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ב״ה
“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)
Jew and Gentile (Synagogue and Church), one in Messiah. (Ephesians 2:14)
“For He is our peace, Who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, …”
 

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Developing a
Systematic Messianic Theology

“The purpose of careful theological formulations is not to put barriers in the way of people who are seeking salvation, but to define clearly the truths upon which genuine [Biblical] faith rests, so that people will not be misled by false doctrines.” [Robert M. Bowman, Jr. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah's Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989, p. 18.]
 

An Introduction to the
Science of Theology

Lesson 2: Principles of Biblical Interpretation

Do all you can to present yourself to God as someone worthy of His approval, as a worker with no need to be ashamed, because he deals straightforwardly with the Word of the Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

In this lesson:


When All Else Fails, Read the Instructions!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)

Presupposition

As Bible-believing followers of the Messiah, we follow His example in accepting as a “first truth” (a fact that needs no proof because it has already been tested and proven true) that the Bible, which includes both the Tanakh (the so-called “Old Testament,” or Hebrew Bible consisting of three sections: Torah, Nevi'im, and Kituvim) and the Apostolic Writings (the so-called “New Testament”), is the inerrant Word of God. This assumption is based upon three other presuppositions:

 1. God cannot make mistakes or lie.

 2. The Bible is the revealed, inspired Word of God.

 3. Therefore, the Bible, as originally delivered to men by God, is absolutely without error, either in whole or in part.

Although we accept these statements as undeniable facts, we do not do so blindly — as a matter of “blind faith” — as we are often accused of by atheists and skeptics. They can be quite adequately proven to be true through the laws of language and evidence, and those proofs are more than adequately dealt with in the field of Systematic Theology under the study of Bibliology, or the Theology of the Bible, which is beyond the scope of this introductory study. With these three statements being accepted as true then, we must conclude that all confusion, misunderstanding, and apparent contradictions in the Bible are the result of human misunderstanding or inaccurate interpretation.

Topic Index


Rules of Interpretation

The Rule of Grammatical Interpretation

A. Always interpret the text grammatically, with due regard to the

1. meaning of words,

2. form of sentences,

3. peculiarities of idioms, and

4. grammatical style (historical narrative, poetical, etc.) in the original language employed by the writer.

We are used to reading the Bible in our native language. For most of us in North America and the rest of the former British Empire, that language is English. So the natural inclination is to interpret the text with regard to English definitions and rules of grammar. However, what we are reading in English is not what was written by those Prophets and Apostles who wrote down the Word of God in their original language.

One of the most common errors of translation and interpretation of the English Bible is a failure to remember that the Scriptures were not originally written in Elizabethan English. The Tanakh was written in Hebrew or Aramaic[1a] and the Apostolic Writings were originally written in Greek[1b]; both used numerous idioms specific to the original languages. When the Scriptures were first translated into other languages, many of those idioms were translated according to their literal word meaning, not according to the intent of the idiom. When further translated into English, those idioms lose even more of their original intent. To correctly understand the Scriptures, then, it is essential that we understand the original meaning of the Hebrew idioms. For example, if the English idiom “pulling your leg” — “kidding you” — were translated literally into any other language, it would make absolutely no sense, and anyone attempting to translate it literally would obviously arrive at the wrong interpretation.

B. The true sense of Scripture is determined by the words themselves.

Topic Index


The Rule of Literal interpretation

A. Common Meaning. The words of Scripture must be taken in their common meaning unless such meaning is shown to be inconsistent with:

1. other words in the sentence,

2. the argument being presented,

3. the context of the passage under consideration, or

4. the rest of what Scripture has to say about the matter being considered.

B. Exact Meaning. Because of the inadequacy of translation, there can be no very accurate conclusions as to what a very difficult passage teaches apart from the knowledge of the original language in which the Bible was written.

C. “If the literal sense makes good sense, then to try to make any other sense is nonsense.”

Topic Index


The Rule of Historical Interpretation

A. Degree of Previous Revelation

1. What did the person or group to whom the passage was originally addressed know about God and His plan for the human race?

2. Progressive Revelation

God reveals Himself and His plan a little at a time, building “precept upon precept; precept upon precept; line upon line; line upon line; here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 28:10,13)

For example: A baby first learns to eat with its hands. When its parents teach it later to eat with a spoon, and then even later to eat with a fork, they are not contradicting themselves or anything they have previously taught; they are rather progressively teaching greater “truth.”

B. Original Audience

What was the original audience? To whom was the passage originally addressed? and why?

For example: Yeshua’s instruction to “go and sell all you possess and give to the poor” was originally addressed to a rich man who asked Him, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17-30) In response, Yeshua asked him if he knew what the Torah required of him. The young man assured Yeshua that he had been obedient to Torah from his youth. However, Yeshua looked into the man’s heart and saw what upon what his true affection was fixed, and told him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Of all the commandments of Torah, Yeshua said the foremost is, “You shall love ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Mark 12:30, quoting Deut 6:5) Though the young man was diligently obeying the Torah outwardly, his first love was his wealth, not his God. Yeshua’s instruction here, then, should not be as interpreted as a teaching against being wealthy, but rather as teaching that we must not love our possessions more than we love HaShem.

C. Dual Application

1. There are two applications for all Scripture truth.

a. Primary application is made when a Scripture is recognized as pertaining directly to those to whom it is addressed.

In Matthew 19, the primary application is that the rich young man loved his possessions more than he loved HaShem. Torah teaches us to “love ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:5) and “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exod. 20:3)

b. Secondary application is made when a given Scripture is recognized as not applying directly to a certain person or class of persons, but its moral and spiritual teachings are, nevertheless, appropriated by them.

Matthew 19 does not directly apply to all people, nor even necessarily to all rich people. God does not require a vow of poverty from His children.

The secondary application of Matthew 19 is that all people must be very careful to let nothing stand between them and a whole-hearted commitment of love for, and obedience to, God alone.

2. No greater theological confusion arises than when one is confused as to the primary and secondary application of a given passage of Scripture.

3. All Scripture is for the Believer (2 Timothy 3:16), but not all Scripture is about the Believer.

For example: The Biblical account of David and Bathsheba provides us with historical and spiritual information, not specific instruction.

There once was a man who wanted to determine God’s will for his life, so he opened his Bible and began reading at random. He opened to Matthew 27:5 and read that Judas went and hanged himself. “Surely you don't want me to do that, Lord!” the man wailed.

He quickly turned to another random passage of Scripture, this time his eyes coming to rest on Luke 10:37, where he read, “Go, and do he same.”

“Lord!” the man cried in anguish, “surely that can't be your will for my life!”

And again he turned to another random passage, John 13:27. There he read, “What you do, do quickly.”

While this may seem like a ridiculous illustration, this man made two of the most common errors of Biblical interpretation which, when we make them, will lead us into just as great an error in our interpretation and application of the Sacred Text.

His first and greatest error was in confusing the primary and secondary applications of the passages he was trying to interpret. Although the passages were indeed Scripture, and therefore without error, and perhaps even had some application in his life, they were not addressed to him, and therefore the primary application was not to him.

His second error (which greatly contributed to his first error) was in lifting the text out of its proper context, which brings us to the fourth rule of Biblical interpretation.

Topic Index


The Rule of “Dispensational” Interpretation

Important: Read this first before you continue with this page. (The link opens in a new page so you can easily return here after you have read it.)

A thorough study of Dispensational Theology is beyond the scope of this series. However, when used properly, the concept has value as a “shorthand tool” for defining specific period of mankind’s history, and for determining major milestones in the progressive revelation of God to mankind. That is, in each of these periods of history mankind had a progressively increasing level of revelation about God and his eternal plan. As we interpret Scripture, we need to recognize the historical period that is being dealt with, and the level of revelation that mankind had received at that time.

When used as an extension of the Rule of Historical Interpretation, the Rule of Dispensational Interpretation helps us to place an event in its appropriate historical content, and to determine the level of “progressive revelation” that had been received by mankind at this particular time in history. It is a tool that we can use to break the history of humankind into manageable epochs and help us avoid anachronisms (chronological inconsistencies; especially a juxtaposition of person(s), events, objects, or customs from different periods of time).

For example, Avraham had absolutely no knowledge of, nor could he possibly have anticipated, the codified Torah as it was given to Moshe at Sinai.

A. A principal key to determining the primary application is the recognition of the specific level of the revelation of God in the then-present and succeeding ages of human history.

B. Classic “Dispensational Theology” or “Dispensationalism” is a grossly flawed method of Bible interpretation based on the King James translation of the following verses:

For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. (1Cor. 9:17, KJV)

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Eph. 1:10, KJV)

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: (Eph. 3:2, KJV)

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; (Col. 1:25, KJV)

B. Dispensation defined:

  1. Translated from the Greek word oijkonomiva (oikonomia, from which we get the English word “economy”) which means literally “the law of the house,” and signifies the management of a household or of household affairs. It is translated “dispensation” only four times in the Apostolic Writings, and only in the KJV. At all other occurrences it is translated “stewardship” or “administration.” A closely-related form of the word is translated as “steward.”

 2. “Dispensation” therefore signifies:

a. A supposed method of “management” or of dealing with His people used by God, based upon how much He had revealed of Himself at the time, and generally

b. The corresponding time period during which that alleged method was used.

c. Scripture teaches us, however, that God has always had only one single method of “dealing with His people,” but that over these time periods He gradually revealed more of Himself and of His eternal plan.

Each of the past and present “dispensations” has its own unique “method of salvation” and ”final judgment.”

C. Note that in classic dispensational theology, God repeatedly changed His mind about how He was going to “save” people. The Scriptures are abundantly clear that God never changes and that His word never changes. The supposition of deferent methods of salvation in different periods of time is therefore inherently false! The commonly-accepted “dispensations” or time periods in which God supposedly dealt with men using different methods include the following:

1. Dispensation of Innocence (Gen 1:1–3:7), Creation to the Fall.
Ended when Adam and Eve were driven from the garden (Gen. 3:24).

Method of Salvation: People could have direct fellowship with God, but they must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Humanity’s Failure: Adam and Ever were deceived and ate from the forbidden tree.

Final Judgment: People expelled from the Garden.

2. Dispensation of Conscience (Gen 3:8–8:22), Adam to Noah.
Ended with the flood (Gen. 7:11,12,23).

Method of Salvation: People were responsible to live according to their God-given conscience.

Humanity’s Failure: “ADONAI saw that the people on earth were very wicked, that all the imaginings of their hearts were always of evil only.” (Genesis 6:5)

Final Judgment: Universal Flood

3. Dispensation of Human Government (Gen 9:1–11:32), Noah to Abraham.
Ended with the dispersion of the nations at Babel (Gen. 11:9).

Method of Salvation: People were told to “populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it,” and to follow God both through their own conscience and by establishing just government.

Humanity’s Failure: Humanity congregated in the land of Shinar (Gen. 11:2) instead of spreading out to “populate the earth abundantly” (contrast Gen. 9:7 with Gen. 11:4c) They abandoned the worship of HaShem and established the practice of astrology[2] and the worship of Nimrod.[3]

Final Judgment: The destruction of the Tower of Babel and the confusion of languages.

4. Dispensation of Promise or Patriarchal Rule (Gen 12:1–Exod 19:25), Abraham to Moses.
Ended with the escape from Egypt and the giving of Torah (Exod. 19:16-25).

Method of Salvation: The Covenant People were to remain faithful to HaShem alone and practice circumcision.

Humanity’s Failure: All of the heirs to the Covenants except one sold that one (Yosef) into slavery in Egypt out of jealousy and envy.

Final Judgment: Slavery in Egypt for 430 years[4]

5. Dispensation of Law (Exod 20:1–Acts 2:4), Moses to Pentecost.
Ends with the Judgment of the Nations (Matt. 25:31,32).

Method of Salvation: The Covenant People were to be faithful to HaShem through obeying the Law (i.e., salvation was to be “earned” through proper performance.)

Humanity’s Failure: “God’s Law” is so strict that nobody can possibly live up to it. All mankind is therefore condemned to abject failure. This was done intentionally to force mankind to turn to God’s Messiah as revealed through “the Church.” Those who fail to recognize the “Jesus” of “the Church” are doomed to endure God’s wrath that is to be poured out on them in the Great Tribulation.

Final Judgment: The Great Tribulation. Notice that the “Church Age” is inserted as an unforeseen hiatus just prior to the final seven years of “the Dispensation of Law. “The Church” is therefore removed in the “Rapture” before things revert to conditions as they were in the “Old Testament” period.

6. Dispensation of Grace; also called “the Church Age” (Acts 2:4–Rev 20:3), Pentecost to “the Rapture.”
Began with the so-called “birth of the Church” at the Pentecost event and ends with the so-called “rapture of the Church” (1Thess. 4:17).

This is a unique “dispensation” inserted into the midst of the Dispensation of Law seven years before its end. The Dispensation of Law then resumes at the “Rapture” and continues until Messiah’s return in glory to judge the Nations. It assumes that subsequent to the Resurrection of Messiah, everyone who has come to saving faith in Him has become a “Christian” and a member of “the Church.” It denies the historical fact that the followers of Yeshua were almost exclusively Jewish well into the second century, that Messianic Believers did not separate themselves from main-stream Judaism until the Bar Kochba Rebellion (132-136 C.E.), and did not entirely separate from Judaism until the Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.), which marks the true birth of “the Church.” For additional information refer to Chapter 12 and Appendix E of The Model for the Messianic Community.

Method of Salvation: “The Church” is to render saving faith in following “Jesus Christ.”

Humanity’s Failure: Most of humanity will reject “Jesus” and “the Church.” Those who fail to recognize the Gentile “Jesus” of “the Church” are doomed to endure God’s wrath that is to be poured out on them in the Great Tribulation.

Final Judgment: There is no ending judgment for this Dispensation for “the Church,” which is taken out of the world at “the Rapture” and returned to earth when Messiah returns to establish the Kingdom Age. The “counterfeit church” goes into the tribulation with the rest of the unbelieving world.

7. Dispensation of the Millennial Kingdom (Rev 20:4–20:6).
A literal, earthly 1,000-year Millennial Kingdom that has yet to come but soon will. Begins with the Second Advent and ends with the creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth (Zech. 14:4-14; Rev. 21:1-2).

Method of Salvation: People are to obey “Christ” who reigns on earth.

Humanity’s Failure: Even with a Righteous and Divine King ruling over the whole earth for a thousand years, there will still be some who reject Him and His authority over their lives. After a thousand years they will rise up in rebellion against him and join with Satan and his demons in a final revolution against the Throne of God.

Final Judgment: Great White Throne. All those who rise up against King Messiah, both humanity and the fallen angels, along with all those who failed all of the tests of righteousness in all of the “dispensations,” will be cast for all eternity into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10-15) “which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41)

Classic Dispensational Theology erroneously teaches that in each of these time periods, God had a different plan of salvation and different standard of righteousness. However, the Scriptures clearly teach that God now has, and has always had, only one single plan of salvation by which all mankind is to be saved (believe God and have it counted as righteousness), and one single standard of righteousness by which all mankind is to be judged (the Torah).

Dispensational Theology teaches that during the “Dispensation of Law” mankind was saved by obedience to Torah, and that mankind is saved by grace through faith during the “Dispensation of Grace.” “Dispensational Theology” is therefore directly responsible for the false teaching that God’s divine instruction, the Torah, has been done away with and mankind is no longer bound by God’s singular standard of righteousness. It is also responsible for the false teaching that the Commonwealth of Israel and “the Church” are two separate entities, whereas the Scriptures teach that “the ecclesia” (literally, “the called out ones” — falsely translated as “church”) refers to God’s elect of all times and ages.

Two Major Flaws of Dispensationalism

Distinction Between Israel and the Church

Classic dispensationalists perceive a clear distinction between Israel and “the Church,” particularly as different groups who receive a different set of promises. They hold that God provided the nation of Israel with specific promises which will be fulfilled at a future time for the Jews. The “Church” has received a different set of promises than that of Israel. Most dispensationalists also recognize a “membership” overlap between Israel and the “Church.” Jewish “Christians” such as Paul, Peter, and John (they claim) are in this category. While most do not believe that Israel and “the Church” are mutually exclusive groups, there is a small minority of past and present dispensationalists who do. Those who do hold that Israel and “the Church” are mutually exclusive include some classical dispensationalists and virtually all ultra-dispensationalists.

Distinction Between “Law” and “Grace”

Classical dispensationalism teaches that law and grace are mutually exclusive concepts. Statements made by Scofield and other early classic dispensationalists teach a radical law-grace distinction. In other words, they teach that “Law” (the Torah) contains no grace, and that grace is not conditioned on keeping the “Law.” This does not mean that grace was missing from the dispensation of law, only that the “Law” (God’s Torah) itself was diametrically opposed to grace, which operated by other means (such as promises and blessings). Some modern dispensationalists disagree with making such a radical distinction. In fact, Daniel Fuller, a non-dispensationalist, stated in his book Gospel and Law (p. 51) that “Although today’s dispensationalism explains the relationship between law and grace in wording that is different from that of Covenant Theology, there is no substantial difference in meaning.”

Wikipedia has a decent article HERE.

Please be sure to read “A Refutation of Dispensational Theology.”

Topic Index


The Rule of Contextual Interpretation

“A text out of context becomes pretext.”

When studying the Scriptures, context is everything. Every word is in the context of its sentence; every sentence is in the context of its paragraph; every paragraph is in the context of the entire letter (or book), and every letter or book is in its historical and grammatical context.

• Who wrote it?

• To whom was it written?

• For whom was it intended? If it was not written to you, it probably doesn’t apply to you! Remember that when you read the Scriptures you are always reading someone else’s mail!

• In what language was it written? What are the idioms, grammatical rules, and peculiarities of that language?

• Why was it written?

• What was going on in the lives of the intended recipient(s)?

• What was the society like in the place and time the letter was both written and received?

• How would it have naturally been understood by both the writer and the recipient(s)?

Completely ignore verse and chapter divisions; no writer of Scripture ever said to his scribe, “OK, that’s the end of chapter three; let’s start chapter four.” Those markers were not a part of the original writing and are no more “inspired” than the page numbers are. They there for the sole purpose of making it easier for us to find our place in the text. Don’t bother with “memory verses.” That practice is probably one of the leading causes of doctrinal error, because “memory verses” are always taken completely out of context, and the human tendency is to try to build a doctrine around one or two out-of-context sentences. Thus, that doctrine is almost always false.

A. Carefully examine the context of the immediate passage.

The character and scope of the truth under contemplation at any point is to be discovered, very largely, by the surrounding context.

For example: Taken out of its immediate context, Psalm 14:1 states very plainly, “... there is no God.” (Suggestion: If you haven’t committed that verse to memory, look it up. ... Yes, I mean now. I made it easy for you, just click on the link! It will open in a new page so you won’t loose your place.)

B. Be aware of artificial chapter boundaries.

1. Chapter and verse indications were added as an “index” to the Scriptures many centuries after the Bible was completed. They are not inspired, nor are they part of the original text; they are exactly as inspired as are the page numbers.

2. Matthew 16:28 appears to read that Yeshua said some of His Shliachim would not die before the Kingdom was established on earth.

a. His earthly Kingdom has not yet been established, and Yochanan (John), the last of the Shliachim to die (circa 90 C.E.) has been dead for nearly 2000 years. Did Yeshua lie?

b. Ignoring the artificial boundary between chapters 16 and 17, we see that in the actual context of the passage Kefa, Ya'akov, and Yochanan (Peter, James, and John) saw Yeshua in His full Kingdom glory only six days later on the mount of the transfiguration.

c. Kefa confirms this account in 2 Peter 1:16-18.

For when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, we did not rely on cunningly contrived myths. On the contrary, we saw His majesty with our own eyes. For we were there when He received honor and glory from God the Father; and the voice came to Him from the grandeur of the Sh'khinah, saying, “This is My son, whom I love; I am well pleased with Him!” We heard this voice come out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

C. Interpret each passage within the context of the distinct message and characteristics of the book in which it appears.

1. A vital factor in any revelation is its place in a certain book, and in light of the specific message of that book.

2. The entire letter to the Romans is about salvation, “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” [Gentile]; cf. Romans 1:16.

3. The book of Daniel is the message that God is in control of all human history, including the setting up and the casting down of kings and kingdoms; cf. Daniel 4:17.

4. Each of the four Gospels presents a different aspect of the Person and work of Yeshua HaMashiach.

a. Matthew - His Kingship as the promised Messiah

b. Mark - His servanthood (cp. Isaiah 53)

c. Luke - His complete humanity

d. John - His absolute Deity

D. Consider the message and purpose of the Bible as a whole.

1. It is not a treatise on natural science or history.

2. It is a totally comprehensive, plenary declaration from God concerning Himself and His works, especially as those works enter into the eternal welfare of man.

E. Compare Scripture with Scripture.

1. “Scripture Truth” is the consistent explanation of all that the Bible teaches in reference to the question under consideration.

2. Remember that the Bible cannot contradict itself. If the Bible appears to be contradicting itself, we have not yet arrived at the “Scripture Truth.”

F. Consider everything the Bible teaches about a given theme before developing any conclusions.

1. A correct interpretation depends largely on an induction of all the Bible says on a given subject.

2. The conclusion we reach must be no less than the consensus of the full testimony of Scripture.

G. Use the proper reasoning process.

1. Deductive method - incorrect

a. Read one or two passages, develop a thesis, and reason from that thesis to your conclusion.

b. Results in doctrinal error, such as the Mormon doctrine that God is a resurrected, glorified man whose name is Adam and one of whose celestial wives’ name is Eve, and who has two sons named Lucifer and Jesus.

2. Inductive method - correct

a. Read everything that God has spoken on the subject and summarize into a doctrinal statement. (A chain-reference Bible and/or a topical index is particularly helpful for this task.)

b. Results in doctrinal truth that is an accurate statement of “Scripture Truth” on the matter in question.

H. Avoid bringing your preconceptions and personal prejudices to the interpretation of Scripture.

1. Since Scripture can be taken out of context and twisted to say anything one desires, it is too easy to distort the Scripture to make it conform to one’s prejudices or preconceived notions.

2. God has condemned this practice and calls it “adulterating the word of God” (2 Cor. 4:2 NAS) or “handling the word of God deceitfully” (KJV).

Topic Index


The Rule of Multiple Witnesses

This is closely related to the Rule of Contextual Interpretation, but is somewhat the opposite. Whereas the Rule of Contextual Interpretation requires us to consider the total context of the passage in question, this rule warns us to avoid interpreting a passage in isolation, in the absence of context or confirmation.

By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. (Matt. 18:16, NAS)

Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (2 Cor. 13:1, NAS)

We just discussed the idea that every passage of Scripture has both a primary and secondary application. In these two passages the writer is quoting from the Torah and is clearly talking about Israelite jurisprudence (legal process) in which bringing an accusation against another, especially against an elder, is in question. That is the primary application.

The secondary application that we can derive from these two passages and numerous similar and closely-related passages (Deut. 17:6; Deut. 19:15; 1Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28) is that when we are trying to determine the truth, we need to rely on confirmation from multiple sources (witnesses).

Therefore, we should never take a firm doctrinal position on the basis of a single, isolated verse of Scripture. Much doctrinal error within the Church (the concept of “baptismal regeneration” for one example) is based on passages taken out of context, on a single passage of Scripture without having the support of other Scripture, or on unreliable passages that are not included in the best available manuscripts.

If it is important enough for us to make an issue out of it, Ruach HaKodesh will always provide multiple “witnesses” within the Biblical text. If He doesn’t feel it’s important enough to make an issue of it, neither should we.

Topic Index


Important Doctrines Concerning the Bible

Inspiration

The Bible, as originally recorded by the Prophets and Shliachim (Apostles), is the literal, infallible, written Word of God (Exodus 17:14; 24:4), absolutely accurate and without any form of error in relation to any subject with which it deals (1Cor. 2:1-16). It is a divine revelation, “breathed out” by God Who, through the Person of Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit), Who directed specially-prepared men to write down what they heard from Him. Containing both the Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures consisting of the Torah [usually inaccurately translated as “Law”] or the first five books written by Moshe (Moses), Nevi'im or Prophets, and K'tuvim or Writings) and the Apostolic Writings, the Bible is a single unit which consists of the sixty-six books of the [so-called] “Protestant Canon.”

While allowing the human authors to bring their own unique personalities and experiences with them to the task of writing down His word, Ruach HaKodesh (God the Holy Spirit) so directed the effort that those men recorded the exact message that God intended to be recorded, down to the very spelling of every word they recorded.

The original autographs (hand-written documents produced by the original writer) were verbally inspired (in every word, every letter, and every part of every letter) by Ruach HaKodesh (Isa. 30:8; 2Tim. 3:16; Exod. 4:10-12; Exod. 24:4). That verbal inspiration is extended equally and completely to every part of Scripture (plenary inspiration), and was delivered to faithful men who were specifically prepared by God to receive His revelation (2Sam. 23:2; 2Pet. 1:20,21). This was not a process of simple dictation, bur rather one of dual authorship in which Ruach HaKodesh so superintended the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God’s Word to man (2Pet. 1:20,21) without error in the whole or in the part (Isa. 30:8; 40:8; Matt. 5:18; 2Tim. 3:16).

They contain all that God intends man to know about Himself and His plan (1Cor. 2:16; John 15:15,16; John 16:13-15), and therefore no other religious writings, “prophecies,” “Second Torah,” or other supposed revelations are to be accepted as divinely inspired or authoritative (Deut. 4:2; Deut. 12:32; Prov. 30:5,6; Jude 5; Revelation 22:18).

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Protected Transmission

The same Ruach HaKodesh Who inspired and directed the writing of the original autographs (the hand-written original documents) has also preserved His Word in such a manner that we can be sure that the Bible we have today is of the same inerrancy and authority as the actual parchments that the prophets originally wrote.

Their content and transmission to us has been controlled and protected by God. They are to be interpreted under the enlightenment of Ruach HaKodesh and understood in their natural, historical, grammatical, and intended sense, and are to be accepted as the full and final authority over the Believer’s faith and conduct (Deut. 18:15,18,19; Matt. 5:17-19; 24:34-35; John 17:17; 1Cor. 2:12,13; Heb. 4:12). Note: they must, however, be accurately interpreted from the original language in which they were written. Translation is not protected.

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Interpretation

The Bible can be properly interpreted only through the enlightenment of Ruach HaKodesh and is to be understood in its natural, historical, grammatical, and intended sense. It is to be accepted as the full and final authority over the Believer’s faith and conduct.


Creation

Since the Bible is without error in any of its parts, the creation account as described in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis is to be accepted as factual, historical, and perspicuous; all things in the universe were spoken into existence from nothing by God in the six days[5] of special creation described in the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis. The Creation is thus foundational to the understanding and correct interpretation of every fact and phenomenon in the created universe, which is presently being sustained and ordered by God’s providential care. The fact that God currently sustains and orders the entire universe is also essential to the proper understanding of any truth. The humanist philosophy of origins and developments involving “evolution” (the natural modification of one species into another) is rejected as false, unscientific, intellectually untenable, and heretical. (Gen. 1, 2: John 1:3; Heb. 11:3; Col. 1:16-17; Psalm 104:30; Rev. 4:11)

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A Final Word About “Dispensations”

In His progressive revelation, God has gradually entrusted man with ever-increasing revelation and knowledge of Him in successive periods, often referred to as “dispensations.” These eras may be viewed as divine testing periods in which the utter failure of humanity is consistently seen. Although these eras span the history of mankind, seven are the subject of extended revelation in Scripture and are labeled (only for convenience of reference) Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and the age of the Kingdom that is yet to come. (Isa. 61:1-2; Luke 4:16-21; 1Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2,9; Col. 1:25; 1Tim. 1:4). A proper interpretation of the Sacred Text in its appropriate historical context depends upon the understanding of this principle.

However, it is of the utmost importance to clearly understand that these so-called “Dispensations” are only convenient “handles” to describe a particular period of human history and the level of revelation that humanity had received at that point in time!

God does not change — nor does He change the requirements of righteousness or salvation from time to time. Salvation always has depended, and always will depend, solely upon the completed work of the Son of God at Calvary. Throughout the entire history of mankind, righteousness is imputed to those who look either forward or backward to the Cross with total and absolute faith in the work that HaMelech Yeshua HaMashiach (King “Jesus” the Messiah) completed there, plus nothing  .

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Continue to Lesson 3


1a. My personal belief is that Hebrew was the original language that God taught Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and that it continued to be the only language on earth up until the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. It was the language of Noah, and it was carried on down through generations by the descendants of Noah’s son Shem, the father of all the “Semitic” people groups. It was the language of Moshe, and was the language in which the Torah was originally written, and that which was used by all Israel up until the Babylonian captivity.

In Babylon, the Hebrews incorporated some aspects of the Babylonian language into their own, and by the time of the return from Babylon, that Babylonian dialect had “evolved” into a form of Hebrew now known as Aramaic, in which some sections of the Book of Daniel were written (since he was in Babylon at the time).

Aramaic only accounts for about 250 verses out of a total of over 23,000 (Jeremiah 10:11 – a single sentence denouncing idolatry occurs in the middle of a Hebrew text; Daniel 2:4b–7:28 – five stories about Daniel and his colleagues, and an apocalyptic vision; Ezra 4:8–6:18 and 7:12–26 - quotations of documents from the 5th century BCE concerning the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem).

Although it is commonly accepted that Aramaic and Koine Greek were both spoken by the Israelites after the time of the Greek occupation, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus suggests otherwise. Josephus was a General in the Jewish army who “defected” to the Roman army after the conquest of Jerusalem. One would assume that a person of his status would certainly be fluent in Greek if it were the common language of his society, but Josephus comments about his own use of Greek:

... I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations.... (Antiquities of the Jews 20,11.2)

If someone of Josephus’ stature was not fluent in the Greek language, it is extremely unlikely that many of his relatively uneducated Jewish contemporaries would have been, even though Koine Greek was the common language of commerce throughout the Roman Empire.

Of all Semitic languages the Aramaic is most closely related to the Hebrew, … Josephus considers Aramaic so thoroughly identical with Hebrew that he quotes Aramaic words as Hebrew (‘Ant.’ iii. 10, § 6), and describes the language in which Titus' proposals to the Jerusalemites were made (which certainly were in Aramaic) as Hebrew (‘B. J.’ vi. 2, § 1). (“Aramaic Language Among the Jews.” JewishEncyclopedia.com)

With so many variations in the English language, it is sometimes difficult for many English-speaking people to understand each other. For example, a person from America’s “deep South” may have a great deal of difficulty carrying on a conversation with a person who speaks the “Cockney” dialect from London; yet both are speaking “English.” Certainly the differences between Hebrew and Aramaic cannot be so very much greater than these two dialects.

Even if “Aramaic” allegedly became the dominant Hebrew dialect, the Torah and other sacred writings were still being copied letter-by-letter in Hebrew, and were read every Shabbat and other holy day in the Temple and in the Synagogues. By the time a Jewish boy reached puberty (bar mitzvah age) he was expected to have huge portions of the Torah, perhaps including the entire book of Leviticus, committed to memory — in Hebrew. Armed with these facts, it not unreasonable to think that perhaps all the Scriptures (except those passage that were penned in Babylon) were originally written in Hebrew and then later translated into Aramaic and Greek, and then into other other languages of the world. For more discussion on this topic, refer to Appendix B of The Model for the Messianic Community. See also “Were the Apostolic Scriptures Written in Hebrew?

Additionally, the Greek word translated “Aramaic” in some English translations of the Apostolic Writings (the so-called “New Testament”) is ebraiß (Hebrais or Hebristi). It does not take a language scholar to see that Hebrais or Hebristi should be translated as “Hebrew,” not “Aramaic.” [RETURN]

1b. (11/02/20) Within the past few days I have learned that 20 Hebrew manuscripts of Matthew’s Gospel have now been discovered. [RETURN

  2. A literal rendering of Genesis 11:4 reads “a tower; at its top — the heavens.” The practice of astrology is known to have begun in ancient Babylon (or Babel) in about the second millennium BCE as an integral part of the Babylonian Mystery Religion (see note 3, below). [RETURN]

  3. Messopotamian Mother and Child IdolThe Babylon Mystery Religion is the first (and therefore oldest, and the foundation of all) false religion in the world, and is the foundation for all Mother/Son worship. It is the worship of Nimrod (the first king of Babel[on] and Nineveh [Gen. 10:8-12]) and his mother, Semiramis (thought by many to also have been his wife or consort). After the death of Nimrod, his adulterous wife Semiramis gave birth to a child who she claims was “supernaturally conceived.” She taught that her son Tammuz was Nimrod reborn, and that she and her child were divine. Among the Chinese, the Mother Goddess was called Shingmoo or the “Holy Mother.” The ancient Germans worshipped the Virgin “Hertha” with child in arms. The Scandinavians called her Disa, Etruscans called her Nutria, and among the Druids, the “Virgo-Paritura” was worshipped as the “Mother of God.” In India, she was known as Indrani, who was also represented with a child in her arms.

The Babylonian Mother was known as Aphodite or Ceres to the Greeks, Nana to the Sumerians, and as Venus or Fortuna to the pagans in Rome, and her child was known as Jupiter. For ages, Isi, the “Great Goddess” and her child Iswara, have been worshipped in India. In Asia, the Mother was known as Cybele and the child as Deoius. The Bible mentions this Mother-Goddess worship when the children of Israel fell into apostasy. Judges 2:13 says, “They forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.” Ashtaroth (Ashtoreth) was also called “the queen of heaven” (Jer. 44:17-19). In Ephesus she was known as “Diana of the Ephesians” and in Egypt she is Isis and her child is Horus. She is worshipped as the “Queen of Heaven … by [some] Christians, mainly Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches, to whom the title is a consequence of the Council of Ephesus [431 CE], where the Virgin Mary was proclaimed Mother of God” following the tradition of the Babylon Mystery Religion.

Later in Babylon, Akkadia, Assyria, and Sumeria she was known as Ishtar. When Constantine blended the Roman version of the Babylonian Mystery Religion with the Messianic Jewish sect known as “the Way” to form the new Roman state religion, he replaced the Feast of Firstfruits with the pagan Feast of Ishtar to create a new pagan holiday called Easter. [RETURN]

  4. “ADONAI said to Avram, ‘Know this for certain: your descendants will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs. They will be slaves and held in oppression there four hundred years. … Only in the fourth generation will your descendants come back here …’” (Gen. 15:13-16) This was finally explained when He gave us the Torah: “I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Exod. 20:5) Four generations of the descendants of those unrighteous brothers received retribution exactly according to the sin they committed against their righteous brother. [RETURN]

  5. Nuclear physicist Gerald L. Schroeder, Ph.D., has demonstrated in The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth (May 9, 2002) how by using Einstein’s Theory of Relativity he has calculated that when viewed from the point of creation looking outward (God’s perspective) the Bible’s six days of creation are identical to the 14 billion years since the “Big Bang” as viewed from earth looking back toward the center of the universe.

“We look at the universe, and say, ‘How old is the universe? Looking back in time, the universe is approximately 14 billion years old.’ That’s our view of time and those years went by. But what is the Bible’s view of those billions of years looking forward from the beginning? How does it see time? …

“We look back in time, and measure of the universe to be 14 billion years old. But as every scientist knows, when we say the universe is 14 billion years old, there’s another half of the sentence that we rarely bother to state. The universe is 14 billion years old as measured from the time-space coordinates of the earth, that is, from our current position in the universe.

“The key is that from the creation of the universe to the creation of the soul of Adam, the Bible looks forward in time, from time-space coordinates when the universe was vastly smaller than it is today. Since then, the universe has expanded out. Space stretches, and that stretching of space totally changes the perception of time.”

The calculations are also explained on his website. [RETURN]

 

Page revised on Monday, 02 November 2020

Page last updated on Tuesday, 09 February 2021 01:20 PM
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