I) THE BIBLE CONTAINS BUILT-IN RULES OF INTERPRETATION
A) THE BIBLE IS TO BE INTERPRETED BY THE NORMATIVE RULES OF LANGUAGE, CONTEXT AND LOGIC
Upon careful examination of the Bible it becomes evident that the authors who wrote every word exclusively utilized the normative rules of language, context and logic. In the absence of evidence anywhere in the Bible or elsewhere that it is to be interpreted with a specialized set of rules outside of what man - to whom the Bible was written - would normally expect; and in view of the evidence that a strict adherence to the normative rules of language, context and logic produces the most trustworthy, non-contradictory, immutable, consistent interpretation; we must thereupon follow the writers' plan of how to interpret their work of the Bible.
In order for an individual to properly build an interpretation of the Bible he needs to determine the meaning of one verse at a time, in the passage it was written, in the order it was written by determining the proper context of that passage via the proper application of the normative rules of language, context and logic to that passage. Hence he does not have to be the author; nor does he have to be a scholar; nor is there someone special - a pastor, or teacher, etc., through whom he must go in order to determine what the Bible is saying. In essence this is simply a matter of applying ones own reading skills in a proficient, honest and objective manner.
On the other hand, it takes time and self-discipline to properly dig into the text including making repeated efforts to check every conclusion one makes - especially those conclusions that others insist the Bible teaches. Most people, especially pastors and teachers, read into a text by going elsewhere in the Bible or by adding personal thoughts and conclusions that the text at hand does not warrant; instead of working hard and long to limit themselves to only what the text is saying via the normative rules. That's why we have so many differing points of view about the Bible and so many denominations. Actually the Bible is very clear if you take the time to study it thoroughly one passage at a time, one verse at a time, one word at a time - by simply "listening" to what the author is saying and not by adding your own or someone else's thoughts to it. If an author of one of the books of the Bible did not see fit to address a certain point you or someone else feels is important, you must put that thought aside and only 'listen' to what the author is saying because he was the one who wrote those words and he hasn't told you or I to go anyplace else in the Bible or outside the Bible to add those thoughts to his. Yes, you might argue that there are other passages that say more about a subject, but no one authorized you or I to be editors, we are to be honest listeners only. Something elsewhere may be true, but in the text at hand it may not be in view.
Once one has done a thorough job of "listening" to what a particular passage is saying, then it is logical to go to other passages and thoroughly listen to them and then compare them with the original passage via those same normative rules of reading. But to jump around from one passage to another is to disregard the normative rules of language, context and logic - to rush to conclusions to support one's own point of view. This is like cooking 10 meals at the same time without ever thoroughly cooking or preparing any meal. Just as one misses the point of the meals by ignoring the recipe instructions, so one is missing what the Bible is saying by not paying attention to the normative rules of language, context and logic.
There are places to go in order to find out what words in the Bible can mean: various study helps such as interlinear Bibles of New (Greek) and Old (Hebrew) Testaments, commentaries on Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, Hebrew and Greek lexicons, footnotes, cross references, English dictionaries, Greek, Hebrew and English grammar books, rules of logical / contextual interpretation, studies on principles of context and logic, etc. These resources set the rules on how words in a translated or original language may be interpreted. Furthermore, selected commentaries, pastors and teachers that by and large follow these rules may be used to suggest conclusions which one must then test out for oneself to see if they are in accordance with the normative rules of language, context and logic.
Manuscripts of the original and ancient languages and versions / translations of the Bible are not sources for the proper use of the rules of language, context or logic. Neither do they provide all the available meanings for a word in the original or translated language to verify that the correct word is in view; nor do they stipulate the rules of language, context and logic somewhere in the text in order for one to be able to interpret the text properly, especially if some special rules apply. If one uses a Bible manuscript or translation / version as if it were a dictionary / grammar or logic book, one is in effect relying on the writers / translators for what they are saying, and what one should believe. In view of the fact that there is so much disagreement on what the Bible says - including ancient manuscripts, versions, pastors and teachers; it is mandatory that one study to show oneself approved, (2 Tim 3:16) - to do ones homework and test every conclusion by the proven method of the normative rules of reading - using the available resources mentioned above. There will be nobody at judgment to help one defend his / her point of view to God. It's up to one to verify everything one believes before one gets there.
1) The Normative Rules As Defined Relative To The Bible Are The Normally Expected Meanings Using The Established Rules Of The Language, Context And Logic Of A Passage From The Bible
Just as individuals who communicate successfully today in American English by following the normative rules of language, context and logic - utilizing meanings which have been established by the very people of today who use that language; so the accurate interpretation of every passage in every book in the Bible is done in much the same way: by following the normative rules of language, context and logic for that original / translated language by the very people using that language at the time the particular book of the Bible was written / translated. These rules of language and word meanings have been carefully documented through the efforts of innumerable individuals in countless hours of study and research of thousands of documents written and copied in the original / translated languages at the various times that each particular book of the Bible was written / translated. Upon careful examination, it can be determined that the words of most versions / translations into the languages of the world have largely been written in accordance with the normative rules of language, context and logic in the timeframe of each language. But since there exists today neither a perfect set of ancient manuscripts of what was originally written by the writers of the Bible, nor a perfect translation of those original words, the individual must be very diligent in his study of the Bible, using every resource he can to arrive at what the Bible says as he himself applies the normative rules of language, context and logic - checking every conclusion that he believes in - even those conclusions that his pastors, teachers commentators and others express to him.
2) Faithfully And Accurately Adhering To The Normative Rules Of Language, Context And Logic Results In The Most Trustworthy, Non-Contradictory, Immutable, Consistent Interpretation Of Passages In The Bible. This Is Proof Of The Validity Of This Method Of Interpretating The Bible
Whenever the normative rules are strictly adhered to, what results is the most trustworthy, non-contradictory, immutable, consistent interpretation of the Bible! This is especially evident in the area of prophecy relative to the prediction of future events - a record so far of 100% fulfillment in every detail - when the normative rules of interpretation are properly applied! Even alleged discrepancies, manuscript variants and differences amongst versions can be examined and resolved via a diligent application of the normative rules of language, context and logic - especially given today's resources of the Bible.
Therefore, all individuals of accountable age and linguistic capacity are without excuse. For they have been provided by God with the capability to understand the Bible through the normative use of their native languages - the established rules of language, context and logic for each language. So it is a matter of the will when one does not arrive at the truth of what the Bible teaches. It cannot be a lack of opportunity - even for those without the indwelling Holy Spirit. For all men who are individuals of accountabilty are given the opportunity to be led unto salvation by God the Holy Spirit, (Jn 16:7-11; Ro 1:19), and thereafter be led into the ever increasing knowledge of the Bible, (Jn 14:26; 1 Jn 2:27; Eph 4:11-13)
The fact is that the Bible can be clearly understood by all individuals of accountable age and linguistic capacity. One does not have to be an expert in the ancient languages of the Bible because there are many resources available from the proper teaching of pastors, teachers and fellow believers who follow the normative rules, to the accurate and reliable translations, dictionaries, commentaries, grammar books, concordances, interlinear Bibles, study lessons, etc., etc; all of which will enable the diligent student of the Bible to discern what the Bible teaches.
So, rather than imposing one's own preconceived meaning on a particular word or phrase in the Bible; one should follow the normative rules of language, context and logic; and using the inductive approach inherent in those rules, let the author of that word or phrase in the Bible tell one what it means.
3) The Words Of The Original Bible Were Written In Specific Languages At Specific Times - Languages In Which Many Thousands Of Manuscripts Were Carefully Preserved / Copied So That The Meanings Of Those Words, Verses, Passages, Etc., In The Original Bible Could Be Frozen In Time And Then Could Be Accurately Interpreted And Translated Into The Languages Of The World For All Ages Via The Normative Rules Of Language, Context And Logic Of Each And Every Language. Otherwise One Could Impose What He Wished Upon The Bible Due To The Ever Changing Nature Of Languages. So A Particular Word Used In A Particular Time In God's Original Word In A Particular Context Will Only Have One Meaning And Not Be Subject To Change As Languages Change
The words of the original Bible were written in specific languages at specific times - languages of which many thousands of manuscripts were carefully preserved / copied so that the meanings of those words, verses, passages, etc., in the original Bible could be frozen in time and then accurately interpreted and translated into the languages of the world for all ages via the normative rules of language, context and logic of each and every language.
Otherwise one could impose what he wished upon the Bible due to the ever changing nature of languages. So a particular word used in a particular time in God's Original Word in a particular context will only have one meaning and not be subject to change as languages change.
4) Since The Interpretation Of Any Passage In The Bible Via The Proper Use Of The Normative Rules of Language, Context And Logic Proves Itself To Be The Most Trustworthy Non-Contradictory, Immutable, Consistent Interpretation Of Passages In The Bible; Then The Interpretation By These Rules Will Not Be Something That Can Be Changed, Or Modified Into Something Different By Information Derived Elsewhere In The Bible Or Outside Of The Bible, As Some Contend. On The Other Hand, The Normative Rules Permit Referral To Parallel Passages When They Are Stipulated Or Referred To By The Author In Order To Define Specific Words Or The Context Of A Passage At Hand. And Parallel Passages, Normatively Interpreted, May Also Be Used To Corroborate The Meaning Of A Passage At Hand - But Not Change It
Since the interpretation of any passage in the Bible via the proper use of the normative rules of language, context and logic proves itself to be the most trustworthy, non-contradictory, immutable, consistent interpretation of passages in the Bible; then the interpretation by these rules will not be something that can be changed, or modified into something different by information derived elsewhere in the Bible or outside of the Bible and still accurately represent the Bible, as some contend.
Objectors to this principle of immutability established by the normative rules contend that one cannot just take a particular passage to teach some Biblical truth such as the one which is contained in Ephesians 2:8-10 or John 3:16, and hundreds of other passages - all of which properly and normatively interpreted within their own contexts, teach that believing - a moment of believing - in the Son of God / Jesus Christ results in being saved unto eternal life. Objectors to this normatively arrived at interpretation falsely maintain that there are other passages throughout the Bible - Old and New Testaments - that teach on salvation unto eternal life and add to what authors Paul, John and others say a man must do to be saved unto eternal life. This implies that the passages about salvation unto eternal life in Ephesians, John and in many other books are contradictory / incomplete with errors of omission when normatively interpreted by themselves within their own particular contexts without being modified to conform with the rest of what they falsely state the Bible teaches via their own methodolgy of interpretation. But this is an approach to the Bible which would make the understanding of any passage in the Bible unreachable until one had completely mastered every other passage in every book of the Bible and allowed for passages to be modified into their 'final' meanings. So one cannot master the first verse he reads in the Bible until he masters every verse in the Bible beforehand!! If this system of interpretation is true,
a) then it would require more than a lifetime of careful study to master the first verse one begins to read in the Bible.
b) then there is no language that has such a complex structure that can convey such indetermination within each verse so that one might understand that when reading a verse in the Bible its meaning cannot be determined until every other verse in the Bible is fully mastered.
c) then the saints of Old Testament times would not have all the information they needed to be saved unto eternal life because they did not have the completed Bible with the 27 books of the New Testament to study and master. So Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; David and Moses - all the Old Testament saints - would been placed in the condemned part of Hades to perish forever in the Lake of Fire, since they were not provided with New Testament revelation.
d) then the Old Testament, Ephesians, the Gospel of John - every book of the Bible is indeterminate without a full understanding of every other book of the Bible - every passage, every verse, every word.
e) then the rules to interpret the Bible are beyond the normative rules of language, context and logic available to all men - with no clear declaration anywhere in the Bible, or anywhere else as to what those rules are - as to what each verse's meaning is dependent upon.
f) then this puts the Bible out of reach of mankind, except perhaps the select few who allegedly claim to have a unique, special gift from God.
g) then God has permitted His Word to be indeterminate unless one has been specially given the unique rules of interpreting the Bible and has been supernaturally enabled by God to master every passage in it.
h) then for most if not all of mankind, the Bible is impossible to read and therefore it is untrustworthy.
On the other hand, just as a cook can follow the directions of a recipe in order to produce the stated result of, for example, an angel food cake, without having to go to another recipe, like one for roast beef;
so an individual can follow the normative rules of language, context and logic and read that Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16 and hundreds of other verses stipulate within their own particular contexts that believing - a moment of believing - in the Son of God / Jesus Christ results in being saved unto eternal life without having to go to other alleged passages which might add corrections and/or directions, (even if there were any in the Bible - and there are none). In this manner, one can relatively quickly and easily discern the teachings and build an understanding of the Bible by studying one passage at a time, following the normative rules of interpretation,without years of agonizing examination of the entire Bible. Thereby one can determine what the Bible is saying one passage at a time. Passages in the Bible, by and large, declare a clear message of what they mean by themselves; or at times with the use of one or more parallel passages that are stipulated or referred to as cross references by the original author in the passage at hand in order to provide definitions of terms or to help define the context of the original passage. According to the normative rules, further investigation of parallel passages - those with sufficiently matching contexts - often provide the same message corroborating the original passage; but without additional essential information needed to be gleaned for the interpretation of the original passage, or needed to be added to it.
Finally, when properly analyzed in detail in accordance with the normative rules, there simply are no contradictory passages anywhere in the Bible, or any passages that need correction.
5) In Order For The Bible To Be Properly Interpreted Via The Normative Rules Of Language, Context And Logic, Inductive Rather Than Deductive Reasoning Must Prevail
In order for the Bible to be properly interpreted via the normative rules of language, context and logic, inductive rather than deductive reasoning must prevail.
a) Deductive Reasoning Defined:
[Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Co, Springfield, Ma, 1980, pp. 293]:
'capable of being deduced from [preconceived, external] premises...'
'deduce...to infer from a [preconceived] general principle..'
'inference...the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow from that of the former.'
In other words, to employ a deductive procedure on the Bible is to approach a passage from an external point of view - with a preconceived notion as to what it should say and then to find evidence in that passage which verifies one's preconception.
b) Inductive Reasoning Defined:
[Webster's, op. cit., p. 583]:
'of, relating to, or employing mathematical or logical induction... reasoning...'
'induction..the act, process, or result or an instance of reasoning from a part to a whole, from particulars to generals or from the individual to the universal'
In other words, to employ an inductive procedure on the Bible is to use an internal approach and study what the words, grammar, context and logic actually add up to say, independent of what one might have determined beforehand by deduction.
c) A Deductive Approach To The Bible Means Presupposition & Can Often Result In A Bad Interpretation Unless The Inductive Approach Is Allowed To Prevail To Support Or Refute The Clues Arrived At Through The External / Deductive Approach
To approach the Bible from the first mentioned standpoint of deductive reasoning is to maintain that what you already believe is true and then to look for support in the passage one is examining. This approach may provide a clue as to what a passage at hand might be saying, but it can often result in selecting some parts of the passage to support one's presupposition, skipping over other parts that contradict it, redefining terms into meanings that conflict with the way the Bible defines them, and ignoring differences in the context of passages being compared - unless the inductive approach is allowed to prevail to support or refute the clues arrived at through the external / deductive approach.
In the final analysis, deductive clues must be resolved through a careful, inductive / internal reasoning of the passage in view in order to avoid imposing an unwarranted external point of view on that passage. This takes time and objectivity in order to not impose external information on that passage; and instead to limit oneself to the context, language and logic of that passage.
d) On The Other Hand, Approaching The Bible Normatively - Letting Inductive / Internal Reasoning Prevail, Especially When It Comes To A Very Careful Consideration Of The Context Of The Passage At Hand, Means Taking A Risk Because One Is Putting Ones Personal / Deductive / External Beliefs To The Test Against What The Words Are Normatively / Internally Saying
On the other hand, approaching the Bible normatively - letting inductive / internal reasoning prevail, especially when it comes to a very careful consideration of the context of the passage at hand, means taking a risk because one is putting ones personal, deductive / external beliefs to the test against what the words are normatively / internally saying - letting the individual words, phrases and passages normatively interpreted correct or verify ones belief system.
6) Since The Interpretation Of Any Passage In The Bible Via The Proper Use Of The Normative Rules Of Language, Context And Logic Results In The Most Trustworthy, Non-Contradictory, Immutable, Consistent Interpretation; Then This Result Is Proof Of Its Own Validity And There Is No Other Viable Means By Which The Bible Must Be Interpreted
Since the interpretation of any passage in the Bible via the proper use of the normative rules of language, context and logic results in the most trustworthy, non-contradictory, immutable, consistent interpretation; then this result is proof of its own validity and there is no other viable means by which the Bible must be interpreted:
a) Otherwise Men Who Are Of Accountable Age And Capacity Could Plead Ignorance At Judgment - But With The Normative Rules They Are Without Excuse
If the Bible is not to be interpreted utilizing normative rules of language then men of accountable age and capacity could plead ignorance at God's Judgment Throne because they would not have been able to understand the Bible from some unexplained, unknown framework.
b) Otherwise God Would Have Conspired To Restrict The Knowledge Of His Word To Only A Chosen Few
Since the interpretation of any passage in the Bible via the proper use of the normative rules of language, context and logic proves itself to be the most trustworthy, non-contradictory, immutable, consistent interpretation of passages in the Bible; yet if there is supposed to be another means by which it must be interpreted, as some contend; then, if this is true, then it must be concluded that God has conspired to restrict the knowledge of salvation and the rest of His written revelation to a chosen few enlightened ones, deceiving the rest of mankind because they only knew the normative rules of language, context and logic. And if this were so, then the great majority of humanity would be condemned to the Lake of Fire without a chance. For if normative language cannot be relied upon to communicate what God has to say in His Word, especially relative to eternal life, then the great mass of humanity who do not have a special revelation by which to interpret the Bible, has no chance to accept or reject the truth. This would speak ill of a God of love, justice and righteousness Who is not willing that any should perish.
So, given Who God is - a God of justice, love and mercy - there is no mystical set of rules or supernatural communications from heaven, nor certain chosen ones of God needed for mankind to be able to understand the Bible and convey that understanding to those whom they choose. The words are plain and clear in their normative sense as God intended them to be to every individual of accountable age and linguistic capacity.
c) Otherwise God Would Have Deliberately Confused Mankind By Permitting Multiple False Interpretations
Without a universally known, consistent and sovereignly structured system of interpretation, the result would be what happens today when the normative rules are not adhered to:
multiple contradictory interpretations reflecting untruth which create a lack of confidence in the validity of the Bible when individuals trust in such subjective methods of interpretation.
Furthermore, in answer to objectors who insist upon imposing their own rules and word meanings on the Bible or promoting multiple interpretations on the Bible even to the extent of creating a maze of contradiction and confusion or imposing 'today's' viewpoint on the Bible because viewpoints of the past are supposed to be obsolete, (and individuals of every age maintain this false concept); ...in view of all of the aforementioned objector viewpoints... consider that if any of these interpretation systems were true, then there would exist the impossibility for billions of people throughout history of truly understanding what God intended to communicate in the Bible because the words would then not convey their normative meanings as everyday people understood them.
d) Otherwise The Bible Is Made Subject To Whatever Rules Of Interpretation Mankind Can Dream Up With The Aid Of The Devil, The World And The Sin Nature
In general, misinterpretation occurs because the devil, the world and the sin nature can create in man an unwillingness to be structured into truths from the Bible. Even truths about God which He made evident from creation are purposely suppressed.
So people tend to make up their own rules, not willing to be structured into God's established and sovereign order of communication of His Word, aided by the devil, the world and the sin nature. Such subjective methods inevitably lead to error and the consequent misleading of others. Unsubstantiated symbolism, spiritualizing where a normatively arrived at figurative meaning according to the context is intended, arriving at multiple contradictory interpretations for the same passage are prime examples of approaches which produce error and sin.
So it is not surprising to find so many denominations and other religious organizations maintaining that their particular interpretation is the one true one. Nor is it surprising to find millions upon millions of individuals who insist that their own personal speculations or interpretations are just as valid as anyone else's.
e) Otherwise The Word Of God Could Be Interpreted By How The Individual Chooses To Apply The Words To Himself, As Some Contend. But There Are No Private Interpretations Of The Bible
Since the Bible is to be interpreted by normative rules of language, context and logic which produces the most trustworthy, non-contradictory, immutable, consistent interpretation of the Bible, then the meaning of a passage cannot be made subject to how an individual decides to apply the passage to himself.
In the same way that a tool can be applied to any number of uses - some effective, some not and some a patent misuse of the tool; so when one applies truths from the Word of God to one's life, one verifies what that truth can and cannot do without changing the basic truth itself, i.e, its basic interpretation.
This is contrary to objectors who claim that there is no end to what a particular passage in the Bible teaches because each individual applies such truths to himself in his own unique way, thus drawing the false conclusion that such unique applications add to the meaning of that truth in the Bible. However, when the passage is carefully examined in accordance with the normative rules of language, context and logic, one finds that this is not the case: any scriptural application must verify what the passage already teaches - not something else. And any unscriptural application which contradicts what that passage teaches must be rejected and not applied at all!
f) Otherwise The Holy Spirit Is Not Involved In The Interpretation Of The Bible
Any interpretation that is a violation of the normative rules of language, context and logic indicates that the Holy Spirit, the Source of every word in the Bible, (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21), is not involved in that interpretation. Therefore that particular interpretation is not communication from God. Subjective methods of interpretation which by nature are driven by the devil, the world and the sin nature, will inevitably differ from the Bible and add private interpretations to the objective normative method - thereby contradicting it, causing error and confusion relative to the Bible. This is a result which violates the character of communication from God. Hence the method is not a valid means to interpret what the Bible says or to compare with the Bible.
So any interpretation of the Bible which violates the normative rules could not be what God intended to communicate.
Just as God's sovereignty prevailed over man's penship of the 66 books of the Bible and produced an inerrant work by the hand of man, so He sovereignly prevailed over the languages of men which they used so that what man has established as normative use is what is reflected in His Word so that all men of accountable age and linguistic capacity might be able to choose to understand God's revelation to man.
7) Neither An Individual's Feelings, Nor His Experiences, Nor His Interpretation Of His Feelings / Experiences Can Override, Add To, Supplant Or Modify What The Bible, Normatively Interpreted, Says
Neither an individual's feelings, nor his experiences, nor his interpretation of his feelings / experiences can override, add to, supplant or modify what the Bible, normatively interpreted, says. Experiences and feelings may be real, but they are too often misinterpreted due to insufficient evidence, jumping to false conclusions, stereotypical prejudices - perspectives which are unbiblical. Deep within each individual is a sin nature - which can be influenced by the devil and the world causing within one a propensity to think, say and do wrong which effects each individual's interpretation of what is true and righteous.
8) Suggested Routines / Resources To Arrive At The Normative Meaning Of The Bible Of A Passage / A Chapter In The Bible
a) Determine The Wording Of A Passage / A Chapter Of The Bible That Is Closest To The Original Text By Following The Normative Rules Of Language, Context And Logic - One Verse At A Time In The Order That It Appears
1) Take notes relative to variants in the original language from one or more interlinear Bibles of the original language, aided by one or more commentaries on the original (Greek / Hebrew) text and one or more books on the subject of Bible difficulties.
(Resources: Complete Biblical Library OT & NT Interlinear available in Public Libraries or purchase electronic version at Wordsearchbible.com; NT Text and Translation Commentary by Comfort, other interlinears available online .or at bookstores; Alleged Discrepancies by John Haley available to download online in PDF; Bible Difficulties by Geisler and Howe available electronically at Wordsearchbible.com or at bookstores; the LXX - Septuagint Greek OT available to download online in PDF)
2) Make a list of the variants for a verse including which manuscripts have each variant and the proposed reasons offered for selecting one variant over another. Consult the Bible difficulties books you have to see if they offer any information on the verses with variants.
3) Write down what you have determined is the closest to the original text with the English wording for each verse with variants in 21st Century American English that best fits the language, context and logic of that verse.
4) If there still remains a significant difference in the variant texts so that you cannot be definitive on what the original text might be; present the various possibilities based on the internal evidence of the passage without making a decision for one or the other.
This is not disastrous because the Bible repeats itself all the time relative to the doctrines of the faith. So missing a doctrinal message in one passage, one can be assured that doctrine will be more clearly available elsewhere in the Bible. The better skilled you become at this, and the better your resources, the fewer such passages will be a problem for you. More often than not, the context of the passages carefully considered will rule in favor of one variant or another; or the variants do not make a difference in the meaning of the passage.
b) Arrive At A Translation In 21st Century English Of A Passage / A Chapter Of The Bible Which Best Reflects The Original Text By Following The Normative Rules Of Language, Context And Logic
1) Compare a passage / a chapter of the Bible in the interlinear Bible of the original language - including those verses with variant problems which you have already resolved - with at least seven versions / translations in English in order to select the version - as modified by you - which best reflects the original text in 21st century English by following the normative rules of language, context and logic. Make your own modifications in [brackets] to comply with those rules of interpretation. Each of the seven+ versions you choose to use should have been translated largely in accordance with the normative rules - avoiding paraphrases, substituted words and restructuring sentences whenever linguistically possible in the English language. Many versions are available online . The versions you choose to compare with the interlinear should include a number of versions which are noted for their literal translation, and a number that attempt to be faithful to the word order of the original text such as the YLT, AV, and the KJV which do both. These three versions and others have archaic words which need to be corrected to 21st century English by consulting an archaic English dictionary available on line and/or comparing them to 21st century English versions. Archaic words often have significantly different meanings than what the same word means in today's English. Also trustworthy are the following versions in 21st Century English: NASB, NKJV, HOLMAN STANDARD, NIV. Occasionally the LXX Greek OT might be needed since it is often quoted in the New Testament. It is available online in PDF format. Select the most accurate version / translation [as modified by you] from amongst those seven+ versions / translations.
The version / translation you select and [modify] from the group of versions you are comparing to the interlinear Bible original text to represent a translation in English of the original text of each verse should:
a) reflect the proper meaning of each word in modern 21st century English that best fits the context of that verse. Note that the interlinear Bible defines each word as to its particular part of speech, tense, number, gender, mood, voice, person, stem, etc., etc. to aid in your understanding, interpretation and decision. And the 7 or more versions of the Bible and Hebrew / Greek and archaic English dictionaries will aid as well. Hebrew / Greek dictionaries offer a number of possible meanings which may or may not agree with the interlinear Bible's rendering of the word in English. Take care to note differences amongst the versions and dictionaries you are using and determine the best meaning for the context. Refer to grammar books some of which usually come with the interlinear Bible to explain the parts of speech as needed. Other Greek / Hebrew grammar books are available online or in bookstores.
b) keep the word order of the original language as far as possible - within the framework of the normative rules of 21st Century American English grammar - in order to maintain the emphasis points and the context established in the original text. The YLT as compared to the NASB and the NKJV are very useful in this task; and the AV and KJV are often helpful on this as well. Sentences in 21st century English may at times be awkward in order to be accurate and best represent the original text; but they must not violate the rules of 21st century English grammar - of acceptable English sentence structure.
c) keep the verb tenses consistent with the original text by referring to Greek / Hebrew grammar books and dictionaries - comparing these with the 7 or more versions in order to be faithful to the verb form of the original text. The YLT and other versions often attempt to be faithful to the original verb form. Compare what it says with the NASB and NKJV as well as other versions until you arrive at a determination of the closest version of the 7+ versions to the original text within the normative rules of the English language, context and logic. Refer to Greek / Hebrew dictionaries and grammar books when questions arise as to the proper translation of the verb tense of the original word. Note that it is better to have an awkward but accurate sentence than a smooth sounding, inaccurate one.
d) have in brackets the changes you make to the translation in accordance with the normative rules in order to signify your particular interpretation. Reference the reasons for the bracketed changes with footnotes.
2) As you determine the best version / translation of each verse of the original text, put the verses together in the order that they appear in the passage / chapter under study.
(Resources: NASB, NKJV, HOLMAN STANDARD, NIV, KJV, AV, YLT, LXX / Septuagint available online. Take care to change archaic words into 21st Century English which appear in the last 3 versions. Hebrew and Greek lexicons and grammar books come with the Complete Biblical Library. Other Greek / Hebrew lexicons and grammar books are available online ..or at bookstores. Make sure that lexicons are not limited to Strongs meanings only. All available meanings should be listed in the dictionaries in order to allow you to match the best available meaning with the context at hand - to make up your own mind. Versions are not perfect).
c) Arrive At Your Own Personal Commentary Of The Passage By Following The Normative Rules Of Language, Context And Logic - One Verse At A Time Grouped Together In Accordance With The Verse Order Then Topics And Subtopics
1) Make careful observations, following the order of the verses, grouping the verses together according to verse order followed by topics and subtopics so as to keep your observations organized. Use an outline format such as I, A, 1, a, i, so that when a verse or topic has changed, your observations will be easier to read and edit.
2) Compare your observations with more than one commentary, making sure you only use a commentary's observations that are directly related to the words in the passage at hand, not from elsewhere, no matter how true. Use topical points by which commentaries organize their observations; but accept only those which are in accordance with the normative rules of language, context and logic: those that are limited to the context of the verse at hand. Work those observations from commentaries into your own personal words in order to verify in your own words that what you use is strictly in view in the verse and passage at hand, and not from elsewhere.
(Resources: Bible Study Manuals , Expositor's Bible Commentary, Bible Knowledge Commentary, The Complete Bible Commentary, and others available online, in bookstores, electronically from wordsearchbible.com. The LXX Septuagint OT Greek Bible is available online . Note that most commentaries digress beyond the context of the verse at hand to such an extent that they are not worth using on a regular basis. Certain specific issues with a Bible verse may be researched for reading online and compared with Bible difficulty books. Carefully critique commentaries and topical research studies to make sure the comments you decide to use from them are in accordance with the normative rules of language, context and logic - staying within the confines of the context of the verse(s) at hand, proving out each point with the proper evidence).
3) This process requires a lot of time, prayer, meditation, review, changes - editing of all kinds until you are satisfied you have covered all that each word, verse, passage has to convey.
II) FURTHER RULES OF INTERPRETATION INHERENT IN THE BIBLE
A) ALL PASSAGES IN SCRIPTURE ARE INSPIRED BY GOD AND WORTHY FOR INSTRUCTION
One of the key principles of interpreting Scripture which we have already investigated is that all passages in Scripture are inspired by God and worthy for instruction - not just a select few, (2 Tim 3:16).
Since all passages are worthy for instruction and perfectly inspired by God unto righteousness then there are no contradictions in God's Word and the truths that are relayed in each passage are irrefutable. They are therefore not ever contradicted, modified or added to elsewhere in Scripture or outside of Scripture.
This leads to a corollary principle:
B) IF IT IS THE TRUTH HERE THEN IT IS THE TRUTH EVERYWHERE
If a truth in one passage of Scripture is taught then according to the doctrine of inerrancy one may then say, 'If it is the truth here then it is the truth everywhere'
1) [Jn 3:16]:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16 says in plain language that God loved the world, (mankind), so much that He saw to it that His one and only Son was given to die and thereby in death suffer the penalty for the sins of the whole world, (1 Jn 2:2).....
and God plainly says in this passage that whosoever believes in His Son - this belief being a trust that God will make provision for one's eternal life exclusively and solely through His Son - having paid this penalty for their own particular sins - will then not perish but have eternal life with Him in heaven. Notice that the tense of the verb "have" is not in the future indicating a promise to come but it is in the present which says that at the point of believing the believer immediately - in the present - possesses eternal life forever, never to lose it no matter what. This well quoted verse in John chapter 3 is a complete 'if-then' statement that presents a complete message about how to go to heaven: believe alone in Jesus Christ alone and you immediately begin to have eternal life forever never to lose it. If this is the truth as stated in Jn 3:16 then it is the truth everywhere in Scripture.
C) SCRIPTURE DOES NOT CONTRADICT ITSELF
One of the most significant of these rules of interpretation which we have already investigated is that Scripture is without error and therefore does not contradict itself, (Jn 10:35; Ps 19:7-9; 2 Tim 3:16; Mt 5:17-18; 24:35; 2 Pet 1:20-21). Since Scripture testifies that it is without error, then another rule which follows is:
D) LET THE CLEAR PASSAGES IN SCRIPTURE DICTATE WHICH DIRECTION THE DIFFICULT PASSAGES SHOULD TAKE
Difficult passages often have several but conflicting interpretations, only one of which can be the correct one, the others to be ruled out by carefully utilizing the built-in rules of interpretation. So it is vital to the understanding of God's Word that one not derive an interpretation of a difficult passage which directly contradicts the interpretation of a clear passage.
For example consider the following phrase:
1) [Mark 16:16a]:
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved...."
This phrase when considered outside of the context has four possible interpretations at first glance: salvation by faith only, or by baptism only, or by faith or baptism or by faith + baptism be directed toward the one true interpretation by clear passages on salvation..............................
Dave Hunt comments on this verse, ('The Berean Call', Mar 1995 issue):
[This verse is saying that] "All who believe the gospel are saved, so of course all who believe and are baptized are saved; but that does not say that baptism saves or that it is essential for salvation. Scores of verses declare, with no mention of baptism, that salvation comes by believing the gospel:
'[I]t pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.' (1 Cor 1:21; see also Jn 3:16, 18, 36, 5:24; Acts 10:43, 13:38-39, 16:34; Rom 1:16, 3:28, 4:24, 5:1; 1 Cor 15:1-5; Eph 2:8, etc.). Not one verse, however, says that baptism saves.
Numerous verses declare that whosoever does not believe is lost, but not one verse declares that whosoever is not baptized is lost. Surely the Bible would make it clear that believing in Christ without being baptized cannot save if that were the case, yet it never says so! Instead, we have examples of those who believed and were saved without being baptized, such as the thief on the cross and the Old Testament saints (Enoch, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, et al.) to whom Christian baptism was unknown..." [Cp Hebrews chapter 11].
Therefore let this phrase in Mark be directed toward the one true interpretation of the four possible ones by the interpretation of a clear passage such as the one which follows:
2) [Eph 2:8-9]:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this [being saved, i.e., salvation] not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."
This very clear passage in Ephesians prohibits the contribution of any kind of human effort toward one's salvation which includes water baptism. So Mark 16:16 teaches that salvation is by faith alone. The water baptism which one later goes through then illustrates to mankind the condition of already having been saved by faith alone in Christ alone as Mark 16:16a indicates when correctly interpreted. Note that this is verified in the second half of the verse in Mark which most people fail to take into consideration. Thus we indicate another vital rule in interpreting Scripture -
E) TAKE THE ENTIRE PASSAGE INTO CONSIDERATION
Much damage is done to the communication of God's Word by simply not taking the entire passage into consideration. [Mk 16:16a]:
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved..."
This part of Mark 16:16 seems to say that one must express one's belief in Christ and then be water baptized in order to be saved. However, the rest of the verse sheds more light on what is being said:
1) [Mark 16:16b]:
"but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
Mk 16:16b indicates that the sole condition for being condemned is disbelieving in the gospel of salvation. Nothing is mentioned about being condemned for not being water baptized. Therefore, Mk 16:16b makes a strong argument for the fact that water baptism is NOT a requirement for salvation. But it is a requirement for believers in order to be obedient faithful Christians.
F) RULING OUT THE NONESSENTIAL
Compare a passage which is often misinterpreted because most individuals consider only a few verses, out of context, without comparison to parallel passages and thereby do not Rule out the nonessential:
Consider these passages of Scripture in light of the what was just stated:
1) [Mk 16:16]:
" 'He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.' "
Notice that this passage indicates that if one believes and is water baptized one shall be saved. From the first half of verse 16, one can conclude that salvation is gained in one or more of three ways: either by faith alone, water baptism alone or faith plus water baptism. The second half of verse 16 strongly points toward faith alone in Christ alone and it definitely states that faith alone in Christ alone is at least one way to heaven and probably the only way. Verse 16b indicates that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone because it states that the only way to condemnation is to never believe - to disbelieve. There is no mention that never being water baptized will result in condemnation. This would be a serious omission if water baptism were indeed essential to salvation. This verse establishes that the only basis for condemnation is unbelief.
The subject of Christian water baptism is a highly controversial one. Many insist that it is a requirement for being saved.
Dave Hunt states, ('THE BEREAN CALL' periodical, Bend, Oregon, March 1995 issue):
"Then what about Mark 16:16: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved'? All who believe the gospel are saved, so of course all who believe and are baptized are saved; but that does not say that baptism saves or that it is essential for salvation. Scores of verses declare, with no mention of baptism, that salvation comes by believing the gospel: '[I]t pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.' (1 Cor 1:21; see also Jn 3:16, 18, 36, 5:24; Acts 10:43, 13:38-39, 16:341; Rom 1:16, 3:28, 4:24, 5:1; 1 cor 15:1-5; Eph 2:8, etc.). Not one verse, however, says that baptism saves.
Numerous verses declare that whosoever does not believe is lost, but not one verse declares that whosoever is not baptized is lost. Surely the Bible would make it clear that believing in Christ without being baptized cannot save if that were the case, yet it never says so! Instead, we have examples of those who believed and were saved without being baptized, such as the thief on the cross and the Old Testament saints (Enoch, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, et al.) to whom Christian baptism was unknown... [Ref Hebrews chapter 11].
2) [Compare Jn 6:40]:
"For this is the will of My Father, that every one who beholds the Son, and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
If one concludes that water baptism, (Mk 16:16) is an essential part of salvation, by extraction of a verse out of context then we must use the same extraction process in Jn 6:40, above, and conclude that only those living at the time of Christ, and that only those who actually saw Him can be saved.
Consider Mk 1:4 which, when taken out of context appears to teach that forgiveness of sins comes only through John the Baptist's water baptism - which was strictly for Jews, leaving the Gentile world totally condemned without a chance for salvation:
3) [Mk 1:4]:
"John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."
One might conclude that salvation - forgiveness of sins - comes through the water baptism of repentance of John the Baptism.
Or that only those who believed that the covenant of Abraham would be fulfilled within them - would be credited with righteousness - in order to be saved:
4) [Gen 15:4-6]:
(v. 4) "Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'This man will not be your heir; but One shall come forth from your own body, He shall be you Heir.'
(v. 5 ) And He [God] took him outside and said, 'Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'
(v. 6) Then he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness."
One might take verse 6 out of context and conclude that salvation was through faith in God's plan through Abraham and only through Abraham. If this true then descendants of Abraham will therefore be the only ones who are eligible for salvation. Most Jews believe this way.
One might even falsely conclude that Our Lord supported the conclusion on the previous page when he said the following:
5) [Mt 10:5-7, 32]:
(v. 5) "These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, 'Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; [One might conclude here that salvation was exclusively for the Jews]
(v. 6) but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
(v. 7) And as you go, preach, saying, '''The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'''
(v. 32) Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father Who is in heaven.' "
So by the method one uses in falsely interpreting Romans 10:9-10 in order to conclude that one must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord in order to be saved one must also conclude that one must be a Jew who saw the Lord Jesus Christ as a Man 2000 years ago, (Jn 6:40), and one must have been water baptized by John the Baptist himself, (Mk 1:4), and have been a believer in the Abrahamic covenant as well as a descendant of Abraham, (Gen 15:6), etc. etc. This is however only the beginning. There are dozens of passages which, one might conclude, add even more to what must be done in order to be saved. The truth is, however a different matter. Paul answered it best when the frightened jailkeeper in Philippi asked him:
6) [Acts 16:30b]:
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' "
[And Paul's simple and complete answer was]:
7) [Acts 16:31]:
" 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved....;' "
So it is belief and belief alone in Christ alone as Savior that is the way to heaven - nothing else can be added. If anything else was required, then Paul was lying to the frightened jailer. Anything else such as confession of Jesus as Lord, water baptism, Lord's Supper, leading a repentant lifestyle etc. etc. may immediately accompany a person's first time expression of faith in Christ; yet these spiritually important things in a believer's life also contribute nothing toward that believer's salvation, (Eph 2:8-9).
All of the passages in Scripture relative to salvation might be likened to following a recipe. Many recipes contain nonessential instructions such as suggesting a number of ways to serve the results. Once a recipe has been followed and a successful outcome is obtained, further action such as serving it on a dish in some special way merely demonstrates what has already occurred. In like manner, once salvation has occurred by a single moment of trusting alone in Christ alone as Savior, (Jn 3:16, Eph 2:8-9), actions such as public confession, water baptism, divine good works, etc. serve to demonstrate to man what has already occurred. So the water baptism or the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord demonstrates the successful results of the faith which is exercised in Christ as Savior such faith resulting in salvation even before there is the slightest confession or any other deed.
G) CONSIDER ALL THE POSSIBLE INTERPRETATIONS AND RULE OUT THE FALSE ONES
The error that is taking place when false interpretations are arrived at is often that the false interpretation is the only interpretation that is considered for a particular passage.
So a corollary of ruling out the nonessential is:
Consider all of the possible interpretations
There are many passages which have more than one possible interpretation - the one correct interpretation and the rest which are not correct. One must honestly list all of the possible interpretations of the passage and then, by the H.I.C.E.E. method of interpretation which the Bible demands be utilized, the one correct interpretation ruled in while all the other false interpretations ruled out. For example, in Philippians 2:6 the word "robbery" is often misinterpreted because the correct interpretation is never considered:
1) [Phil 2:6 K.J.V.]:
"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:"
"robbery" = "harpagmon" = refers here to a treasure which is to be held on to. It is in a noun form which can have one of two basic meanings: An active meaning = robbery in the sense of a person taking something that doesn't belong to him and... a passive meaning = robbery in the sense of a prize or a treasure which one rightfully possesses but which is robbed from him.
The passive meaning must apply here because the first part of verse 6 states that Jesus Christ is Almighty God. So our Lord, Who is God, could not rob something from Himself. And God, being Who He is, cannot give up being Himself. He is eternal, (Ps 90:2; Isa 9:6), and immutable, (Mal 3:6). But He can sovereignly choose to humble Himself and not exercise His attributes as God:
2) [Phil 2:6-7 AMPLIFIED]:
(v. 6) "...Who [Christ] although He [continually] subsisted in the [internal and external] form of God, did not think this equality with God [with respect to expressing His attributes as God] was a thing to be eagerly grasped [held onto] or retained;
(v. 7) But stripped Himself [of all of His privileges and rightful dignity to express Himself as God] so as to assume the guise of a servant, in that He became like men and was born a human being."
So Jesus Christ voluntarily dispossessed Himself for the moment of His privileges and rightful dignity to express Himself as God. This is what the verse is saying: that He did not consider this to be robbery. He did this voluntary out of an infinitely great love for man. Objectors to the truth of the diety of Christ do not consider the passive meaning as a possibility even though the context, grammar and many other passages demand it! Thus they attempt to prove by these omissions that Jesus Christ is not equal to God nor is He God at all. Phil 2:6a however indicates that in eternity past our Lord always subsisted - existed - as God. So Jesus Christ would not be in an active position of robbing something He already had - that of being God. Rather, the passive meaning of "harpagmon" applies: that of having the expression of His Diety taken away, and not the essence since God is immutable and cannot lose His essence in any way. Compare Malachi 3:6.
So Jesus is spoken of as NOT thinking it robbery to not express the glory which is His, being God; and instead becoming a Man to die for the sins of the whole world.
H) CONTEXT: WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHERE, WHEN, HOW, TO WHOM DOES IT APPLY
Another principle of interpretation which is so often taught in journalism classes and emphasized in newspaper reporting is to determine who, what, why, where, when, how & to whom does it apply. Once these questions have been thoroughly answered, then one can begin to properly interpret the passage and determine to whom the passage applies. Another way of expressing this rule is to state the three most important terms to keep in mind when interpreting God's Word:
For example, all the passages which refer to tithing are set in the context of a required tax payment in the form of animals and crops or a monetary substitute thereof which applies to Jews under the Mosaic Law system for the purpose of the support of the Temple and the priesthoods of Levi and Aaron. (Compare: Lev 27:30-32; Nu 18:21, 24, 26, 28; Dt 12:16, 7, 11; 14:23-25, 28; 26:12; 2 Ch 31:5-6, 12; Ne 10:37-38; 12:44; 13:5, 12; Am 4:4; Mal 3:8, 10). Application cannot be made to the life of a Christian relative to tithing. Free and joyful giving out of abundance received rather than out of the firstfruits of one's labors is another matter which does apply to Christians, (2 Cor chapters 8 & 9).
Another example of taking a well known passage out of context is to apply the following verse to the way God operates throughout the ages:
1) [Heb 13:8]:
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever."
It is often said of this verse that since Jesus performed miracles 2000 years ago He will continue to heal people today in the same way since He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Recall, however, that our Lord has operated in a number of different ways throughout the ages from the days of Adam and Eve onward through history. And recall that throughout the history of mankind, miracles came in certain periods of time - those periods being very short, few and far between: i.e., miracles are rare. So this passage is not teaching that the Lord operates in the same identical way throughout history. The previous verses confirm this:
2) [Heb 13:5-8]:
(v. 5) "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'[Dt 31:6]
[The context of our Lord's almighty power as God and His absolute sovereignty in a believer's life is established here. Therefore, as quoted above, a Christian can have absolute confidence in God's working in his life at all times] (v. 6) So we say with confidence,
'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
(v. 7) Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
(v. 8) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
So the context of verse 8 therefore does not teach that our Lord operates the same identical way throughout the ages. On the other hand it does teach of His eternality and consequent infinite capacity as God to continue to be the once for all time sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, (chapter 10); thus assuring believers of their salvation unto eternal life and of the Lord's unfailing sovereignty in their lives especially over the schemes of evil men, (v. 6).
If this passage were to say that our Lord operates in men's lives the same yesterday, today and tomorrow then we are all to operate under the same principles given to Adam and Eve: not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil - and under the temple and animal sacrifice system of the Law of Moses.
I) SIMILARITY DOES NOT PROVE IDENTITY
A corollary of the context * context * context rule is, similarity does not prove identity.
Rapture vs The Second Coming: The Rapture of the Church is not the same event as the Lord's Second Coming
For example, objectors claim that the Rapture of the Church and our Lord's Second Coming are part of the same event. One of their proofs is that both the Rapture and the Second Coming have a 'last trumpet' in them which announces each occurrence:
1) [Mt 24:30-31]:
(v. 30) "and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
(v. 31) And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet [sound] and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one of the heavens to the other."
Compare this to three passages dealing with the Rapture:
2) [Jn 14:1-4]:
(v. 1) "Do not let your hearts be troubled.
(v. 2) In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
[Our Lord is going to prepare a place for us in heaven where the Lord went on His ascension - not to prepare a place on the earth]
(v. 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.
(v. 4) You know the way to the place where I am going."
[So our Lord will come back and take His own back with Him to heaven and this coming of our Lord will also be announced by trumpets]:
3) [1 Cor 15:51-52]:
(v. 51) "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
(v. 52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed."
[Objectors point to the phrase "last trumpet" here and demand that it be interpreted as the same trumpet in Mt 24:30-31 because this trumpet in Matthew comes after the 7 trumpets in Rev 8-11. They demand that there be no trumpets after this "last trumpet" in 1 Cor 15, otherwise they say it wouldn't be a last trumpet at all. Thus they ignore the dissimilarities between the Second Coming and the Rapture and they overlook the obvious interpretation of 1 Cor 15:51-52: That 'the last trumpet" in 1 Cor 15:52 is the last in a series, not the last heard from heaven on earth to end the age.
A conductor might tell his orchestra, for example, 'Lower the volume of the last trumpet call' referring to a particular musical piece. This would not be saying that this was the last time the trumpets would play that evening; only the last for that piece of music. Likewise, "the last trumpet" in 1 Cor 15 is the last in a series to announce the rapture.
4) [Compare 1 Thes 4:16-17]:
(v. 16) "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
(v. 17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord."
There are other trumpets in Scripture which also announce occurrences which are unrelated to one another with respect to not being part of the same event, (cp Isa 27:13; Ez 33:5; Rev 8:7-8, 10, 12, 9:1, 13; 10:7).
The same kind of argument is made by objectors when referring to the term Second Coming. Objectors ask how the rapture could not be part of the Second Coming otherwise, in their minds, the Second Coming would be the Third Coming. They likewise ignore the differences between the two events. The obvious interpretation is that the Second Coming refers to our Lord's Second Coming to set down on the earth in order to bring in His Millennial Kingdom. During the rapture, our Lord does not set down on the earth, so it would not qualify as the Second Coming. Nor is He at that time purposing to bring about His Millennial rule as He did in the First Coming and will accomplish in His Second Coming. Incidentally, there were a number of comings to the earth of our Lord in Old Testament times as the Angel of the Lord which would not apply as the First or the Second Coming either, (cp. I Cor 10:1-4). Finally, comparison between the Rapture and the Lord's Second Coming follows, which shows that the two are in fact two separate events in the Day, (i.e., the end time events of), the Lord:
Let us review systematically the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming. John Walvoord summarizes the differences between the translation (the rapture) and the Second Coming on pages 101-103 of "The Rapture Question":
"The preceding discussion has offered many inherent contrasts between the translation of the church and the second coming of Christ to establish the millennial kingdom. These contrasts are such as to make any harmony of these two events an impossibility. Those who attempt it must resort to wholesale spiritualization of details that clash and avoidance of striking differences in general character. These contrasts can be stated by comparison of details of the translation designated (a), and details of the second coming designated as (b).
(a) At the time of the translation, the saints will meet the Lord in the air...
[The Mount of Olives will remain unchanged. I Thes 4:13-18]
(b) At the time of the second coming, Christ will return to the Mount of Olives which on that occasion will undergo a great transformation, a valley being formed to the east of Jerusalem where the Mount of Olives was formerly located [Zech 14:1-15; Mt 25:31-46; Rev 19:11-21].
(a) At the coming of Christ for the church, the living saints are translated...
[and given immortal bodies. I Cor 15:35-54; I Thes 4:13-18]
(b) At the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom, there is no translation whatever.
[nor transformation into immortal bodies]
(a) At the translation of the church, Christ returns with the saints to heaven.
[i.e., believers go from earth to heaven. Jn 14:2-3]
(b) At the second coming, Christ remains on the earth and reigns as King.
[i.e., believers of the Church age and previous ages go from heaven to earth. Rev 19:11-21]
(a) At the time of the translation, the earth is not judged and sin continues.
[Church age believers will be judged in heaven relative to their divine good work production for rewards in heaven. II Cor 5:10; I Cor 3:11-15]
(b) At the time of the second coming, sin is judged and righteousness fills the earth.
5) [Mt 25:31-46]:
(a) The translation is before the day of wrath from which the church is promised deliverance...
[This principle is illustrated in Scripture in such historic cases as the deliverance of Lot from Sodom, Noah and his family from the flood by the ark and Rahab at Jericho from the doomed city.
In 2 Thes 2:3, the phrase 'falling away' referring to what must happen before the 'Man of Sin' is revealed, (and therefore before the Tribulation), can be more accurately translated 'the departing away' (of the saints in the rapture) since the Greek word 'aphistemi' is used that way in the New Testament 11 out of 15 times.
Finally, there is no evidence in passages on the Tribulation which describe the Church Age saint as being present on the earth at that time. Rather, the purpose of the Tribulation is expressly and repeatedly stated as purging and judging Israel and punishing and destroying Gentile power - leaving no reason for the Church Age saints to be present. (Dt 4:29-30; Jer 30:4-11; Dan 9:24-27; 12:1; Mt 24:15-31; Rev 4-19; I Thes 1:9-10; 5:9; Luke 21:36; Rev 3:10; Rom 5:9; 2 Peter 2:6-9]
(b) The second coming follows the great tribulation and outpoured judgment and brings them to climax and culmination in the establishment of the millennial kingdom. [Dt 4:29-30; Jer 30:4-11; Dan 9:24-27; 12:1; Mt 24:15-31; Rev 4-19; I Thes 1:9-10; 5:9; Luke 21:36; Rev 3:10; Rom 5:9; 2 Peter 2:6-9; Mt 25:31-46]
Rapture vs. Second Coming, (cont.)
(a) The translation is described as an imminent event.
[1 Cor 15:51-57; 1 Thes 4:13-18; Jn 14:2-3]
(b) The second coming will follow definite prophesied signs...
[It will constitute a series of events that will take many hours, (Rev 19:11-21), with many signs which as yet are to be fulfilled, (II Thes 2:3-12; Mt 24:3-31; Rev 4:1-19:10)] (a) The translation of the church is revealed only in the New Testament.
(b) The second coming of Christ is the subject of prophecy in both Testaments
(a) The translation concerns only the saved of this age.
[1 Thes 4:13-18; Jn 14:2-3; 1 Cor 15:51-57]
(b) The second coming of Christ deals with saved and unsaved.
(a) At the translation, only those in Christ are affected.
[1 Thes 4:13-18; Jn 14:2-3; 1 Cor 15:51-57]
(b) At the second coming, not only men are affected but Satan is bound.
[Rev 20:1-3; Mt 25:31-46]
While it is evident that there are some similarities in the two events, these do not prove that they are the same. There are similarities also between the first and the second coming of Christ, but these have been separated by almost two thousand years. These similarities confused the Old Testament prophets but are easily deciphered by us today. Undoubtedly after the church is translated, tribulation saints will be able to see the distinction of the coming for translation and the coming to establish the kingdom in a similar clarity."
J) DISTINGUISHING FULFILLMENT IN DETAIL FROM POINT OF IDENTITY COMPARISONS
Another corollary rule of context, context, context is the rule of point of identity comparison rather than fulfillment in complete detail. Determining whether a passage is a complete fulfillment in detail or whether it is simply making a point of comparison depends upon the examination of the context of each of the passages concerned.
The literal fulfillment possibility is ruled in or ruled out by comparing the passages concerned in order to see if the setting, all of the details, and the chronological order of the events match up perfectly - if not then we are looking at a point of identity comparison.
Acts chapter two points to a similarity in Joel chapter two and is not a fulfillment of it
For example, let's examine Acts 2:4-16 which has often been grossly misinterpreted:
1) [Acts 2:4-16]:
(v. 4) "And they [the disciples] were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
(v. 5) Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
(v. 6) And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language.
(v. 7) And they began to be amazed and to marvel, saying, 'Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?'
(v. 8) And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?
(v. 9) Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
(v. 10) Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
(v. 11) Cretans and Arabs - we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.
(v. 12) And they continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, 'What does this mean?'
(v. 13) But others were mocking and saying, 'They are full of sweet wine.'
(v. 14) But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: 'Men of Judea, and all your who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words.
(v. 15) For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day;
(v. 16) but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel."
Notice that in verse 16 above, Peter states that "this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel" and not 'this is what is being fulfilled as spoken of through the prophet Joel' The word "this" refers to the occurrence of the disciples' "declaring the wonders of God in...[the] tongues" [of all the people from foreign countries, (vv. 11-12)]. Peter then says, "this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel." Then Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32a which is part of a chapter which begins with the description of the horrors of God's judgment on the world:
a) [Compare Joel 2:1-2; 28-32a]:
(v. 1) "Blow a trumpet in Zion, [Israel]
And sound an alarm on My [God's] holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near,
["the day of the Lord" = that period of time beginning with the rapture of the church, (1 Thes 4:13-18; 2 Thes 2:1-12; Jn 14:1-4); then the 7 year tribulation, (Isa 2:12, 19; 13:9-11, 13; 26:20-21; 34:1-2, 8; Ezek 30:2-3; Joel 1:15; 2:1-3; 2:30-32; 3:12-16, 18; Amos 5:18, 20; Obad vs. 15-17; Zeph 1:14-15, 17; Zech 12:2,9,10; 14:1-5, 8-9, 20; Mal 4:1-3; 1 Thes 5:2-3; 2 Pet 3:8, 10; Mt 24:1-28; Rev 6:1-19:10) and then the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring in His Millennial Kingdom, (Rev 19:11-20:4; Mt 24:29-25:46), and finally the Great White Throne Judgment and eternity future with a new heaven and a new earth, (Rev 20:7-22:21)]
a cont) [Compare Joel 2:1-2; 28-32a cont.]:
(v. 2) "A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness.
As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it. To the years of many generations."
[The rest of this passage up to verse 18 continues to describe the future horrors of the tribulation period before Jesus Christ appears at His Second Coming. Verses 18-27 then describe our Lord's coming and His setting up of the millennial kingdom. This brings us to the part which the Apostle Peter quoted in Acts 2:17]:
a cont) [Compare Joel 2:1-2; 28-32a cont.]:
(Joel 2:28) And it will come about after this, that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind, And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions."
["And it" = The Kingdom with the Lord ruling, (vv 18-27).
"And it will come about after this" = And the Millennial Kingdom will come about after the tribulation period and our Lord's Second Coming which were described earlier. The phrase "after this" is located in the text such that it tells us that the Rapture, the 7 year tribulation period and our Lord's Second Coming must occur before the pouring out of the "Spirit on all mankind"]
(v. 28 cont.) And it will come about after this, that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind, And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions."
(v. 29) And even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
(v. 30) And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
(v. 31) The sun will be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
(v. 32a) And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Will be delivered..."
Notice that what is described in Joel 2:28-32a has not occurred yet.
"I will pour out My Spirit on ALL mankind" = God's Spirit has not yet been poured out on ALL people - not at that 'first' Pentecost and not throughout history.
"The sun will be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes." = All of this which is just preceding when our Lord comes in glory in His Second Coming in the clouds of heaven, (Dan 7:13-14; Mt 24:30-31), has not occurred yet.
So these events as described by the prophet Joel having not happened yet raises the question about Peter's statement: "This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel". Since Joel 2:28-32 cannot be a fulfillment in every detail of what was going on that day of Pentecost when Peter preached, then one must rule out a prophecy in detail and review the contexts of both passages to determine the points of identity that Peter is referring to. The main point of context in both passages is the working of God the Holy Spirit. In Acts chapter 2, Peter is referring to the Holy Spirit's working in the believers' the gift of speaking "in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." So Peter says to the "utterly amazed" bewildered crowd:
1 cont.) [Acts 2:4-16 cont.]:
(v. 15) "These men [who are speaking in other tongues supernaturally] are not drunk, as you suppose. It is only nine in the morning!
(v. 16) No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel..."
[Notice that Peter does not say that this is a fulfillment of what was spoken by the prophet Joel. Instead, he says "this is what was spoken [about] by the prophet Joel..." And what was it that Joel spoke about that is a common point of identity? It was the working of God the Holy Spirit:
a cont.) [Compare Joel 2:1-2; 28-32a cont.]:
(v. 28) "And it will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;..."
It is God the Holy Spirit Who will be acting in the future time of the Day of the Lord and Who acted at the time in the past on that day of Pentecost 2000 years ago. The point of identity that Peter is making is that just as God the Holy Spirit will work in all men beginning at the time of the millennial rule of our Lord, so the disciples were expressing the working in them of God the Holy Spirit when they "began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance."
So the prophecy of Joel which Peter mentions in Acts 2:17 has yet to be literally fulfilled, but the Agent behind the events is One and the Same God the Holy Spirit. That's what Peter was referring to in a point of comparison of fulfillment.
Matthew paraphrases and draws a parallel from the writings of the prophets with the life of our Lord years later
Another example of a point of identity comparison occurs in Mt 27:1-10:
b) [Mt 27:1-10]:
(v. 1) "Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death.
(v. 2) They bound Him, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate, the governor.
(v. 3) When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.
(v. 4) saying, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.' But they said, 'What is that to us? See to that yourself!'
(v. 5) And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary [of the Temple] and departed ; and he went away and hanged himself.
(v. 6) The chief priests picked up the coins and said, 'It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.'
(v. 7) So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners.
(v. 8) That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
(v. 9) Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 'They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on Him by the people of Israel,
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me.'"
['They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on Him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me.' = This part of the passage is very closely related to a passage from the prophet Zechariah:
i) [Zech 11:4-13]:
(v. 4) '''This is what the Lord my God says [to Zechariah]:"Pasture the flock marked for slaughter.
["flock" = the nation Israel who is slated for destruction due to their apostasy]
(v. 5) Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, 'Praise the Lord, I am rich!' Their own shepherds do not spare them. [Israel's rulers and leaders betray and slaughter their own]
(v. 6) For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land," declares the Lord. "I will hand everyone over to his neighbor and his king. They will oppress the land, and I will not rescue them from their hands."
(v. 7) So I [Zechariah] pastured the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I pastured the flock. (v. 8) In one month I got rid of the three shepherds.
The flock [Israel] detested me, and I grew weary of them
(v. 9) and said, "I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another's flesh.
(v. 10) Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations [the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel]
(v. 11) It was revoked on that day, and so the afflicted of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord.
(v. 12) I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if no, keep it' So they [the leaders representing Israel] paid me [Zechariah] thirty pieces of silver.
[They - the people of Israel, Zechariah is saying, paid 30 pieces of silver in order to be rid of this man whom they recognized as a prophet of God but did not want to hear and obey his message from God]. Comparing Mt 27:9-10 with Zech 11:4-13:
b cont.) [Mt 27:9-10 cont.]:
(v. 9) "Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
'They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on Him by the people of Israel,
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me.'''
i cont.) [Zech 11:12-13 cont]:
(v. 12) "I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if no, keep it.' So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
(v. 13) And the Lord said to me, 'Throw it to the potter' - the handsome price at which they priced me!' So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter."
"And the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter" - the handsome price at which they priced Me!" = a sardonic, sarcastic comment on such a small sum of money paid to God's chosen man which is approximately equivalent to what one would pay for a slave.
"So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord [the Temple] to the potter" = the potter who worked his trade inside the Temple grounds - evidently for Temple use.
So, Zechariah took the 30 pieces of silver -the price of getting rid of God's message and God's prophet and threw them into "the house of the Lord" - the Temple - to the potter who did his work there. Hundreds of years later, Matthew draws on this account in Zechariah with common points of fulfillment involving Judas Isacariot who would take his 30 pieces of silver paid to him to betray our Lord, the price again of getting rid of God's message and God's Prophet the GodMan Jesus Christ. And Judas would throw the money into the temple - the sanctuary where the priests were; just as Zechariah threw his 30 pieces to the potter who had his shop inside the Temple grounds.
Notice that Matthew's words are not a precise quotation from Zechariah at all, but a commentary:
i cont.) [Zech 11:12-13 cont]:
(v. 12) "I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.' So they [the leaders representing Israel] paid me [Zechariah] thirty pieces of silver.
(v. 13) And the Lord said to me, 'Throw it to the potter' - the handsome price at which they priced me!' So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter."
b cont.) [Mt 27:9-10 cont.]:
"Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 'They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on Him [Jesus] by the people of Israel
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me.'''
The critical part of this passage in the original koine Greek looks like this:
ii) [Mt 27:9b Interlinear]:
kai ..elabon ta ..triakonta arguria
And I took .the thirty .......pieces of silver
ton timen tou .............tetimemenou
the price .of him who was set a price on
on ........etimesanto ..............apo .nion ............Israel
whom ..they set a price on .of ....[the] sons of Israel
kai .edokan auta ...eis ..ton agron tou
and gave .....them. for ..the field ...of the
kerameos katha ..........sunetaxen .moi .Kurios
potter ......according ..as directed me ..[the] Lord
Matthew wrote his gospel presuming that his readers would have a good knowledge of O.T. Scripture, (cp Mt 1:1-17, 22-23; 2:17-18). The presumption of writers of Scripture that the readers would be familiar with the context of passages in the Old Testament occurs frequently both in the Old and New Testaments. So considering that Matthew presumes that his readers are familiar with Old Testament Scripture, that he does not actually quote Jeremiah or Zechariah verbatim, and that instead he paraphrases and draws a parallel from the writings of the prophets with the life of our Lord years later, then it cannot be concluded that Matthew is equating what Zechariah or Jeremiah wrote as a literal and detailed fulfillment in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, but as a fulfillment in certain common points of identity.
[D.A. Carson states, ('The Expositor's Bible Commentary', Vol 8, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1984, Frank E. Gaebelien, Editor, 'Matthew', p. 543)]:
"In both instances [referring to the passages in Matthew and Zechariah] Yahweh's shepherd is rejected by the people of Israel and valued at the price of a slave. And in both instances the money is flung into the temple and ends up purchasing something that pollutes."
On the one hand we have the passage in Zechariah, and on the other hand, the book of Jeremiah provides a lesson which is also very closely related to what author Matthew is saying in Matthew chapter 27:
iii) [Jer 19:1-13]:
(v. 1) ""This is what the Lord says: '''Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests
(v. 2) and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. There proclaim the words I tell you,
(v. 3) and say, "Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle.
(v. 4) For they have forsaken Me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent.
(v. 5) They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal - something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.
(v. 6) 'So beware, the days are coming', declares the Lord, 'when people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
(v. 7) In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who seek their lives, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.
(v. 8) I will devastate this city and make it an object of scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds.
(v. 9) I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another's flesh during the stress of the siege imposed on them by the enemies who seek their lives.' (v. 10) Then break the jar [which the Lord told Jeremiah to purchase, (v. 1)] while those who go with you are watching,
(v. 11) and say to them, "This is what the Lord Almighty says; 'I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter's jar is smashed and cannot be repaired. They will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room.'
["Topheth" = an area in the Valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem where children were sometimes sacrificed to the false Ammonite god Molech (2 Kings 23:10; Jer 7:31; cf. Jer 7:32; 19:4-6, 11-14). Later the Assyrian army was destroyed there by God by fire, (Isa 30:31-33)]
(v. 12) This is what I will do to this place and to those who live here", declares the Lord. "I will make this city like Topheth.
(v. 13) The houses in Jerusalem and those of the kings of Judah will be defiled like this place, Topheth - all the houses where they burned incense on the roofs to all the starry hosts [they were star worshipers] and poured out drink offerings to other gods." ''' ""
[D.A. Carson, op. cit., pp. 563-4]:
[In Jeremiah 19:1-13] "Jeremiah is told to purchase a potter's jar and take some elders and priests to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, where he is to warn of the destruction of Jerusalem for her sin, illustrated by smashing the jar. A further linguistic link [to Mt 27:9] is "innocent blood" (Jer 19:4); and thematic links include renaming a locality associated with potters (19:1) with a name ("Valley of Slaughter" denoting violence (19:6). The place will henceforth be used as a burial ground (19:11), as a token of God's judgment.......
[So, Dr. Carson states on pp. 564-5, op. cit.]:
"The reference to Jeremiah 19....provides equally telling parallels. The rulers have forsaken Yahweh and made Jerusalem a place of foreign gods (19:4); so the day is coming when this valley, where the prophecy is given and the potter's jar smashed, will be called the Valley of Slaughter, symbolic of the ruin of Judah and Jerusalem (19:6-7). Similarly in Matthew the rejection of Jesus........leads to a polluted field, a symbol of death and the destruction of the nation about to be buried as 'foreigners'......
In the light of these relationships between the events surrounding Jesus' death and the two key OT passages that make up Matthew's quotation, what does the evangelist mean by saying that the prophecy 'was fulfilled'?
Matthew does not need to devise farfetched explanations for each word and phrase, because in each case he has truly represented the central theme. The verbal differences he introduces in citing the OT are not an embarrassment to him, because he is not claiming that the OT text is a prophecy to be fulfilled by a simple one-on-one pattern..........what we find in Matthew, including [Mt 27] vv. 9-10, is not identification of the text with an event but fulfillment of the text in an event"
[Let's examine the parts of the passages which objectors claim involve a misquotation]
iii cont) [Jer 19:1-13 cont]:
(v. 4) For they have forsaken Me [God] and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent.
iii_a) [Compare with Zech 11:12-13]:
(v. 12) I told them, "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if no, keep it." So they [the leaders representing Israel] paid ME [Zechariah] thirty pieces of silver.
(v. 13 cont.) And the Lord said to ME [Zechariah], "Throw it to the potter" - the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord [the Temple] to the potter
b cont.) [Mt 27:1-10 cont.]:
(v. 9) Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 'They [the chief priests: the leaders representing Israel] took the thirty silver coins, the price set on HIM [Christ] by the people of Israel,
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded ME.' [Zechariah]
Notice that the passage in Matthew does not quote verbatim what Zechariah wrote down, or what Jeremiah wrote for that matter. Instead it draws on a number of points of identity - a number of parallels - with a commentary on what Zechariah and Jeremiah say. Matthew uses the pronoun "Him" in Mt 27:9 to mean Christ in order to emphasize a point of identity: which is to identify the prophet and GodMan Jesus Christ with the prophet Zechariah in the passage in Zechariah and God in the passage in Jeremiah in their rejection of God by the nation Israel. The 30 pieces of silver are also brought out as another point of identity. Notice that Matthew uses the pronoun "me" in 27:10 which cannot refer to Jesus because He was not given the 30 pieces of silver, Judas was. This use of "me" then must refer to Zechariah who was commanded to throw the money into the potters' area in the Temple, as Judas did years later, (Mt 27:5). Matthew states that Zechariah was ordered to buy the potters' field, something which the chief priests did in Judas' time, (Mt 27:7), not Zechariah:
b cont. ) [Mt 27:1-10 cont.]:
(v. 10) and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded ME.' [Zechariah] This is Matthew's way of bringing out points of identity.
[D.A. Carson states, op. cit., p.564-5]:
Here "ME" [in Mt 27:10] can only refer to the prophet [Zechariah and not to our Lord]; yet Matthew keeps it ["ME"] even though he changes other parts....to "HIM" [meaning Christ] because he believes that in obeying the Lord, the prophet - whether Jeremiah or Zechariah - was setting forth typological paradigms...
["typological paradigms" - patterns of behavior of individuals pointing to future parallel events in the life of our Lord. Therefore, by this construction, the author Matthew is maintaining NOT a literal fulfillment in every detail but a fulfillment in contextual points of identity, i.e., as Carson puts it:
"... he [Matthew] believes that in obeying the Lord, the prophet [of the O.T. passage which Matthew referred to] - whether Jeremiah or Zechariah - was setting forth "typological paradigms" [emphasis mine] that truly did point to Jesus and the greatest rejection of all.......
....Matthew sees in Jeremiah 19 and Zechariah 11 not merely a number of verbal and thematic parallels to Jesus' betrayal but a pattern of apostasy and rejection that must find its ultimate fulfillment in the rejection of Jesus, who was cheaply valued, rejected by the Jews, and whose betrayal money was put to a purpose that pointed to the destruction of the nation..."
Jeremiah alone is mentioned, perhaps because he is the more important of the two prophets, and perhaps also because, though Jeremiah 19 is the less obvious reference, it is the more important as to prophecy and fulfillment.....
.....in Zechariah 11 the "buyers" (v.5) and the three shepherds (vv 5,8,17) apparently represent Israel's leaders, who are slaughtering the sheep. God commands Zechariah to shepherd the "flock marked for slaughter" (v.7), and he tries to clean up the leadership by sacking the false shepherds. But he discovers that not only is the leadership corrupt, but the flock detests him (v. 8). Thus Zechariah comes to understand the Lord's decision to have no more pity on the people of the land (v. 6).
Zechariah decides to resign (11:9-10), exposing the flock to ravages. Because he has broken the contract, Zechariah cannot claim his pay (presumably from the "buyers"); but they pay him off with thirty pieces of silver (v.12). But now Yahweh tells Zechariah to throw this "handsome price at which they priced me" (probably ironical....) to the potter in the "house of the Lord", i.e., the temple (v.13).
[Footnote from Carson, op. cit., p. 566]:
"...if the amount [of thirty pieces of silver] represents a substantial sum, it is still [only] the price of a slave and representative of how God's prophet is valued [so little] by an apostate people. The same kind of irony probably stands behind ...Matt 27:9...[which literally states - from the original Greek]'the price of the one whose price had been priced by the sons of Israel!'
Temple ritual required a constant supply of new vessels (cf Lev 6:28); so a guild of potters worked somewhere in the temple precincts. Certainly Jeremiah could point to a potter as he preached and could purchase pottery somewhere near the temple (Jer 18:6; 19:1)"
[D.A. Carson, (op. cit., p. 563)]:
"[Matthew's] quotation appears to refer to Jeremiah 19:1-13 along with phraseology drawn mostly from Zechariah 11:12-13..... Such fusing of sources under one 'quotation' is not unknown elsewhere in Scripture."
iv) [Mk 1:2-3]:
(v. 2) "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
'Behold, I send My messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way; [blends Mal 3:1 & Ex 23:20]
(v. 3) 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
make ready the way of the Lord,
make His paths straight.' "[ comes from Isa 40:3]
[cf. 2 Chron 36:21, verbally drawn from Lev 26:34-35, yet ascribed to Jeremiah [25:12; 29:10...]..."
[John D. Grassmick states re: Mk 1:2-3, (Bible Knowledge Commentary, Victor Books, U.S.A., Walvoord & Zuck, 1988, p.95)]:
'''Mark prefaced this composite quotation from three Old Testament books with the words: "It is written in Isaiah the prophet." This illustrates a common practice by New Testament authors in quoting several passages with a unifying theme. The common theme here is the "wilderness" (desert) tradition in Israel's history. Since Mark was introducing the ministry of John the Baptist in the desert, he cited Isaiah as the source because the Isaiah passage refers to "a voice...calling in the wilderness."
Under the Holy Spirit's guidance Mark gave those Old Testament texts a messianic interpretation by altering "the way before Me" (Mal 3:1) to "Your way", and "the paths of our God" (Isa 40:3 LXX) to "paths for Him." Thus the speaker "I" was God Who "will send" His "messenger" (John) "ahead of You" (Jesus) "who will prepare" Your (Jesus') way. John was a "voice" urging the nation of Israel to "prepare" (pl. verb) "the way for the Lord" (Jesus) and to "make straight paths for Him" (Jesus). The meaning of these metaphors is given in John's ministry (Mark 1:4-5).'''
[C.I. Scoffield, Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible, New York Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 1017, footnote #2]:
"A Talmudic tradition states that the prophetic writings were placed in the canon in this order: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc. Many Hebrew manuscripts follow this order. Thus Matthew cited the passage as from the roll of the prophets and by the name of the first book."
Objectors to the inerrancy of Scripture point to an apparent error in the Book of Matthew in misquoting Old Testament Scripture, (Mt 27:10). Careful analysis of God's Word says differently. Because of the rule of context which applies to all of the passages concerned: i.e., the details of the earlier passages in Jeremiah and Zechariah do not perfectly match up with the details of the later historical passage in Matthew and therefore cannot be considered as a detailed fulfillment of a prophecy; it can therefore be established, because of the rule of context, that Matthew is not stating in Mt 27:9 that a prophecy in Jeremiah and Zechariah is herein literally fulfilled in all of its detail.
Objectors might claim 'foul' to this corollary rule of context stating that this kind of reasoning is too contrived and unheard of. Objectors support their stand by pointing to instances in Scripture where they claim that an O.T. passage is misquoted by a N.T. writer such as Matthew or that a Bible passage is applied to a new situation or individual which is not directly referred to in the passage. Yet this is a common practice in Scripture and in the way people communicate with one another even today! For example, in describing the ways in which one might go to the airport one might bring up a point of comparison between an airport commuter bus and an automobile. But otherwise an automobile is quite different from a bus. So the point of comparison does not equate a car with a bus in every aspect - only with the relative commuting services they provide from home to the airport.
In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul takes a number of historical passages from the Old Testament and uses them figuratively to emphasize and clarify the difference between the Law and the Promise, (grace). Paul directly explains in verse 24 that he is taking these O.T. passages figuratively to make a point. Other Bible authors like Luke in Acts chapter 2 explain what they are doing more subtly by simply stating something on the order of, 'This instance is like what happened over here in the O.T., 'not intending that the reader conclude that the two instances being compared are identical in all aspects.
Let's examine what commonly occurs in Scripture, namely the use of a passage in God's Word to emphasize and clarify a point of identity:
v) [Gal 4:22-31]:
(v. 22) "For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.[Gen 16:15; 21:2]
(v. 23) His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.[Gen 17:15-19]
(v. 24) These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. [Ex 19:5] One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: [Ex 24:6-8] (v. 25) Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.
(v. 26) But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
(v. 27) For it is written:
'Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.'[Isa 54:1]
(v. 28) Now you brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise [Gen 17:5-19]
(v. 29) At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. [Gen 21:9] It is the same now.
(v. 30) But what does the Scripture say?
'Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son.'[Gen 21:10]
(v. 31) Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman."
b cont) [Mt 27:1-10 cont]:
So when Matthew writes in Mt 27:9:
"Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled...",
he was not saying that what was spoken of in Jeremiah was literally fulfilled in all of its detail because the context, chronology and details obviously do not match up. What author Matthew is writing about is a comparison of points of identity which focuses on Israel's rejection of God's message of repentance from idolatry and sin through the prophet Jeremiah and through the prophet Zechariah and then again through the Prophet and GodMan Jesus Christ. The thirty pieces of silver mentioned in Zech 5:13 and the brutal, bloodletting violence alluded to in Jeremiah, (vv. 6-9), are also points of identity referred to in Matthew's account, (Mt 27:6), this time with respect to the crucifixion of our Lord.
K) LET SCRIPTURE CORROBORATE SCRIPTURE
Another rule is to let Scripture corroborate Scripture. This requires a detailed study of God's Word including the knowledge of relative passages which corroborate one another. For example:
1) [Gen 15:6]:
"Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness."
The above verse is further corroborated by the following passage inspired by God through the Apostle Paul:
a) Ro 4:1-5]:
(v. 1) "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?
(v. 2) If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about - but not before God.
(v. 3) What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'
(v. 4) Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
(v. 5) However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."
From verse 2 we have: "he (Abraham) had something to boast about but not before God." = Abraham could boast about his faithfulness to God before men but he could not boast about anything he did before God because he was saved by faith alone as Paul testifies to in the next verse:
(v. 3) "What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'"
So God credited Abraham with the righteousness he needed in order to be saved. God did this when Abraham simply exercised his faith in God's plan of salvation. Nothing else but the faith was required of Abraham or anyone for that matter:
(v. 5) "However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."
On the other hand if Abraham had decided to add works toward his salvation he would have lost the opportunity to receive eternal life as a gift. Now he would have to be as absolutely perfect as Jesus Christ in order to go to heaven, which is impossible: (v. 4) Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation."
['Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift" = The one and only condition of salvation being as a gift thus excludes the individual who chooses to work toward his eternal life, (cp Eph 2:8-9). Instead his wages are credited to him as an obligation - which disqualifies one from eternal life for salvation cannot be based on works, (Eph 2:8-9). So the passages which corroborate Genesis 15:6, which includes Romans 4:1-5, say that salvation is by faith alone and not by works at all; as exemplified by Abraham's salvation. For Scripture indicates that Abraham could not boast about anything he did in order to be justified, (saved), before God. Abraham was saved, Scripture says, by faith alone.
The following passages in Genesis are further corroborated in Hebrews:
2) [Gen 4:3-5]:
(v. 3) "In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.
(v. 4) But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
(v. 5) but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast."
a) Heb 11:4]:
"By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead." ["And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead." = Even though Abel died physically he is alive and speaks - i.e., as a result of faith he has eternal life]
3) [Gen 5:22-24]:
(v. 22) "And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.
(v. 23) Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years.
(v. 24) Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away."
a) [Heb 11:5-6]:
(v. 5) "By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
(v. 6) And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."
[So as a result of Enoch's faith alone in God's plan alone of salvation he received the gift of eternal life and as a result of his faithful walk he did not have to die he was simply translated into heaven]
4) [Gen 6:14-22]:
(v. 14) "So [God commands Noah] make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.
(v. 15) This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.
(v. 16) Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.
(v. 17) I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.
(v. 18) But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark - you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you.
(v. 19) You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.
(v. 20) Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.
(v. 21) You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.
(v. 22) Noah did everything just as God commanded him."
a) [Heb 11:7]:
"By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith."
[Although Noah's faith in what God said about a coming world wide flood resulted in Noah's obedience to God's instructions and the salvation of his physical life; his obedience, this verse, in the Book of Hebrews, is saying, was not what brought him eternal life. What Noah did by obeying God was to provide evidence of his trust in God to mankind. On the other hand, what brought him eternal life was simply the trust itself. And that's precisely what the last part of Heb 11:7 literally states:
"By his faith he....became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." - So by faith alone in God's provision of salvation alone, Noah received the gift of God's righteousness justifying him for eternal life, cp Ro 3:21-24] Finally, consider the following verse:
5) [Gen 12:7]:
"The Lord appeared to Abram and said, 'To your seed I will give this land.' "
which is further corroborated by:
a) [Gal 3:16-19]:
(v. 16) "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed, ' meaning one Person, Who is Christ."
(v. 17) What I mean is this: The Law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.
(v. 18) For if the inheritance depends on the Law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise."
(v. 19) What, then, was the purpose of the Law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to Whom the promise referred had come. The Law was put into effect through angels by a mediator."
So Galatians 3:16-19 corroborates Genesis 12:7 to say that the "Seed" is Christ Who is the Promised Savior through Whom only is salvation by faith alone in Him as God promised. So those who trusted alone in God's promise of inheriting eternal life in the kingdom of God would not have it abrogated as a result of not perfectly following the Mosaic Law which came after the promise - or following any law - any system of 'good behavior.'
i) [Compare Jn 14:6]:
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.[the promised "Seed"[Jesus Christ]
The passage in Galatians also says that salvation is not through the Mosaic Law or any law. Verse 17 of Galatians 3 states that proof of this is that the Mosaic Law came 430 years after Abraham himself was saved by faith alone in the Messiah alone. So Scripture indeed corroborates Scripture.
to Catholic Church: 'Infallible Interpreter'