of life for Israel in the Old Testament, but the New
                         Testament is clear that with the death of Christ the Law has been revoked
                         (Rom. 6:14-15; Gal. 5:18; Heb. 7:12; 10:1). Therefore, the commands for
                         sacrifices, stoning of rebellious children and making blasphemy a capital
                         offense are not operative today. For example, in the OT, incest was a
                         capital offense, but in 1 Cor. 5, Paul's instruction for dealing with incest
                         was deliverance to Satan and expulsion from the church” (Vlach).

                         See Eph 2:15

                         (2) Long hair for men

                         “Under the Nazirite vow men were allowed to grow long hair as a sign of
                         dedication to the Lord (Judges 13:5; 1 Sam. 1:11). Yet 1 Cor. 11:14 states
                         that "if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him."” (Vlach).

                         (3) Unclean food

                         “The dietary restrictions of Leviticus 11 have been revoked by the clear
                         testimony of Mark 7:19 ("He declared all foods clean") and Acts 10:9-16”

        4. If a situation, principle or command is given to an individual in a nonmoral or
        nontheological setting, it is not transferrable to today.

                 a. Cloak and scrolls

                 Paul's instructions to Timothy to bring his cloak and scrolls (2 Tim. 4:11-13).

                 b. Wine

                 Paul telling Timothy to take some wine for his stomach (1 Tim 5:23).

        5. Don’t miss the principles behind a cultural issue

        "Some situations or commands pertain to cultural settings that are only partially similar to
        ours and in which only the principles are transferrable" (Zuck, p. 93). If the behavior
        prescribed in the Bible means something different in our culture, use the behavioral
        expression that best expresses that principle” (Vlach).

        6. Additional Thoughts

                 a. Be careful applying promises to Israel to the church.

                 b. Remember that all the Bible is for you, but it is not all directly written to you.

                 c. Generally speaking, the epistles contain the most prescriptive commands to
                 believers today.

                 d. Don’t rush to the, “it’s only cultural” line.

                 e. WWJD fails many times. It is a good idea, but WWJTUTDTHA is better
                 (what would Jesus tell us to do through His apostles).

                 a. Showing partiality to the rich (James 2:1-9)

                 “This passage condemns showing partiality to the rich. In James' day that was
                 expressed by giving the rich special seats while the poor often sat on the floor.
                 Today partiality for the rich may be shown in other ways. Thus, the principle of
                 not showing partiality to the rich may take different forms today than it did in
                 James' day” (Vlach).

                 b. Abstaining from meat sacrificed to idols (1 Cor. 8; Acts 15:29)

                 "Though meat we purchase has not been sacrificed to idols, the principle of 1
                 Corinthians 8 holds true, namely, that we ought not be involved in any practice
                 that would be a stumbling block to weak believers" (Zuck, p. 94).

                 c. Praying for kings (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

                 “This passage tells us to pray for kings. But what about believers who do not live
                 under a king? The principle is that we pray for our leaders. For us that would
                 involve our president” (Vlach).

D. Principles for determining whether Bible commands are culture-bound or transcultural
(Principles 1-5 taken from Virkler, Rightly Divided, pp. 242-43)

        1. Discern as accurately as possible the principle behind the given behavioral command.

        2. Discern whether the principle is timeless or time-bound. Since most biblical principles
        are rooted in God's unchanging nature, it seems to follow that a principle should be
        considered to be transcultural unless there is evidence to the contrary.

        3. If a principle is transcultural, study the nature of its behavioral application within our
        culture. Will the behavioral application given be appropriate now, or will it be perceived
        as out-of-date or odd? However, remember that the criterion for whether a behavioral
        command should be applied in our culture is not whether it conforms to modern cultural
        practices but whether or not it adequately and accurately expresses the God-given
        principle that was intended.

        4. If the behavioral expression of a principle should be changed, suggest a cultural
        equivalent that would adequately express the God-given principle behind the original
        command. For example, a handshake in place of a holy kiss.

        5. If after careful study the nature of the biblical principle and its attendant command
        remain in question, apply the biblical principle of humility. There may be occasions when
        even after careful study of a given principle and its behavioral expression, we still may
        remain uncertain about whether it should be considered transcultural or culture-bound. If
        we must decide to treat the command one way or the other but have no conclusive means
        to make the decision, the biblical principle of humility can be helpful. After all, would it
        be better to treat a principle as transcultural and be guilty of being overscrupulous in our
        desire to obey God? Or would it be better to treat a transcultural principle as culture-
        bound and be guilty of breaking a transcendent requirement of God? The answer should
        be obvious (Vikler, p. 243).

        Test: Are these cultural or normative? (write a “C” or “N” to the left of each verse):

        _____ Rom 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet

        _____ Acts 15:29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and
        from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things,
        you will do well. Farewell."

        _____ John 13:14 "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought
        to wash one another's feet.
        John 13:15 "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.

        _____ Acts 13:3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them,
        they sent them away.

        _____ 1 Tim 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man,
        but to remain quiet.

        _____ 1 Cor 11:5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or
        prophesying, disgraces her head; for she is one and the same with her whose head is

        _____ James 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth
        or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall
        under judgment.

        _____ Mark 6:7 And He summoned^ the twelve and began to send them out in pairs; and
        He was giving them authority over the unclean spirits;

        _____ James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church,
        and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;

        _____ Acts 15:5 But certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed, stood
        up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the Law of

        _____ Col 3:18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

        Communion from common cup

        _____Mark 14:23 And when He had taken a cup, and given thanks, He gave it to them;
        and they all drank from it.

        House churches

        _____ Col 4:15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the
        church that is in her house.

        _____ 1 Cor 11:14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is
        a dishonor to him,

        7 deacons? Deacons chosen by congregation?

        _____ Acts 6:3 "But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full
        of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.

        _____ Rom 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his
        neighbor has fulfilled the law.

        Church leadership decisions
        _____ Acts 1:26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was
        numbered with the eleven apostles.

IV. Tools for Overcoming the Culture Gap

        A. The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times by Ralph Gower
        B. Today's Handbook of Bible Times and Customs by William Coleman
        C. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts by J. I. Packer, Merrill Tenney and William
        D. The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times by Fred White
        E. Commentaries – They usually incorporated many of the essential manners and

7. Understand the Grammatical Context

I. Definition

“Grammatical interpretation presupposes the legitimacy of the normal, literal, customary, usual
sense of words and sentences, which in turn is based on the basic principles of logic and
communication” (Lewis).

II. The Importance of Studying Grammar

        A. The Nature of Inspiration

        Since the Bible is the Word of God, every word of Scripture is inspired and thus

        B. The importance of studying grammar

        “Thoughts are expressed through words, and words are the building blocks of sentences.
        To determine God's thoughts, then, we need to study His words and how they are
        associated in sentences. If we neglect the meanings of words and how they are used, we
        have no way of knowing whose interpretations are correct” (Vlach).

        C. The Bible was written in a foreign language

        "We want to get as close to the original as possible in our understanding of the Scriptures.
        This means, therefore, that we should learn the original languages, or if that is not
        possible, then we need to rely on others who do know the languages. Bible students,
        commentators, teachers, and preachers who know Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek can be
        useful sources of information in helping us know the meaning of the Scriptures in their
        original languages. This is not to suggest that a person cannot know, appreciate, and
        teach the Bible without knowing those languages. Many capable Bible expositors who
        have not known Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek have been greatly used of God in preaching
        and teaching the Bible. . . . The point, however, is that greater precision is available as
        one learns the biblical languages" (Zuck, p. 100).

III. Lexical (Word) Study

“Lexicology is a study of how word meanings are determined. At least four factors
influence the meaning of a word: etymology, usage, synonyms and antonyms, and context”

        A. Meaning of Words

        “In order to understand the Bible we must know the meaning of the words it uses”

        Ex. “The word "trunk" comes from the Old English word "tronke" meaning box. But
        that understanding of the etymology doesn't indicate what a given writer, means by the
        word. Trunk may mean (a) the main part of a tree, (b) the torso of the human body or the
        thorax of an insect, (c) the shaft of a column, (d) a large piece of luggage, (e) the luggage
        compartment of a car, (f) the part of the cabin of a boat that projects over the deck, (g) the
        proboscis of the elephant, (h) men's shorts (plural), (i) a circuit between two telephone
        exchanges, etc. The way the writer uses the word- -not its etymology--tells the reader
        what he means by it” (Lewis).

        Ex. The word “Dallas.” A first name (in our church), a city name, a shortened name for
        a seminary, brings up ideas of a football team, and it was the title of a television series.

                 1. Etymology

                 "Etymology refers to the root derivation and development of words. In etymology
                 the aims are (a) to get back to the root meaning of the word and (b) to see how the
                 word developed (Ibid, p. 101).

                 “Sometimes the original (root) meaning of a word gives a clue to the meaning in
                 the biblical text. For example, the Hebrew word , used in Ecclesiastes 37 times
                 and translated "vanity" or "futility," originally meant "breath" or "vapor," and thus
                 in Ecclesiastes it means that which is transient or valueless” (Lewis).

                         a. It can often be helpful

                         “The English word "hippopotamus" is derived from two Latin words--
                         "hippo" for horse and "potamus" for river—and thus this animal is a
                         kind of river horse” (Lewis).

                         b. It can be equally detrimental

                         “Though studying the root meaning of words is essential, we must be
                         careful. "The meanings of words often change radically with the passage
                         of time, so that little or no apparent connection remains between the
                         original meaning of the root word and its meaning a few hundred years
                         later" (Virkler, p. 100).

                                  (1) Ex. "The English word enthusiasm originally meant "possessed
                                  by a god" and was so used until the early 1800s" (Ibid.).

                                  (2) Ex. "The English word nice from the Latin nescius originally
                                  meant "simple" or "ignorant," hardly related to is present-day
                                  meaning" (Zuck, p. 102).

                                  (3) Ex. “Sometimes a word means something entirely different
                                  from its component parts (the whole is not the same as the sum of
                                  its parts).

                                         a. Broadcast = casting seeds widely (originally)
                                         b. Dandilion = (French) = lion's tooth
                                         c. "alatheia" = not hidden = truth” (Lewis).

                                  (4) Ex. “A biblical word should not be explained on the basis of its
                                  English etymology. For example, the biblical word "holy" is not
                                  derived from the English word "healthy" and therefore "holy" in its
                                  etymology does not mean being spiritually healthy. Nor does the
                                  Greek word "dunamis" (power) mean dynamite. Instead it means
                                  a dynamic, active, living force” (Lewis).

                         c. For other examples of how Greek words have changed and how they
                         have taken on new meanings in the New Testament, see Terry, Biblical

                         Hermeneutics, pp. 120-28, and Fisher, How to Interpret the New
                         Testament, pp. 102-8.

                 2. Kinds of Usage (Taken from Lewis)

                         a. Usage by the same writer in the same book. Ask, How does he use this
                         word elsewhere in this book? For example, does the word "prophets" in
                         Ephesians 2:20 refer to Old Testament prophets or New Testament

                         b. Usage by the same writer in his other books. For example, study John's
                         usage of "light" and "darkness" in his Gospel, Epistles, and Revelation.

                         c. Usage by other writers in the Bible.

                                  (1) How do other writers use "almah" (virgin) in Isaiah 7:14?

                                  (2) The Greek word "stoicheia" (elements) means basic
                                  components of the universe in II Peter 3:10; elementary or basic
                                  truths in Hebrews 5:12; and simplistic teachings or outward acts of
                                  religion in Galatians 4:3,9 and Colossians 2:8,20.

                         d. Usage by other writers (contemporary and otherwise) outside the Bible.

                                  (1) O.T.
                                  (2) N.T.
                                         Classical Greek
                                         Josephus and Philo

                         e. Discover the Meanings of Similar and Opposite Words (Synonyms and

                         1. Synonyms - Seeing how a word differs from its synonyms can help
                         narrow down the meaning of a given word.

                         a. In the phrase "commandments and teachings of men" (Colossians 2:22),
                         "commandments" suggests laws to be obeyed and "teachings" (i.e.,
                         doctrines) imply truth to be believed, and both pertain to man-devised
                         ceremonies which are encumbrances.

                         b. In Romans 14:13 an "obstacle" ("proskotnma") means a slight offense,
                         something that disturbs another, whereas a "stumbling block"
                         ("skandalon") means a more serious kind of offense, something causing
                         another to fall.

                         c. What synonyms are evident in Colossians 1:9-12,21-23?

                         d. For other examples of synonyms see Unger, Principles of Expository
                         Preaching, pp. 126-27 (see page 4a) and Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics,
                         pp. 191-202. Also see Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament, and
                         Trench, New Testament Synonyms.

                         2. Antonyms - Seeing how a word differs from its exact or near opposite
                         can help determine its meaning.

                         a. In Romans 8:4-9 does "flesh" mean the physical body or the sinful
                         nature? The answer is found by noting how it contrasts with the word

                         b. Does "death" in Romans 6:23 mean physical death or spiritual death?

        3. Don’t forget to find out if the words are singular or plural (hard to tell in English

        1 Cor 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God
        dwells in you? (plural)

        Gen 22:18 "And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you
        have obeyed My voice." (singular – see Gal 3:16)

        1 Pet 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to
        sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
        Wounds = wound in the Greek. Theological importance! Same in OT

        4. Remember that Greek words can be translated with different English words (context

        * A.T. Robertson – “There is no sphere of knowledge where one is repaid more quickly
        for all the toil expended (referring to the study of Greek). Indeed, the Englishman’s
        Greek Concordance almost makes it possible for the man with no knowledge of Greek to
        know something about it, paradoxical as that may sound.” Grammar of the Greek NT in
        light of Historical Background

                 Greek Word               Different English Translations in KJV
                 Psuche                   5
                 Didomai                  22
                 Logos                    26

        The same Greek word can have multiple English meanings.

        Biological generation

        Rom 1:3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the

        Physical body

        1 Tim 3:16 And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was
        revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among
        the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

        John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,
        glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

        Sin principle that dwells within (some mistakenly call “sin nature”)
        Rom 7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to
        Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing
        is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. (avoid neo platonic dualism)


        ONE FLESH'?

        Mat 19:6 "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has
        joined together, let no man separate."

        5. Different Greek words can be translated with the same English word.

        A. T. Robertson –“The Greek language is the most perfect vehicle of human speech thus
        far devised by man… It is impossible to translate all of Greek into English. Much can be
        carried over but not all. In the Greek there are delicate shades of meaning that defy the
        translator.” Grammar of the Greek NT in light of Historical Background

        Bios, zoe, psuche = ‘life’



        John 21:15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said^ to Simon Peter, "Simon, son
        of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said^ to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I
        love You." He said^ to him, "Tend My lambs."

        John 21:16 He said^ to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?"
        He said^ to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said^ to him, "Shepherd My

        John 21:17 He said^ to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter
        was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to
        Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said^ to him, "Tend
        My sheep.

        Which one?

        John 3:19 "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved
        the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. (agape)

        2 Tim 4:10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to
        Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (agape)

        1 John 2:15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world,
        the love of the Father is not in him. (all agape)

        Word – logos and rhema

        Which is which?

        1 Pet 1:25 BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ABIDES FOREVER." And this is the word
        which was preached to you. (rhema)

        Mat 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD
        GOD.'" (rhema)

        Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (rhema)

        Eph 6:17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is
        the word of God. (rhema)

        Heb 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature,
        and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins,
        He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; (rhema)

        Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so
        that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (rhema)

        Eph 5:26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with
        the word, (rhema)


        John 21:3 Simon Peter said^ to them, "I am going fishing." They said^ to him, "We will
        also come with you." They went out, and got into the boat; and that night they caught

        John 21:5 Jesus therefore said^ to them, "Children, you do not have any fish, do you?"
        They answered Him, "No."

        John 21:6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you
        will find a catch." They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul it in because
        of the great number of fish.

        John 21:8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the
        land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.

        John 21:9 And so when they got out upon the land, they saw^ a charcoal fire already
        laid, and fish placed on it, and bread.

        John 21:10 Jesus said^ to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have now caught."

        John 21:11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred
        and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

        John 21:13 Jesus came^ and took^ the bread, and gave^ them, and the fish likewise.

        3 – halieuo
        5 – prosphagion
        6 – ichthus
        8 – ichthus
        9 – opsarion
        10 – opsarion
        11 – ichthus
        13 – opsarion

        6. Consider the Context (from Lewis)

        How does context differ from usage? Usage pertains to a use of a word or phrase by an
        author or author in varied contexts, whereas context refers to the material which precedes
        and follows the word or phrase.

        Considering the context is extremely important for, three reasons:

                 (a) Words, phrases, and clauses have multiple meanings (e.g., "trunk," "by the
                 trunk," "bug," "he bugged him," each has several meanings), and thus examining
                 how they are used in the context can help determine the meaning.

                 (b) Thoughts are usually expressed by a series of words or sentences, that is, in
                 association not isolation. Thus "the meaning of any particular element is nearly
                 always controlled by what precedes and what follows" (Mickelsen, p. 100).

                 (c) Often false interpretations arise from ignoring the context.

                 Several kinds of contexts should be considered.

        The immediate context

         Often the sentence in which the word is used clarifies the meaning.

        a. What does "faith" mean in each of these verses?

                 Jude 3; Galatians 1:23 ___________________________

                 Romans 3:3 ___________________________________

                 Romans 1:17; Ephesians 2:8 ______________________

                 James 2:19,20 _________________________________

        b. Does "salvation" or "saved" always mean deliverance from sin?


                 1. Safety or deliverance from difficult circumstances.
                 2. Physical health.
                 3. Israel's national release from oppression by many enemies.
                 4. Deliverance from the penalty of sin by the substitutionary death of Christ.
                 5. Find deliverance from the presence of sin.

                 Look up these verses and beside each verse write the letter for the definition that
                 best describes the meaning of the word "salvation" or "saved" in that verse.

                 Exodus 14:13
                 Luke 1:71
                 Luke 18:42 ("made you well" is literally "saved you")
                 John 3:17
                 Acts 15:11
                 Acts 16:30
                 Acts 27:20
                 Romans 5:9
                 Romans 13:11
                 Philippians 1:19
                 James 5:15 ("restore" is literally "saved")

        c. The word "law" has several meanings, which can be ascertained from the way it is used
        in the sentence.

                 Romans 2:14b; 8:2 - a principle
                 John 1:17,45 - the Pentateuch
                 Matthew 22:40 - All the O.T. except the Prophets
                 Romans 2:12; 8:3 - the Mosaic system

        d. "In the last days" (and "the last hour") is often assumed to refer to the same period of
        time. But note how its usage in its immediate contexts determine its meaning:

                 Hebrews 1:2; I John 2:18 ________________________

                 II Timothy 3:1; II Peter 3:3 ________________________

        The context of the paragraph or chapter

        Sometimes the meaning of a word, phrase, or sentence is clarified only by the paragraph
        or chapter in which it occurs. For example:

        a. John 7:39 explains John 7:37-38.

        b. John 1:21 explains John 1:20.

        c. Hebrews 7:21 explains Hebrews 7:20.

        d. Does "fire" in Matthew 3:11 ("baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire") mean spiritual
        dynamics? See how fire is used in verses 10 and 12.

        e. When Paul says in I Corinthians 10:23 that "all things are lawful," does he include such
        things as murder, and adultery? The chapter context answers the question; see verses 6, 7,
        8, 14.

        f. Anacoluthuns (parenthetical statements) need to be kept in mind in understanding the
        thought of a paragraph. For example, Romans 2:13-15 are parenthetical, and thus 2:16
        continues the thought of 2:12.

        The context of the book

        Sometimes the scope and purpose of the book as a whole must be seen in order to clarify
        certain words or phrases.

        a. For example, does I John 3:6-10 mean that a Christian never sins?

        b. Understanding that the Book of James emphasizes evidences of true faith helps us
        understand his discussion of faith and works in James 2:12-25.

        c. Sometimes the purpose of a book is explicitly stated, as in the following: Luke 1:4;
        John 20:31; Philemon 17; I Timothy 3:14-15; II Peter 1:13; I John 5:13; Jude 3-4;
        Revelation 1:19. Other times the purpose is determined by inference (based on statements
        or emphases in the book), as in Matthew; I Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 5:1-4; Hebrews
        2:6; 6:1,11; 10:23,35-36.

        The context of parallel passages

        Parallel passages may be verbal parallels (in which the same or similar words, phrases, or
        sentences occur) or idea parallels (in which the same or similar ideas are expressed but in
        different words). For example, the word "hate" in Luke 14:26 is clarified by the parallel
        passage in Matthew 10:37.

        Close parallels exist between Kings and Chronicles, between the accounts in the Gospels,
        between Romans and Galatians, between Ephesians and Colossians, between II Peter and
        Jude, between Daniel and Revelation, and between single passages (e.g., cf. Isaiah 2:2-4
        with Micah 4:1-3; cf. Romans 4:3 with Hebrews 11:8-10,11-19; and cf. Matthew 11:12
        with Luke 16:16 and John 16:15).

        The context of the entire Bible (the analogy of faith)

        Galatians 5:4, "you have fallen from grace," may seem to teach that a Christian can lose
        his salvation. But this would contradict the entire tenor of Scripture, which is inspired by
        God "who cannot lie." The same is true of Philippians 2:12 which may at first glance
        seem to suggest that a person can attain salvation by works. The corollaries of this
        principle are these: (a) An obscure or ambiguous text should never be interpreted in such
        a way as to make it contradict a plain one. For example, "baptized for the dead" in I
        Corinthians 15:29 should not be interpreted to mean that a person can be saved after he
        has died. This would contradict the plain teaching of Titus 3:5, etc. (b) A complex,
        ingenious, or devious interpretation should not be given preference over the simple and
        more natural explanation. For example, how should Matthew 16:28 be interpreted? (c)
        The Old Testament sheds light on the New Testament (e.g., Cain, Balaam, and Korah in
        Jude 11) and vice versa.

B. Helpful Tools to find word meanings

        1. Concordances

        "A concordance contains a listing of all the times a given word is used in Scripture"
        (Virkler, p. 101).

        “An English concordance lists all or most of the occurrences of a particular English word
        in the Bible. The verses are usually listed in the order in which they appear in the Bible.
        The basic procedure for study is to look up each of the verses in which the target word
        appears, determining the possible meanings for the word, and then make a decision--
        based on the context of the verses being studied--about the meaning to assign to the word
        in that verse” (Lewis).

                 a. James Strong - Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (based on KJV)
                 b. Robert Thomas - New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the

        2. Lexicons

        “A lexicon is a dictionary of Hebrew or Greek words. Like an English dictionary, it lists
        the various denotations of each word found in it. Many lexicons survey the usage of

        words in both secular and biblical literature, giving specific examples. Words are often
        listed in Hebrew and Greek alphabetical order, so it is helpful to know the Hebrew and
        Greek alphabets in order to use these tools” (Vlach).

                 a. Hebrew. Brown, Driver, and Briggs - A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old

                 b. Greek. George Abbot-Smith - A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament

                 c. Greek. Joseph Thayer - Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

        3. Dictionaries

        W. E. Vine. An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words

        “The student can look up a word in English and find the various Hebrew and Greek
        words associated with the English term. It is easy to use with no knowledge of Greek
        necessary” (Vlach).

        4. Theological Word Books

        "These books give more extensive definitions of words than are found in lexicons or
        books of synonyms" (Virkler, p. 103).

                 a. Hebrew. Harris, Archer, Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
                 (2 vol.)

                 b. Greek. Colin Brown. The New International Dictionary of New Testament
                 Theology (4 vols.)

        5. Additional Tips

                 a. Italicized words in the English texts usually mean that that word was added by
                 the translators to help the reader understand. Try reading the English text without
                 the italicized words.

                 b. “LORD”, “Lord”, “Jehovah”, “God”, “Yahweh”, and “Elohim”

IV. Greek Verbs (from Bob Smith4):

Where it is all at! The key to start, especially in epistles.

“The most graphic and expressive word form in Greek is the verb. Here we find such a distinct difference
from our English verb usage that we need to learn to think like a Greek. The function of verbs in any
language is to express action; thus verb forms carry the greatest weight in the expression of thought”

      •     Tenses – present, future, imperfect, aorist, perfect - expresses time and/or duration of action.
      •     Voice – active, middle, passive - expresses the action as either performed by the subject of the
            verb or received by the subject. The subject is either acting or being acted upon.
      •     Mood – indicative, imperative, subjunctive, optative - expresses the writer's or speaker's attitude
            toward the action.
      •     Person – first, second, third
      •     Number – singular, plural

Participles function as modifiers

                                              Greek Verb Tenses
          TENSE                        KIND OF ACTION                          TIME
          Present                      Continuous, or Durative, like ----->    Present
                                       Viewed as a Whole, without              Action completed in the past,
          Aorist                      defining the manner of its              with present continuing
                                      occurrence                              results
                                       Completed, with ongoing continuing
                                      results, like ---->.--->
          Imperfect                    Continuous, like ----->                 Past
          Future                       Undefined, like the Aorist tense        Future

Present Tense

The Greek present tense, expressed in English terms reflects the idea I am going instead of I go, the action
being in process.

Aorist Tense

The aorist tense (aoristos, the Greek word from which it comes, means undefined, indefinite, unhorizoned)
is perhaps the most unusual from our standpoint. It is what I call the "splash" tense, for the Greek splashes
    Smith, Bob. “Basics of Bible Interpretation.”

it around in his speech when he is not trying to make any special distinctions such as the other tenses
would convey. Dana and Mantey's Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament tells us that the aorist
signifies nothing as to manner of occurrence or completeness, it just makes reference to the action as
happening. The aorist tense states the fact of the action without regard to its duration, viewing the event as
a whole. It has been likened to a snapshot, whereas the present tense is like a moving picture.

There is the common misconception that the aorist tense specifies once-for-all action. It should be evident
from the very name of the tense, aorist (undefined, indefinite) that this is not so. However, there are other
factors in a particular context that would carry this meaning, such as the use of the Greek word hapax,
meaning once, or once for all. In Hebrews 9:28, literally translated, we read " also Christ, having been
offered once for all to bear the sins of many...." We get the "once for all" idea from hapax and the context.
"Having been offered" is in the aorist tense and contributes nothing to our understanding as to the duration
or finality of the action. That considers the offering of Christ as an event, and is truly indefinite as to its
manner of occurrence or completeness.

To illustrate the use of the present and aorist together, John 10:38b reads in literal rendering, " order
that you may know (aorist tense) and be knowing (that is continue to know, present tense) that the Father is
in me and I in the Father." Here there is reference to the fact of knowing and the continuing process of
knowing. Perhaps this is the best way to see the use of the aorist, by contrasting it with the use of the
present tense in the same context. Dana and Mantey (1) give a telling illustration of this contrast:

On the question of the believer's relation to sin, it is exceedingly important to observe John's use of the
present and aorist tenses in his First Epistle. In I John 2:1 he uses the aorist twice with the verb
hamartanein, to sin, "My little children, l write these things to you in order that you won't even commit an act
of sin (aorist). And, if anyone does commit a sin (aorist), we have an advocate with the Father." In 3:9 he
uses the present tense with the same verb: "Everyone born of God does not practice or continue in sin
(present); because his seed is abiding in him and he is not able to continue in sin...(present)."

Perfect Tense

The perfect tense in Greek is to my mind the most expressive. It expresses past completed action with
presently continuing results. In John 17:10, our Lord speaks concerning his disciples "...I have been
glorified in them." "Have been glorified" is in the Greek perfect tense, signifying "I have been glorified and
continue to be glorified in them."

Imperfect Tense

The imperfect tense expresses curative or continuous action in past time. John 1:1, 2 has a telling example
of this in the use of the verb to be. It translates literally like this, "In the beginning the Word was (imperfect
tense, implying that he was already there in continuing existence) and the Word was with God (imperfect
tense again, speaking of his continuing existence with God from the very beginning) and God was the Word
(same imperfect tense, same import--the Word was always existing as God). (By the way, note the word
order: "God was the Word," the emphasis being on the very nature of the Word). This one was (imperfect
again--already in continuous existence) "in the beginning with God" (John 1 :1, 2). Note the repetition of "in
the beginning" for strong emphasis. We know from John 1:14 and 17 that "the Word" is Jesus Christ. The
use of the imperfect tense in this passage is insisting on the fact that he always was (his eternal
preexistence) and that he always was deity, and he always was one of the Godhead.

Future Tense

The Greek future tense, portraying action yet future, is roughly equivalent to our English future. However,
since the event is yet future, and thus more or less uncertain, it reflects the "undefined" idea we see in the
aorist, rather than continuity of action. A typical future is, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the
Father will send name, he will teach you all things..."

There is one other tense, the pluperfect, which occurs so seldom in the New Testament we will not deal
with it here. There are also distinctions of usage of each of the tenses which we will not attempt to treat. A
Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament by Dana and Mantey is a handbook of information which is
very useful for study and reference. It is even useful to the English reader, even though it uses Greek
words, for definitive data on Greek grammar and syntax.


Now, shifting our attention to moods, we are reminding you of a language feature that most of us have
either forgotten or have never known. The mood (or mode) of a verb expresses the attitude of the writer or
speaker with regard to the action.

It can represent one of two viewpoints: (1) that which is actual and (2) that which is possible, like this:

                                                 Greek Moods
                   MOOD                FORM                                       MEANING OR USAGE
                                                                                  Verbal idea is actual--it
      Actual       Indicative          Declaration of fact--reality              indicates what is true
                                                                                 about the subject
                                                                                  Imposes a demand
                                                                                 upon the will to do what
                   Imperative          Command--potential reality                is commanded and is
                                                                                 contingent upon the
                                                                                  Expresses uncertainty.
                                                                                 Used in exhortations and
      Possible                                                                   conditional clauses,
                                                                                 where the action is
                   Subjunctive         Contingency--potentially possible
                                                                                 objectively possible
                                                                                 depending upon certain
                                                                                 conditions and/ or
                                                                                  Expresses a wish or
                   Optative            Possibility conceivably possible          desire often introduced
                                                                                 by "may."

The Indicative Mood

In English this is sometimes called the Declarative Mood for by it the writer is stating a declaration of fact. In
John 17.4 our Lord declares, addressing his Father in prayer, "I glorified thee" (aorist active indicative
pointing to this action viewed as a whole, which he is stating as an actual fact) "having accomplished work
(aorist active participle which describes having fulfilled the assigned work) which thou gayest me to do...."
(perfect active indicative--which the Father gave him and still gives him, stated as a fact).

I hope I'm not moving too fast for you, for now we are viewing tense, voice, and mood together, plus an
auxiliary verb form, the participle, which participates in the action of the main verb, describing, modifying or
explaining its meaning.

The Imperative Mood

A rather startling use of the imperative is seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:

And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with
all of them, see that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
for you. Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast what is good,
abstain from every form of evil...he who calls you is faithful, and he will do it (1 Thess. 5:1 4-22, 24).

Did you notice the string of imperatives? Admonish, encourage, help, be patient, see that none repays,
seek to do good, rejoice, pray, give thanks, do not quench, do not despise, test, hold fast, abstain--all make
a demand on the will of the reader to obey the command. No light options, these! How we do it becomes
another matter, but there is no mistaking the commands God issues through the apostle.

Sprinkled throughout the imperatives in this passage are a few indicative forms: we beseech you, in verse
12, a statement of fact making a strong plea for cooperation with God's design; and in verse 24, he who
calls you is faithful (indicative--a fact) and he will do it (another indicative--it's a fact, but future tense--a
promise he will prove true in time).

In the midst are two verbs in the optative mood, "may the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and
may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"
(1 Thess. 5:23). May God...sanctify you (aorist active optative, expressing the wish or desire of the inspired
apostle and thus of God himself). The same is true of may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and

What a great deal we learn from these verb forms, especially their mood.

The Subjunctive Mood

Here is a feature of language almost lost in English, but very prominent in New Testament Greek. The
subjunctive is the mood of uncertainty or contingency. In English we have a vestige of the subjunctive
mood remaining in expressions like: if I were king using were instead of was to express a wish or condition
which is not so in this case. In our English Bible it is seen often in the exhortations like, "Therefore let us
leave the elementary doctrines of Christ and go on to maturity..." (Heb. 6:1). The words let us clue us in to
the subjunctive mood, for the outcome is in doubt, contingent upon the response of the hearer to the
appeal. Here, however, the Revised Standard Version loses the form of the initial verb in the Greek text; in
this case, as in a number of others, the King James Version is better: "Therefore leaving the principles of

the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection." This translation carries over the verb leaving in its
participial form and retains the subjunctive force of let us go on in its exhortation of the hearer. There is
thus only one exhortation here, not two. This highlights the value, for English Bible students, of comparing
translations, and for Greek students, the value of getting behind the English texts into the Greek New
Testament. Other good key words of the English subjunctive are "should" and "might" when used as
auxiliary verbs--"If I should go to the store..." "He came that we might have life."

The subjunctive mood also has significant usage in conditional clauses. In John 1:8 and 9, for instance, we
have several subjunctives: "If we say (subjunctive--maybe we do and maybe we don't; there is the
possibility) we have no sin (indicative mood, assumed as a fact) we deceive ourselves (yes, you guessed it-
-indicative again) and the truth is not in us (another statement of fact, assuming we have said we have no
sin). If we confess our sins (another subjunctive--maybe yes, maybe no) he is faithful and just, and will
forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (one indicative, is faithful, and two subjunctives,
will forgive and will cleanse, implying that forgiveness and cleansing are contingent upon our confession
but based on God's faithfulness to do what he promised). The one indicative form he is faithful stresses the
basis of his being able to forgive and cleanse--the work of Christ, as in 1 John 1:7 "...the blood of Jesus his
Son cleanses us from all unrighteousness."

Contextually, we need to recall that the issue here is fellowship, not salvation. Our enjoyment of life with
God is at stake, not our possession of that life. Our salvation is based on the work of Christ which we
appropriated when we invited him to be our Lord and Savior. Our fellowship (enjoying full participation in all
that God has made available to us in his Son) is contingent upon our agreeing with him on the issues of our
life--our walk with Christ and in Christ.

Conditional Clauses

At this point it should be noted that the conditional clauses cited above represent only one of four kinds the
Greek uses. This one is the truly conditional clause which expresses the genuine contingency (maybe it's
true and maybe it's not) in which the subjunctive mood is used to express that uncertainty based on the fact
that the response could go either way. All four kinds are listed in the following chart comprising an
interesting and unusual (from our standpoint) feature of Greek.

                                         Greek Conditional Clauses
CLASS                EXPRESSION                                  IDENTIFICATION
                                                                     Ei (if) used with any tense assuming it
                                                                   to be true for of the indicative, the mood
                     If...and it's true, or I am assuming it to be of reality. e.g. "my God is for us..." (Rom.
                    true for the purposes of my argument. The      8:31) and he is, as Paul has taken 8
                    writer wishes to assume (or seem to assume) chapters of Romans to prove. Could be
                    the reality of his argument                    translated "Since God is for us..." Here
                                                                   the reality of the premise is assumed,
                                                                   and is established by the context.
                                                                      Ei (if) used with only the past tenses
                     If...and it's not true. A contrary-to-fact
Second                                                              (aorist, imperfect or pluperfect) of the
                    condition or unfulfilled condition, e.g. John
Class                                                               indicative mood. Ei(if) plus imperfect
                    11:32 "Lord, if you had been here..."
Condition                                                           indicative = if...and it's not true about
                    (imperfect indicative) but you were not.
                                                                    present. e.g. John 15:19, 22, Gal. 1:10.

                                                                       Ei (if) plus aorist or pluperfect = if...and
                                                                       it's not true about past. e.g. John 11:32,
                                                                       Matt. 11:21, Mark 13:20
                                                                      Ean (if, implying uncertainty) used with
Third                 If...and maybe it's true, maybe not. A true
                                                                    the subjunctive, also implying
Class                condition, where the actual state is in doubt.
                                                                    uncertainty, leaving the issue in doubt.
Condition            e.g. I John 1:8-9 as explained previously.
                                                                    e.g. 1 John 1:8,9 cited previously.
                      Same as third class, with less probability of    Ei and an with the optative mood e.g. 1
                     fulfillment.                                      Cor. 14:10, 15:37,1 Peter 3:14.

Dana and Mantey, quoting A. T. Robertson, make a pertinent statement in regard to these expressive
forms: "The point about all four classes to note is that the form of the condition has to do only with the
statement, not with the absolute truth or certainty of the matter...we must distinguish always therefore
between the fact and the statement of the fact. The conditional sentence deals only with the statement." (2)

For instance, the illustration I have given in the chart for a first class condition (Rom. 8:31 ) points up the
reality of the fact that "God is for us," which is easy to see if we relate the conditional clause to the context.
However, there are cases in which the conditional clause is not stating what is true, but rather the writer is
assuming the premise stated in the conditional clause for the sake of his argument. This is the case with
Galatians 2:21. "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law (a first class
condition, assumed as true for the sake of the argument when it is not really true), then Christ died
needlessly" (Gal. 2:21 NASV, italics mine). We see this same situation in 1 Corinthians. Paul writes in 1
Corinthians 15:15: "We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testify of God that he
raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised." (Here, first class condition
assumed as true for the sake of the argument, when in fact the dead are raised.)

This is a bit tricky, but we can gain considerable understanding from conditional clauses if we take the time
to think them through.


Voice is that property of the verbal idea which indicates how the subject is related to the action. In Greek,
the active and passive voices are just like the English equivalents, but the Greek has an additional voice
called the Middle Voice which has a reflexive force.

                                                 Greek Voices
        VOICE           THOUGHT                                            EXAMPLE
                        The subject of the verb produces the action         "But God shows his love for
                       us..." (Rom. 5:8).                                  us..."(Rom. 5.8).
                                                                            "...but you were sanctified, you
        Passive        The subject of the verb receives the action
                                                                           were justified..." (1 Cor. 6:11).
                        The subject of the verb participates in the         "He himself secured eternal
                       results of the action                               redemption" (Heb. 9:12).

The middle voice is peculiarly Greek in its usage and defies exactness of translation into English. But we
can understand several things about its various uses.

1. It refers the action back to the one acting. The action in some way reflects back upon the subject of the
verb. It can have roughly the force of a reflexive pronoun as we would use it in English. For example, "...I
will myself be a Father to him..." (Heb. 1:5, italics mine) in which the verb will be is in the middle voice.

2. It can have the force of emphasizing the part taken by the subject of the verb as in "...having by himself
made a cleansing of sins..." (Heb. 1:3, literal translation, italics mine).

3. It can represent the subject as voluntarily yielding himself to the action of the verb, e.g., "Why not let
yourselves be wronged?" (1 Cor. 6:7, literal translation, italics mine).

Perhaps these examples are enough to give the flavor of the middle voice. Your own investigations of its
specific use can, I hope, lead you to the local significance as you encounter its


Though they are usually very small words, a great deal of meaning can be determined by their usage. The
diagram and chart which follow will illustrate how far-reaching their effects can be.

                      Diagram of the Directive and Local Functions of Prepositions

I have found this chart so helpful that I have put it in the flyleaf of my Bible. To illustrate how important
prepositions can be, I would like to cite two glaring cases of careless (and thus faulty) translation. In the
Revised Standard Version John 13:8 reads, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me." The Greek
preposition translated "in" is meta, which should be translated "with." The King James Version and the New
American Standard properly translate it so. The difference is crucial! "In me" would indicate that Peter's
salvation was in question, whereas "with me" speaks of Peter's fellowship with Christ--his joint participation
with the Lord in the activities of life.

The other faulty translation is perhaps just as costly if we fail to get the true meaning inferred from the
prepositions used. It is in Ephesians 4:11, 12, and here even the New American Standard Version doesn't
keep it straight. The passage should read, if we observe the Greek prepositions used: "And he gave some
prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers toward (Greek, pros) the equipping of the saints
unto (Greek, eis) the work of ministry, unto (Greek, eis) the building of the body of Christ." (italics mine).

Most of the translations fail to make the distinction between the prepositions used here in the Greek text.
Thus it obscures the fact that the ministry belongs to all God's people, not just the pastor-teachers. The
result of this failure has, among other things, contributed greatly to the Christian "unemployment" problem.
Many Christians would think themselves to be presumptuous to entertain the idea of having a ministry for
the Lord.

In his Practical Use of the Greek New Testament Kenneth Wuest resolves a seeming contradiction by
translating a single preposition properly:

A careful study of the Greek preposition discloses some precious truth that would otherwise be obscured by
reason of a wrong interpretation put upon an English preposition, and at the same time saves the expositor
from arriving at a wrong interpretation.

Take the difficult statement in Matthew 3:11, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance." The word
"unto" means "result." For instance, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel,...for it is the power of God unto
(resulting in) salvation" (Rom. 1: 16) Are we to understand that a person's submission to water baptism
results in his repentance? That is exactly what the Authorized Version says.

The Greek student will find that the preposition eis appears in Matthew 3:11 and Romans 1:16. But
prepositions in Greek are not confined to a single meaning in every context. Nor are they to be translated in
a uniform way in their every occurrence in the Greek text.

A preposition has root meanings, resultant meanings, and remote meanings. It also has special meanings
when used in composition with verbal forms. When the student is confronted with a problem like this, he
should consult Dana and Mantey on the word eis. These scholars have classified the various uses of the
prepositions in the New Testament. They also give illustrations of their various usages. For instance they
give "they repented at the preaching of Jonah" (Matt. 12:41). Of course, one would not translate, "They (the
men of Nineveh) repented unto the preaching of Jonah." That is, it would be ridiculous to say that the
preaching of Jonah was the result of the repentance of the Ninevites. It was the other way round. They
repented because of the preaching of Jonah. The Greek student would say here that this usage of eis
would fit the context in which Matthew 3:11 is found. It would agree with the teaching of other scriptures
regarding the significance of water baptism. He would translate, "I indeed baptize you with water because
of repentance." That is, repentance precedes water baptism, and baptism is the outward visible testimony
of an inward fact, the person's repentance. Thus, another problem is solved, a difficulty removed, and an

erroneous translation corrected, upon which translation is built the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration.
We have the same difficulty in Acts. 1:38. The same Greek preposition is used, and the same solution will
meet the problem. (3)

                [End of excerpt from: Smith, Bob. “Basics of Bible Interpretation.”]

V. Greek Nouns

Case – nominative, genitive, ablative, dative, locative, instrumental, accusative, vocative
Gender – Masculine, feminine, neuter
Number – singular, plural

College-level English class benefits


Subject|verb|direct object/indirect object
  ^ adjectives      ^ adj

Corresponding Greek case:
 ^genitive          ^genitive

Mat 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age."

V. Syntax Study (Relationship of Words)

    A. What is syntax?

        "The word 'syntax' comes from the Greek syntassein which means 'to place in order
        together.' According to Webster's Dictionary 'syntax' is 'the way in which words are put
        together to form phrases, clauses, or sentences.' It is a branch of grammar" (Zuck, p. 117).

        “Syntax deals with the way thoughts are expressed through grammatical forms” (Virkler,
        p. 109).

        "Single words by themselves seldom convey a complete thought. Like bricks in a
        building, words are single elements that together make sentences, the basic units of
        thought" (Zuck, p. 117).

                 1. Ex. The man hit the ball hard.
                 2. Ex. The ball hit the man hard.
                 3. Ex. The hard ball hit the man.

B. Why is syntax difficult?

"Each language has its own structure, and one of the problems that makes learning another
language so difficult is that the learner must master not only the word definitions. . . but also new
ways of arranging and showing the relationship of one word to another" (Virkler, pp. 109-110).

C. Elements of syntax (This is a very brief summary. Consult a good English grammar book
for further study.) (From Vlach):

        1. Phrases - A phrase consists of a short grammatical group of words without a verb.

                 a. Prepositional phrase "In Christ."
                 b. Participial phrase "Speaking the truth in love."

        2. Clauses - A clause is a grammatical unit of words comprised of a subject being
        discussed and a predicate (the verb indicating action, state or condition).

                 a. Independent clause (a complete thought) "He chose us."
                 b. Dependent clause (not a complete thought) "For even though I am absent with
                 you in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit."

        3. Sentences - A sentence is a series of words arranged to express a single complete

                 a. Simple sentence (only one independent clause) "You set your mind on things
                 b. Compound sentence (two independent clauses in same sentence) "Husbands
                 love your wives and [you] do not be harsh to them."
                 c. Complex sentence (at least one independent clause and one dependent clause)
                 "We always thank God because we have heard."

D. Word Order

“God is love.” vs “Love is God.” (dramatic difference)

Words out of order highlight emphasis (front or back of sentence) – give examples

E. Helps for studying syntax

Hebrew and Greek Grammars

"Hebrew and Greek grammars explain the various forms that words can take in their respective
languages, and the meaning of the words when they appear in one of these forms" (Virkler, p.

        a. A.T. Robertson Word Pictures in the New Testament
        b. Marvin Vincent Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament
        c. Dana and Mantey A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament.

8. Understand Literary Context

I. Literary Genre in the Bible

A. What is Literary Genre?

 "Genre, a French word from the Latin genus, means a literary type. "Literary genre" refers to the
category or the kind of writing characterized by a particular form(s) and/or content" (Zuck, p.

“Literary genre" refers to the category or kind of writing characterized by a particular form or
content. Distinguishing between the various genres, (kinds of literature) in Scripture helps us
interpret the Bible more accurately” (Lewis).

"We do this with all kinds of literature. We distinguish between lyric poetry and legal briefs,
between newspaper accounts of current events and epic poems. We distinguish between the style
of historical narratives and sermons ... " (Sproul, p. 49).

B. Why is Genre important?

"It helps give a sense of the overall thrust of the Bible book, so that verses and paragraphs can be
seen in light of the whole. This helps prevent the problem of taking verses out of context" (Zuck,
p. 126).

C. Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics:

"We affirm that Scripture communicates God's truth to us verbally through a wide variety of
literary forms" (Article X).

"We affirm that awareness of literary categories, formal and stylistic, of the various parts of
Scripture is essential for proper exegesis and hence we value genre criticism as one of the many
disciplines of Biblical study" (Article XIII).

II. Biblical Genres

A. Epistles (exposition)

“The epistle is the dominant literary genre of the New Testament in terms of space. It is a mixed
form that combines literary and expository features. The usual New Testament epistle consists of
five main parts: 1) an opening or salutation; 2) thanksgiving (prayer for spiritual welfare and/or
remembrance of recipients); 3) body of letter; 4) moral exhortations; and 5) closing with final
greetings and benediction (Ryken, p. 155).

        1. Ex. Romans

        "The book of Romans is a tightly reasoned explanation of the gospel. Paul argues like a
        lawyer presenting a case before a court" (Hendricks, p. 210).

        2. Other examples Paul's other letters— Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, the epistles of
        John, and Jude.

        3. Advantage of epistolary or expositional literature

        "Their meaning lies close to the surface. . . . And their purposes are easy to grasp; they
        practically outline themselves. Yet they also make for exciting in-depth analysis because
        their truths are inexhaustible" (Hendricks, p. 210).

        4. Key to understanding

        "The key to understanding a work of exposition is to pay attention to its structure and the
        terms it employs" (Hendricks, p. 211).

B. Narrative

"A narrative is of course a story, but a biblical narrative is a story told for the purpose of
conveying a message through people and their problems and situations. Biblical narratives are
selective and illustrative. The biblical narratives are not intended to be full biographies giving
every detail of individuals' lives; the writers carefully selected the material they included
(obviously doing so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to accomplish certain purposes"
(Zuck, p. 128).

        1. Examples Much of Genesis—Ezra, Acts

        2. Most predominant literary category

        "The Bible contains more of the type of literature called 'narrative' than it does of any
        other literary type. For example, over 40 percent of the Old Testament is narrative. Since
        the Old Testament itself constitutes three-quarters of the bulk of the Bible, it is not
        surprising that the single most common type of literature in the entire Bible is narrative"
        (Fee and Stuart, p. 78).

        3. Purpose of narratives

        “The purpose of biblical narratives is to show God at work in His creation and among His
        people. Narratives help us understand and appreciate God for who He is and what He
        does. Narratives also reveal much about human beings in their relations to God” (Vlach).

        4. Keys to understanding narratives

                 a. Find the plot and movement of the story.

                 "This could be physical, as in the case of the Israelites moving across the Sinai
                 peninsula in Exodus; it could be spiritual, as in the case of Samson in Judges. . . it
                 could be relational, as in Ruth, or political, as in 1 and 2 Kings. The question is,
                 what development is there in the story? What is different at the end of the book,
                 and why?" (Hendricks, p. 211).

                 b. Study the characters.

                 Who are the characters in the narrative? What roles do they play? How are they
                 presented? How do the characters relate to each other? What progress or regress
                 do they make? Do they fail or succeed? Why?

        5. Principles for interpreting narrative parts of the Bible (adapted from Fee and Stuart, pp.

                 a. Experiences found in narratives are not to be taken in a normative way
                 unless other Scripture explicitly says so.

                 "Our assumption, shared by many others, is that unless Scripture explicitly tells us
                 we must do something, what is only narrated or described does not function in a
                 normative way—unless it can be demonstrated on other grounds that the author
                 intended it to function in this way" (Fee and Stuart, p. 106).

                 b. Narratives usually do not directly teach doctrine.

                 c. Narratives usually illustrate a doctrine or doctrines taught propositionally

                 d. Narratives record what happened—not necessarily what should have
                 happened or what ought to happen every time. Not every narrative has an
                 identifiable moral of the story.

                 e. What people do in narratives is not necessarily a good example for us. The
                 fact that God allowed polygamy in the cases of Abraham, David and Solomon
                 does not mean that such action is acceptable before God. Godly men, at times, did
                 wrong and sinful things.

                 f. All narratives are selective and incomplete. The only details that are recorded
                 are those that the Spirit of God inspired the human author to write (cf. John

                 g. Narratives are not written to answer all of our theological questions.
                 They have particular, limited purposes, leaving other issues to be dealt with

                 h. Narratives my teach either explicitly (by clearly stating something) or
                 implicitly (by clearly implying something without actually stating it).

                 i. God is the hero of all biblical narratives.

C. Gospels

"The Gospels include a good bit of biographical material on Christ, but they are more than
biographies. They are both doctrine and narrative, presented to set forth information on the
person of Jesus Christ" (Zuck, p. 132).

D. Legal

“Legal literature involves material that is mostly made up of commandments. Legal literature in
the Bible includes Exodus 20-40, the Book of Leviticus, portions of Numbers (chs. 5-6, 15, 18-
19, 28-30, 34-35) and almost all of Deuteronomy” (Vlach).

E. Parables

"A parable is a brief tale that illustrates a moral principle" (Hendricks, p. 212). The children’s
definition contains much truth, “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”

        1. Examples Matt. 13, Mark 4, Luke 15-16
        2. Keys to understanding parables (see section on "Interpreting parables")

F. Poetry

"The Books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs are the five major poetical
books of the Old Testament. . . . A distinct feature of the poetry of the Bible is that two (and
sometimes three or four) lines are stated in parallel form" (Zuck, p. 130).

“The distinctive feature of poetry is its appeal to the emotions, as well as the imagination"
(Hendricks, p. 212).

        1. Examples - Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.

        2. Keys to understanding poetry

                 a. Sung not read

                 “Realize that much of poetry, including most of the Psalms, were meant to be
                 sung, not read” (Vlach).

                 b. Parallelism

                 “This term refers to the practice of balancing one though or phrase by a
                 corresponding thought or phrase containing approximately the same number of
                 words, or at least a correspondence in ideas" (G. Archer).

                         Illustrations (from Lewis):

                         1. Synonymous: very close similarity between each of the two lines.

                         Psalm 3:1 O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are risen against me!

                         Hosea 11:8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you,
                         O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like
                         Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are

                         2. Antithetic: the second line contrasts the first.

                         Psalm 1:6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous. But the way of the
                         wicked shall perish.

                         Prov 12:2 A good man will obtain favor from the LORD, But He will
                         condemn a man who devises evil.

                         3. Synthetic: the second line takes up and develops further a thought in
                         the first line.

                         Psalm 95:3 For the Lord is a Great God And a great king above all gods.

                         Isa 55:6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while
                         He is near.

                         Psa 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the
                         wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
                         Psa 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he
                         meditates day and night.

                         4. Emblematic: one line conveys the main point, the second line
                         illuminates it by an image.

                         Psalm 42:1 As a hart longs for flowing streams, So longs my soul for thee,
                         Oh God!

                         5. Climactic: the first line is an incomplete thought and the second line
                         repeats the first with the exception of the term which it changes to
                         complete the thought.

                         Psalm 29:1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, Ascribe to the Lord
                         glory and strength.

                         Psa 34:4 I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me
                         from all my fears.

                         6. Formal: two lines are joined solely by metric considerations.

                         Psalm 2:6 I have set my king On Zion, my holy hill.

                 c. Look for Messianic elements. Psa 2, 22, 110, etc.

                 d. Remember the Psalms are poems (from Lewis)

                         1. In comparison with other types of literature, poetry is a more
                         concentration and more consciously artistic form of discourse.

                         2. Concentration is achieved through the use of images, symbols,
                         allusions, metaphors, similes (and other figures of speech), emotive
                         vocabulary, and multiple meanings.

                         3. The fact that poetry is artistic means that as an object of beauty a poem
                         will display in fuller measure and with greater frequency the components
                         of artistic form, including pattern or design, unity, theme, or centrality,
                         balance, harmony, contrast, unified progression, recurrence, and variation.

                         4. The writers of the Psalms were imaginative, creative, lovers of poetry as
                         well as lovers of God, and people who regarded the artistry of their poems
                         as something important, and try to communicate the beauty of the poetry.

                 e. Give special attention to both the artistic structure and artistic language of
                 the Psalms (from Lewis)

                         1. Parallelism, the major component of structure, should be utilized in
                         your interpretation, brought out in your presentation of the Psalm; the
                         artistic nature of the acrostic (alphabetic) Psalms should also be explained
                         (Psa 119; 145).

                         2. The artistic language of the Psalm frequently concentrates its subject
                         into an image. (Where the narrative writer might describe the blessedness
                         of a godly person by telling about some representative events in his life,
                         the psalmist (Psalm 1) pictures the vitality, fulfillment, and stability of the
                         godly person through the single image of a tree planted by a stream of

                         3. Because of its concentration, poetry often says several things at the
                         same time, resulting in possible multiple meaning (e.g., Ps. 23 is on one

                         level a description of the shepherd's relationship to his sheep, but
                         throughout the poem there is also a second deeper set of meanings).

                 f. Identify the type or category of Psalm (from Lewis)

                         1. The type of Psalm you are dealing with will have a major influence on
                         how you understand, interpret, and teach the Psalm.

                         2. The structure of the Psalm category will be most important in helping to
                         outline the Psalm.

                 g. Utilize the Historical Background of the Psalms when you can (from

                         1. Sometimes the Psalm appears in the context of a historical book.

                         2. Sometimes the historical background is identified in the superscription.

                         3. Where the historical context is not specifically stated, it is probably best
                         not to speculate.

                 h. Look for the Central Idea of the Psalm (from Lewis)

                         1. Being emotional poems intended to be sung, the Psalms are (for the
                         most part) relatively brief, and so are self-contained units.

                         2. Each Psalm usually has a single controlling topic or theme.

                                  a. The fragmentation partly fostered by the conventional division
                                  into verses needs to be overcome by recognition of the unifying

                                  b. The unifying theme may be a thought or an emotion that
                                  controls all of the details in the poem and unifies them into a single
                                  whole. It is usually stated early in the poem, functioning as the
                                  stimulus or point of departure and exercising a formative influence
                                  on the development of the poem as a whole.

G. Wisdom

 "In this genre, the writer assumes the role of a wizened veteran of life prepared to share his
insights with a younger, inexperienced, but teachable reader" (Hendricks, p. 214).

        1. Examples

        "The Wisdom books are Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. (Some also include the Song of
        Songs in this group.) All wisdom literature is poetry, but not all poetic material is
        Wisdom literature" (Zuck, p. 131).

        2. Two kinds of wisdom literature

                 a. Proverbial literature

                 "The proverbs or maxims are general truths based on broad experience and
                 observation. These are guidelines which are normally true in general. They are
                 guidelines, not guarantees; precepts, not promises" (Zuck, p. 132).

                 "Proverbs state a wise way to approach certain selected practical goals but do so
                 in terms that cannot be treated like a divine warranty for success. The particular
                 blessings, rewards, and opportunities mentioned in Proverbs are likely to follow if
                 one will choose the wise courses of action outlined in the poetical, figurative
                 language of the book. But nowhere does Proverbs teach automatic success" (Fee
                 and Stuart, p. 220).

                         (1) Ex. "The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger" (Prov. 10:3).
                         (2) Ex. "Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he
                         will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6).

                 b. Reflective literature

                 “This type of literature involves a discussion of the mysteries of life as found in
                 Job and Ecclesiastes” (Vlach).

H. Prophetic and Apocalyptic

"Prophetic literature is material that includes predictions of the future at the time of the writing
of the material with injunctions often included that those who hear the prophecy adjust their lives
in light of the predictions. . . . A special form of prophetic literature is apocalyptic material,
which focuses specifically on the end times, while presenting the material in symbolic form"
(Zuck, pp. 134-35).

        1. Ex. Much of Isaiah—Malachi and Revelation

        2. Keys to understanding prophetic and apocalyptic literature (More on this in section
        called "Interpreting Prophecy") (from Vlach)

                 a. Become familiar with the historical context the prophet was writing in.
                 Determine the identity of all people, places and events mentioned.

                 b. See if the prophecy has been fulfilled already in history or is waiting future

                 c. Work at understanding the symbolic language. Realize apocalyptic literature
                 uses more symbols and analogous language. The Bible student, then, must work
                 at understanding the meaning of the symbols and analogous language. Remember,

                  though, the use of symbols does not mean one should jettison the literal approach
                  to interpretation. Behind each symbol is a literal meaning.

                  d. Check parallel passages or other cycles within the same prophecy for
                  further information. (Henry A. Virkler, p. 206) For example, when studying
                  Revelation, check parallel passages in Daniel.

9. Interpret Figures of Speech

I. Figures of Speech

“The natural operations of the human mind prompt men to trace analogies and make
comparisons. Pleasing emotions are excited and the imagination is gratified by the use of
metaphors and similes. Were we to suppose a language sufficiently copious in words to express
all possible conceptions, the human mind would still require us to compare and contrast our
concepts, and such a procedure would soon necessitate a variety of figures of speech. So much of
our knowledge is acquired through the senses, that all our abstract ideas and our spiritual
language have a material base. "It is not too much to say," observes Max Muller, "that the whole
dictionary of ancient religion is made up of metaphors. With us these metaphors are all forgotten.
We speak of spirit without thinking of breath, of heaven without thinking of sky, of pardon
without thinking of a release, of revelation without thinking of a veil. But in ancient language
every one of these words, nay, every word that does not refer to sensuous objects, is still in a
chrysalis stage, half material and half spiritual, and rising and falling in its character according to
the capacities of its speakers and hearers” (Terry, 109).

A. A definition

“The laws of grammar describe how words normally function. In some cases, however, the
speaker or writer purposely sets aside those laws to use new forms, forms we call figures of
speech” (Vlach).

"A figure of speech is a word or phrase that is used to communicate something other than its
literal, natural meaning" (T. Norton Sterett, How to Understand Your Bible, 93).

As Bullinger wrote, “A figure is simply a word or a sentence thrown into a peculiar form,
different from its original or simplest meaning or use.”

"Figurative speech . . . is a picturesque, out-of-the-ordinary way of presenting literal facts that
might otherwise be stated in a normal, plain, ordinary way" (Zuck, p. 147).

B. Use of figures in the Bible

"The Bible contains hundreds of figures of speech. E.W. Bullinger grouped the Bible's figures of
speech into more than 200 categories, giving 8,000 illustrations from the Scriptures, with the
table of contents taking 28 pages to list the 200 categories!" (Zuck, p. 143).

C. Examples (from Vlach)

        1. Ex. If we say "It is raining hard," we are using a normal, plain statement. But if we say,
        "It is raining cats and dogs," we have used a sentence that means the same thing but is an
        unusual, more colorful way of expressing the same thought.
        2. Ex. Calling someone who deceives others "a snake."
        3. Ex. Calling your companion "Sweetheart" or "Honey."
        4. Ex. "Get off your high horse."
        5. Ex. A long pass in football is "a bomb."
        6. Ex. "Chicago Bulls"
        7. Ex. "He's flipped his lid."
        8. Ex. "She has a green thumb."
        9. Biblical ex. Jesus is "the lamb of God" (John 1:29).

D. Why use figures of speech? (Taken from Zuck, pp. 144-45)

Figurative speech . . . is a picturesque, out-of-the-ordinary way of presenting literal facts that
might otherwise be stated in a normal, plain, ordinary way.

        1. Adds color and vividness

        "To say, 'The Lord is my rock' (Ps. 18:2) is a colorful, vivid way of saying the Lord is
        One on whom I can depend because He is strong and unmovable" (Zuck, p. 144). Figures
        of speech express truths in vivid and interesting ways.

        2. Attracts Attention

        "A listener or reader immediately perks up because of the uniqueness of figures of
        speech. This is evident when Paul wrote, "Watch out for those dogs" (Phil. 3:2), or when
        James wrote, 'The tongue is a fire' (James 3:6). When a comparison is made between two
        things that are normally not alike or normally not compared, then surprise occurs" (Ibid.
        pp. 144-45).

        3. Makes the abstract more concrete

        "Underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut. 33:27) is certainly more concrete than the
        statement, 'The Lord will take care of you and support you.'" (Ibid. p. 145)

        4. Aids in retention

        "Hosea's statement, 'The Israelites are. . . like a stubborn heifer' (Hosea 4:16), is more
        easily remembered than if Hosea had written, 'Israel is terribly stubborn'. . . . Figures of
        speech are used in many languages because they are easily remembered and make
        indelible impressions" (Ibid.).

        5. Abbreviates an idea

        "They capture and convey the idea in a brief way. Because they are graphic, they
        eliminate the need for elaborate description. They say a lot in a little. The well-known

        metaphor, 'The Lord is my Shepherd' (Ps. 23:1), conveys briefly many ideas about the
        Lord's relationship to His own" (Ibid.).

E. Figures of speech consistent with the literal method of interpretation

“It must be remembered that figures of speech convey literal truths and, therefore, do not argue
against a literal interpretation of the Bible… To argue for a mystical, allegorical or spiritualizing
method to interpreting Scripture based on figures of speech is fallacious” (Vlach).

"Behind every figure of speech is a literal meaning, and by means of the historical-grammatical
exegesis of the text, these literal meanings are to be sought out" (Earl Radmacher).

"Figurative language then is not antithetical to literal interpretation; it is a part of it. Perhaps it is
better not to speak of 'figurative versus literal' interpretation, but of 'ordinary-literal' versus
'figurative-literal' interpretation" (Zuck, p. 147).

        1. Ex. Herod a fox

        “Jesus, in calling Herod a "fox," (Luke 13:32) could have said, "Herod is sly and
        cunning." But by using "fox" He conveyed the same literal truth in more vivid terms”

        2. Ex. Revelation

        “Many want to spiritualize the book of Revelation and other portions of Scripture
        because of the many symbols used. But, even in apocalyptic literature, each symbol
        conveys a literal truth” (Vlach).

II. Examples of figures of speech (adapted from Vlach)

A. Simile

"A simile is a comparison in which one thing explicitly (by using like or as) resembles another"
(Zuck, p. 148).

“Resemblance” is the key word to remember a simile’s function. It compares 2 unlike things that
have one unusual point of reference.

        1. Ex. "All men are like grass" (1 Pet. 1:24).
        2. Ex. "And he will be like a tree. . . ." (Psalm 1:3).
        3. Ex. "And his feet were like burnished bronze" (Rev. 1:15).

1 Pet 2:2 like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in
respect to salvation,

B. Metaphor

 "A comparison in which one thing is, acts like, or represents another (in which the two are
basically unalike). In a metaphor the comparison is implicit, whereas in a simile it is explicit. A
clue to identifying a metaphor is that the verb will always be in the form of "to be" ("is," "are,"
"were," "have been")" (Zuck, p. 149).

        “Representation” is the key word to remember a metaphor’s function.

        1. Ex. "All flesh is grass" (Isa. 40:6, KJV).
        2. Ex. "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14).

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and
he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

Psa 23:1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Psa 23:1 as a simile would read, “The LORD is like a shepherd to me.”

C. Hypocatastasis

A comparison in which the likeness is implied by a direct naming.

        1. Ex. "Dogs have surrounded me" (Ps. 22:16).
        2. Ex. "Look, the Lamb of God" (John 1:29).

D. Personification

The ascribing of human characteristics or actions to inanimate objects or ideas or to animals.

        1. Ex. "The moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed" (Isa. 24:23).
        2. Ex. "And all the trees of the field will clap their hands" (Isa. 55:12).
        3. Ex. Wisdom personified:

                 Prov 8:1 Does not wisdom call, And understanding lift up her voice?
                 Prov 8:2 On top of the heights beside the way, Where the paths meet, she takes
                 her stand;
                 Prov 8:3 Beside the gates, at the opening to the city, At the entrance of the doors,
                 she cries out:
                 Prov 8:4 "To you, O men, I call, And my voice is to the sons of men.
                 Prov 8:5 "O naive ones, discern prudence; And, O fools, discern wisdom.
                 Prov 8:6 "Listen, for I shall speak noble things; And the opening of my lips will
                 produce right things.

E. Anthropomorphism

The attributing of human features or actions to God.

        1. Ex. God's fingers (Ps. 8:3).
        2. Ex. God's ear (Ps. 31:2).

        3. Ex. God's eyes (2 Chron. 16:9).
        4. Ex. "So the Lord changed His mind. . . ." (Exodus 32:14).
        5. Ex. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that
        every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5).

F. Anthropopathism

The attributing of human emotions to God.

Ex. Zechariah 8:1, "I am exceedingly zealous for Zion."

G. Apostrophe

"Addressing a thing as if it were a person, or an absent or imaginary person as if he were
present" (Hendricks, p. 266).

        1. Ex. "O death, where is your victory?" (1 Cor. 15:55).
        2. Ex. "Listen, O Earth, and all who are in it" (Micah 1:2).

H. Hyperbole

"A hyperbole is a deliberate exaggeration, in which more is said than is literally meant, in order
to add emphasis" (Zuck, p. 154). A common example: "I told him a thousand times to clean up
his room."

It adds force.

        1. Ex. "The cities are large and fortified to heaven" (Deut. 1:28).
        2. Ex. "Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears" (Ps. 6:6).
        3. Ex. David said of Saul and Jonathan after their deaths, "They were swifter than eagles,
        They were stronger than lions" (2 Sam. 1:23)
        4. Ex. “Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in
        the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as
        the sand on the seashore” (Judges 7:12)

I. Litotes

“The use of an understatement or a negative statement to express an affirmation (the opposite of
hyperbole)” (Lewis).

        1. Ex. John 6:37, “The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out.”
        2. Ex. Acts 21:39, "I am ... a citizen of no insignificant city."
        3. I Thessalonians 2:14-15, "the Jews who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets ...
        are not pleasing to God."
        4. Revelation 3:5, “He who overcomes . . .I will not blot them out his name from the
        Book of Life.”

J. Euphemism

This is the substituting of an inoffensive or mild expression for an offensive or personal one. In
English we speak euphemistically of death by saying that a person "passed on," or 'went home.'
For example, the Bible refers to death for the believer as a falling asleep (Acts 7:60; 1 Thess.

K. Metonymy

“Substituting the container for the contents or the cause for the effect… It is from the Greek:
meta = change & onoma = name. A figure of speech in which one word is put in place of or
used for another; literally a change of names. For example, you might hear on the evening news,
“The White House said today.” Meaning the President (who lives in the White House) spoke…
Or someone might say, “Did you read Shakespeare?” substituting the author for his writings”

        1. Ex. Blood is often a metonymy for the vicious death of Christ:

        Acts 5:28 saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and
        behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's
        blood upon us."

        Acts 20:28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy
        Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with
        His own blood.

        Rom 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.
        This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed
        over the sins previously committed;

        Rom 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved
        from the wrath of God through Him.

         *note controversy with MacArthur

        * the following examples are from Lewis:

        2. Ex. The substituting of one word for another.

        Luke 16:29 "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'

        3. Ex. The cause is used for the effect.

        Jeremiah 18:18, "Let us strike at him with our tongue." (The tongue, the cause, is used for
        the effect, the words).

        4. Ex. The effect is used for the cause.

        Psalm 18:2, "I will love you, O Lord, my strength." (Strength, the effect, is used for the
        cause, the Lord.)

        5. The object is used for something pertaining to it or vice versa.

        I Corinthians 10:21, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord" (The object, the cup, is used
        for the juice, something pertaining to the cup.).

L. Synecdoche

“Substituting part for the whole or the whole for the part” (Wright).

        1. Ex. The whole for the part.

        Luke 2:1, "a census ... of all the world"

        1 Cor 15:5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (Judas was not there)

        2. Ex. The part for the whole.

        Romans 1:16, "Salvation ... to the Greek"

        Jeremiah 25:29, "I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth."

        Acts 5:9 Then Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit
        of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the
        door, and they shall carry you out as well."

M. Irony

“Saying the opposite of what is meant” (Wright).

“A kind of ridicule in the form of a compliment which is opposite of what is meant” (Lewis).

        1. Ex. 1 Ki 18:27 And it came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, "Call out
        with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey,
        or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened."

        2. Ex. Amos 4:4 "Enter Bethel and transgress; In Gilgal multiply transgression! Bring
        your sacrifices every morning, Your tithes every three days.

        3. Ex. Job 12:2, "With you wisdom will die."

N. Sarcasm

1 Cor 4:10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you
are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.

O. Paronomasia (from Lewis)

The use of the same words or similar sounding words to suggest different meanings.

Matthew 8:22, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead."
Micah 1:10, "At Beth-le-Aphrah (house of dust), roll yourself in the dust."
Isaiah 5:7, "He looked for justice ("mishpat"), but behold bloodshed ("mishpah")."
Luke 21:11, "plagues ("loimoi") and famines ("limoi")."
Romans 1:29, "full of envy ("phthonou"), murder ("phonon")."
Romans 1:31, "without understanding ("asyntetous"), untrustworthy ("asynthetous")."

P. Onomatopoeia (from Lewis)

The use of a word which by its very sound suggests its meaning.

Job 9:26, "like an eagle (falcon) that SWOOPS (Hebrew, "toos") on its prey."
Phil 2:14 Do all things without grumbling (goggusmos) or disputing;
Rom 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder,
strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips (psithuristays)

Q. Litotes (pronounced “LIE-toe-tease”)

“The words state a fact by means of a radical understatement in order to bring more emphasis to
it” (Abbott, p. 134).

Litotes is a kind of understatement, where the speaker or writer uses a negative of a word
ironically, to mean the opposite… A form of irony, litotes is meant to emphasize by understating.
Its opposite is hyperbole.

        1. Ex. John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes
        to Me I will certainly not cast out.”
        2. Ex. Eph 4:20 But you did not learn Christ in this way,
        3. Ex. Rev 3:5 'He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not
        erase his name from the book of life,…’

III. How to Interpret Figures of Speech

"Generally an expression is figurative when it is out of character with the subject discussed, or is
contrary to fact, experience, or observation" (Zuck, p. 145).

A. Use the literal sense unless there is some good reason not to

"If the literal sense makes common sense, seek no other sense." For example, "When John wrote
that 144,000 will be sealed, with 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, there is no reason
not to take those numbers in their normal, literal sense (see Rev. 7:4-8). And yet in the following

verse John referred to "the Lamb" (v.9), clearly a reference to Jesus Christ, not an animal, as
indicated by John 1:29" (Zuck, p. 146).

B. Use the figurative sense when the passage indicates doing so

"Some passages tell you up front that they involve figurative imagery. For instance, whenever
you come across a dream or a vision, you can expect to find symbolic language because that's the
language of dreams" (Hendricks, p. 260) (Exs. Daniel 2, 7, 8, 11; Ezek. 1; Revelation).

C. Use the figurative sense if a literal meaning is impossible or absurd

"This is where we need some sanctified common sense. God does not shroud Himself in
unknowable mysticism. When He wants to tell us something, He tells us. He doesn't confound us
with nonsense. However, He often used symbolism to make His points. Yet He expects us to
read them as symbols, not absurdities" (Hendricks, p. 261).

        1. Ex. the Lord having wings (Ps. 57:1)
        2. Ex. trees clapping their hands (Isa. 55:12).

D. Use the figurative sense if a literal meaning would involve something immoral

“For example, since it would be cannibalistic to eat the flesh of Jesus and to drink His blood, He
obviously was speaking figuratively (John 6:53-58)” (Vlach).

E. Use the figurative sense if the expression is an obvious figure of speech

The biblical text often signals its use of figures of speech by terms such as "like" or "as". For
example, "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion"
(Prov. 11:22)” (Vlach).

10. Interpreting Parables

I. Introduction to Parables

A. Where does the term “parable” come from?

“The Greek word is a compound of two words, para (beside) and ballo (to throw or cast). The
idea, then, is that facts in one realm which the hearers know are cast alongside facts in the
spiritual realm so that they will see, by analogy or correspondence, what is true in this realm”
(Rosscup, p. 82).

“The Greek word "parabole" also has a wide usage in the New Testament. It can refer to a
prover (Luke 4:23), profound or obscure saying (Matthew 13:35), symbol (Hebrews 9:9),
illustrative comparison with (Matthew 13:3-9) or without (Matthew 15:15) the form of a story, or
an illustrative story not involving the common contrast between two people's response to God or
their fellow man” (Lewis).

B. Definition

“Thus, a parable is something placed alongside something else for the purpose of comparison.
The typical parable uses a common event of natural life to emphasize or clarify an important
spiritual truth” (Virkler, pp. 162-63).

“A fishing net, a vineyard, a wedding banquet, oil lamps, talents of money, a fig tree still barren
after three years, the value of a single coin to a housewife, the people’s despicable attitude
toward tax collectors, the meaning of pounds or minas – understanding these elements sheds
light on the significance of the parables and helps make the right transition to the spiritual truth”
(Zuck, p. 211).

C. Used by Jesus

“Jesus, the master teacher, used parables regularly as He taught. The Greek word for parable
occurs nearly fifty times in the synoptic gospels in connection with His ministry, suggesting that
parables were one of His favorite teaching devices” (Virkler, p. 163).

D. Purpose of parables

        1. To conceal truth from those who would not believe (Matt. 13:10-12)

        Mat 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in

        Mat 13:11 And He answered and said to them, "To you it has been granted to know the
        mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

        Mat 13:12 "For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an
        abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

        2. To reveal truth to believers (Matt. 13:10-12)

        “While these purposes may seem contradictory, the answer to this dilemma may lay in
        the nature of the hearers. Since the teachers of the Law had already demonstrated their
        unbelief and rejection of Jesus, they revealed the hardened condition of their hearts. This
        made them unable to comprehend the meaning of His parables. Blinded by unbelief, they
        rejected Him, and so as He spoke in parables they normally would not comprehend their
        meaning. On the other hand His followers, open to Him and His truths, would understand
        the parables.” (Zuck, p. 197)

        “It may be that as a man resists truth and yields to sin, he becomes less and less able to
        understand spiritual truth. Thus the same parables that brought insight to faithful
        believers were without meaning to those who were hardening their hearts against the
        truth” (Virkler, pp. 164-65).

        3. To give new truth concerning the Kingdom

        “If Bible students do not recognize the emphasis on the kingdom in the parables, they
        overlook an important key to understanding those stories and why Jesus told them”
        (Zuck, p. 211).

II. Guidelines for interpreting parables

A. Note the story’s natural meaning

“To understand the spiritual truth properly, it is essential first to comprehend fully the true-to-life
incident. . . . As you understand the true-to-life incident of the parable in its full cultural setting,
you are better prepared to understand the message of the parable” (Zuck, p. 211).

B. Determine the specific problem, occasion, question, need or situation that prompted the

        1. Answering a question

        “For example, in Matthew 9:14, the disciples of John ask, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees
        fast often, but your disciples fast not?’ So Christ gives the parables of the wineskins and
        the garment to show that His ministry is one of joy (when He is present), and He is not
        reforming Judaism but replacing it with a new phase of His program” (Rosscup, p. 85).

        2. Answering a request

        “The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21) followed the request made by someone in
        the crowd that Jesus tell the man’s brother to divide their father’s inheritance with him (v.
        13). Jesus declined to be an arbitrator in that situation and, urging people to be on guard
        against greed (vv. 14-15). He then told the Parable of the Rich Fool” (Zuck, p. 212).

        3. Answering a complaint

        “When Jesus was criticized for associating with a sinful woman, He gave the Parable of
        the Two Debtors (Luke 7:40-43)” (Vlach).

        4. Stating a purpose

        “Jesus told the Parable of the Unjust Judge to show His disciples ‘that they should always
        pray and not give up’ (Luke 18:1)” (Vlach).

        5. Parables of the Kingdom because of Israel’s rejection of Jesus

        “Seven kingdom parables are given in Matthew 13. These parables are significant in that
        they follow Matthew 12, which records the rejection of Jesus by the Pharisees and the
        accusation that He was doing His miracles in the power of Satan. The parables of
        Matthew 13 describe the conditions that will take place between Christ’s first coming,
        His second coming and the establishment of the Kingdom” (Vlach).

        6. Parables following an exhortation or principle

        “Several times Jesus gave an exhortation or principle and then followed it with a parable
        to illustrate or illumine the point just made. For example Mark 13:33 records that Jesus
        said, ‘Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.’ Then He gave
        the Parable of the Doorkeeper (vv. 34-37)” (Zuck, p. 213).

        7. Parables followed by an exhortation or principle

        “Sometimes Jesus gave a parable and then followed it with an exhortation or principle.
        For example the Parable of the Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:5-8) is followed by His
        exhortation for them to persist in prayer (vv. 9-10)” (Zuck, p. 213).

        8. Parables to illustrate a situation

        “Jesus introduced the Parable of the Two Houses by pointing up that anyone who heard
        His words and put them into practice was like the man building a house on a rock (Matt.
        7:24)” (Zuck, p. 214).

        9. Parables with the purpose implied but not stated

        “The Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly (Mark 4:26-29) is not stated, but it seems to
        suggest rapid numerical growth of believers during the present age” (Zuck, p. 215).

C. Determine the one main point or central truth the parable is attempting to teach

“This might be called the golden rule of parabolic interpretation. . . .” (Ramm, p. 283).

“If I can ascertain the one great and comprehensive idea of a parable. I have fixed a
reference point or obtained a master key for the interpretation of each detail which serves it.
I can see how the details lend to or fit in with that main thrust. This anchors me within a
certain defined area so that I am not so likely to wander off on my own tangents or blind
alleys” (Rosscup, p. 86).

        1. Ex. Parable of Sower (Matt. 13 3-9; 18-23)

        “The main point of this parable is during the present age there will be four different
        responses to the Gospel” (Vlach).

        2. Ex. Parable of the Dragnet (Matt. 13:47-50)

        “The main point here is that when Christ comes to set up His kingdom, the wicked will
        be gathered and judged” (Vlach).

D. Do not make a parable “walk on all fours”

“In every parable, many circumstances and details are introduced which are intended merely to
complete the similitudes in the parable. The interpreter should not attempt to interpret all such
details. A parable. . . has but one central truth. Therefore, discover the central truth or theme

which the parable is setting forth, and then explain the main circumstances of the parable in light
of this truth, leaving out details incidental to its central idea” (Tan, p. 148).

“To hunt for meanings in every detail in the parables is to turn them into allegories” (Zuck, p.

        1. Ex. The Good Samaritan In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)

        Origen: “The man who fell among thieves is Adam. The robbers are the Devil and his
        minions. The priest stands for the Law; the Levite for the prophets. The Good Samaritan
        is Christ; the beast, Christ’s body; the inn, the Church; the two pence, the Father and the
        Son; and the Samaritan’s ‘When I come again,’ Christ’s second coming” (Tan, p. 149).

        “Jesus did not give any interpretation of the robbers, the man’s clothes, the man’s
        wounds, the oil and wine, the donkey, the two silver coins, or the innkeeper. These were
        elements needed to complete the story and to put it in its proper cultural setting” (Zuck, p.

        2. Ex. Wheat and the Tares

        “When Christ interprets the Parable of the Tares (Matt. 13:36-43), He explains only the
        field, the good seed, the tares, the enemy, the harvest, the reapers, and the final events of
        the harvest. He attaches no significance to the men who slept, the wheat’s yielding fruit,
        the servants, and the question of the servants” (Tan, p. 149).

        3. How do we know what is relevant and incidental in the parable?

        “Unhappily, there is no determinative key as to what represents relevance in a parable
        and what is incidental. ‘No special rule can be formed that will apply to every case, and
        show what parts of a parable are designed to be significant, and what parts are mere
        drapery and form. Sound sense and delicate discrimination are to be cultivated and
        matured by a protracted study of all the parables, and by careful collation and
        comparison’” (Tan, p. 149).

E. Determine how much of the parable is interpreted by the Lord Himself

“After reciting the parable of the Sower (Mat. 13:18 ff.) Our Lord interprets it. After stating the
parable of the enemy’s sowing darnel among the wheat, our Lord interprets it later in the
house…In such instances we have the definite word of Christ concerning the meaning of the
parable, which further conveys to us the spirit of his teaching for help in parables that are not
interpreted” (Ramm).

F. Interpret by proper time periods

“There are three main time periods in parabolic prophecies: (1) the interadvent age, (2) the
second coming of Christ, and (3) the millennial age. The prophetic parables are geared to these
different time periods. The interpreter should not try to fit them arbitrarily into one general
period, such as the present church age” (Tan, p. 149).

G. Be careful with doctrine

“Parables do teach doctrine, and the claim that they may not be used at all in doctrinal writing is
improper. But in gleaning our doctrine from the parables we must be strict in our interpretation;
we must check our results with the plain, evident teaching of our Lord, and with the rest of the
New Testament. Parables with proper cautions may be used to illustrate doctrine, illumine
Christian experience, and to teach practical lessons.” (Ramm, p. 285)

Ex. The parable of the Ten Virgins does not prove that a person can lose their salvation.

11. Interpreting Types

I. Normal meaning of “type”

A. Meaning of type

“The word type (tupos) “has the basic idea of an impression, a blow, or a stamp. New Testament
writers use it to designate a pattern, a model, or an example” (Tan, p. 167).

“This term is used 15 times in the New Testament often in different ways. But the idea common
to all these occurrences is correspondence or resemblance” (Vlach).

B. A definition

“Since the word type is thus used quite loosely in the New Testament, an exact definition of a
type based on the Scriptures is hard to make. Donald K. Campbell’s definition however seems to
be a successful one: ‘A type is an Old Testament institution, event, person, object, or ceremony
which has reality and purpose in Biblical history, but which also by divine design foreshadows
something yet to be revealed’” (Tan, p. 167).

“Typology is based on the assumption that there is a pattern in God’s work throughout salvation
history. God prefigured His redemptive work in the Old Testament, and fulfilled it in the New; in
the Old Testament there are shadows of things which shall be more fully revealed in the New”
(Virkler, p. 184).

C. Type/Antitype

“The prefigurement in the OT is called the type; the fulfillment in the NT is called the antitype”

        1. OT type: Passover (Exodus 12); NT type: “Christ our Passover” (1 Cor. 5:7)
        2. OT type: bronze serpent that when looked upon brought healing; NT type: Jesus’ death
        that brings salvation (John 3:14)

D. Difference between prophecies and types

“Prophecies and types both point to things future and are predictive in their natures. Types,
however, are to be distinguished from prophecies in their respective forms. That is, a type
prefigures coming reality; a prophecy verbally delineates the future. One is expressed in events,
persons, and acts; the other is couched in words and statements” (Tan, p. 168).

II. Determining Types

A. Different views on interpreting types

        1. Liberal view (liberal in terms of types, not theology)

        “Some say types are evident throughout much of the Old Testament. Numerous objects
        and events are said to be pictures of New Testament truths” (Zuck, p. 169).

        “The fanciful typologists see types lurking everywhere and anywhere in Scripture” (Tan,
        p. 170).

                 a. Ex. “For example the hinges in the door to Solomon’s temple are said to be a
                 type of the two natures of Christ” (Zuck, p. 169).

                 b. Ex. "The meal offering: (1) fine flour speaks of the evenness and balance of the
                 character of Christ, of that perfection in which no quality was in excess, none
                 lacking; (2) fire, of His testing by suffering, even unto death; (3) frankincense, of
                 the fragrance of His life before God (see Exodus 30:34, note); (4) absence of
                 leaven, of His character as, 'the Truth' (John 14:6, cp. Exodus 12:8, marg.); (5)
                 absence of honey-His was not that mere natural sweetness which may exist quite
                 apart from grace; (6) oil mingled, of Christ as born of the Holy Spirit (Matthew
                 1:18-23); (7) oil upon, of Christ as baptized with the Spirit (John 1:32; 6:27); (8)
                 the oven, of the unseen sufferings of Christ-His inner agonies (Matthew 27:45-46;
                 Hebrews 2:18); (9) the pan, of His more evident sufferings (Matthew 27:27-31);
                 and (10) salt, of the pungency of the truth of God-that which arrests the action of
                 leaven" (New Scofield Reference Bible).

                 c. Ex. “SAMSON”

                 "Samson's nativity was foretold by an angel of God: so was the conception and
                 nativity of Jesus Christ foretold by an angel. Samson was sanctified from the
                 womb: so was Christ much more. Samson in respect of his great strength, as some
                 conceive, was a type of Christ. He conquered a stout lion in the desert, hand to
                 hand, as it were: so Christ overcame the roaring lion, the devil, in the wilderness,
                 and made him fly. He slew many of God's enemies by his death: so Jesus Christ
                 by death overcame sin, Satan, hell, and the grave" (Benjamin Keach, Preaching
                 from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible, p. 977).

                 d. Danger

                 “If a man is out to get a type for a quick spiritual ‘truth’(?) And is not too
                 concerned about his methods -- just so he gets that nice point -- then it is an easy

                 thing. Any little matter can easily be magnified and stretched so that it will
                 correspond to something somewhere. In fact, he can turn his types out as though
                 they were cheaper by the dozen” (Rosscup, p. 101).

        2. No-types-anywhere view

        “Some overreacted to the excesses of the liberal group and denied types altogether”

        3. Strict view

        According to this view “nothing may be considered a type unless it is explicitly stated to
        be one in Scripture [i.e. Rom. 5:14]” (Virkler, p. 186).

                 a. Herbert Marsh

                 “Bishop Herbert Marsh (1757-1839), the writer usually referred to as the
                 champion of this group, said that the New Testament must claim an Old
                 Testament item to be a type before we may rightly say it is” (Rosscup, p. 102).

                 b. Advantage

                 “This view curbs excesses and stops every analogy from becoming a type. Plus, it
                 gives certain criteria for establishing whether something is a type” (Vlach).

                 c. Disadvantage

                 “It is not clear as to what specific “claim” must be made to make something a
                 legitimate type. There is no formal “type formula” given in Scripture” (Vlach).

        4. Moderate view

        “For a resemblance to be a type there must be some evidence of divine affirmation of the
        corresponding type and antitype, although such affirmation need not be formally stated.”
        (Virkler, p. 186)

        “Others, though also wishing to be restrained do not feel that certain more direct New
        Testament statements specifying types exhaust the list of possible types. Still more may
        be detected by sensible interpretation that looks critically and responsibly for solid,
        natural correspondences between a possible Old Testament type and its possible New
        Testament antitype” (Rosscup, p. 103).

        According to this view a type can exist when:

                 a. The Scripture explicitly states a type exists “. . . Adam, who is a type of Him
                 [Jesus] who was to come” (Rom. 5:14)

                 b. An interchange of names exists “Christ our Passover” (1 Cor. 5:7)

                 c. Some evidence of divine affirmation exists “As Moses lifted up the serpent in
                 the wilderness [Numbers 21:8-9], even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that
                 whoever believes may in Him have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

B. Principles for determining types

“The determination of a type is one of the most debatable areas of the subject and, therefore, one
of the most difficult. What is clearly a type in the thinking of one interpreter is not a type at all to
another who may choose to designate it as a parable, an allegory, a symbol, or only an analogous
illustration. Obviously, the critical question that is really determinative here is: What are the
criteria for what constitutes a valid type? That is, what qualifications, guidelines, or essentials
must be present to demonstrate that one item is truly a type and another is not?” (Rosscup, p.

The following are principles that will help in determining what a type is (from Vlach):

        1. There must be a resemblance, similarity or correspondence between the OT type and
        the NT antitype.

        “This should not be thought of as some superficial relationship, but rather a genuine and
        substantial counterpart. It should be natural and not forced” (Zuck, p. 172).

        “The analogy should be obvious, not obscure, direct, not round-about, the central idea
        easily recognized and not contrived” (Rosscup, p. 104).

                 a. Ex. Lamb without blemish

                 The sheep required for the burnt offerings in Leviticus 1 prefigure the greater
                 Lamb, Jesus Christ (John 1:29).

                 b. WARNING:

                 “Not everything that has correspondence or resemblance is a type, though all
                 types must have the element of correspondence. Numerous things in the Old
                 Testament are similar to things in the New Testament but they are not necessarily
                 types. A type has resemblance to that for which it is a type, but it has more than
                 resemblance” (Zuck, p. 172).

        2. Do not look for hidden meanings in the Old Testament text.

        “Persons, events, or things in the Old Testament that are types of things in the New
        Testament had historical reality. A type in the Old Testament is not something without
        reality. . . Seeing types in the Old Testament does not mean the Bible student should look
        for hidden or deeper meanings in the text. He should stick with the historical facts as
        recorded in the Old Testament. In other words, the type should rise naturally out of the
        text, and should not be something the interpreter is reading into the text. The tabernacle is

        a type (Heb. 8:5; 9:23-24), but that does not mean that every small item in the
        construction of the tabernacle in some way depicted a New Testament truth” (Zuck, pp.

        3. A type must have a predictive or foreshadowing element to it. It must look ahead and
        anticipate the antitype.

        “A type is a shadow that points ahead to another reality. . . .To be an official type, the
        correspondence or resemblance must have a predictive element, a foreshadowing and
        anticipation of the antitype. The type, in other words, has a forward focus” (Zuck, p.

        “It seems unlikely that they would be aware of the antitypes. Possibly they had some
        awareness that these items were typical of forthcoming realities, but it seems unlikely
        they had any full awareness of the relationships between the types and the antitypes. As
        Mickelsen explains, ‘Even though a person, event, or thing in the Old Testament is
        typical, it does not mean that the contemporaries of the particular person, event, or thing
        recognized it as typical. More likely these were prophetic from God’s standpoint, and
        when the antitypes were revealed, then it was evident that the predictive element was
        present. What God saw as prospective, man later saw as retrospective. . . . Types were
        signposts pointing toward persons, events, or things yet to come” (Zuck, p. 173).

        4. Look for a heightening of the type.

        In typology, the antitype is greater than and superior to the type. There is an increase, a
        heightening, an escalation. The antitypes were on a higher plane than the types. “Many
        aspects of the Old Testament illustrate truths in the New Testament, but without the
        heightening they are not types” (Zuck, pp. 173-74).

                 a. Ex. Christ is superior to Melchizedek (Hebrews 10:11-17).
                 b. Ex. Christ’s redemptive work is greater than that of the Passover (1 Cor. 5:7).

        5. There must be evidence that the type was appointed by God to represent the thing

        “The type was designed in such a way that it carried a likeness to the antitype, and
        likewise was planned by God to be the ‘fulfillment’ and heightening of the type” (Zuck,
        p. 174).

        6. Scripture must indicate in some way that an event, person, object or institution is a

        In other words, the New Testament must make some point of comparison for there to be a
        type. This principle stops us from making every point of similarity between the
        testaments a type. For example, many conclude, because of the many similarities between
        them, that Joseph is a type of Christ. But some point of similarity with Christ can be
        shown of many OT characters. Why make Joseph a type but not Samuel, Jeremiah and

C. Other points to keep in mind when determining types

        1. Not every incidental detail of the type and antitype was intended by the author to be a
        point of correspondence.

                 a. Ex. Tabernacle

                 Some “commentators have found in the acacia wood and gold of the tabernacle a
                 type of the humanity and deity of Christ…Such practices seem dangerously akin
                 to the allegorism of the Middle Ages, imputing meaning to the text which is
                 highly unlikely to have been intended by the biblical author” (Virkler, p. 190).

                 b. Ex. Adam

                 Adam is a type of Christ in that he represented the human race. This one point of
                 similarity makes him a type (Rom. 5:14) even though there are many other points
                 of dissimilarity.

        2. Keep types and illustrations (analogies) separate.

        “An illustration. . . may be defined as a biblical person, event, or thing having historical
        reality, that pictures or is analogous to some corresponding spiritual truth in a natural and
        unforced way and is not explicitly designated in the New Testament as a type. In this
        definition an illustration has three of the six elements necessary for a type:
        correspondence or resemblance, historical reality, and divine design. However,
        illustrations are not predictive, they do not include a heightening or escalation, nor are
        they called types” (Zuck, pp. 176-77).

        Not types, but illustrations that show analogy:

                 a. Holy temple

                 When Paul referred to the Church as a “holy temple” (Eph. 2:21), he was drawing
                 an analogy between Solomon’s temple and the Church since both were the
                 dwelling place of God.

                 b. Chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation

                 These designations that described Israel also, in this age, describes the church
                 made up of Jewish and Gentile believers (1 Peter 2:9-10). “Peter. . .used similar
                 terms to point up similar truths. As Israel was ‘a chosen people, a royal
                 priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God,’ so too believers today are
                 chosen, are priests, are holy, and belong to God. Similarity does not mean
                 identity” (Roger M. Raymer, “1 Peter,” in Bible Knowledge Commentary, v. 2,
                 pp. 845-46).

III. Classification of Types

A. Persons

        1. Melchizedek is a type of Christ’s perpetual priesthood (Heb. 7:3, 15-17).

        2. Adam

        “Adam is mentioned as a type of Christ (Rom. 5:14); Adam was the representative head
        of fallen humanity, while Christ is the representative head of redeemed humanity”
        (Virkler, p. 187).

        3. Israel at the time of the Exodus typifies Jesus’ coming out of Egypt (compare Matt.
        2:15 with Hosea 11:1).

        “Israel, as the national son of God coming out of Egypt becomes a type of the individual
        Son of God, the Messiah coming out of Egypt” (Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology:
        The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, p. 843-44).

B. Events

        1. The Passover feast is a type of Christ’s sacrifice (1 Cor. 5:7).
        2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread typifies the believer’s holy walk (1 Cor. 5:7-8).
        3. The Day of Atonement is a type of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (Heb. 9:19-28).
        4. Jonah’s three days and nights in the belly of the fish typifies Jesus in the tomb (Matt.
        5. Noah’s flood typifies baptism (1 Peter 3:20-21).

C. Institutions

The Sabbath is a type of the believer’s eternal rest (Col. 2:17; Heb. 4:3, 9, 11).

D. Things

        1. The Tabernacle typifies Christ—the believer’s access to God and basis of fellowship
        with God (Heb. 8:2, 5; 9:23-24).
        2. The Tabernacle veil typifies Christ as the believer’s access to God (Heb. 10:20).
        3. The Burnt Offering is a type of Christ’s offering of Himself as the perfect sacrifice for
        sins (Lev. 1 and Heb. 10:5-7).
        4. The Brazen Serpent typifies Christ’s death on the cross (John 3:14).

IV. Which of these are legitimate types? (From Lewis)

Place an X by those you think can legitimately be called types in Scripture.

_____ 1. Adam is a type of Christ.

_____ 2. Aaron's rod that budded is a type of the resurrection of Christ.

_____ 3. The inn in the parable of the good Samaritan is a type of the church which should be
full of Christians who will nourish newborn Christians.

_____ 4. Solomon in the glory of his kingdom was a type of Christ in His glory.

_____ 5. David eating the tabernacle showbread was a type of Christ eating grain on the Sabbath.

_____ 6. The water in the laver in the tabernacle is a type of the Word ministered by the Holy

_____ 7. Jonah being expelled from the fish's stomach is a type of the resurrection of Christ.

_____ 8. The brass serpent being lifted up in the wilderness is a type of Christ being crucified.

_____ 9. Jacob's pillow of stone is a type of Christ going from the Temple to the Cross.

_____ 10. The wicks on the tabernacle lampstand are a type of the Christian's old sin nature
which constantly needs trimming.

_____ 11. Abraham's servant finding a bride for Isaac is a type of the Holy Spirit finding a bride
(the church) for Christ.

_____ 12. Joseph is a type of Christ.

_____ 13. Moses praying with his arms held up is a type of Christ being crucified on the cross.

_____ 14. Abraham is a type of all who believe.

_____ 15. The priest trimming the wicks on the lampstand is a type of Christ dealing with our
_____ 16. Melchizedek is a type of Christ's unending and superior priesthood.

_____ 17. The clothes of Esau which Jacob wore when he deceived his father Isaac are a type of
the church dressed in the righteousness of Christ.

_____ 18. The fine flour in the meal offering is a type of the evenness and balance of Christ's

_____ 19. The cooking of the fine flour in the meal offering is a type of Christ being tested by

_____ 20. Samson meeting the lion is a type of Christ meeting Paul on the Damascus Road.

_____ 21. The acacia wood in the tabernacle is a type of the humanity of Christ.

_____ 22. The altar of incense in the tabernacle is a type of Christ's intercessory work.

_____ 23. The rams' skins dyed red (and placed over the tabernacle) were a type of Peter and
Paul after they were saved.

_____ 24. The Passover feast was a type of Christ as our sacrifice.

_____ 25. Isaac being sacrificed by Abraham is a type of Christ being sacrificed for us.

_____ 26. The bells and pomegranates on the hem of Aaron's robe are a type of the proclamation
of the gospel.

_____ 27. The divided hoof in some animals (Leviticus 11:3) is a type of the Christian whose
spiritual walk is divided.

_____ 28. The manna in the wilderness is a type of Christ sustaining the believer spiritually.

_____ 29. Cain is a type of the natural man.

_____ 30. Enoch is a type of the church saints who will be raptured before the tribulation.

_____ 31. The Feast of Pentecost is a type of the church being formed on the day of Pentecost.

12. Interpreting Symbols (adapted from Vlach)

I. What are symbols?

A. A definition

“A symbol is a sign which suggests meaning rather than stating it.” (Mickelsen, p. 265)

“A symbol is a representative and graphic delineation of an actual event, truth, or object. The
thing that is depicted is not the real thing but conveys a representative meaning” (Paul Lee Tan,
Literal, p. 55).

“The word "symbol" comes from the Greek word "symbolle", "a throwing together." A symbol
is some object (real or imagined) or act which is assigned a meaning for the purpose of depicting
rather than stating the qualities of something else” (Lewis).

B. How do symbols differ from types?

“Symbols and types both represent something else. However, a type represents something that is
yet to come while a symbol has no essential reference to time. A symbol may represent
something past, present or future” (Vlach).

“Symbols and types are both representative of something else. A type represents something to
come, but a symbol has no time reference. It is usually something that already exists, such as a
lion as a symbol of Christ, or the bread and wine as symbols of the Lord's Supper” (Lewis).

C. Symbols have basis in reality

“A symbol seeks to represent the abstract by means of the concrete. Interpreting symbols
involves three things: the object (which is the symbol), the referent, (what the symbol refers to),
and the meaning (the resemblance between the symbol and the referent). A lamb (object), for
example, can picture Christ (referent) (John 1:29), and the meaning/resemblance is that Christ is
a sacrifice just as many lambs were sacrifices. Or a sheep (object), can picture human beings
(referent), and the meaning/resemblance is that humans go astray from God spiritually just as
sheep go astray from the flock” (Lewis).

D. Elements of symbols

        1. The object—the symbol itself. (Ex. a lamb in John 1:29)
        2. The referent—what the symbol refers to. (Ex. Jesus Christ)
        3. The meaning—the resemblance between the symbolic object and the referent. (Ex.
        Christ is a sacrifice just as lambs were used for sacrifice.)

E. Examples of symbols

        1. Bread and wine are symbols of Christ’s body and blood (Luke 22:19-20).
        2. Dragon symbolizes Satan (Rev. 12:3-17).
        3. The four beasts of Daniel 7 represent four major world empires (Lion=Babylon;
        Bear=Medo-Persia; Leopard=Greece; Dreadful beast=Rome).
        4. Dry bones given new flesh symbolizes Israel’s restoration (Ezek. 37).
        5. Water is used to symbolize the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39), the Word of God (Eph.
        5:26) and regeneration (Titus 3:5).
        6. A lion symbolize both Christ as King (Rev. 5:5) and Satan (1 Pet. 5:8).
        7. Sheep in Isaiah 53:6 symbolize wayward humanity.
        8. Tearing one’s clothes represents anger (Mark 14:63) and grief (Job 1:20).
        9. Sitting in dust and ashes (Job 42:6) symbolizes repentance.

II. Principles for interpreting symbols

A. Identify the symbolic object or action, the referent and the connection between the symbol
and the referent.

“Remember that symbols have their base in reality that is, symbols are base real objects such as a
lion, a bear, a boiling pot, etc. When Christ is said to be a lamb or a lion, He is not Himself
literally a lamb or a lion, but those kinds of animals do exist in reality so that a meaningful
resemblance can be drawn between the object and the referent. In prophecy, symbols are
sometimes in the realm of imagination rather than actually such as a beast with seven heads and
seven horns (Revelation 17:3), or a leopard with four heads and four wings (Daniel 7:6), or
woman in a basket (Zecheriah 5:5- 11). And yet those symbols are built on realities, such as
heads, horns, a leopard, wings, a woman, a basket, etc” (Lewis).

B. See if the Scripture explicitly describes the meaning of the symbol.

        1. Ex. Ten horns – The ten horns of the dreadful beast of Daniel 7:7 symbolize ten kings
        as revealed in Daniel 7:24.
        2. Ex. Serpent – Revelation tells us that the Serpent is Satan (Rev. 20:2).
        3. Ex. Fine linen – Fine linen in Revelation 19:8 symbolizes the righteous acts of the

C. If Scripture does not explicitly reveal the meaning of the symbol, consult parallel passages,
search out the nature of the symbol and try to determine what major characteristic the
symbol and the referent have in common.

“The preservative character of salt is common knowledge, as is the ferocity of lions, the docility
of doves, the meekness of lambs, and the filthiness of pigs” (Ramm, p. 234).

D. Look for the one major point of comparison between the symbol and the referent and thus
avoid attributing wrong characteristics to the referent.

“A lion is both ferocious and kingly in nature, but only its furious nature points to Satan (1 Pet.
5:8), and only its royal attributes point to Christ (Rev. 5:5)” (Vlach).

E. Realize that one referent may be depicted by several objects.

“Christ, for example, is said to resemble a lamb, a lion, a branch, a root, and others. The Holy
Spirit is symbolized by water, oil, wind, and a dove” (Zuck, p. 186).

F. In prophetic literature do not assume that because a prophecy contains some symbols
everything else in that prophecy is symbolic.

“In Revelation 19:19 the ‘beast’ is a symbol, but that does not mean that ‘the kings of the earth
and their armies’ in the same verse are to be taken as symbols. In verse 15 the sword from
Christ’s mouth is a symbol (of His judging by His words), but that does not mean that the nations
referred to in the same verse are a symbol of something else” (Zuck, pp. 186-87).

G. With prophetic literature do not symbolize descriptions of the future that are possible or

“For example, the locusts of Revelation 9 could be literal locusts or some demonic
beings. They are not a symbol of some famine that has already taken place” (Vlach).

H. Be reluctant to symbolize the numbers of Scripture.

“Like prophetic words, prophetic numbers are to be accepted as literal” (Paul Lee Tan, The
Interpretation of Prophecy, p. 165).

“It is our conclusion that the mystical or symbolical interpretation of numbers has little place in a
sound system of hermeneutics” (Davis, p. 124).

        1. Ex. 144,000 – The 144,000 of Revelation 7:4-8 is literal since 12,000 people are said
        to be sealed from the 12 tribes of Israel.

        2. 1000 years – There is no reason to take the six references to a “thousand years” in
        Revelation 20:1-6 to refer to anything other than a literal thousand years.

        "It is true that the seven lampstands are symbolical of completeness, but this does not
        imply that there are six or five lampstands. There are literally seven and the symbolic
        significance is derivable from the literalness of the number" (Charles Lee Feinberg,
        Premillennialism or Amillennialism? p. 21).

13. Interpreting Allegories

I. What are allegories?

A. Definition

“An allegory is a narrative or word picture which may or may not be true-to-life, with many parts
pointing symbolically to spiritual realities” (Vlach).

“Allegory comes from the Greek allos = another of the same kind and agoriein = to say.
Literally the word means to say the same thing another way” (Wright).

“In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for "allegory" is "hidah." It refers to a riddle or
enigmatic [hidden] saying that normally requires an explanation. An important usage of it is in
Numbers 12:8 in which speaking in allegory is contrasted with speaking openly and clearly. An
allegory then has a meaning which is not obvious, but requires special insight or explanation. In
the New Testament, the Greek word for allegory (allegoreo) is only used one, in Galatians 4:24.
Paul uses this word to describe what he is doing in Galatians 4:24-30. What Paul seems to be
doing is using every person and thing he mentions, to illustrate something else. For example,
Hagar is an illustration of the Mosaic covenant. Ryken would agree with the above; he would
just explain it differently. He would say that the essence of allegory is when a detail in a passage
is given a corresponding meaning other than its obvious one” (Lewis).

Ex. Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan

B. Different from parables

“An allegory differs from a parable, as noted before, in that a parable typically keeps the story
distinct from its interpretation or application, while an allegory intertwines the story and its
meaning” (Virkler, p. 173).

“Allegory and Parable are twins. Just as the parable is an extended simile, the allegory is an
extended metaphor” (Wright).

        1. Parable: Has one major point of comparison / Allegory: Has many points of

        2. Parable: True to life / Allegory: True to life or fictitious
        3. Parable: Interpretation, if given, usually occurs after the story (or sometimes at the
        beginning / Allegory: The interpretations of the points are intertwined in the story.
        4. Parable: Is an extended simile (like or as) / Allegory: Is an extended metaphor (is)

C. Does the presence of allegories justify allegorical interpretation?

 “The interpretation of allegories should not be confused with ‘allegorizing’ or the allegorical
method of interpretation. Allegorizing is an approach that searches for deeper meaning than are
apparent in the text, ideas that differ from those clearly identified in the Bible passages” (Zuck,
p. 226).

D. Examples of allegories

        1. Armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17)

        “In the allegory of the Christian’s armor (Eph. 6), there are several points of comparison.
        Each part of the Christian’s armor is significant, and each is necessary for the Christian to
        be ‘fully armed’”(Virkler, p. 174).

        2. Jesus as the true Vine (John 15:1-6)

        The allegory of Christ as the True Vine (John 15:1-17) is analyzed here to show the
        relationship of the several points of comparison to the meaning of the passage. There are
        three foci in this allegory:

                 a. The vine as a symbol of Christ.
                 b. The vine-dresser symbolizes the Father.
                 c. The branches symbolize disciples (Vlach).

        3. The Lord as Shepherd (Psalm 23:1-4) (John 10:1-16)

        4. Israel as a destroyed vine (Psalm 80:8-16) and as an unproductive vine (Isaiah 5:1-7)

        5. Samaria and Jerusalem as two prostitutes (Ezekiel 23)

II. Principles for interpreting allegories

A. Note the points of comparison that are explained or interpreted in the passage.

        1. Ex. Jesus the Shepherd

        “In John 10 the Shepherd is Jesus because He call Himself the Good Shepherd (vv. 11,
        14). The sheep in this passage are believers since He “lays down His life for the sheep”
        and His sheep know Him” (Vlach).

        2. Ex. Jesus is the Vine

        In the allegory of the vine Jesus says, “I am the true Vine” (John 15:1).

B. Do not attempt to interpret details in allegories that are not explained.

“In the allegory of the house built by wisdom (Prov. 9:1-6), we need not ask what the meat,
wine, table, or maids resemble. They simply add local color to complete the idea of a sumptuous
meal being prepared, which of course, is likened to wisdom in verse 6” (Zuck, p. 225).

C. Determine the main point of the teaching

“As in parables, so in allegories the interpreter should look for the major point of analogy or
resemblance. Though there are many points of comparison, the reader should ask, what is the
major truth being taught by the allegory?” (Zuck, p. 226).

III. Paul’s allegorization in Galatians 4:21-31 (from Vlach)

“One passage that has caused a great deal of perplexity for evangelicals is Paul’s allegorizing in
Galatians 4. Liberal theologians have been quick to seize on this as an illustration of Paul’s
adoption of the illegitimate hermeneutical methods of his day. Evangelicals have often retreated
in embarrassed silence, for it does seem in these verses Paul used illegitimate allegorization”
(Virkler, p. 175).

A. The historical situation (21-23)

Paul refers to real historical people and events in making his point against Jewish legalists who
promoted strict adherence to the Mosaic Law.

        1. Abraham
        2. Two mothers—Sarah and Hagar
        3. Two sons of Abraham—Isaac and Ishmael
        4. Ishmael’s birth through Abraham and Hagar was natural.
        5. Isaac’s birth through Abraham and Sarah was based on the promise of God and
        involved supernatural activity by God.

B. The allegory announced (24)

“Paul to be sure allegorizes here, for he says so himself. But with the very fact of him saying this
himself, the gravity of the hermeneutical difficulty disappears. He means therefore to give an
allegory, not an exposition; he does not proceed as an exegete, and does not mean to say (after
the manner of the allegorizing exegetes) that only what he now says is the true sense of the
narrative” (Quote from Schmoeller cited by Terry, p. 233).

C. Hagar’s spiritual descendants represent apostate Judaism (24-25)

Hagar represents the Old Covenant, the earthly Jerusalem and those who are enslaved to the

D. Sarah represents the Covenant of Freedom (26-28)

Sarah represents the Covenant of Promise, the Jerusalem above and those who are free in Christ.

E. Ishmael’s persecution of Isaac represents the Jewish legalists’ persecution of Christians
who do not adhere to the Mosaic Law (29).

F. The casting out of Ishmael represents God casting away those involved in the old Jewish
system (30)

G. Believers are free in Christ. They are not tied to the Old Jewish system that Hagar
represents (31)


“Paul’s allegory was an illustration or analogy in which he was pointing out that certain facts
about Hagar correspond to non-Christians and that certain facts about Sarah correspond to facts
about Christians” (Zuck, p. 47).

I. Why does Galatians 4:21-31 not support the method of allegorical interpretation?

        1. The historical situation Paul used was true.

        2. Paul did not say the allegory was the true meaning or exposition of Genesis 16.

        3. When Paul allegorized, he said he was doing so.

        “Paul differed from the typical allegorist when he admitted the historical validity of the
        text, rather than saying that the words of the text were only a shadow of the deeper
        meaning. He admitted that these events happened historically and then went on to say
        that they can be allegorized. He did not say ‘this is what the text means’ nor claim that he
        was giving an exposition of the text” (Virkler, p. 178).

        4. Nowhere else does Paul use allegorization.

        “If Paul regarded allegorizing as a legitimate method, then it seems almost certain that he
        would have used it in some of his other epistles, but he did not” (Virkler, p. 178).

14. Interpreting Prophecy (from Vlach)

I. Introductory matters concerning prophecy

A. Definition

“The term prophecy comes from two Greek words meaning “to speak for or before.” Thus,
prophecy is the speaking and writing of events before they occurred” (Zuck, p. 227).

B. Prophecies are from God

Since prophecies involve the foretelling of unseen events, they cannot be result of human
ingenuity—they must find their origin in God. “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of
Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of
human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

C. Number of prophecies

“A significant amount of the Bible is predictive prophecy. It has been estimated that of the
Bible’s 31,124 verses, 8,352 (27 percent) were predictive at the time they were first spoken or
written (J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, p. 13).

D. Range of prophetic subjects

        1. Gentile nations
        2. Nation Israel
        3. Individual people
        4. Messiah
        5. Planet Earth
        6. The Tribulation
        7. The Millennium
        8. The Eternal State
        9. Life after death

E. Prophecy ranges

Some Bible prophecies predicted events that were soon fulfilled (near prophecies). Other
prophecies predicted events that took dozens, hundreds or even thousands of years to be fulfilled
(far prophecies). Some prophecies still await a future fulfillment.

        1. Near prophecies

                 a. Ex. Jeremiah’s prophecy of the 70-year captivity (Jer. 25:11).
                 b. Ex. Daniel’s prophecy that Belshazzar’s kingdom would be taken over by the
                 Medes and Persians (Dan. 5:25-30).
                 c. Ex. Elijah’s prediction of drought (1 Kings 17:1).
                 d. Ex. Jesus’ prediction that He would be crucified and raised from the dead
                 (Matt. 16:21).

        2. Far prophecies

                 a. Ex. Daniel’s prediction of four consecutive world powers (Dan. 2 and 7).
                 b. Ex. Daniel’s prediction concerning timing of Messiah’s death (Dan. 9:26).
                 c. Ex. Micah’s prediction of Messiah’s birth being in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
                 d. Ex. Tribulation and Second Coming (Matthew 24 and 25).
                 e. Ex. Millennial Kingdom and eternal state (Rev. 20-22).

II. Principles for interpreting prophecy

A. Take words of prophecy in their normal, grammatical sense

“Nowhere does Scripture indicate that when we come to prophetic portions of Scripture we
should ignore the normal sense of the words and overlook the meanings of words and sentences.
The norms of grammatical interpretation should be applied to prophetic as well as to
nonprophetic literature” (Zuck, p. 241-42).

        1. Ex. Isaiah 65

        “Fulfillment should be seen in accord with the words of the prediction. In speaking of the
        Millennium, Isaiah wrote that many people will live well beyond 100 years of age (Isa.
        65:20). There is no reason to take this in any sense other than its normal, grammatical
        meaning. The following verse (v. 21) states, ‘They will build houses and dwell in them;
        they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.’ Again no hint is given in this passage that
        the building of houses is to be taken figuratively.” Of course figurative language and
        symbolic language is used extensively in prophetic passages, but this does not mean that
        all prophecy is figurative or symbolic. We should begin with the assumption that the
        words are to be taken in their normal sense unless a figure of speech or symbol is
        indicated. Deeper and mystical senses should not be sought” (Ibid. p. 242).

        2. Ex. Revelation 20

        There is no reason not to take the six references to “a thousand years” in Revelation 20 to
        be anything other than a literal thousand years.

B. Recognize the place of unconditional covenants

“While it is true that some prophecies are conditioned on the response of the persons addressed,
other prophecies are unconditional. When God made His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15,
He alone contracted the obligation, passing between the pieces of the animals He had cut in two
(vv. 12-20). No condition was attached to the Lord’s words that He would give Abraham’s
descendants that land. Reaffirmations of this Abrahamic Covenant indicate that it was ‘an
everlasting covenant’ in which ‘the whole land of Canaan’ would be theirs ‘as an everlasting
possession’ (17:7-8). Also note the references to the everlasting nature of the covenant in verses
13, 19; 26:2-4; 28:13-15; 1 Chronicles 16:16-17; Psalm 105:9-10. Therefore since Israel has not
yet possessed the land to the boundaries specified in Genesis 15:18-21, we should take the
promises of the Abrahamic Covenant pertaining to Israel’s land as being unconditional and yet
future” (Zuck, p. 242).

        1. Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3)
        2. Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-17)
        3. New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

C. Recognize the place of figurative and symbolic language

“The heavy symbolic content of much of prophetic literature makes interpreting prophecy
difficult. It also has caused many Bible students to assume that because some things in prophecy
are symbolic, everything in prophetic passages is to be taken symbolically. This, however, is an
error. If we follow the basic hermeneutical principle of normal, grammatical interpretation, then
we should understand prophetic literature, as well as other forms of biblical literature, in their
normal, ordinary-literal sense, unless there is reason for taking the material figuratively or
symbolically. For example no reason exists for not taking literally the reference to silence in
heaven ‘for about half an hour’ (Rev. 8:1), nor there any reason for not taking literally the
references to ‘hail and fire mixed with blood’ (v. 7). And when John wrote in that same verse
that ‘a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green
grass was burned up,’ again there is nothing in the immediate context to indicate that those
words should not be taken in their ordinary sense. However, in verse 8 of that
same chapter we read that ‘something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea.’
The wording suggests that John was not referring to a literal mountain” (Zuck, pp. 243-44).

D. Interpret numbers literally in prophetic literature

“What about numbers in prophetic literature? One writer suggests ‘in a book where almost all the
numbers seem to have symbolic value (7 seals, trumpets, bowls, etc.; 144,000 Israelites; 42
months/1260 days/ 3 years) should not 1,000 years indicate a long period of time rather than a
number of calendar years?’ But are all the numbers he mentions to be taken as symbols? Do they
not have meaning as ordinary, literal numbers? If 7, 42, 1,260 are not to be taken literally, then
what about the reference to the 2 witnesses in 11:3? And if 1,000 means simply a large number,
then what the reference to 7,000 people in verse 13? On what basis do we say that 7,000 does not
mean a literal 7,000? And if 1,000 is a large indefinite number, do the references to 4 angels
(7:1) and 7 angels (8:6) mean simply small numbers? If these numbers in the Book of Revelation
have no normal, literal numerical value, then what has happened to the principle of normal,
grammatical interpretation? How can we say that 144,000 is a symbolic number, when 7:5-8
refers specifically to 12,000 from each of 12 tribes in Israel?” (Zuck, pp. 244-45).

E. View prophecy as focusing primarily on the Messiah and the establishing of His reign

“His first coming was for the purpose of establishing His reign on the earth, but the nation Israel
rejected Him (John 1:11) so He said the kingdom would be taken from them and given to a
future generation (Matt. 21:43). . . . Scripture makes it clear that Jesus will return to establish His
reign on the earth” (Zuck, pp. 245-46).

F. Recognize the principle of “Foreshortening”

“Looking ahead, the prophets often envisioned the two advents of Christ as two mountain peaks,
with a valley in between. They could see the peaks but not the valleys. From our perspective,
however, as we look back we see the time gap between the First and Second Advents. Often the
Old Testament blends the two comings of Christ in one passage” (Zuck, p. 246).

        1. Isaiah 61:1-2

        “The Lord read from this chapter in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), and
        stopped in the middle of verse 2 with the words ‘to proclaim the year of the Lord’s

        favor.’ He did not add the words ‘and the day of vengeance of our God,’ obviously a
        reference to the Lord’s return when He will take vengeance on His enemies” (Ibid.)

        2. Isaiah 9:6-7

        “The first part of verse 6 refers to Jesus’ birth, but the middle part of verse 6 along with
        verse 7 point to His second advent by speaking of the government being on His shoulders
        and His reigning on David’s throne” (Ibid, pp. 246-47).

        3. Zechariah 9:9-10

        Matthew 21:5 quotes Zechariah 9:9 referring to the Messiah’s humble entrance into
        Jerusalem, but Matthew does not quote verse 10 which refers to Christ destroying His
        enemies and setting up His kingdom. Thus, Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled when Christ
        entered Jerusalem, but Zechariah 9:10 awaits a future fulfillment.

G. Look for God’s built-in interpretations

Sometimes the images given in prophetic literature are explained within the text.

        1. Ex. Dan 2 Head of gold = Nebuchadnezzar (“You are the head of gold.”)
        2. Ex. Revelation Seven stars are the angels of the churches (1:20). The seven lampstands
        are the seven churches of Asia Minor (1:20). The bowls of incense are the prayers of the
        saints (5:8).

H. Keep consistent hermeneutics

"The literalist (so-called) is not one who denies that figurative language, that symbols, are used
in prophecy, nor does he deny that great spiritual truths are set forth therein; his position is,
simply, that the prophecies are to be normally interpreted—that which is manifested literal being
regarded as literal, that which is manifested figuratively so regarded. (John Peter Lange, The
Revelation of John: A Commentary on Holy Scripture, 98).

Comparison of Prophetic Views

“In conservative theology there are three major views concerning last things: amillennialism,
postmillennialism, and premillennialism. The word millennium comes from the Latin mille,
meaning ‘thousand,’ and relates to the statement in Revelation 20:4, ‘They came to life and
reigned with Christ for a thousand years.’ Should this statement be understood literally or
symbolically? The answer determines in part one’s doctrine of last things” (Enns, p. 380).

I. Amillennialism

A. Definition

“The prefix a means no. Amillennialism is the view that does not believe in a future literal reign
of Christ on earth for a thousand years in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises of God”
(Robert P. Lightner, The Last Days, p. 72).

“Amillennialists do not deny the literal return of Christ, but they reject a literal thousand year
reign of Christ on the earth. According to amillennialism, the kingdom of God is present in the
church age, and at the consummation of the present age, the eternal state is inaugurated without
any intervening millennium” (Enns, p. 380).

B. Basic views of Amillennialism on:

        1. The Kingdom (Millennium)

        “The kingdom is in existence now between Christ’s two advents. Since Christ is ruling
        from heaven, He will not reign on the earth for 1,000 years. ‘We are in the millennium
        now’” (Zuck, p. 231).

        Among conservative amillennialists two views exist concerning the Millennium:

                 a. The church on earth (Augustine, Allis, Berkhof)

                 “The amillennial position on the thousand years of Revelation 20 implies that
                 Christians who are now living are enjoying the benefits of this millennium since
                 Satan has been bound for the duration of this period” (Anthony A. Hoekema,
                 “Amillennialism,” in The Meaning of the Millennium, ed. Robert G. Clouse, p.

                 b. The saints in heaven now (B.B. Warfield)

                 “Amillennials also teach that during this same thousand-year period the souls of
                 believers who have died are now living and reigning with Christ in heaven while
                 they await the resurrection of the body” (Hoekema, p. 181).

                 c. No 1000 year earthly kingdom

                 Both views agree there will be no future earthly kingdom and that “1,000" is a
                 symbolic number indicating a long period of time.

                 d. Can both views be right?

                 Within amillennialism there appears to be two conflicting and mutually exclusive
                 views. Is the Kingdom the Church on earth or the saints in heaven?

        2. Present reign of Christ

        “Christ is ruling now in heaven where He is seated on the throne of David, and Satan is
        now bound between Christ’s two advents” (Zuck, p.231).

        3. Tribulation

        Tribulation is experienced in this present age.

        4. Second coming of Christ

        “Amillennialists understand the second coming of Christ as a single event; in contrast,
        dispensationalists understand Christ’s coming in two phases” (Enns, p. 381).

        5. Resurrection – There will be a general resurrection of believers and unbelievers at the
        second coming of Christ.

        6. Final judgment – When Christ comes again there will be one general judgment for
        believers and unbelievers.

C. Hermeneutical basis of Amillennialism

        1. The Kingdom is the Church

        “The interpretive system of amillennialism begins with the assumption that God’s
        kingdom is being manifested today in the church. . . .” (Zuck, p. 236).

        2. Israel and the Church are the same

        The Church is the new Israel. There is no distinction between the two. The promises to
        Israel, therefore, are applicable to the Church.“The traditional Reformed position as
        illustrated in Calvin is that the church takes Israel’s place as its spiritual successor”
        (Walvoord, p. 101).

        3. Spiritualizing of prophecy

        “The promises to Israel about a land, nationality, and throne (Gen. 12:2; 15:18-20; 2 Sam.
        7:12-16) are being fulfilled now in a spiritual way among believers in the church” (Zuck,
        p. 231).

        “Amillennialists see the church as fulfilling God’s promises in an antitypical and spiritual
        way” (Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 445).

                 a. Church inherits Israel’s promises

                  “God’s promises to Israel were conditional and have been transferred to the
                 church because the nation did not meet the condition of obedience to God” (Zuck,
                 p. 231).

                 “Amillennial ecclesiology denies to Israel any future as a nation. Israel is never to
                 be a political entity in the world in fulfillment of the promises of a glorious
                 kingdom period” (John Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, p. 100).

                 b. Premillennial response

                 “Premillennialists point out that if the yet unfulfilled part of that covenant is to be
                 fulfilled literally (the promise of the land of Palestine), this will have to occur in a
                 future Millennium, since there has been no place in past or present history for a
                 literal fulfillment. Amillennialists say that we need not expect a future fulfillment
                 because (a) the promises were conditional and the conditions were never met; or
                 (b) the land promise was fulfilled in the time of Joshua (Josh. 21:43-45); or (c) it
                 was fulfilled under King Solomon (1 Kings 4:21); or (d) it is now being fulfilled
                 by the church; or (e) it is fulfilled in the heavenly Jerusalem. I only observe that
                 each of those five suggestions negates the validity of the other four. One receives
                 the impression that the amillennialist does not really know how or when the
                 Abrahamic Covenant should be fulfilled. He is only certain that it will not be in a
                 future, earthly Millennium” (Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 447).

D. Evaluating the term “amillennialism.”

        1. Positively - “The term amillennial is a good descriptive term used to describe an
        attitude toward the millennium put forth by the premillenarian or by the postmillenarian.
        For amillenarians admittedly do not believe in any such millennium” (Cox,
        Amillennialism, p. 10).

        2. Negatively - “A word should first be said about terminology. The term amillennialism
        is not a happy one. It suggests that amillennialists either do not believe in any millennium
        or that they simply ignore the first six verses of Revelation 20, which speak of a
        millennial reign. Neither of these two statements is true” (Anthony Hoekema, The
        Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, p. 155).

        3. An alternative term - “For this reason, some amillennialists suggest a term such as
        realized millennialism to indicate that they do not deny a millennium but believe it is
        fulfilled entirely in the present age” (Enns, p. 380) (This is the opinion of Jay Adams and
        Anthony Hoekema. See Hoekema, p. 155).

E. History of Amillennialism

        1. Origen (185-254)

        Up until Origen the church fathers were premillennial. Origen,
        however, spiritualized the future kingdom and understood it to be the present church
        age (see Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 448).

        2. Augustine (354-430)

        “With the contribution of Augustine to theological thinking amillennialism came into
        prominence. While Origen laid the foundation in establishing the non-literal method of
        interpretation, it was Augustine who systematized the non-literal view of the millennium
        into what is now known as amillennialism” (Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, p. 381).

                 a. “. . . .there are no acceptable exponents of amillennialism before Augustine. . . .
                 Augustine is, then, the first theologian of solid influence who adopted
                 amillennialism” (John Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, p. 47).

                 b. “. . . . his viewpoint became the prevailing doctrine of the Roman Church and it
                 was adopted with variations by most of the Protestant Reformers along with many
                 other teachings of Augustine” (Pentecost, p. 381).

                 c. “In his famous work, The City of God, Augustine set forth the idea that the
                 church visible was the Kingdom of God on earth” (Ibid.).

        3. Reformation period (1500-1600's)
        “The great leaders of the Reformation were amillennial in their eschatology. They were
        content to follow the Roman church’s teaching which in turn followed Augustine”
        (Ryrie, p. 448).

                 a. Calvin
                 b. Luther
                 c. Evaluation of the Reformers

        Though the Reformers broke with Roman Catholic soteriology, they did not break with
        Roman Catholic eschatology.

        “The gift of the Protestant reformers to the Christian church consists not only in an open
        Bible but also in the literal method of interpreting the Bible. Unfortunately, however, the
        reformers refused to be involved in the issue of prophetic interpretation, and so the whole
        of Protestantism went the way of Roman Catholic amillennialism by default. This
        omission of the reformers is probably explainable by the fact that truths such as
        justification by faith and the problems of ecclesiology were claiming the immediate
        attention of the reformers as the latter sought to sift through the Roman debris” (Paul Lee
        Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy, p. 54).

        4. Modern period

                 a. Warfield
                 b. Allis
                 c. Hoekema
                 d. Jay Adams
                 e. James White

II. Postmillennialism

A. Definition

“Postmillennialism may be defined as ‘that view of the last things which holds that the Kingdom
of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving
work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually is to be

Christianized, and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of
righteousness and peace commonly called the Millennium’” (Enns, p. 384).

“The term postmillennialism means that Christ will return after the Millennium. The present age
will develop morally and spiritually until it issues in the millennial age, with Christ returning to
earth at the conclusion of the Millennium” (Enns, p. 384).

B. Basic view of Postmillennialism on:

        1. The Millennium (kingdom)

        “Postmillennialism adopts an optimistic view with respect to this present age, envisioning
        a golden age of progress in the church age that affects every dimension of life: economic,
        social, cultural, and political. Postmillennialism envisions a church triumphant, spreading
        the gospel to the ends of the earth with the result that ‘evil’ in all its many forms
        eventually will be reduced to negligible proportions, that Christian principles will be the
        rule, not the exception, and that Christ will return to a truly Christianized world” (Enns,
        p. 384).

                 a. “The present age will gradually give way to the Millennium as a result of the
                 progress of the gospel, but life will continue in its present form. Christ will return
                 at the conclusion of the Millennium” (Enns, pp. 384-85).

                 b. “The church is not the kingdom but it will bring the kingdom (a utopian,
                 Christianized condition) to the earth by preaching the Gospel” (Zuck, p. 231).

                 c. The millennium for postmills is not a literal 1000 year period but rather a long
                 period of time.

        2. Second Coming / Resurrection / Final Judgment

        Postmills like amills would see one phase of Christ’s second coming, a general
        resurrection and a general judgment followed by the eternal state.

C. Postmillennialism in history

        1. Not taught in apostolic age

        “All seem to agree that postmillennialism is quite foreign to the apostolic church. There
        is no trace of anything in the church which could be classified as postmillennialism in the
        first two or three centuries” (Walvoord, p. 19).

        2. Beginnings

        “Postmillennialism was first taught by Daniel Whitby (1638-1725) and was held by
        Jonathan Edwards, Charles Wesley, Charles Hodge, A.A. Hodge, Augustus H. Strong,
        James Snowden, and Lorraine Boettner. Postmillennialism virtually died out a number of
        years ago. The impact of two world wars led many to renounce postmillennialism

        because of its optimistic view that the world is getting better. But in recent years
        postmillennialism has been revived. Present-day ‘dominion theology’ is postmillennial.
        Dominion theologians maintain that Christians should ‘take over’ (have dominion or
        leadership) in every aspect of society, including government. In this sense they teach that
        the church should Christianize society and thus ‘bring in the kingdom.’ Proponents of this
        view include Greg L. Bahnsen, David Chilton, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., James B. Jordan,
        Gary North, Rousas J. Rushdoony, and Douglas Wilson” (Zuck, p. 232).

D. Is the World getting better?

Postmills point to many areas to show the world is progressively getting better -- the spread of
the gospel, advances in medicine, the status of women, the near disappearance of slavery and
polygamy. (See Loraine Boettner, “Postmillennialism,” in The Meaning of the Millennium: Four

However as George Ladd says, “The argument that the world is getting better is a two-edged
sword. One can equally well argue from empirical observation that the world is getting worse”
(George Ladd’s response to Boettner in the same book, p. 143).

“As postmillennialism had risen in an atmosphere of scientific and educational progress, so it
declined in an atmosphere of war and world chaos” (Walvoord, p. 35).

E. Hermeneutical basis of Postmillennialism

“In order to find fulfillment of millennial promises in the present age, it is necessary for them to
follow an allegorical or figurative system of interpretation in great areas of Biblical prophecy”
(Walvoord, p. 24).

III. Premillennialism

A. Definition

“Premillennialism is the view that holds that the second coming of Christ will occur prior to the
Millennium which will see the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on this earth for a literal 1,000
years” (Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 450).

“Unlike postmillennialism (and amillennialism), premillennialism sees Christ as physically
present during this time; it believes that he will return personally and bodily to commence the
millennium. This being the case, the millennium must be seen as still in the future” (Erickson, p.

B. History of Premillennialism

        1. Early church

        “In the earliest centuries of the church a general premillennial scheme was widely held,
        though chronological details were not always clear.” (Ryrie, p. 451)

        “The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent
        chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on
        earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and
        judgment” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 2:614).

        2. Medieval and Reformation periods

        “In the medieval period most doctrines, including eschatology, were eclipsed by the
        darkness of those centuries. . . . The reformers were generally amillennial in their
        eschatology, though Anabaptists and Hugenots were chiliasts” (Ryrie, p. 452).

        3. Modern period

        The modern period has witnessed the rise of premillennial teaching.

C. Two main views

Within premillennialism exists two divisions— Dispensational Premillennialism and Historic

IV. Dispensational Premillennialism (Preferred View)

A. Basis for Dispensational Premillennialism

Within the premillennial position, dispensational premillennialism is the majority view. The
following are the foundational elements on which dispensational premillennialism is built:

        1. A consistent use of the literal hermeneutic (including prophecy)

        “According to premillenarians the normal approach to Scripture means that the promises
        about Christ’s returning to establish His millennial reign on earth of 1,000 years are to be
        taken literally” (Zuck, Basic, p. 238).

        “Because prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming were fulfilled literally, it makes
        good sense to expect the prophecies concerning His second coming to be interpreted
        literally” (Enns, p. 389).

        One amillennialist, Floyd Hamilton stated, “Now we must frankly admit that a literal
        interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies gives us such a picture of an earthly reign
        of the Messiah as the premillennialist pictures. That was the kind of Messianic kingdom
        that the Jews of the time of Christ were looking for, on the basis of a literal kingdom
        interpretation of the Old Testament promises” (Floyd Hamilton, The Basis of the
        Millennial Faith, p. 38).

        2. Unfulfilled unconditional covenants

        God made with Israel must be fulfilled “Since the promises to Israel—about being a
        nation and being regathered to and having possession of the land with their Messiah-King

        ruling over them—are unconditional and have not yet been fulfilled, they therefore yet
        remain to be fulfilled” (Zuck, p. 238).

                 a. Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3)

                 “Described in Genesis 12:1-3, the Abrahamic covenant promised a land (v.1; cf.
                 13:14-17; further developed in the Palestinian covenant); numerous descendants
                 involving a nation, dynasty, and a throne (v. 2; cf. 13:16; 17:2-6; further
                 developed in the Davidic Covenant); and redemption (v. 3; cf. 22:18; further
                 developed in the New covenant)” (Enns, p. 390).

                 b. Palestinian Covenant (Deut. 30:1-10)

                 This covenant guarantees Israel’s permanent right to the land.

                 c. Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-16)

                 “The provisions of this covenant are summarized in v. 16 by the words ‘house,’
                 promising a dynasty in the lineage of David; ‘kingdom,’ referring to a people who
                 are governed by a king; ‘throne,’ emphasizing the authority of the king’s rule;
                 ‘forever,’ emphasizing the eternal and unconditional nature of this promise to
                 Israel” (Enns, p. 390).

                 d. New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34)

                 “This covenant provides the basis by which God will bless Israel in the future—
                 Israel will enjoy forgiveness of sins through the meritorious death of Christ”
                 (Enns, p. 390).

                 e. POINT: “If these covenants are understood according to their normal meaning,
                 then they call for a future blessing of believing, national Israel in the land under
                 Messiah’s rule. These covenants await a fulfillment in the Millennium” (Enns, p.

        3. Israel and the Church are distinct entities

        “Since Israel is yet to possess the land under her Messiah-King, the promises to the
        nation have not been transferred to the church. Since the church began on the Day of
        Pentecost, the church is separate from the nation Israel and therefore is not inheriting
        Israel’s promises. Grammatical interpretation thus makes a warranted distinction between
        Israel and the church. The church does not now possess the land of Palestine, promised to
        Israel. And in the New Testament Age, since the church began, there is still a distinction
        between unsaved Jews, unsaved Gentiles, and the church (1 Cor. 10:32)” (Zuck, p. 238).

        4. Premillennial beliefs

                 a. Second Coming The second coming has two phases: 1) a rapture for the
                 church; 2) a second coming to earth seven years later.

                 b. Resurrections Distinctions exist in God’s resurrection program: 1) Church at
                 rapture; 2) OT and Tribulation saints at second coming; 3) Unbelievers at the end
                 of the Millennium.

                 c. Judgments Distinctions exist in God’s judgment program: 1) The church faces
                 the Judgment Seat of Christ after the Rapture; 2) Jews and Gentiles face a
                 judgment to see who enters the Kingdom at the end of the Tribulation; 3)
                 Unbelievers face the Great White Throne judgment in order to be sentenced to the
                 lake of fire.

                 d. Church’s relation to the Tribulation The church is raptured prior to the
                 Tribulation (Pretrib.)

                 e. Millennium At second coming Christ inaugurates literal 1,000 year
                 Millennium on earth.

V. Historic Premillennialism

“One type of premillennialism is nondispensational. It is known as covenant [historic]
premillennialism. Its adherents often prefer to be called ‘historic premillennialists.’ That is
because much of their position was the view that was held by many of the church fathers during
the first several centuries of the church” (Paul Benware, p. 93).

A. Hermeneutics of Historic Premillennialism

The foundation of historic premillennialism is built on the following:

        1. Church is spiritual Israel

        “The hermeneutical system of historic premillennialism distinguishes it from
        dispensational premillennialism. In historic premillennialism a distinction between Israel
        and the church is not maintained nor is a consistently literal interpretive method
        demanded” (Enns, pp. 386-87).

                 a. “Ryrie correctly identified myself as a nondispensationalist because I do not
                 keep Israel and the church distinct throughout God’s program” (George Ladd, The
                 Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, Robert Clouse ed., p. 20).

                 b. “I do not see how it is possible to avoid the conclusion that the New Testament
                 applies Old Testament prophecies to the New Testament church and in doing so
                 identifies the church as spiritual Israel” (Ladd, p. 23).

                 (1) Ex. The application of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) to the church
                 (Hebrews 8; 2 Corinthians 3:6) supposedly means that the Church fulfills the
                 promises made to Israel.

                 REBUTTAL 1: Though the church may participate in the blessings of the New
                 Covenant, the eternal and unconditional nature of the New Covenant demands a
                 fulfillment with literal Israel.

                 REBUTTAL 2: “The crucial point is how we know whether something in the OT
                 (especially prophecy about Israel’s future) is still binding in the NT. . . . If an OT
                 prophecy or promise is made unconditionally to a given people and is still
                 unfulfilled to them even in the NT era, then the prophecy must still be fulfilled to
                 them. While a prophecy given unconditionally to Israel has a fulfillment
                 [application] for the church if the NT applies it to the church, it must also be
                 fulfilled to Israel. Progress of revelation cannot cancel unconditional promises”
                 (John Feinberg, Continuity and Discontinuity, p. 76).

        2. Priority of the New Testament over the Old Testament

        “Here is the basic watershed between a dispensational and a nondispensational theology.
        Dispensationalism forms its eschatology by a literal interpretation of the Old Testament
        and then fits the New Testament into it. A nondispensational eschatology forms its
        theology from the explicit teaching of the New Testament. It confesses that it cannot be
        sure how the Old Testament prophecies of the end are to be fulfilled. . . .” (Ladd, p. 27).

                 a. Concerning the Millennium

                 “A millennial doctrine cannot be based on Old Testament prophecies but should
                 be based on the New Testament alone. The only place in the Bible that speaks of
                 an actual millennium is the passage in Revelation 20:1-6. Any millennial doctrine
                 must be based upon the most natural exegesis of this passage” (Ladd, p. 32).

                 REBUTTAL: The concept of a kingdom of God on earth is well-grounded in the
                 Old Testament (Gen. 13:15; Isaiah 2:1-4; Daniel 2:44; Zech. 14:9). It does not rest
                 on Revelation 20:1-6 alone. “It is unfortunate that he [Ladd] cannot see that the
                 Old Testament supplies the vast portion of material for putting the picture in full
                 perspective” (Herman Hoyt, The Meaning of the Millennium, p. 44).

                 b. New Testament Reinterpreting the Old Testament

                 Ladd states that often the New Testament reinterprets the Old Testament: “The
                 Old Testament is reinterpreted in light of the Christ event.”

                         (1) Ex. Matt. 2:15 reinterprets Hos. 11:1

                         (2) Rom. 9:24-26 reinterprets Hos. 1:10; 2:23.

                         REBUTTAL 1: “In passage after passage Ladd insists that the New
                         Testament is interpreting the Old when the New Testament is simply
                         applying a principle found in the Old Testament. Rushing to the
                         conclusion that these references identify the church and Israel as the same
                         body of the saved is wholly gratuitous. Even though ‘the New Testament

                         applies Old Testament prophecies to the New Testament church,’ it does
                         not do so in the sense of identifying the church as spiritual Israel. It makes
                         such application merely for the purpose of explaining something that is
                         true of both.”

                         REBUTTAL 2: “NT application of the OT passage does not necessarily
                         eliminate the passage’s original meaning. No NT writer claims his new
                         understanding of the OT passage cancels the meaning of the OT passage
                         in its own context or that the new application is the only meaning of the
                         OT passage. The NT writer merely offers a different application of an OT
                         passage than the OT might have foreseen; he is not claiming the OT
                         understanding is now irrelevant” (Feinberg, p. 77).

B. Views of Historic Premillennialism concerning:

        1. Second Coming - Rapture and second coming happen simultaneously.

        2. Resurrections - A resurrection of believers takes place at the beginning of the
        Millennium. The resurrection of unbelievers takes place at the end of the Millennium.

        3. Judgments - Judgment for believers takes place at second coming. Judgment for
        unbelievers takes place at end of Millennium.

        4. Church’s relation to the Tribulation - The Church goes through the future Tribulation

        5. Millennium - Millennium is both present and future (already/not yet). Christ is
        presently reigning in heaven but there will also be a future earthly aspect to His reign.

        6. Israel’s relation to the Millennium

        “All premillennialists also anticipate that Israel will have a special place in the
        millennium. They disagree, however, as to the nature of that special place.
        Dispensationalists hold to a continuing unconditional covenant of God with national
        Israel, so that when God has completed his dealings with the church, he will return to his
        relations with national Israel. Jesus will literally sit upon David’s throne and rule the
        world from Israel. All of the prophecies and promises regarding Israel will be fulfilled
        within the millennium, which will therefore have a markedly Jewish character.
        Nondispensationalists put much less emphasis upon national Israel, holding instead that
        Israel’s special place, being spiritual in nature, will be found within the church. Israel will
        be converted in large numbers during the millennium” (Erickson, p. 1211).

C. Evaluation of Historic Premillennialism

Historic Premillennialism has three main weaknesses:

        1. Nonliteral approach to prophecy

        “It spiritualizes the prophecies of the Old Testament, applying them to the church, which
        is viewed as spiritual Israel” (Benware, p. 94).

        2. Does not do justice to God’s eternal covenants with Israel

        “Second, it fails to give the nation of Israel its proper place in the program of God. The
        unconditional, eternal biblical covenants ratified by God require that Israel as a nation be
        the recipient of certain blessings” (Ibid.).

        3. Faulty view of progressive revelation

        “Third, there is some inaccuracy in its view of progressive revelation. It is true, of course,
        that God has revealed more and more truth progressively over the years. And it is true
        that the New Testament reveals new truth and develops truth previously given in the Old
        Testament. However, it fails to recognize that many of the Old Testament prophecies
        should be understood on their own merit because they are clear in their meaning. The
        idea of progressive revelation does not mean that the Old Testament cannot be
        understood apart from the New Testament. It does not mean that clear Old Testament
        prophecies must be reinterpreted, changed or altered” (Ibid.).

15. Distinguish the Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament (from Vlach)

I. Introductory issues

A. NT use of the OT

“. . . more than 10 percent of the New Testament text is made up of citations or direct allusions
to the Old Testament” (Roger Nicole, “New Testament Use of the Old Testament,” in Rightly
Divided, p. 183).

"As soon as allusions as well as direct quotations are included, the count rises sharply. Toy lists
613 instances, Shires, 1,604, Dittmar, 1,640, Heuhn yields a count of 4,105" (Roger Nicole, "The
Old Testament in the New Testament," in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E.
Gaebelein [Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979], 1: 617).

B. The problem

“The use of the Old Testament in the New Testament is one of the most difficult aspects of Bible
interpretation. As you read the New Testament, you are no doubt struck by the numerous times it
quotes or alludes to the Old Testament. Examining the quotations closely, you notice they are not
always exact word-for-word quotations” (Zuck, p. 250).

C. Important questions

“Does this overturn all we have said about the principles of normal interpretation? As the New
Testament writers exercised freedom in the way they quoted the Old Testament, were they
abandoning normal, grammatical, historical interpretation?. . . Were the New Testament writers

interpreting the Old Testament by a different standard as they quoted from it? And if so, does
that give us liberty today to do the same?” (Ibid.).

II. How the NT uses the OT

A. Variations in wording of quotations

Many quotes of the OT in the NT are verbatim, but many are not. “When citing the Old
Testament, the New Testament writers often changed the wording or omitted words. They used
freedom in changing points of grammar, in paraphrasing, omitting selected portions, giving
partial quotations, using synonyms, and recognizing new aspects of truth” (Ibid., p. 254).

        1. Substitute pronoun for a noun

        “The New Testament writers sometimes substituted a pronoun for a noun. When
        Matthew quoted Isaiah 40:3, ‘make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God,’ he
        wrote, ‘Make straight paths for Him’ (Matt. 3:3), substituting ‘Him’ for ‘our God’”

        2. Nouns in place of pronouns

        “Nouns were sometimes used in place of pronouns. ‘Blessed is the King who comes in
        the name of the Lord’ (Luke 19:38) makes more specific the words of Psalm 118:26,
        ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Ibid, pp. 254-55).

        3. Plural noun in place of singular noun

        “A plural noun is sometimes used in place of a singular noun. Matthew referred to Jesus
        speaking ‘parables’ (Matt. 13:35), but the verse he quoted (Ps. 78:2) has the singular
        ‘parable’ in the Hebrew” (Ibid, p. 255).

        4. Substituting a pronoun

        “Sometimes the writers changed a pronoun. Isaiah said, ‘The virgin. . . will call Him
        Immanuel’ (Isa. 7:14). When Matthew quoted this verse, he said, ‘They will call Him
        Immanuel’ (Matt. 1:23).

        5. Personal reference in quote

        “Occasionally the speaker is identified in the quotation. John the Baptist quoted Isaiah
        40:3, but included in it the fact that he was the one Isaiah referred to. . . . ‘I am the voice
        of one calling in the desert’ (John 1:23)’” (Ibid.).

        6. Direct changed to indirect discourse

        “Sometimes direct discourse is changed to indirect discourse. This is seen in Hosea 2:23,
        ‘I will say to those called “Not My people,” “You are My people,”’ which is quoted in
        Romans 9:25 as follows: ‘ I will call them “My people” who are not my people’” (Ibid.).

        7. Indirect changed to direct discourse

        “Other times an indirect discourse is changed to direct discourse. ‘He’ in Isaiah 29:16
        (‘He did not make me’) is changed to ‘You’ in Romans 9:20” (Ibid, p. 256).

        8. Verbal forms altered

        “The verbal form is sometimes altered slightly. The commands beginning with the words
        ‘You shall not’ in Exodus 20:13-16 are changed to the imperative ‘Do not’ in Mark
        10:19” (Ibid.).

        9. From general to more specific reference

        “A general reference is occasionally made more specific in the New Testament
        quotations. Amos 5:26 refers to ‘the shrine of your king. . . the star of your god.’ When
        Stephen quoted this in Acts 7:43, he referred to the ‘shrine of Molech and the star of your
        god Rephan’ (Acts 7:43).” (Ibid.).

        10. Change extent of reference

        “Sometimes the extent of the reference is changed. Amos 5:27 referred to ‘exile beyond
        Damascus,’ but Stephen extended it to refer to ‘exile beyond Babylon’ (Acts 7:43)”

        11. Order rearranged

        “The order of the clauses is sometimes rearranged. When Jesus quoted five of the Ten
        Commandments in Luke 18:20, He gave them in an order that differs slightly from the
        order in Exodus 20:12-16” (Ibid.).

        12. Combining of quotations

        “Sometimes two quotations are combined and assigned to the more prominent of the two
        Old Testament authors. This is the case in Mark 1:2-3. Verse 2 quotes Malachi 3:1 and
        verse 3 quotes Isaiah 40:3, and yet Mark introduced the verses with the words, ‘It is
        written in Isaiah the prophet.’ Isaiah obviously is the more prominent of the two authors,
        and his book begins the section in the Hebrew Old Testament known as the Prophets,
        which concludes with Malachi” (Ibid.).

        13. Paraphrase

        “Sometimes the New Testament writers rendered the sense of an Old Testament passage
        loosely as a paraphrase. An example is Matthew 13:35, ‘I will utter things hidden since
        the Creation of the world,’ which paraphrases Psalm 78:2.

B. Omitting certain portions of verses

“Writers of New Testament books occasionally shortened Old Testament verses they quoted”
(Zuck, p. 257).

“Zechariah wrote regarding the Lord’s triumphal entry, ‘Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!’ When John cited the passage he changed the imperative to a
negative, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion’ (John 12:15). Also it is interesting to note that
Zechariah 9:9 has six lines, but John selected only three to quote. Matthew, however, cited four
of the lines (Matt. 21:5)” (Ibid.).

C. Partial quotations

 “When Jesus read from Isaiah 61:2, as recorded in Luke 4:18-19, He stopped in the middle of
verse 2 of Isaiah 61, not reading the words, ‘and the day of vengeance of our God.’ This was
because His carrying out of the day of vengeance is yet future and was not relevant to His first
advent” (Ibid.).

D. Using synonyms

 “The word ‘highway’ in Isaiah 40:3 is replaced by the word ‘paths’ in Matthew 3:3. Apparently
John the Baptist felt this word was more appropriate as he quoted this passage to his audience in
the desert of Judea” (Zuck, p. 258).

E. Summary

“All of this above material illustrates that the New Testament writers often preserved the thought
of the Old Testament passages cited, rather than always giving verbatim quotations (though they
often did that as well). We should not conclude that verbal variations we have noted are
inaccurate” (Zuck, p. 259).

III. Ways the New Testament Uses the Old Testament

A. To point up the accomplishment or realization of an Old Testament prediction

“According to Matthew 1:22-23, Jesus’ virgin birth was in fulfillment of the prophecy given in
Isaiah 7:14: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet. ‘The virgin
shall be with Child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel which means,
God with us.’” Matthew also referred to Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem as being in fulfillment of
the prophecy in Micah 5:2” (Vlach).

B. To confirm that a New Testament incident is in agreement with an Old Testament principle

“For example, in Acts 15, the issue that faced the Jerusalem Council was Gentile salvation and
whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. James quoted Amos 9:11-12, a
reference to when the tabernacle of David will be rebuilt (which takes place in the millennium).
He did so, not to show that Amos 9:11-12 is being fulfilled in this age, but to show that Gentile
salvation is in harmony with what the Old Testament prophets said. Since Gentiles will be a part
of God’s kingdom program in the millennium, there should be no problem with God calling

Gentiles to be His people in this age. Nor did Gentiles need to be circumcised to be saved”

Ex. “Acts 15:15-18 and Amos 9:11-12 ("with this the words of the prophets agree"). Accepting
Gentiles into the church is in agreement with God's program for the future of Israel (but Acts 15
doesn't fulfill Amos 9)” (Lewis).

“James’ main point is clear: Gentile salvation apart from the Law does not contradict the Old
Testament prophets” (Stanley Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 2, p.

Ex. “Acts 2:16-21 and Joel 2:28-32 ("this is that"). Hearing men speak with unlearned foreign
languages is in agreement with God's program for the future of Israel at Christ's second coming
(but Acts 2 doesn't fulfill Joel 2)” (Lewis).

C. To support a point being made in the New Testament

        1. Ex. God of the living

        “A good number of Old Testament citations are used to give support to the points being
        made in the New Testament. In Matthew 22:32 Jesus quoted Exodus 3:6, ‘I am the God
        of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,’ to support His point that God is the
        God of the living and that the resurrection will therefore be a reality” (Zuck, p. 261).

        2. Ex. Divorce

        “In speaking against divorce Jesus emphasized that a husband and wife ‘are no longer
        two, but one’ (Mark 10:8). In support of this statement he quoted Genesis 2:24, ‘For this
        reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will
        become one flesh’” (Zuck, p. 261).

D. To illustrate a New Testament truth

“The truth that the ‘message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing’ (1 Cor. 1:18)
is illustrated by the Old Testament verse, Isaiah 29:14, which is cited in 1 Corinthians 1:19: ‘I
will destroy the wisdom of the wise’” (Zuck, p. 262).

        1. Matthew 21:16 - Psalm 8:2
        2. I Corinthians 1:19 - Isaiah 29:14
        3. Romans 10:16 - Isaiah 53:1
        4. Romans 9:15 - Exodus 33:19
        5. I Peter 5:5 - Proverbs 3:34

E. To apply the Old Testament to a New Testament incident or truth

        1. Ex. Object of God’s mercy

        “In Romans 9:15 Paul quoted Exodus 33:19: ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
        and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ In Exodus God spoke these
        words to Moses to assure him of His presence and blessing (see Ex. 33:14-20). But in
        Romans 9 Paul applied these words to a different situation, namely, God’s election of
        Jacob rather than Esau (Rom. 9:11-13). Paul was pointing up the fact that those whom
        God chooses are based not on their efforts but on God’s mercy (v. 16)” (Zuck, p. 263).

        2. Ex. Support of church leaders

        “In 1 Corinthians 9:9 Paul quoted Deuteronomy 25:4, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is
        treading out the grain.’ Paul was applying that Old Testament verse, set in the context of
        kindness and justice to the poor and the needy, to his argument that those who serve the
        Lord have a right to be supported by those they serve” (Ibid.).

F. To summarize an Old Testament concept

        1. Ex. Jesus the Nazarene

        “The example is found in Matthew 2:23. . . . that it might be fulfilled which was spoken
        by the prophets, that He should be called a Nazarene. However, no such statement is
        found anywhere in the OT. Since Matthew used the plural prophets, one should be able to
        find at least two, yet there is not even one. (This is) a summary of what the prophets
        actually said. The plural use of prophets is a clue to this category. In the first century,
        Nazarenes were a people despised and rejected and the term was used to reproach and to
        shame (John 1:46). The prophets did teach that the Messiah would be a despised and
        rejected individual (e.g. Isa 53:3) and this is summarized by the term, Nazarene”
        (Fruchtenbaum, pp. 945-948).

        2. Ex. Persecution of the Messiah

        “Another example of this category is Luke 18:31-33. Using the plural for prophet again,
        Jesus states that the time for fulfillment has come and He states what is to be fulfilled: the
        Messiah will go to Jerusalem, be turned over to the Gentiles; the Gentiles will mock Him,
        treat Him shamefully, spit on Him, scourge Him, and kill Him, but He will rise again the
        third day. Not one prophet ever said all this, but the prophets together did say all this.
        Hence, this is a summation” (Fruchtenbaum, pp. 945-48).

G. To draw a parallel with an Old Testament Incident

 “In speaking of ‘a remnant chosen by grace’ (Rom. 11:5), that is, a remnant of believing Jews,
Paul said this was redolent of Elijah’s day when a remnant of 7,000 people did not worship Baal
(v. 4,quoting 1 Kings 19:18). The situation in Paul’s day paralleled the Old Testament incident”
(Zuck, p. 266).

H. To relate an Old Testament Situation to Christ

“On a number of occasions the New Testament writers referred to statements in the Old
Testament and then enlarged or extended those statements beyond their original historical setting

to refer to Christ. Though the passages in the two Testaments refer to entirely different historical
situations, parallels or analogies were seen by the New Testament writers in reference to Christ.
The Old Testament situations were ‘heightened’ in the New Testament to speak of Christ. The
New Testament references did not contradict the passages quoted from the Old Testament. Nor
were they unrelated. Instead, they were expansions of related truths” (Zuck, p. 267).

        1. Ex. Matthew 2:15 and its use of Hosea 11:1

        “. . . that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled saying,
        ‘Out of Egypt did I call My Son.’” “A problem arises when we note the context of Hosea
        11:1. That verse is clearly speaking of Israel. Since the ‘son’ in Hosea 11:1 is Israel and
        the ‘Son’ in Matthew 2:15 is Christ, how can Matthew have said that Jesus’ being in
        Egypt as a Child till the death of Herod was a fulfillment of Hosea 11:1?” (Zuck, p. 267).

                 a. A non-dispensational interpretation (George Ladd)

                 “In Hosea this is not a prophecy at all but a historical affirmation that God had
                 called Israel out of Egypt in the Exodus. However, Matthew recognizes Jesus to
                 be God’s greater son and deliberately turns a historical statement into a prophecy.
                 This is a principle which runs throughout biblical prophecy. The Old Testament is
                 reinterpreted in light of the Christ event” (Ladd, The Meaning of the Millennium:
                 Four Views, p. 21).

                 b. A dispensational interpretation (Zuck)

                 “One answer is to recognize that the word fulfilled does not always mean the
                 realization of a prediction. This has already been seen in Matthew 2:23. The
                 Greek words translated ‘that it might be fulfilled’ do indicate accomplishment of a
                 prophecy, as in Matthew 1:22; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17;and 21:4. On the other hand
                 ‘fulfilled’ in 2:15, 17, 23; 13:14, 35; and 27:9 points to an enlarging or a
                 heightening of the Old Testament statements to refer to Christ. In these verses the
                 Old Testament incidents or statements were ‘fulfilled’ not in the sense of
                 prophecies being realized but in the sense that they were ‘filled with more
                 (higher) meaning’” (Zuck, pp. 267-68).

                 “When God the Father ‘called’ His Son ‘out of Egypt,’ it was analogous to His
                 calling Israel out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus. What was in one sense
                 incomplete is now filled up or brought to a climax. Several analogies are evident
                 between Jesus and Israel: both were in ‘exile’ in Egypt; both, being the objects of
                 God’s love, were delivered; both came out of Egypt; both passed through the
                 waters (Ex. 13:17-14:31; Matt. 3:13-17); both were tested in the wilderness (Ex.
                 15:22-17:15; Matt. 4:1-11); in both cases the multitudes were fed with ‘manna’
                 from heaven (Ex. 16; Matt. 14:13-21; 15:29-39). From these parallels it is evident
                 that Jesus was seen as the ideal Israel. His experience was an enlargement of the
                 experience of the nation” (Zuck, pp. 267-68).

                         (1) “When God calls His son ‘out of Egypt’ in Hosea 11 the event is
                         history not prophecy. Hosea is looking back 700 years to the first Exodus

                         from Egypt. He is not looking forward 700 years to Christ’s return from
                         Egypt following the death of Herod” (Charles Dyer, “Biblical Meaning of
                         Fulfillment,” in Issues in Dispensationalism, p. 55).

                         (2) “The mere presence of pleroo (“fulfilled”) in Matthew 2:15 does not
                         require one to force a prophecy of Christ into Hosea 11:1. One must first
                         look at Hosea 11:1 to see what the passage means in its own context. Only
                         after determining the meaning in its context should one go to the New
                         Testament to see how the writer is using the passage. Matthew used Hosea
                         11:1 because his purpose was to show that Christ succeeded as God’s Son
                         while Israel failed as God’s son. Christ ‘realized the full potential’ or
                         ‘filled completely’ God’s designs for Israel when He called them out of
                         Egypt. Thus, Matthew was not using pleroo to point out a veiled prophecy
                         in Hosea. Instead, he was looking back and focusing on the contrasts
                         between Israel’s failures as God’s son and Christ’s obedience as God’s
                         Son” (Dyer, p. 56).

        2. Ex. Matthew 2:17-18's use of Jeremiah 31:15
        “Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled saying, A voice
        was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And
        she refused to be comforted, because they were no more” (Matt. 2:17-18).

        “In the original context, Jeremiah is speaking of an event soon to come as the Babylonian
        Captivity begins. As the Jewish young men were being taken into captivity, they went by
        the town of Ramah. Not too far from Ramah is where Rachel was buried and she was the
        symbol of Jewish motherhood. As the young men were marched toward Babylon, the
        Jewish mothers of Ramah came out weeping for sons they will never see again. Jeremiah
        pictured the scene as Rachel weeping for her children. This is the literal meaning of
        Jeremiah 31:15. The NT cannot change or reinterpret what this verse means in that
        context, nor does it try to do so. In this category, there is a NT event that has one point of
        similarity with the OT event. The verse is quoted as an event that has one point of
        similarity with the OT event. The verse is quoted as an application. The one point of
        similarity between Ramah and Bethlehem is that once again Jewish mothers are weeping
        for sons that they will never see again so the OT passage is applied to the NT event”
        (Fruchtenbaum, pp. 945-48).

        “The only point of comparison is the sadness felt in the hearts of both groups of women. .
        . .He is not saying that Jeremiah was predicting the death of babies in Bethlehem. Instead,
        he is indicating that the measure of grief experienced by the women in Ramah who
        watched their sons being carried off into captivity was ‘seen in full’ for ‘filled
        completely’ by the women in Bethlehem who watched their sons being slaughtered”
        (Dyer, p. 57).

I. Summary

Of the many ways the New Testament writers use the Old Testament, “only one relates to the
fulfillment of prophecy. In the other nine the New Testament writers quote or allude to Old
Testament people, events, and actions and use them to illustrate or illuminate their own messages

to the church. These points of comparison relate more to the literary purposes of the New
Testament writers than they do to prophetic purposes hidden in the pages of the Old Testament.
One cannot determine the fulfillment of Bible prophecy merely on the basis of New Testament
allusions to the Old Testament” (Dyer, p. 61).

IV. Tips for Interpreting the NT’s use of the OT (Vlach)

A. Be careful with the term “fulfilled.”

“. . . the word pleroo [fulfilled] can mean far more than the ‘fulfillment’ of a prophecy, and the
New Testament writers use the word in a variety of ways when citing the Old Testament.” (Dyer,
p. 62)

“Pleroo (fulfill) occurs ninety times in the New Testament, but only twenty-eight occurrences
seem to be part of an introductory formula. Most of the remaining sixty-two occurrences have no
connection with prophecy. Pleroo has five separate ranges of meaning in the New Testament.
Only one of these five refers to the fulfillment of prophecy” (Dyer, p. 52).

        1. To fill something with content “When (the net) was full (pleroo), the fishermen pulled
        it up on the shore” (Mt. 13:48).

        2. To fulfill a demand or claim “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled (pleroo) the
        law” (Rom. 13:8).

        3. To fill up completely a specific measure “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the
        Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (pleroo)” (Luke 21:24).

        4. To complete “When Jesus had finished (pleroo) saying all this in the hearing of the
        people, he entered Capernaum (Luke 7:1).

        5. To complete or to fulfill prophetic sayings which were spoken with divine authority

        “. . . less than one-third of the occurrences of the word pleroo in the New Testament fit
        this category. The mere presence of pleroo is not enough to indicate fulfillment of
        prophecy. ‘Clearly, to apply our English denotations of the word fulfill to its occurrences
        in the biblical text will sometimes result in an interpretation unintended by the author’”
        (Dyer, p. 53).

B. Look for OT meaning first

 “What then is the proper approach to discovering the fulfillment nof an Old Testament
prophecy? It is this writer’s contention that the proper approach to discovering the biblical
fulfillment of a prophecy must begin in the Old Testament. One cannot determine the fulfillment
of prophecy until one first knows whether a passage is prophetic and, if it is, what the parameters
are that will constitute a biblical fulfillment” (Dyer, p. 62).

“Investigate the Old Testament context of the text to which the quotation or allusion refers. Be
sure not to read back into the Old Testament a meaning for the original readers that is now
known only by the New Testament revelation” (Lewis).

For fulfillment, look for exact correspondence between OT and NT. “Biblical fulfillment occurs
when the meaning of a specific Old Testament prophecy finds its exact correspondence in a New
Testament person, activity, or event. If the New Testament writer looks back to the Old
Testament and draws significance from the Old Testament for his specific audience, this is
application of the Old Testament, not fulfillment of the Old Testament” (Ibid, p. 67).

“The process for determining the fulfillment. . . is (a) determine what each prophecy meant in its
original, historical context and (b) look for a historical incident that corresponds to the meaning
of the text. When the particulars of the text are paralleled in a historical event, then the prophecy
is fulfilled” (Dyer, p. 66).


"In sum, lack of repetition in the New Testament does not render the Old Testament teaching
inoperative during the New Testament era so long as nothing explicitly or implicitly cancels it"
(Feinberg, Continuity and Discontinuity, "Systems of Discontinuity", 76).

"(1) The sense of the OT text must be determined within its historical and cultural settings, and
that sense is determinative for the NT fulfillments. (no forcing either way)

(2) Where a promise or prediction is expanded or amplified, the amplification does not preclude
the original addressees as a part of the ‘referent' (fulfillment) of that promise.

(3) Where a promise or prediction is expanded or amplified, the amplification is justified in the
test itself

(4) The sense of any text is adequate for its fulfillment referents. That is knowing the sense of a
promise should put one in a position to recognize a fulfillment" (Feinberg, Continuity and
Discontinuity, "Systems of Discontinuity", 127-128).


1. The NT does not give you the hermeneutical tact for the OT

"The Old Testament must be interpreted in light of the New Testament and that a totally and
exclusively literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is not justified" (Hoekema, "An
Amillennial Response", 55).

Regarding Amos 9:11-15, the following comments are made by O. Palmer Robertson: "In
attempting to determine the ultimate fulfillment of this word of prophecy, primary help may be
derived by observing the manner in which it is interpreted and applied in the New Covenant
Scriptures" (Feinberg, Continuity and Discontinuity, "Systems of Continuity", 94).

2. OT promises need NOT be repeated in the NT to remain valid

Covenant theologians believe that unless the truth revealed in the Old Testament is repeated in
the New Testament it (the truth of the Old Testament) is no longer valid or it has changed.

Further commenting on Amos 9 via Acts 15, O. Palmer Robertson states, "Yet according to Acts
15, James analyzes the inclusion of Gentiles with Jews as God's elect people in the present era as
the fulfilling of Amos' prophecy. This particular prophecy includes such elements as the
reestablishment of the Davidic throne, the conquest of Edom, the return of Israel from captivity
and the restoration of paradise" (Feinberg, Continuity and Continuity, "Systems of Continuity",


“Most non-dispensational theologians hold that the reference of Amos 9 used in Acts 15 is the
most important passage for the case. First, by its use (the quote), it shows that Amos' prophecy
of the rebuilt Davidic Kingdom and restoration of Israel are being fulfilled in the church today.
But, It's not a literal fulfillment that was understood from the Old Testament use of the term
kingdom, but that it's being fulfilled spiritually (only) in the church” (Todd Swift,


"According to Acts 15, James analyzes the inclusion of Gentiles with Jews as God's elect people
in the present era as the fulfilling of Amos' prophecy" (O. Palmer Robertson, "Hermeneutics of
Continuity," Continuity and Discontinuity, 107).

“From a dispensational point of view, James is simply using an OT truth to prove a point about
the subject matter in Acts 15. Namely, does a Gentile have to first become a Jewish proselyte in
order to be saved? According to the entire Bible, the answer is no. What James uses to prove
the point is to state that Gentiles have no need of circumcision because its never an issue in the
future kingdom when many (Gentiles) are saved. Therefore, why would they need to now be
circumcised in order to be saved? The point is straightforward. Works are never added to faith
as a means of salvation. The issue is not the "one people" of God, but rather the "one way" of
salvation” (Todd Swift, Omaha Bible Church Bible Institute).

3. Deny Sensus Plenary movements

Inspired sensus plenary application

In which of the above categories would you place these New Testament quotations of the
Old Testament?

______ Matthew 15:7-9 (Isaiah 29:13)
______ Romans 10: 18 (Psalm 19 4)
______ Galatians 5:14
______ John 13:18 (Psalm 41:9)
______ Matthew 11:10 (Malachi 1:3)

______ Matthew 5:38-39 (Exodus 21:24)
______ Acts 13:40-41 (Habakkuk 1:5)
______ Hebrews 1:3 (Psalm 110:1)
______ Acts 4:24 (Exodus 20:11).

Appendix I: Why Study the Bible? (from Vlach)

I. Reasons people give for not studying their Bibles

A. “The Bible is not relevant to everyday life.”

Answer: The timeless principles and instructions of Scripture apply to every person in every
age. “Sadly, some of us carry the mistaken impression that the Bible is a dry, irrelevant
collection of impractical information—beautiful on a coffee table, but certainly not ‘must’
reading for our busy lives. When things go wrong in life, we’re often prone to by-pass God and
go everywhere else for help. We go to psychiatrists, psychologists, advisers, and friends. We
take tranquilizers and try talk-yourself-out-of-it therapies. We consult God only as a last resort—
but, if we were really wise, we would run to Him at the first sign of trouble” (Irving L. Jensen,
Enjoy Your Bible, pp. 16-17).

B. “The Bible is hard to understand.”

Answer: A good plan can make Bible study enjoyable and understandable.

C. “I’ll just let my pastor teach me what I need to know.”

Answer: Pastors are to teach believers the Word but not to the exclusion of personal Bible study.
All Christians must be like the noble Bereans who examined “the Scriptures daily, to see whether
these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

“Unfortunately, most Christians have the idea they cannot understand the Bible. They think it
was written for theologians or ministers so all they do is listen to ‘Bible scholars’ lecture and
preach. . . but spend very little time studying it for themselves. The thing that is so sad about this
is that the Bible wasn’t written for theologians, it was written for people just like you! For
example, the Lord said through the apostle John, ‘I write unto you, little children, because your
sins are forgiven. . . and because ye have known the Father’ (1 John 2:12-13). Evidently then,
‘little children’ or brand new Christians can understand the Bible. That means you can
understand the Bible! Oh you may not be able to go down into the depths of Bible truth the way
the scholars do, and there will be things you won’t understand, but you will find there is far more
in the Scriptures you can understand than what you cannot” (Tim LaHaye, How To Study The
Bible For Yourself, pp. 11-12).

D. “I am busy and do not have enough time to study the Bible.”

Answer: People will always make time for what is important to them. Since Bible study for the
Christian is not optional, but mandatory, believers must make time for it. “Where does one find
time to read the Bible? Free time is so scarce for most Christians that it is never found. So we
must take time to read the Bible, scheduling it at a regular time, if possible. . . . We can easily set
time aside for the daily newspaper and the weekly reading of periodicals. We should, likewise,
develop the taste for daily Bible study” (Jensen, Enjoy Your Bible, p. 32).

E. “The Bible is boring.”

Answer: This statement is more of a reflection on the person than the Bible. “For the word of
God is living and active and sharper than any two-edge sword. . . .” (Heb. 4:12). “My experience
is that the Bible is dull when I am dull. When I am really alive and set upon the text with a tidal
pressure of living affinities, it opens, it multiplies discoveries, and reveals depths even faster than
I can note them” (Robert A. Traina, Methodical Bible Study, p. 13).

F. “I do not have the training to be effective in Bible study.”

Answer: All that is required for Bible study is the ability to read and a good plan. There are too
many good helps and resources to use lack of training as an excuse.

G. “It’s not that I don’t want to read the Bible, I just don’t like to read period.”

Answer: God did not give us His Word on video tape. He gave it to us in written form. If we
desire to know Him better, we will learn to read. “Our culture has made a radical shift in the last
century from a word-based society of readers to an image-based society of viewers. The medium
of our time is television, not books. As a result, unlike our forebears of a few generations ago, we
don’t know how to read. To a large extent, we’ve lost that art. And yet the Bible is a book, which
means it must be read to be understood and appreciated. We’ve got to recapture the skills of
reading if we want to become effective Bible students” (Howard Hendricks, Living by the Book,
p. 64).

II. Reasons Christians should study their Bibles

A. Bible study is essential for growth.

“Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to
salvation” (1 Peter. 2:2).

B. Bible study is essential for spiritual maturity.

“Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of
hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to
teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God and you have come to need milk and
not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of
righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have
their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14).

C. Bible study is essential for correct doctrine and godly living.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for
training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work”
(2 Tim. 3:16-17). “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy
word” (Psalm 119:9).

D. Bible study helps us make right decisions.

“Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). “Life is filled with
decisions! Little ones, big ones and many in between. When the principles of God are well
known to a Christian it simplifies the process of decision making” (LaHaye, p. 20).

III. Who can study the Bible?

A. Those who are believers.

 To understand the Bible, a person must be a true Christian, a believer, born again. “But a natural
man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he
cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14).

B. Those who rely on the Holy Spirit .

“We have to see our need of Bible study, or incentive and inspiration will be lacking. Convinced
of our need to study the Bible, and knowing also our inability to understand it without help, we
should depend on the Holy Spirit who indwells us (Romans 8:9) and who was given to guide us
into all the truth (John 16:13). We must study the Bible under his influence, for as D.L. Moody
said, ‘The Bible without the Holy Spirit is a sun-dial by moonlight.’” (Jensen, Enjoy Your Bible,
p. 27)

“Two extremes are to be avoided regarding the Holy Spirit’s ministry. The first is that of an
extreme passivity in which the student avoids the disciplines of toil and sweat and equates Bible
study only with an ‘inner voice’ teaching him. The other error is associated with an intense
mental activity, involving much time and study, in which the Spirit’s illuminating ministry is not
recognized or depended on. . . . If the earnest Bible student comes to the Scriptures in reverence,
being continually aware of his need for help and of God’s offer for help, he will find himself
engaged in fruitful labor” (Irving L. Jensen, Independent Bible Study, p. 62).

C. Those who recognize the Bible’s authority.

Deep conviction concerning the infallibility and authority of the Bible is a must.

D. Those who are diligent.

“Scripture does not yield its fruit to the lazy. Like any other discipline of life, Bible study pays in
proportion to how much of an investment you make. The greater the investment, the greater the
reward”( Hendricks, p. 30).

        1. “Now these [Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they
        received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether
        these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

        2. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to
        be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

E. Those who have a great desire.

“It is one thing to know that we need to study the Bible. It is another thing to desire to study it.
Such a desire isn’t forced, but should come naturally to the one who knows the Author
personally, and loves his fellowship” (Jensen, Enjoy Your Bible, pp. 28-29).

        1. “Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word” (1 Pet. 2:2).
        2. “O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97).
        3. “How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps.

F. Those who are receptive.

 “This is the attitude of submission and ‘mold-ability.’ We approach the Bible not to do
something to it, but to let it do something to us. Someone very wise once said,’Men do not reject
the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them.’ With an open heart and
mind, we are prepared to understand the Scriptures (cf. Luke 24:45)” (Jensen, p. 28).

IV. Attributes of the Bible

A. The Bible is infallible.

“The Bible in its entirety, has no mistakes. Specifically, in its original autographs it is without
errors. In Psalm 19:7 the Bible says of itself, ‘The law of the Lord is perfect.’ It is flawless
because it was authored by God— and He is flawless. Therefore, if God wrote the Bible, and if
He is the ultimate authority, and if His character is flawless, then the Bible is flawless and is the
ultimate authority. You see, the fact that God is perfect demands that the original autograph, the
original giving of the Word of God, must also be perfect” (John MacArthur, How To Study the
Bible, p. 8).

B. The Bible is inerrant.

“In order to be authoritative, the Bible must be true, that is, without error. As someone has noted,
‘Either the Bible is without error in all, or it is not without error at all.’ There’s really no middle
ground. A ‘partially inerrant’ Bible is an errant Bible” (Hendricks, p. 25).

C. The Bible is inspired by God.

“All Scripture is inspired [God-breathed] by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). “The great theologian B.B.
Warfield said, ‘The Bible is the Word of God in such a way that when the Bible speaks, God
speaks.’ That’s a good description of inspiration. The reason we call the Bible the Word of God
is because it is indeed the very words that God wanted communicated” (Hendricks, p. 25).

D. The Bible is complete.

Since the Bible is complete, we need no further revelations (See Rev. 22:18-19; Jude 3).

E. The Bible is a unit.

 “The Bible is not only one Book, it is sixty-six books collected in one volume. These sixty-six
separate documents were written over a period of more than sixteen hundred years by more than
forty human authors who came from a wide variety of backgrounds. Yet the Bible is a single
unit, bound together by the theme of God and His relationship to humankind. Each book, section,
paragraph, and verse works together with the others to reveal God’s truth. That’s why Scripture
is best understood by relating its individual parts to the integrated whole” (Hendricks, p. 23).

           Appendix II

                                    Study Questions on 2 Timothy5
                                          by David H. Roper

Introductory Background Study

Read 2 Timothy through twice.

1. What were Paul's circumstances? (Note particularly 4:9-18)

2. What bearing does Paul's situation have on his reason for writing this letter?

3. What can you discern about Timothy's personality from reading this letter?

4. Where was he at the time the letter was written? (There is a clue in the letter).

For additional information on Paul's relationship to Timothy read Acts 16:1-5 and use a
concordance to note other passages where Timothy is linked to Paul.

5. What further conclusions can you draw about Timothy?

6. Now look up the entries for Paul and Timothy in a Bible dictionary. What additional facts
have you uncovered that you may have overlooked before?

Chapter One

Read Chapter 1 (5-10 times).

1. What are the paragraph divisions in your Bible? Do you agree that the chapter should be
divided in this manner? How would you divide the chapter?

2. Verses 1 and 2 are obviously the salutation or introduction to the letter. Salutations to
correspondence of the first century generally followed this pattern "A (writer) to B (recipient)
greeting." What elements does Paul add that are distinctively Christian? What do these additions
tell us about the apostle's ministry?

3. Define (a) Grace (b) Mercy (c) Peace (Use a Bible or English Dictionary). How do they

4. Verses 3-5 contain Paul's word of thanksgiving to God for his friendship with Timothy. What
aspects of that relationship caused Paul to give thanks?

5. Read 6-14 again. Note the imperatives (commands). Underscore them in your Bible. The
argument in this section revolves around these verbs.
    Roper, David H. “Study Questions on 2 Timothy”.

6-14 begins with the clause, "And for this reason..." For what reason? This "reason" is evidently
the basis of the commands that follow. What does this fact tell us about the nature of obedience?

6. The first command "kindle afresh" is found in verse 6. What fundamental fact does that
metaphor suggest?

7. The "gift of God" referred to in verse 6 is either a spiritual gift (i.e. a divinely given capacity
for service, cf. Cor. 12:11; Rom. 12:3-8) or the gift of the Holy Spirit. Which do you think it is?
Why? (Use a concordance to see how Paul uses this term. Observe especially the occurrence of
this word in the first letter to Timothy. Note also the context of this verse, especially verse 7.)

8. Verse 7 begins with the conjunction "for" indicating that the information in this verse explains
the action in verse 6. For what reason then is Timothy to kindle afresh the gift of God.

9. What is the tense of the verb "has (not) given"? What does this tense indicate about the nature
of the gift?

10. Define (1) Power (2) Love (3) Discipline (dictionary).

11. The second imperative is found in verse 8. It is stated both negatively ("do not be ashamed")
and positively ("join with me in suffering"). Of what was Timothy tempted to be ashamed?
Why? (Observe carefully!)

12. Verse 8 begins with another conjunction "Therefore..." indicating the verse states a logical
conclusion to the preceding argument. What is the force then of Paul's command? On what basis
is Timothy to unashamedly join with Paul in suffering?

13. What relationship does the section 9-11 have to the development of Paul's argument? (At
first these verses seem to be disconnected but look again!) Note the phrase "I also suffer...I am
not ashamed." Compare with verse 8. This entire section from 8-12 appears to be one unit of
thought dealing with shame and suffering, does it not? How does it fit together logically? (Note
the occurrence of the term "gospel" in this section. Repeated words or ideas sometimes give you
the key to understanding a passage.)

14. What are the elements of the gospel as Paul enumerates them in verses 9 and 10?

15. Verse 12 can be translated in two different ways:

        (1) RSV "He is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me."

        (2) ASV "He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."

Both translations are legitimate. The Greek states ambiguously "He is able to guard my
commitment until that day."

What is the essential difference in the two translations cited above?

16. What is it that is "entrusted"? Which translation do you consider accurate? Read carefully the
immediate context (8-14).

17. The third command is found in verse 13: "Retain the standard of sound words." Compare this
translation with other versions What are the "sound words" to which he refers? Is there some
thing in the context that will help you understand that phrase?

18. How do you "retain... sound the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus"? What is
the meaning of this verse in practical terms?

19. The fourth and final command is found in verse 15, "Guard the treasure." What is the
treasure that has been entrusted to Timothy? (Again pay particular attention to the context.)

20. Compare verse 14 with verse 12. What do verses 12 and 14 teach about the nature of human
activity? (cp. Phil. 2:13,14)

21. Does verse 14 help you in interpreting the nature of the "gift" in verse 6?

22. Verses 15-18 are a new paragraph. What is the subject of this section?

23. What is the relationship of this paragraph to the one preceding?

24. What verb found in verses 15-18 is restated twice in the paragraph 3-14?

25. Who is the subject of the verb in each case?

26. Does this help you to see the relationship of these two paragraphs?

27. What is the region referred to as "Asia" in verse 15? (Refer to a Bible dictionary.)

28. What churches were located there?

29. Why is it significant that "all" had turned away from Paul in Asia?

30. What further information does that give us about Timothy's situation? Compare 2 Timothy

31. Who was Onesiphorus? (His name occurs in the New Testament only here and 4:19.)

32. Read the paragraph again for clues to his condition at the time Paul wrote this letter.

33. What do you think happened to him? Why?

34. Now think again! What part does the information contained in verses 15-18 play in Paul's
word of encouragement to Timothy?

Chapter Two

Read chapter 2 (5-10 times.)

1. The New American Standard Bible divides the chapter into two paragraphs; 1-13 and 14-26.
Do you think this arrangement is valid?

2. Observe the main verbs in chapter 2. You will note again, as in chapter 1, that most of them
are commands. Mark the imperatives in your Bible in some conspicuous way.

3. Note that the second word in verse I is the conjunction "therefore." Remember that this term
introduces a conclusion or inference (cp. 1:8). The action of the verb is based on some prior fact.
On what basis, then, is Timothy to be strong?

4. What further incentive to "be strong" is contained in the verse?

5. Why are these two incentives so important in Timothy's case?

6. Verse 2 also begins with a conjunction, "and." What does this connective suggest concerning
the action of the two commands in verses one and two?

7. Recall Timothy's nature. What was he naturally inclined to do?

8. How many generations are envisioned in verse 2?

9. What pattern of ministry is established in this verse?

10. What characteristic is Timothy to look for in those to whom he is ministering?

11. Assuming that you "entrust" the truth to one faithful individual each year and equip that
person to reach one more each succeeding year and the process continues unbroken for twenty
years how many will be reached?

12. The second command in this chapter is found in verse 3, "suffer hardship with me." Read
2:3-13 again. How does Paul develop his argument? Are there any repeated words or ideas that
indicate the theme of these verses?

13. Again, what does this teaching suggest about Timothy's natural inclination toward his
assignment in Ephesus?

14. Paul uses three illustrative metaphors in this section. What are they and what specific
attribute does each one illustrate?

15. Note that in each case there is a responsibility and a reward. What are they?

16. Verse 7 contains a command and a promise that ought to encourage you on in your study!

17. Verse 8 contains another command "Remember Jesus Christ." Why does he insert this
statement at this point in the argument?

18. Note the order of the Lord's names. Is this Paul's normal order in this book?

19. (Use a concordance and note occurrences of the names or quickly re-read 2 Timothy.) What
does this order suggest about the Lord that would encourage Timothy?

20. What does the designation "descendant of David" add to the argument? Why not "Son of

21. Why is it important to Timothy that he is "risen from the dead"?

22. In verse 9 Paul refers again to his own circumstances. He is imprisoned but the word of God
is not, what does he mean?

23. What effect would that statement have on Timothy?

24. According to verse 10, Paul's reason for enduring all things is twofold. The phrase "for this
reason" looks back to some fact in verse 10. What is it?

25. The "that" in verse 10 introduces a purpose clause (a purpose clause expresses the aim of the
action indicated by the main verb) and supplies a second reason for endurance. What is it?

26. Paul is quoting a portion of an ancient hymn or early liturgical formula in verses 11-13. It is
designated "a trustworthy statement" or a word to be believed. How does this hymn develop
Paul's argument? What new facts pertaining to suffering hardship are introduced?

27. What incentives and warnings would Timothy receive?

28. And what about us?

29. Note the problem in verses 12 and 13. What is the difference between denying him and
proving faithless? (The consequences certainly differ!)

30. The second paragraph in this chapter begins with verse 14. Read verses 14-26 again. What is
the theme of this division?

31. How does it differ from 2:1-13?

32. To whom is the reminder and solemn charge in verse 14 addressed (cp. 2:2)?

33. In this paragraph Paul is contrasting two classes of workmen. What are the methods of each
class and the results that their methods produce?

34. The crux of this paragraph is verse 15. The approved workman who has no need to be
ashamed handles the word of truth accurately. What does that phrase mean? Compare various
translations. The Greek actually says "(he) cuts straight to the goal."

35. What is the goal of all biblical instruction? Cp. 2:25; 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:5.

36. Contrast this goal with the results of the disapproved workmen whose methods Paul

37. Note verse 19. The conjunction "nevertheless" denotes contrast. Paul is contrasting two
truths: one found in verse 18, the other in verse 19. What is Paul contrasting?

38. Why would verse 19 particularly encourage Timothy?

39. In verse 19 what two seemingly contradictory principles comprise God's "seal"?

40. To what do the vessels of honor and dishonor correspond in verse 20? (Remember the

41. Note that the New American Standard Bible has placed the word "things" in italics (in verse
21). Most versions use italics to indicate words that are added in the translation to clarify but do
not occur in the original language. In this passage the translators want you to know that the
pronoun "these" does not refer to the vessels but to something else. Do you agree with their

42. From what, then, is Timothy to cleanse himself?

43. Verse 22 contains a command to "flee youthful lusts." In English the term lusts almost
always refers to sexual matters. The Greek term, however, from which this word is translated
means "desires" and is a much broader term referring to almost any sort of strong passion. Now,
noting again the context, what are the strong passions that might drive and control young

44. What pursuits would serve Timothy better?

45. Define righteousness, faith, love and peace.

46. Are these attributes that Timothy himself should possess or a climate that he should seek in
the church?

47. Verse 23 is in contrast with verse 22 ("But"). Does this help you answer the last question?

48. Verses 24-26 provide a look behind the scenes. Why do people oppose the gospel?

49. Who then is the enemy?

50. Does this truth affect your attitude toward those who are in opposition to you?

51. What are the characteristics of God's bondservant?

That's two chapters – now you do the rest!


                         Questions to Ask When Exegeting a Passage6
                                          Peter Wise

Overview Analysis

    1.   What is the theme of this book?
    2.   What is the thought-unit here?
    3.   What is the theme of the thought-unit?
    4.   Where do the thought-units begin and end in this passage?
    5.   How does this thought-unit contribute to the message of the book as a whole?
    6.   What are the key words?
    7.   How does each verse relate to the theme of the passage?


    How does this passage relate to the passage immediately before it?

    How does this passage relate to the passage immediately after it?

    Does this passage warrant a topical digression (on a key theme found in the passage)?

Analytical Questions

    1.   Are there any comparisons (similes and metaphors)?
    2.   Are there any contrasts?
    3.   Is there any progression of thought?
    4.   Are there any recurring words or ideas?
    5.   Is there a climactic verse?
    6.   Is the author answering any question(s)? If so, what is it (are they)?
    7.   Does the author put in any interpretive (explanatory) comments?
    8.   Is there a verse or passage that summarizes?
    9.   Is a certain truth being illustrated in several ways?

Cross References

    Cross reference verses of this passage with other passages in the same book.

    Cross reference verses of this passage with passages from other books of the Bible.

    How does this book relate to other books of the Bible?

    Can the truths of this passage be illustrated from characters or events in the historical
       sections of the Bible?
 Wise, Peter. “Questions to Ask When Exegeting a Passage.”

Wrapping It All Up

    How can Christ be seen or proclaimed from this passage?

    What life-related message naturally flows out of this passage?

    What are some principles for Christian growth?

    What does this passage tell us about what God is like?

                                       Selected Bibliography
                          (Restricted to Hermeneutic and Exegesis Helps)

Carson, D. A. Exegetical Fallacies. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984.
Clouse, Robert. The Meaning of the Millennium. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977.
Coleman, William L. Today’s Handbook of Bible Times and Customs. Chicago: Moody, 1987.
Davis, John J. Biblical Numerology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968.
Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody, 1989.
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985.
Fasol, Al. Essentials for Biblical Preaching. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989).
Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1993.
Fruchtenbaum Arnold. Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. Tustin: Ariel,
Geisler, Norman. "The Relation of Purpose and Meaning in Interpreting Scripture." GTJ 5
(1984): 229–45.
Hendricks, Howard G. and William D. Hendricks. Living By The Book. Chicago: Moody, 1991.
Jensen, Irving L. Enjoy Your Bible. Wheaton: Shaw, 1992.
Kaiser, Walter C. Jr. Toward an Exegetical Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981.
LaHaye, Tim. How to Study the Bible for Yourself.
Lockhart, Clinton. Principles of Interpretation. 2nd ed. Fort Worth: S. H. Taylor,
1915 .
McQuilkin, Robertson, J. Understanding and Applying the Bible. Chicago: Moody, 1983.
MacArthur, John, Jr. How to Study the Bible, Chicago: Moody, 1982.
-------------------------. Rediscovering Expository Preaching. Dallas: Word, 1992.
Mayhue, Richard, How to Interpret the Bible for Yourself. Winona Lake: BMH Books, 1989.
Mickelsen, A. Berkeley. Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963.
Packer, J.I., Merrill C. Tenney and William White, Jr. The Bible Almanac. Nashville: Thomas
Nelson, 1980.
Parker, T. H. L. Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971.
Payne, Barton J. Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy.
Pentecost, Dwight J. Things to Come. Grand Rapids: Dunham, 1964.
Ramm, Bernard, Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1970.
Ryken, Leland. How To Read The Bible As Literature. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.
Ryrie, Charles, C. Basic Theology. USA: Victor, 1986.
-------------------------. Dispensationalism. Chicago: Moody Press, 1966, 1995.
Rosscup, James. Hermeneutics, 1988.
Schneiders, Sandra M. "The Paschal Imagination: Objectivity and Subjectivity in New
Testament interpretation," Theological Studies, March, 1982.
Surburg, Raymond R. “The Presuppositions of the Historical-Grammatical Method as Employed
by Historic Lutheranism,” The Springfielder. 38.4 (March 1975).
Sproul, R. C. Knowing Scripture. Downers Grove: IVP, 1977.
Tan, Paul Lee. The Interpretation of Prophecy. Rockwille: Assurance, 1978.
------------------. Literal Interpretation of the Bible, 1967.
Terry, Milton, S. Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids: Zondevan, 1883 reprint.
Thomas, Robert L. Introduction to Exegesis. Seminary Syllabus 1987. Grace Book Shack.
Traina, Robert A. Methodical Bible Study. Francis Asbury Press, 1980.

Virkler, Henry A. Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation.
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981.
Walvoord, John F. The Millennial Kingdom. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959.
Zuck, Roy B. Basic Bible Interpretation. USA: Victor, 1991.
---------------- ed. Rightly Divided: Readings in Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids: Kregel,
Willis, Wesley, R. and John R. Master. Issues in Dispensationalism. Chicago: Moody,

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