hermeneutics

The Work of Interpretation-pt.3

This final piece in this little series is meant to help someone who has done the above steps of word work and sentence (syntax) work to now work on the historical information necessary in order to really understand a verse/passage when everything is pulled together.

Our church just finished studying our Lord’s entrance into the Temple during His first months of ministry. He walked in and, upon seeing the sellers and their wares, makes a rope from other ropes laying around. He then begins to drive people out, threatening them with harm (John 2:13-22). In studying this event, I had to do a lot of historical research. I wanted to understand what Jesus saw as He entered the Temple and why that catalyzed His zeal. I found out, through the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus and a Jewish scholar turned Christian, Alfred Edersheim, that since the Old Testament never taught a person to exchange their blemished animal for an “unblemished” one, then these sellers and money-changers in the Temple, lead by the High Priest Anna himself, were simply running a very deceptive and lucrative scam meant to secure relationship with Rome and fatten Annas’ pocketbook. If found that Annas was known for his extortion and the priests were known for their use of force to gather “tithes” for the Temple. Once having understood all of this, the entire passage came alive. Then, comparing that with God’s original design for the Temple, a place where God would dwell and men could approach Him in fellowship, it even made me upset!

Therefore, since the Scripture was written in real language in real time with real people, we have to understand the historical setting of the passages we are studying. Most sound commentaries make use of extensive historical works. Some don’t. If the Bible is treated as only devotional material meant to simply make you think ‘happy thoughts’ to get you through the day, then a person who does that simply does not understand the Bible, no matter what they say.

When coming to a passage ask yourself:

  • About whom is the passage speaking?
  • Where did he/she live?
  • Were they at war with anyone?
  • What was it like living there?
  • What year(s) are represented in the text?
  • What age is the person being talked about?
  • Is he/she married?
  • Are they believers?

There are many questions that should be asked of a passage. These are  just a few. When you are able to reconstruct the passage historically, you will be able to assess the meaning of the passage better.

For instance, Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15:

 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

 

When did Paul write that? Who were the Colossians? Where did they live? Why would they need to know that Jesus is the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation? Were they a Roman colony?

Many times, questions like these can be answered from reading the book many times over. From the book we learn that Colossae is a location on the map (1:2). The audience of the letter were saints and faithful at that (1:2). However, it would appear that they needed ongoing teaching from the Apostle Paul concerning the person and nature of Jesus Christ, since that takes up the bulk of the letter. It would also appear that they were being taught some erroneous doctrine from somewhere and that may have been what caused Paul to write this letter in the first place (2:8, 18; 3:1-4). It would also appear that Paul wrote this letter from prison (4:10). That would help us to date the letter. If we could learn when Paul was in prison, we could then know when he wrote this letter.

Much of the historical setting can be ascertained from the letter itself. However, the letter will not tell us the location of Colossae nor the population at the time, for example. One of the best places to turn at this point for information like that would be a Bible encyclopedia.

A Bible encyclopedia will give you information about many people, places, events, practices, cities, as well as a myriad of other information from scholars who have done the hard work of research. They will then collect that into a volume in encyclopedia fashion for your access. A Bible dictionary is similar to an encyclopedia as well. However, as you would guess, it deals with words and terms in the Bible that can be ascertained and read for understanding. Again, this is usually the fruit of the labors of able scholars. Having this information is necessary in order to comprehend the situation from which Paul is writing and to whom Paul is writing.

For example, if we look under the heading “prison” in The Harper’s Bible Dictionary (Achtemeier, Paul J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. Harper’s Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985, p. 824), we find out the condition from which Paul was writing. There is even further reference for more specific information at the end of the article that tells me to look under “Paul.” Also, in the same book, we find out a little more about Colossae (under the heading “Colossae,” p.175).

Conclusion:

Once you have done your “word-work,” “sentence-work,” “historical-work,” you can pull it all together. One note here, though, is that these things can take time and patience. But the discovery is worth it! Simply understanding this text is the goal. Once the text is clear, it is powerful. God works through the understanding of the text. We do not need to add to it, or remove anything from it. It stands on its own.

From all of this information we understand that Paul, the apostle, is writing to the church in Colossae, a Roman town in Asia Minor, near to the towns of Laodicea and Ephesus. The prison in which Paul was at this point, most likely, was during his first imprisonment and it was a more relaxed imprisonment than his second, final, imprisonment. His final imprisonment was final because he was beheaded while there. Thus, he would have been in prison under different, more stringent, circumstances. Paul’s first imprisonment would have ended around 62 AD. Thus, this letter, written while in his 2 year imprisonment, or confinement, would have been written in 61 AD, or so. While in Prison, Paul received word from Epaphras that the church loved the truth and was committed to love (1:3-9). However, it appears that he also heard of the influence of myths, Jewish traditions, and the like promoted by some and distorting the truth about the nature of Jesus Christ. Concerned, Paul writes to them and gives the letter to Epaphras, along with Tychicus and Onesimus (Philemon 1-10). They are to read this letter, and send it on to other churches. In our verse, 1:15, we see that Paul further explains that Jesus Christ is God. In fact, He is the “image,” or “pattern,” of the true God. Thus, Christ represents a God whom no one can see. In fact, Jesus is actually His Son, as the OT speaks of Him (Psalm 2:7). This Son of God is the firstborn of all creation. That is, He, like the OT laws of the firstborn, is preeminent. He is the heir of all things and receives all things from His Father. With this information, we are able to appreciate, even adore, Christ more. This is fantastic, and seemingly incredible, truth. A Man, as He appears, is the heir of all things. And yet, this Heir, died for His inheritance. This assaults the idea that He is an angel, or a created man. He is none other than the eternal Son of God and, as such, He is God. Only God can accurately represent God. 

I realize that this is a simplistic little series that takes time to learn and perfect. However, because of the reality of inerrancy, we are bound by this method of study. We study the Scripture the way it was given-real people, in real time, with real language.

Where To Start?

Last post we attempted to open the door to considerations concerning the interpretation of Scripture. It must be understood and believed that the Bible is not vague, unknowable, or empty. That is, God did not write the text of Scripture in such a way that, say, there are 4 potential ways God created the world. There are not 4 potential ways that God created the world. He only created it one way. The only way to know that is through the pages of Scripture. “But,” someone will ask, “…how do we interpret the Scripture so that we will know what it says?” That is, if the answer to this question lies in the interpretation of Scripture, then how do we interpret the Scripture? That is what this blog series is about.

Our basic premise is:

STUDY THE BIBLE THE WAY IT WAS GIVEN

Since that is a bit open-ended, I must review the nature of the origin of the Bible. This is a must because when we understand the origin and transmission of the Bible, we then have grounds for interpretation. Until then, we are left to consider our own method of interpretation and that simply won’t do.

How was the Bible given? That is, how did we get the Bible? For most reading this blog, it is a simple answer. For some, however, it may not be so simple since many churches don’t even deal with the origin of God’s Word (to their shame). A quick review will be helpful.

Peter sums it up for us. He wrote,

2 Peter 1:20–21

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.

Peter tells us, on the basis of his own experience receiving divinely inspired truth (see Matthew 16:13-17), as well as the testimony of the OT prophets, that no portion of Scripture is understood by a single person’s own interpretation. That is, the written word is not subject to, nor did it originate from, what a man decides. Peter is saying that the Scripture is interpreted (see Mark 4:34) by a method, or practice, of interpretation appropriate to the written Word of God. Biblical interpretation is not the result of one’s own personal study habits. The Scripture is not subject to an individual’s unique understanding of a text, no matter how novel it sounds. Why is this the case? Because men did not originate the Scripture, so men cannot be allowed to interpret the Scripture the way they want. In other words, since the Holy Spirit moved men to write what He wanted (see 1 Corinthians 2:12-13), the Scripture, then, must be handled in a way commensurate to that reality. Peter is calling the churches in Galatia, Cappadocia etc. (see 1 Peter 1:1) to approach the Scripture they had, including his own letter (2 Peter 3:1-2, 14-16), in the same way that it was given to the prophets and apostles. Further, since God the Holy Spirit originated the Scripture and moved men to write it down in history and with actual language, we do not have a text that can change or be altered-it is fixed and propositional. If we feared God, we would never approach the Scripture being willing to assume that there are multiple meanings to a verse.

Thus, the Bible is a unique collection of books. It is the only book in existence that is inspired of God. Therefore, it is unique and holy (Romans 7:12). However, since the Holy Spirit moved men to write it, and men lived in time and history, and God is working out His redemptive plan in the history of the world, then it is read and interpreted in the same manner we would read and interpret any other book. It is literature, after all.

The summary of our discussion is that God is the source of Scripture. Since God cannot lie (Titus 1:1-2), then what He caused to be written is true and accurate. This is inerrancy. The Scripture’s that were written were themselves inerrant in every way. They contained no errors. Further, since we don’t have those originals (“autographs”), the copies of those inerrant originals are to be considered and that has been done to the extent that we can have full confidence that we can locate the inerrant text of Scripture with very high precision in the copies we have.

Now, this lays the groundwork for us. Since God wrote the Bible, the teachings and actual words are God’s (1 Corinthians 2:12-13). Thus, it bears authority and accuracy. That is, what it teaches is true and identical to what is true with God and His kingdom. It also is true in relation to discerning the realities of life in this world as well. However, God Himself did not write the text of Scripture with His own hand. He used the hands of men to do it. These men, from Moses to John the Apostle existed in an historical setting and wrote with a language that was/is verifiable and real. They did not use esoteric, heavenly language. If they did, it would not make sense to us. The languages with which they wrote Scripture were composed in the very same way that all language is composed. Therefore, what was written is subject to the laws of language. In order to interpret the Scripture, a person must understand language. By the way, we all do. We could not communicate in the world if we did not. We use nouns and verbs all the time. However, most people simply don’t consider these things when they talk or read the morning newspaper. Lastly, since the text of Scripture was written in history, and with actual languages of the day, and God has written all that He is going to write (Hebrews 1:1-3), then what we have in the Bible is fixed and unalterable. That is, what a passage meant to Ezekiel when he wrote it means the very same thing to us when we read it.

To sum up, here is what we have:

  1. We understand the Bible is from God. Thus we realize its authority, accuracy, and permanency.
  2. We understand the Bible is written by men. Thus we realize its history, language, and propositional nature.
  3. We understand the Bible is fixed. Thus we realize that it is not properly understood apart from the author’s meaning/intention for writing it (it is not from one’s own interpretation).

Therefore, since the Bible is from God, written by men in history and with actual language, we cannot interpret it any other way.

Here is an example:

Exodus 20:13

You shall not murder.

This is straightforward. From the surrounding verses we understand that God is speaking to Moses and Moses is to relay this to Israel (Exodus 20:1; 21:1). The verse is a command. Don’t do something. The translation of the original Hebrew is good here and it simply says, “Don’t kill.” That is, don’t want to kill something and thereby murder. Moses has given Israel a very straightforward and clear instruction. This would be the way that Israel would understand it as well. It is God’s intention in the meaning of the command.

However, some think that when it comes to prophetic passages there are different rules for interpretation. No there are not. How do I know? I know because no matter how fanciful something appears (Ezekiel 1, for example), it was still written down by Ezekiel in actual language. Therefore, a person cannot assign meaning to something that is arbitrary to the language of that passage.

For example, I was speaking with a man one day who refused to believe that the water flowing under the temple in Ezekiel 47:1 is actual water. It appeared too fanciful to him and since he preconceived that water has nothing to do with heavenly things, then this verse must be speaking of something else (which he assigned, i.e. “one’s own interpretation”). Therefore, he assigned a new meaning to that passage which has nothing to do with any of the context in history or language. Further, many other passages affirm water in the temple (Ps. 46:4; Is. 30:25; 55:1; Jer. 2:13; Joel 3:18; Zech. 13:1; 14:8; esp. Rev. 22:1, 17). Thus, in this example, and there are multitudes of examples, the text took on a meaning that is not evident by the history of the writer or the audience, nor does it accord with the language of the passage. There are things figurative in Scripture (John 10:6; 16:25-29). However, many attribute figurative meanings to those things that they don’t believe, or that do not fit into their theological pre-understanding of a passage, or that seem too far-fetched in their view (like water in the Temple). To reassign a meaning to a passage of Scripture is a sin. It is to call God a liar and us the truth-teller. Remember, God is the author of Scripture.

Remember, Paul commanded Timothy to handle the text accurately.

2 Timothy 2:15

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

That is, “cut it straight” in relation to the text of Scripture. Timothy, you must handle the text in an accurate way. To reassign meaning to the propositional and completed text of Scripture is to create your own text. Thus, you can only “preach the Word” after you have actually learned that word (2 Timothy 4:1-2). And the only way to learn that word is in the same manner that it was given.  

 

Next time, I will introduce how to do this in some detail. 

What Does The Bible Mean?

 

In an effort to encourage the church, I will be reviewing the basics of sound Bible study. That is, I want to identify the process of concluding that a person knows, for certain, the meaning of a passage in Scripture. To some, this is a difficult task. Many believe it to be impossible. Many conclude that the Bible is basically unknowable. At that point, a person has just crossed over into the realm of the agnostic. They are sure a meaning exists. However, that meaning is unknowable.

I have had a number of recent conversations in which the person with whom I am speaking has asked how do I know what a verse means? How can I be so sure? At that point, I basically answer them from the standpoint that God cannot author confusion. God is not a source of confusion and thus His Word is not confusing. However, I have not really answered the question. I have simply given them something to think about.

To begin, we must rebuild our confidence in Scripture. We must regain our footing if we are going to climb this mountain. So, let’s begin there.

First of all, consider what the Bible actually says about itself:

Psalm 119:160

160 The sum of Your word is truth,

And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.

Here, the Psalmist affirms a basic reality about the Bible-it is truth. The Hebrew term means something reliable, trustworthy, or true. The idea is that of the ultimate trustworthiness or reliability. Thus, all that is identified as “Your word” is utterly reliable, trustworthy, and true. The Lord Jesus takes us along the same lines when He prayed:

John 17:17b

17 Your word is truth.

We can fill this in a bit more. The Bible is repeatedly asserting itself as the Word of God. From Genesis to Revelation, the instruction of the Bible is that it, and no other book, is the record of the words which God spoke and wanted recorded for His own purposes.

Throughout Moses’ career as a prophet and the original leader of God’s covenant people, he spoke the Word of God. That is, he repeated to the people whatever God said to him. Further, he was also a teacher. Moses taught the people from the things which God spoke. Involved with this is the fact that he wrote down all that God had said and taught in a collection of books we call the Pentateuch. The first five books of the Bible are considered the Pentateuch, or Torah, and they are the revelation of God and His Word to Moses (see Deuteronomy 31:9, 24). These books of Moses form the foundation upon which the entire Bible would be built.

From this foundation, there are many other builders. Many other men wrote as they were instructed to by God. Job, David, Samuel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Asaph, and many others, wrote and what they wrote was added to the collection of books we call the Bible. This process was initiated by God, the oversight of what was written was by God, and the preservation of that which has been written is also by God. The Apostle Peter helps us to understand something of this process. He wrote,

2 Peter 1:19–21

19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,

21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Peter is teaching us that there is nothing in Scripture that is from man alone. Men only wrote what they were instructed to write by the Holy Spirit. This is verified against the other writings of Scripture. The unity and consistency in doctrine and purpose is uncanny. There is no portion of latter Scripture which contradicts earlier revelation and vice-versa. It is a unified whole.

Although, I am not taking a tremendous amount of time to qualify every detail of these statements, they are, nonetheless, the fact of the matter. The Bible is the only collection of God’s words in written form in existence. Therefore, they are trustworthy, true, and reliable. That is, what they say is true. What is asserted and taught in the pages of the text of Scripture is accurate and true. Therefore, we can know for a fact that once we arrive at the understanding of a passage, it is true and reflects the truth that God has communicated to us.

One last item needs to understood as well. The Bible was not written in English. It was not written in French, Latin, or Russian. The Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and certain portions in a kind of Hebrew identified as Aramaic. The New Testament was written entirely in Greek. Why is this significant? This is significant because this becomes the key to a proper interpretation of the Scripture. What I have found is that many who are screaming that we cannot understand the text of Scripture (they do this by what they say and the example they give in handling the Scripture) are those who do not understand these languages. Many who present alternate views on a verse are those least qualified to do that. To be sure, there are many who do know the languages of God’s Word and they also confuse the issue. However, that does not mean that the discipline of language work is useless. It is the key to proper interpretation. I want to give you an example.

Genesis 1:1

1 בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

 

What you see above is Genesis 1:1 in the original text of Hebrew. In English, we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That is an accurate translation. We know this because we can answer basic questions about the text: Who is the subject of the verb? What is the main verb? What is the subject doing? To whom is He doing it? When we answer these questions, we have begun the process of rightly interpreting what God had Moses write.

The New Testament was written in Greek, as below. The verse is John 1:1. It reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word (or, the Word was God).”

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος

Again, the work of identifying the verbs, subjects of the verb, etc… becomes the only way to accurately, confidently, identify the meaning of the text. The way to do this, in English, will be the heart of this series. If a person is willing, in taking the steps that I will outline, he or she will be able to confidently ascertain the basic meaning of any passage. The question after that is, “Do I believe it?”

I can imagine someone saying, “All that just to understand the Bible?” Well, yes. The Bible is not simply a devotional book of insights. It is a highly complex collection of revelation from God. That does not mean that we cannot understand it in English. It means that many people have given long hours in study and translation work in order to make the Bible readable. Therefore, even a child can pick up the English Bible and read it. However, behind the English (or any other language) translation work, is a mountain of complexity and challenge for even the most able scholar.

At this point, I want to introduce the basic premise of valid Bible study. Here it is:

 

STUDY THE BIBLE THE WAY IT WAS GIVEN. 

 

That is the rule of proper study and interpretation. This means that since the Bible was written by real men, in real history, in real time, from a real God, in real language, then we must do what we can to understand these things in order to interpret the Word of God we possess. I will outline for you how to do this.

Like many things in Christianity, the church needs to recover confidence in the Word of God and the veracity of all that is written in it. If we don’t, we have no basis for our understanding of what we believe and why.

Biblical (and Unbiblical) Teaching on the History of Head Coverings-pt.2

My previous post on the teaching of head-coverings generated a few responses. At the outset, I want to say that I realize that there are many dear, faithful, Christians who believe wholeheartedly in a woman wearing a head-covering during worship. They are dear people and faithful to the Lord. I am thankful for them. These posts are not directed to any one person, but are meant to clarify, what I believe to be, an erroneous understanding of this passage to such an extent that it is defrauding some of their prize of knowing Christ (Colossians 2:16-23). In an effort to attempting to correct an incorrect teaching, I have written these posts. And, judging by the statistics of the last post, I was right. Of all the blog posts I have written, the last one was, by far, the most read. I have received almost no responses, but that is okay. One response was made by a brother whom I know and I want to address that, because I believe it might help others.

This brother’s statement was that church history contradicted my conclusion that a head covering was not commended by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. I want to respond to that comment in a full post because I believe it demonstrates a major problem in the thinking of many. The statement that was made was, “I am not dogmatic on head coverings, however, church history would run counter to your conclusion. Traditionally, women have always worn head coverings until very recently — and that really only in the western world.”

THE ROLE OF CHURCH HISTORY

First, I want to address the fact that women have always worn head coverings until very recently. It is true, as you read through some historical information, that head-coverings were common. However, going about your life without a head-covering was common also. Michael Marlowe has a decent summary of Greek, Roman, and Jewish practices concerning these things here. It would appear that head-coverings were worn by both men and women in public, private, and religious processions. It would also appear that head coverings were also not worn by both men and women in public, private, and religious processions. However, that is pagan life. That does not determine the meaning of Scripture. Best to say that the customs, traditions, of the town of Corinth, at least of many, was to be covered from the head down to below the shoulders, and in some cases, more. They also wore headbands, hats, and scarfs as well, just like today. Many women wore their hair in a braid and “bun.” They often adorned their hair with items such as coins, jewels, and other valuable items (see 1 Timothy 2:9). So, just like today, you have a mixture of practices that come together in the church at Corinth.

Second, as far as church history is concerned, it appears that the confusion over head-coverings also continued. One of the more direct writings on this is Tertullian’s On The Veiling of Virgins. This long letter written around 200 A.D. addresses the practice, and reason, for women to wear a veil (which was not a doily, but an actual veil that included covering everywhere long hair would go). His conclusions are that every woman, married, widowed, unmarried, should have a veil. He wrote,

“It remains likewise that we turn to (the virgins) themselves, to induce them to accept these (suggestions) the more willingly. I pray you, be you mother, or sister, or virgin-daughter—-let me address you according to the names proper to your years—-veil your head: if a mother, for your sons’ sakes; if a sister, for your brethren’s sakes; if a daughter for your fathers’ sakes. All ages are perilled in your person.” Chapter XVI

His conclusions, then, are that a veil aids in modesty for every woman, married or single, during worship and out of worship. It is to be worn at all times, and the more it covers the better. He wrote,

“The region of the veil is co-extensive with the space covered by the hair when unbound; in order that the necks too may be encircled. For it is they which must be subjected, for the sake of which “power” ought to be “had on the head: “the veil is their yoke. [4] Arabia’s heathen females will be your judges, who cover not only the head, but the face also, so entirely, that they are content, with one eye free, to enjoy rather half the light than to prostitute the entire face. A female would rather see than be seen.” Chapter XVII

Thus, according to Tertullian, the veil should reach as far as the hair would go when “unbound.” In fact, he invokes Arabian women as the judges over Christian women in this practice thereby saying that the Arabian women are more modest in their dress than the women in the church.

Therefore, to be consistent, women who believe that they are required to wear a veil, or doily, or something, should, according to the authority of Tertullian, extend that veil to her shoulders and even over portions of the face all day long. To Tertullian, to have your face visible (this is not during worship, mind you) is to “prostitute the entire face.”

If a person were to look at the practice of head coverings through the ages, you certainly would see murals, pictures, and reliefs from the early days of the church to around even the 1700’s with women whose heads were covered. However, as mentioned before, many were also uncovered. It was certainly a practice, custom, expectation, of many through the ages for women to cover their heads (but that was also for men as well). But, this was not just during worship. It was all the time. Further, there was much discussion for the kind and thickness of the veil as well. The assumption from all of this was that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11, teaches that a woman should cover herself with a physical covering, i.e. a hat, shawl, or linen of some sort, while praying or prophesying. So, even with church history with us, we still come down to, “What does the text mean?”

This brings me to my next point, which is far more important. I can summarize it this way:

Church history is not our hermeneutic.

That is, we cannot interpret the Scripture’s meaning by the practice of the early church, nor the latter church, or any church. We cannot interpret Scripture’s meaning by looking at the habits and practices of the church throughout the ages. The meaning of Scripture is determined by the Scripture. And, Scripture judges church history. What I have found is, unfortunately, some would rather rest in the works and teachings of the fathers and reformers (and excel in the knowledge of their writings), rather than wholeheartedly understand and believe the Scripture…and they do not realize it. They unwittingly act as if the Scripture is unclear and to be doubted and that we need extra-biblical revelation to understand it. I am not saying that we should not learn from the faithful teachers throughout the ages. However, no godly teacher would ever suggest that what he says/writes is on the same level as Scripture.

For example, many times when Paul wanted to teach on the responsibilities of man and woman he did not appeal to customs or practices for authority. He went back to God’s created design. He does this in 1 Corinthians 11:6-9. His appeal is to creation. He did not appeal to a custom for authority. He was actually trying to correct a custom, as a response to the Corinthians’ writing to him (1 Corinthians 7:1). There were some in the church carrying over the practice of the day of head-coverings. And, like today, many women find their entire sense of righteousness and propriety in her head-covering. Some also find it in their church membership, prayers, or singing in the choir. Paul is addressing the fact that some in the church were being factious over the head coverings and, head-coverings, along with other topics, were causing divisive confusion. A woman’s hat is not her true head, her husband, and man in general, is. So, the real question for a godly woman is not, “Where is your head-covering?” The real question is, “How is your heart?”

 

BIBLICAL EVIDENCE

Just glancing through the Bible looking for a statement about “head-covering” you will find very little. There are references to “turbans” (Exodus 28:39, 40, 42; 39:27-29), “veils” (Genesis 24:65-a better translation is “shawl”; Song of Solomon 4:1; 6:7-used in marriage settings), and in Isaiah 3:19-20 there is a reference to “veils” and “headdresses.” These were, no doubt, customary and not commendable as God says that He will, in the day of judgment, remove them along with other items of ornamentation that the women of Judah were coveting (see vv.22-26). Interestingly, in Genesis 38:12-19 the story of Tamar’s treachery contains the fact that since she sat by the road with her face covered, Judah thought she was a prostitute (v.15). Leviticus 13 contains teaching concerning those with skin disorders to be covered and uncovered accordingly. In Deuteronomy 22:5, a man is told to never wear a woman’s clothing thereby making clear distinctions between men and women (which I believe has some bearing upon 1 Corinthians 11). But, I have found no Old Testament instruction for women to veil themselves as a direction from God for worship. To be sure, a woman should have a designation of the fact that she recognizes authority over her (1 Corinthians 11:13-15). However, that is the desire of the heart and will of a godly woman (1 Peter 3:3-6; cf. 1 Timothy 2:9-15). Her submissive heart is demonstrated, not in her hat, but by her “chaste and respectful behavior” (1 Peter 3:2). As King Lemuel wrote, “Let her works praise her…” (Proverbs 31:31).

What does all of this mean? It means that Tertullian’s letter giving directions to virgins, widows, and married women in the churches, does not help us one way or another to interpret the passage. The practice may have been popular, but instructions for the practice of head-covering by the apostles for the women in the church is lacking. Further, as mentioned the other day, the more important issue is not the linen on the head or the upper body. The issue is whether or not a woman loves, submits to, and appreciates the authority (and responsibility) she is under.

Again, Clement, Tertullian, and others may have simply elevated a custom or opinion (Romans 14:1f.) not based upon a clear understanding of Paul’s writings (thereby perpetuating confusion and unnecessary/ineffective restraint of the flesh (Colossians 2:20-23) which was not unusual for the day). It is obvious, as you read Tertullian, that his thinking is flavored with a spiritualistic hermeneutic, not a sound, historical/grammatical one. For example, to verify his hermeneutic, He wrote,

“Herein consists the defence of our opinion, in accordance with Scripture, in accordance with Nature, in accordance with Discipline. Scripture founds the law; Nature joins to attest it; Discipline exacts it. Which of these (three) does a custom rounded on (mere) opinion appear in behalf of? or what is the colour of the opposite view? [2] God’s is Scripture; God’s is Nature; God’s is Discipline. Whatever is contrary to these is not God’s. If Scripture is uncertain, Nature is manifest; and concerning Nature’s testimony Scripture cannot be uncertain.56 If there is a doubt about Nature, Discipline points out what is more sanctioned by God. [3] For nothing is to Him dearer than humility; nothing more acceptable than modesty; nothing more offensive than “glory” and the study of men-pleasing. Chatper XVI

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It is interesting that Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 follows a flow of thought. It appears that Paul is addressing a question that the Corinthian church had about women praying to God. We know this because Paul repeats their question in v.13. He writes, “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” Paul’s letter is a response to questions the Corinthians had for him (1 Corinthians 7:1). Thus, it appears that they wrote about a confusion concerning women praying with their head uncovered (He also, just as much, answers the question about men covering their heads during prayer and preaching). The answer is, no. A woman praying or prophesying should not do so without her head covered. He deals with their custom of wearing a head-covering, probably much like the Romans who did so in their pagan rituals, men and women alike [“Archaeological evidence from Rome itself to the Roman East is unambiguous, Oster urges, in depicting the “liturgical head covering” of men when they pray or use prophetic speech: “the practice of men covering their heads in the context of prayer and prophecy was a common pattern of Roman piety and widespread during the late Republic and early Empire. Since Corinth was a Roman colony, there should be little doubt that this aspect of Roman religious practice deserves greater attention by commentators than it was received.” [Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 823]. But, the fact that they had these coverings is superfluous to Paul. Why? Because nature itself, God’s design, certainly teaches us that a man with long hair is disgraceful toward Christ, his Head (and, all things originate from God-v.12). And, a woman without it is disgraceful toward her head, man. Please remember, Paul had to correct sexual sins in the church in Corinth, as well as sexual responsibilities and distinctions. This teaching is no different. That is why he is doing it here.

Finally, I need to make one plea. I realize that even Peter had a hard time understanding some of what Paul wrote (2 Peter 3:14-16). This is a more difficult passage. However, it is not difficult because Paul was unclear, since we know that his main thought was to verify that a man is the head of a woman, thus she should have a recognition of that authority over her by maintaining her long hair since that is why God gave it at creation in the first place. The lack of clarity comes in when we believe other sources of information with the faith that we are supposed to give to Scripture (1 Corinthians 1:2-5). We must not approach the Scripture

  • With the thought that other writings are equal to Scripture.
  • With doubt about its veracity.
  • With a sense of judgment over it.
  • With the idea that we can mold it however we want.

We must approach the Scripture with it as our authority-final authority; sufficient authority. It alone determines how we interpret it. It was given as a collection of books written by real men, in real time, with actual revelation from God, written in words on a page, and with absolute truthfulness in all that it contains. When we allow the teaching of men, however godly they might have been (or might be), to merge with the text, we end up clouding the issue. The confusion of inserting the thoughts of men into the pristine text of Scripture is a travesty and we must commit ourselves to the study of the text, and the text alone, for our understanding.

“Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:1–2, NASB95)

Challenging Covenantalism: Type/Antitype

As I mentioned before the Types and Shadows (T/S) hermeneutic has devastated the church landscape because of its over-spiritualization and incessant allegorization of biblical truth. The indication of this hermeneutic is that few passages in the Old Testament actually mean what they say. We looked last time at the example of the temple in Ezekiel 40-48. In that section, God explicitly tells Ezekiel to write these things down, in detail, and communicate/teach them to Israel (43:10-11). Because God had said this, it would appear that God did not want these things to be allegory for a future, immaterial, spiritual reality. I wonder if Israel would have considered these measurements such?

In order to rightly understand the types of the Scripture, we must get our information from the Scriptures. The idea of “shadow” is indeed in Scripture. However, it has a very different meaning than what is assumed by CT. To begin, I want to look at a passage of Scripture that is the foundation for a proper understanding of this issue, Exodus 25:8-9. It has to do with the tabernacle which Moses was to build. A cursory study of these things will instruct us, to a large degree, how to properly understand what is meant by types and shadows.

In the Exodus 24, the people confirmed their covenant with God and they affirmed that they were willing and able to keep the covenant brought to them from God through Moses. In chapter 25, God is speaking and says to Moses,

Exodus 25:8–9 (NASB95)

Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.

It is a magnificent thought that God would dwell in a sanctuary among the people of Israel. The sanctuary of which God speaks is the Tabernacle which dimensions and construction is covered in chapters 25-32 and picked up again in chapters 35-40 where it is ultimately erected (Exodus 40:17-33). Much could be said about this Tabernacle, but what needs to be pointed out is that this Tabernacle, and eventually the Temple itself (1 Chronicles 28:19), was a “pattern.” This Hebrew word for “pattern” has a general definition of a model, or image, or detailed schematic. However, it also has the more basic definition, and is used as such, of “likeness.”  It is used often when the word “likeness” is used in the OT (however not in Genesis 1:26). The twenty times this particular word is used, it more often than not refers to the replication of something that already exists. For example, Moses uses this word in Deuteronomy 4:16-18 in this manner. The children of Israel were not supposed to make a “likeness” of any animal on the earth to be a graven image such that they worship it. The likeness does not refer to actually making a living animal. It means that they are not to make a copy of something that exists in actuality. Their graven images would have been a replica, a type, a picture, or a likeness of actual animals. It is also used in this manner in 2 Kings 16:10-18 in reference to the model altar built by Urijah patterned after the actual one in Damascus.

local to the Pentateuch, Moses uses this word five times. Three of the five times it refers to the replicas of the animals that the children of Israel were not to copy. The other two times it refers to the construction of the Tabernacle. Joshua also uses the word in the sense of the replica of something that exists (Joshua 22:28). This section speaks of the altar that the sons of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built by the Jordan River away from Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was. They constructed this altar not for worshipping, but simply as a pointer back to the true altar in the Tabernacle (vv. 21-29). Thus, the altar in Gilead was a copy, replica, or scaled model of the true altar in the Tabernacle.

What does this mean? This means that the Tabernacle, and the Temple, were both patterns, or replicas of the true Temple in heaven, from where Moses and David received their detailed drawings. They were not original designs and they were not, in actuality, the true temple. The true temple is in heaven in some form. The Tabernacle and Temple that was constructed by the sons of Israel were simply copies, or “shadows,” of that Temple in heaven.

The shadow understanding is preeminent in the mind of the writer of Hebrews. It is here that we are taught the correct understanding of what the Bible actually means about types and shadows.

Hebrews 8:4–5 (NASB95)

Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.”

The priest in the OT Tabernacle served a literal, physical dwelling. This is not a literary picture conjured up to teach us a moral lesson. The Tabernacle, as defined by inspired Scripture, was a “copy and shadow of heavenly things…for, ‘See,’ He says, ‘that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” Thus, we are told that the Tabernacle/Temple were both made as replicas of a heavenly Temple in some way. Again, this is not a literary figure, or allegory or allusion. This was an actual building with real people ministering in it and God actually dwelt there. The point that I think needs to be understood is that the shadow aspect of this scenario demands one-for-one correspondence. That is, the Tabernacle was the resemblance or “shadow” of the actual, or “true temple” (cf. Hebrews 8:2; 9:11, 24). The earthly Tabernacle was not simply an allegory or literary figure of a greater truth about heaven. It was an exact replica of a heavenly Temple.

Further, the pattern of the earthly Tabernacle was for the purpose of teaching something about God, Christ, atonement, justice, grace, etc.… To simply look at this as literary tools glosses over their real intent, which is instruction. For example, the death of bulls and goats surely teaches us that one day a final substitute will come. However, the greater instruction is that a substitute is needed. The fact that He will come is taught in comprehensive fashion through other Scriptures, not simply in a “figure.”

It appears that CT takes “types and shadows” to refer to existential philosophy that may be literarily represented in Scripture, but is now replaced by the antitype. It is interesting that the New Testament uses the word “type” (tupos), fifteen times. Some examples of “type” include:

  • Acts 7:43-44; Stephen indicates that Israel took “types” of false gods along with them. Moses also was told that he was to build a “type” of the Tabernacle as told by God.
  • Acts 23:25; the body of the letter from Claudius had a “type.”
  • Romans 5:14; Adam was a “type” of Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:6; Israel was a “type” for us to follow.
  • Philippians 3:17; godly men are to be “types” for us to follow (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).
  • 1 Peter 5:3; elders are to be “types” to the flock.

The use of this word indicates a “pattern,” or “model,” or “an example that was, or is to be, followed.” In each case, however, there is an actual person at the heart of the type, and not simply a figure.

Another example refers to topics like the one covered in the previous post. Ezekiel 40-48 is the description of a Temple given in actual dimensions with actual land divisions and actual sacrifices being offered. As stated in the previous post, the perspective of the CT scheme is that of “Types and Shadows” (T/S). That is, the “Temple” found in Ezekiel 40-48 is merely a literary type or shadow of the antitype of the non-physical Temple structure on the New Earth. Dr. Riddlebarger writes,

“In other words, I believe Ezekiel is giving us a picture of the new earth in the prophetic terms with which his readers were familiar (Hoekema, The Bible and Future, 205). This is a picture of the new earth as the dwelling of God. Ezekiel prophesies it in earthly terms (complete with all the temple utensils), while John describes its fulfilled version (in eschatological terms)”

(http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2008/1/16/eschatology-q-a-what-about-ezekiels-vision-of-the-temple-eze.html#comment1556909 accessed 10/29/2012).

The statement made here is classical T/S interpretation. A passage in the OT does not mean what a straight-forward reading of the passage indicates. It, thus, holds a greater antitypical meaning foreign to the reader (since the words do not mean what they appear to mean). This is not sound Bible interpretation.

It would be better, and more in line with the sense of Scripture that we understand “type” as a “pattern” or “model/example,” depending upon the context, than a license to change the meaning of one text to fit the allegorized spiritual-meaning of another text contrived by the imagination of the interpreter.

Paul gives us a clear understanding in the locus classicus Colossians 2:17. Here he writes that food, drink, in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day are all “shadows” of that which is coming. This word “shadow” is exactly what it sounds like. It is an outline cast by a solid form once light hits the form. Thus, these components of Temple activity, regulation, and worship are all the shadow cast by the “substance,” the Lord Jesus Christ. What does this mean? It means that access to God was allowed by these activities, but they did not truly allow for the atonement that was required. Only Jesus Christ truly atones for sins such that access to the Father can be made. Or, to put it another way,

Hebrews 9:8–14 (NASB95)

The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol (παραβολή, ‘parabole’: a teaching tool) for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come (they were still “to come” at the time of the writer), He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

That which is coming is absolute, permanent, unhindered access to the Father in His Temple (which He is-Revelation 21:22. However, the personal dwelling of God on the New Earth does not contradict a rebuilt Temple in the Millennium, as per Ezekiel40-48) because of the efficacy of the obedience of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Thus, the foods, drinks, sacrifices, and even the Sabbath-Day taught us concerning the need for atonement as well as the work that God would accomplish through the Messiah.

In future posts, we will be examining further the reality of Jesus Christ and His work in light of a true interpretation of Scripture. We will see that the program for the future is not simply a spiritual anti-type for the “typical” language of shadowy references in the OT. If were such, we would not have a perspicuous Scripture. We would have a kind of literature that carries a meaning beyond the words on the page that only the learned elite can figure out.

Challenging Covenantalism: The Error of Type/Antitype Hermeneutics-pt.1

This series has sought to introduce the reality that the covenantal framework of Covenant Theology is more a contrivance of man than it is a fact of Scripture. The unbiblical nature of CT has led many, especially in recent years, to confusion more than enlightenment. The confusion that CT exhibits does not promote sanctification. God only sanctifies by truth, not error (John 17:17). Thus, the sanctification that God expects from His children is minimal in those who hold to CT, compared to those who have a right understanding of Scripture.

I have attempted to explain the proposition that

“…the positions and teachings as found in CT …are a departure from authentic, biblical, revelation. That is, although many components contained in CT are obviously true, e.g. man’s fall in Adam, election, Jew and Gentile in one body the church, that does not give license to take liberties with God’s Word to introduce teachings that are not found in Scripture, which CT has done. The result of introducing these teachings is a confusion over the nature of the church, eschatological realities, the work of God in the actual covenants listed in Scripture, as well as a number of activities which are affected by what one does with OT passages (e.g. parenting) which all in turn upset households who have been challenged to rethink the clear and straightforward teaching of Scripture on these issues, and many others. The result of this influence of dealing with Scripture is confusion and doubt, since the CT position in many aspects is not true, and therefore lack sanctifying power in the life of a believer (John 17:17). Overall, CT advocates different doctrines, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor with the doctrine conforming to godliness (1 Timothy 6:20-21) and therefore upset the faith of many by their confident assertions based upon philosophical musings and self-styled hermeneutical gymnastics which suit their assumptions.”

The significance of the error of CT results in confusion on many fronts. However, one teaching that particularly concerns me has to do with the understanding of who Jesus Christ is, especially as He is “found” in the Old Testament (OT). This post will concern itself with a very brief overview of my concerns. An accurate presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the eternal plan of the Father, as carried out in Christ, will be forthcoming in future posts.

Put simply, since there is no “Covenant of Grace,” then Jesus Christ is not the mediator of that covenant. It is true that He is the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), the only One. However, that office does not extend from the so-called Covenant of Grace. Dr. Kim Riddlebarger has written:

“It is important to carefully consider the fact that the covenant of grace has a personal mediator–Jesus Christ–who is revealed to us in the types and shadows of the Old Testament through Moses’ office as mediator of that covenant God makes with Israel at Mount Sinai, as well as through the kingship of David and his rule over Israel, and even through the sacrifices for sin offered to God by the priests of Israel. All of these Old Testament events foreshadow the coming of God in human flesh.” (http://wscal.edu/blog/entry/3638>  accessed 10/16/2012).

Let’s consider this statement, which itself is a mixture of truth and error. First of all, since the Scripture does not contain a covenant of grace, discussed in former posts, then the “fact” of the mediatorial nature of Christ of that covenant is not actually a “fact.” It is not true. However, that does not mean that Christ is not a mediator. It simply means that the economy which He mediates is not referring to that present by this contrived covenant. Further, Dr. Riddlebarger, as do most, if not all, CT adherents, believes in an highly extended, spiritualized “types and shadows” (T/S) condition of the OT when it comes to the presence of Christ found there. In other words, Jesus is explained in “types and shadows” in the OT, which appears to be a code-word for allegory, which is actually mythological in nature. The “types and shadows” hermeneutic is a large stone in the foundation of the hermeneutic of CT which has led to so much error. What tends to happen with the T/S hermeneutic is that few things in the OT are actually what they appear to be. Thus, they are treated as a kind of literary and not as historical fact.

One  example is Dr. Riddlebarger’s treatment of the temple as prophesied in Ezekiel 40-48. Although treating this fully is not possible in this format, there are a number of issues that I want to address by way of example of the use of T/S hermeneutic. The issue which Dr. Riddlebarger is addressing is the nature of the temple of which Ezekiel writes in chapters 40-48 of his prophecy. The position of CT can be summed up in this statement made by Dr. Riddlebarger, “First, the prophecy cannot be interpreted literally and still make any sense” (Unless otherwise noted, the rest of the citations will be from http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2008/1/16/eschatology-q-a-what-about-ezekiels-vision-of-the-temple-eze.html#comment1556909 , accessed 10/16/2012). I would suggest that he is right, in a way. The prophecy, as interpreted by a T/S hermeneutic, makes no sense. The hermeneutical shift, from literal plain language to mythical, which CT demands takes place when speaking of prophetic events, creates and maintains confusion. It does not clarify. Let me address a few points to demonstrate what I mean:

  1. Ezekiel is taken to a “high mountain” at the beginning of his prophecy (40:2). The assumption that this vision is non-literal begins with Dr. Riddlebarger’s observation that since there is no high mountain near Jerusalem, we should right away conclude that this section is to be taken non-literally. He writes, “Given the nature of Ezekiel’s prophecy, this language should alert us to the fact that what follows is given the symbolic geography of the prophet.” However, if we take the text with authority and sufficiency, we see that it is upon this same high mountain that stands a city-like structure. So, Ezekiel is on the very same high mountain as the city. Thus, if that high mountain does not exists, neither does this city nor its contents. The “high mountain” is spoken of many times in Scripture, especially in relation to future events (Is. 2:2, 3; Ezek. 17:23; 20:40; 37:22; Micah 4:1; Rev. 21:10). Thus, the Scripture makes sense when understood (and believed) just as it is written. There was a high mountain upon which stands a city. Upon this mountain, “In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day…” Ezekiel is shown an interactive vision by the “hand of the Lord.”

  2. Ezekiel also finishes his vision with the declaration that the city will have a name. The name of the city will  be “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). Dr. Riddlebarger (with supportive reference to Dr. Gregory .K. Beale) comments that this proves “[that] something much greater than a localized temple in Jerusalem during the millennium” is in view. What is being said is that since the city takes a name that the Lord is there, and the Lord is obviously spiritually superior to a geographical city on this planet, then this must refer to something more than a city on a mountain. This interpretation fails to give rightful authority to the Scripture. The vision indicates that the city is 18,000 cubits round about. It also names the gates of the city in previous verses (vv.30-34). Previous to that it lays out the portions for the literal tribes of Israel, as well as for other leaders along with the division of the land (vv.1-29). Are we to assume that because the city is named by God “the Lord is there” then all that information is meaningless, or spiritual (which, when used by CT, is the same thing as meaningless since it demands that words in the OT cannot mean what they say in normal language)? Further, the Lord is there and will remain there forever (Ezekiel 43:1-7; cf. Isaiah 12:6; 14:32; 24:23; Jer. 3:17; 8:19; 14:9; Ezek. 35:10; Joel 3:21; Zech. 2:10; 14; Rev 21:3; 22:3). Are we to assume that all these other passages, and more, are also some lesser-quality revelation that fails to accurately describe what is actually happening or going to happen?

  3. Further, Dr. Riddlebarger states, “Finally, it is obvious that Revelation 21 presents Ezekiel’s vision in its consummated fulfillment…” That is, Ezekiel’s temple is simply a lower-quality temple than John’s temple in Revelation 21. The vision that Ezekiel is given, apparently, was never meant to be take literally as a temple that would occupy time and space. It is obvious, he states, that the readers of Ezekiel’s vision really should not see that vision as true, real, or accurately representing what God will actually do at some point in the future. Yet God says, “As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the plan. If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the house, its structure, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes, and all its laws. And write it in their sight, so that they may observe its whole design and all its statutes and do them” (43:10-11; emphasis mine). God commanded Ezekiel to take the vision, write it all down, in detail, and explain it to Israel. Finally, God will dwell among them forever (Ezekiel 37:26–28; 43:7), as promised beforehand (Exodus 25:8; 29:45; Leviticus 26:12; Numbers 5:3; Deuteronomy 12:11). The differences and distinctions between the temple vision of Ezekiel and the temple vision of Revelation are significant enough, when taken correctly, to be referring to two different temples.

What is important to comprehend in this small list of illustrations is:

  1. Those who hold to this hermeneutical position (T/S) do so of their own authority. This kind of “type/antitype” is foreign to Scripture.
  2. Those who hold to this hermeneutical position often evade the real issues. Much of their thinking is built upon the presupposition that things aren’t as they seem. Thus, their thinking is also unclear and inconsistent. Their unstable thinking is taken by the untaught as profound.
  3. Those who hold to this hermeneutical position do not believe in inerrancy. Otherwise, they would tremble at the Word of God instead of making it mean what they want.
  4. Those who hold to this hermeneutical position lead others astray creating confusion instead of worship. Because of their philosophical thoughts, these men are often idolized and esteemed by others, especially in their own academic circles. However, God does not esteem them. Their praise will not be from God (“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”-Matthew 5:19).

I will explain, from Scripture, the truth about types and antitypes in my next post. For now, please consider the assertion of these men. To say that the types of the OT are fully realized in the antitypes of the NT is to deny the perspicuity (clarity) and inerrancy of the OT and thus Scripture itself (2 Timothy 3:16a). It is to impose an undue, foreign, structure upon the unity of the Scripture that, then, distorts the Scripture. Thus, once the Scripture is distorted, it is unrecognizable, although all the biblical verbiage is used. We must not settle for anything less than the absolute authority of Scripture over man; the inerrant nature of every word in Scripture; the glory of God in His Word; and the exact meaning of the authors in Scripture as consistent and non-contradictive in both testaments. Otherwise, we really cannot believe/understand the Scripture, unless these men “enlighten us.” In that case, we have run right back to Rome. The uneducated and unenlightened have so much to learn, if the Scripture does not mean exactly what it says, to the word, in both testaments.

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