A Brief Theology Of Inspiration part three

Inspiration NT 2

The Inspiration of The New Testament

In this final article on the inspiration of the Scriptures I intend to consider the testimony of the New Testament to its inspiration and the relationship of 2Timothy 3:16 to the New and Old Testaments.

The Testimony Of The New Testament To Its Inspiration

In the last article we saw that Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide His people into all truth, and that the promise guaranteed that we would have God’s words given to us by the Spirit through the apostolic Christians. Let’s see if the New Testament writers ever acknowledged that to be the case as they wrote.

The apostolic Christians knew that the Holy Spirit was going to be sent to testify of Christ, because Jesus had promised that He would (See John 15:26). This promise also contained within it the understanding that the apostolic Christians would bear witness to Jesus as well. After His resurrection, Jesus again told them that they would bear witness to Him after that the Spirit fell upon them (See Luke 24:44-49;Acts 1:8). The book of Acts gives to us the record of how the early church, being filled with the Spirit, testified to Jesus. I believe that it is a fair statement to say that the evangelists were testifying of Christ as they gave to the church their accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. But what about the rest of the New Testament?

Romans: Paul opens the epistle to the Romans, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: by whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:1–7, AV 1873)

Paul’s statement is that he is writing concerning Jesus Christ. While there is certainly room for someone to dispute this, it is certainly plausible that Paul understood himself to taking part in the work that Christ promised would be done by the Spirit.

1Corinthians: The apostle says, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:12–13, AV 1873)

Here we find Paul saying that his teaching was that of the Holy Spirit. He has no problem stating that the words that he is teaching are of God. Paul explicitly rules out his writing in the fashion of worldly writers, but claims that he is teaching the words which the Holy Spirit teaches, thus claiming Divine sanction for the very words that he wrote.

There are some who contend that Paul claimed that some of his words were not the Word of God, but his own. They do so because Paul said, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:” (1 Corinthians 7:10, AV 1873) (See also 1Corinthians 7:12,25) The context of this passage shows us, however, that Paul was stating that the Lord Himself had given no commandment regarding this issue when He was ministering upon the earth. In fact, Paul later states again that what he is saying is the work of the Spirit of God saying, “and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 7:40, AV 1873) Far from disclaiming inspiration, Paul states that his words are indeed inspired of God.

Concerning this passage Meyer said, “Paul knew from the living voice of tradition what commands Christ had given concerning divorce, Matt. 5:31 f., 19:3–9; Mark 10:2–12; Luke 16:18. Hence ὁ Κύριος, sc.παραγγέλλει, for the authority of Christ lives on in His commands (against Baur, who infers from the present, which is to be supplied here, that Paul means the will of Christ made known to him by inspiration). It is otherwise in 1 Thess. 4:15. As regards the ἐγώ, again, Paul was conscious (ver. 40) that his individuality was under the influence of the Holy Spirit. He distinguishes, therefore, here and in vv. 12, 25, not between his ownand inspiredcommands, but between those which proceeded from his own(God-inspired) subjectivityand those which Christ Himself supplied by His objective word.[1]” In other words, Paul knew and claimed that his words were inspired of God.

John Calvin made a similar statement: “But why is it that Paul speaks of himself as the author of these regulations, while they appear to be somewhat at variance with what he had, a little before, brought forward, as from the Lord? He does not mean that they are from himself in such a way as not to be derived from the Spirit of God; but, as there was nowhere in the law or in the Prophets any definite or explicit. statement on this subject, he anticipates in this way the calumnies of the wicked, in claiming as his own what he was about to state. At the same time, lest all this should be despised as the offspring of man’s brain, we shall find him afterwards declaring, that his statement are not the contrivances of his own understanding. [2]”

2Corinthians: Here Paul once again speaks of himself as being a minister of Gospel who is working under the power, influence, and leadership of the Spirit of God who was promised by Jesus. “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Corinthians 3:4–6, AV 1873) He later states that he has a God-given authority both in his preaching and his writings: “For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: that I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such a one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.” (2 Corinthians 10:8–11, AV 1873) Though he doesn’t explicitly state here that his words are inspired of God, these passages give us reason to believe that Paul saw himself as writing words that were given to him by the Spirit of God.

Galatians: In the book of Galatians Paul insists that he did not learn the gospel from men, but received it by revelation from Christ. He then speaks of the fact that the apostles gave him the “right hand of fellowship,” thus acknowledging that Paul was sent of God as they were. Though there is no mention of inspiration in this epistle, we can see that once again Paul sets forth an understanding that his preaching and teaching was of the same source as that of the other apostles, which source was the Spirit of God.

Ephesians: “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.” (Ephesians 3:8–13, AV 1873) Note that Paul sees himself as one whose apostleship is to bear witness of Christ (John 15:26) to the world. He also recognizes that the work he is doing for/in the world is also for the Ephesians. All of this is a gift from God to Paul that he might perform this ministry. He also recognizes that his work is to make known the revelation of Christ. These things demonstrate Paul’s understanding that his words are of the Spirit of God, because he is making known the revelation of Christ, teaching truth as an apostle, and testifying of Jesus. In fact, he later states that he is testifying “in the Lord” (Ephesians 4:17), meaning that he is not simply speaking in self.

Let us then note that Paul quotes both Deuteronomy and Luke and calls them both Scripture. “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” (1 Timothy 5:18, AV 1873) Paul, we see, considers Luke’s gospel account to be the inspired Word of God just as Deuteronomy is.

Furthermore, Peter implies that the words of the apostles were of the same authority as the words of the Old Testament prophets (2Peter 3:1-2) and states that Paul’s writings were Scripture, thus attributing to them the same source and authority that we have already seen that the Old Testament Scriptures have as the inspired Word of God (2Peter 3:15-16).

Then we find John testifies of Christ as an eyewitness (1John 1:1-4) of Christ. He goes farther than that and states that his words are the very testimony of God. “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:8–11, AV 1873) John states that the Spirit bears witness in the earth, and the what he writes is the witness which God gave of Christ. This means that John was convinced that his words were the words of God, testified through him by the Spirit.

Revelation: The last book in the New Testament begins by stating that it is “TheRevelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.” (Revelation 1:1–2, AV 1873) John states what he is writing is the revelation of Jesus Christ, and that this revelation would tell us of things to come. When we recall John 15:26;16:12-17 we can see that John no doubt understood that what he was writing was the work of the Spirit of God. Not only so, but John stated that God gave this revelation to Jesus, who sent it to John. As he closed the book, John stated that what he was writing was the words of the Spirit of God. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17, AV 1873) Then he clearly states that the Revelation is of the same authority as the  Old Testament Scriptures by saying, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18–19, AV 1873) This echoes Deuteronomy 4:2. Finally, John closes and repeats that the Revelation is the Word of Jesus (Revelation 22:20).

Given By Inspiration Of God

In 2Timothy 3:16 Paul tells us that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The literal meaning of “given by inspiration of God” is “God-breathed.” When we speak we breathe. “Given by inspiration of God” is Paul’s way of saying that Scripture is God’s Word. WilliamHendriksen,inhiscommentaryon2Timothy,said,“ThewordGod-breathed,occurringonlyhereindicatesthat“allscripture” owesitsoriginandcontentstothedivinebreath,theSpiritofGod.ThehumanauthorswerepowerfullyguidedanddirectedbytheHolySpirit.Asaresult,whattheywroteisnotonlywithouterrorbutofsupremevalueforman.ItisallthatGodwantedittobe.[3]”

I am certain that Paul was speaking of all of the Old Testament, but I am also convinced that he had the New Testament in mind as well. B.B. Warfield, speaking about the canon of Scripture said, “In the apprehension, therefore, of the earliest churches, the ‘Scriptures’ were not a closedbut an increasing‘canon. Such they had been from the beginning, as they gradually grew in number from Moses to Malachi; and such they were to continue as long as there should remain among the churches ‘men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’ We say that this immediate placing of the new books—given the church under the seal of apostolic authority—among the Scriptures already established as such, was inevitable. It is also historically evinced from the very beginning. Thus the apostle Peter, writing in A.D. 68, speaks of Paul’s numerous letters not in contrast with the Scriptures, but as among the Scriptures and in contrast with “the otherScriptures” (2 Pet. 3:16)—that is, of course, those of the Old Testament.[4]”

Looking back over the course of this article we see that Paul recognized Luke’s gospel as being Scripture. If we are correct in assuming that Luke did indeed follow Matthew and Mark, Paul probably knew of them as well. Having seen that Paul understood his own writings to be the inspired Word of God, we can reasonably assume that he was referring to them as well.

Having considered these things, it is safe to say that, when Paul spoke of Scripture being given by inspiration of God, he had the New Testament Scriptures in mind as well as the Old Testament Scriptures.

Concluding Thoughts

This series of articles is a series about the inerrancy of Scripture. Being given by inspiration of God, Scripture is God’s Word. God is true and cannot lie (Numbers 23:19;Deuteronomy 32:4;Titus 1:1-2;Hebrews 6:17). We can conclude that the Scriptures, being the inspired Word of God, are true and without error.

 

 

[1]Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistles to the Corinthians, Volume 1, ed. William P. Dickson, trans. D. Douglas Bannerman, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 201 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1879).

[2]John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, 1 Co 7:10 (Galaxie Software, 2002; 2002).

[3]WilliamHendriksenandSimonJ.Kistemaker,vol.4,NewTestamentCommentary:ExpositionofthePastoralEpistles,NewTestamentCommentary,302(GrandRapids:BakerBookHouse,1953-2001).

[4]Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Volume 1: Revelation and Inspiration, 452 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2008).

A Brief Theology Of Inspiration part two

Inspiration NT 1

The Inspiration of The New Testament

 

Is the New Testament given by inspiration of God? That is the question, is it not? Is God the source of the New Testament Scriptures? Is the New Testament the Word of God? If we let the New Testament speak for itself, we shall find that it presents to us a clear picture of its being the inspired Word of God.

The Promise of God’s Word By The Spirit Through His People

As God’s people think about the Word of God these days, there is often a critical factor that is overlooked. That critical factor is the promise that Jesus made to His church concerning the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised at least three different times that He would send the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit would provide the church with the true words of God.

First of all, we find Jesus making this promise specifically to the apostles. This promise is in regard to their being brought to judgment for their testimony of Christ. Jesus said, “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” (Luke 12:11–12, AV 1873) The apostles were instructed not to premeditate their answers, because the Holy Spirit would instruct them in their speech. Matthew’s record gives us a little more information saying, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Matthew 10:19–20, AV 1873) In other words, the promise of Jesus is that the Holy Spirit would speak through the apostles the words of God. Though the apostle’s minds and mouths would be used, the words that would come out of their mouths would have God as their source.

Charles Hodge, teaching on the inspiration of the Scriptures, referred to these words of Christ saying, “If the Scriptures of the old economy were given by inspiration of God, much more were those writings which were penned under the dispensation of the Spirit. Besides, the inspiration of the Apostles is proved, (1.) From the fact that Christ promised them the Holy Spirit, who should bring all things to their remembrance, and render them infallible in teaching. It is not you, He said, that speak, but the Spirit of my Father speaketh in you. He that heareth you heareth me. He forbade them to enter upon their office as teachers until they were endued with power from on high. (2.) This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit descended upon the Apostles as a mighty rushing wind, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak as the Spirit gave them utterance (dabat eloqui, as the Vulgate more literally renders the words). From this moment they were new men, with new views, with new spirit, and with new power and authority. The change was sudden. It was not a development. It was something altogether supernatural; as when God said, Let there be light, and there was light. Nothing can be more unreasonable than to ascribe this sudden transformation of the Apostles … to mere natural causes. Their Jewish prejudices had resisted all the instructions and influence of Christ for three years, but gave way in a moment when the Spirit came upon them from on high. (3.) After the day of Pentecost the Apostles claimed to be the infallible organs of God in all their teachings. They required men to receive what they taught not as the word of man but as the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13); they declared, as Paul does (1 Cor. 14:37), that the things which they wrote were the commandments of the Lord. They made the salvation of men to depend on faith in the doctrines which they taught. Paul pronounces anathema even an angel from heaven who should preach any other gospel than that which he had taught. (Gal. 1:8.) John says that whoever did not receive the testimony which he bore concerning Christ, made God a liar, because John’s testimony was God’s testimony. (1 John 5:10.) “He that knoweth God, heareth us; he that is not of God, heareth not us.” (1 John 4:6.) This assertion of infallibility, this claim for the divine authority of their teaching, is characteristic of the whole Bible. The sacred writers all, and everywhere, disclaim personal authority; they never rest the obligation to faith in their teachings, on their own knowledge or wisdom; they never rest it on the truth of what they taught as manifest to reason or as capable of being proved by argument. They speak as messengers, as witnesses, as organs. They declare that what they said God said, and, therefore, on his authority it was to be received and obeyed.[1]” Hodge’s understanding was that the Holy Spirit was going to give God’s words to the apostles, who would then speak them. In conjunction with other New Testament passages, he has given to us an understanding that those who wrote the New Testament documents understood that they were writing under the influence of the Spirit of God who was giving them the words of God.

Next we find that Jesus also made a more general promise of the Holy Spirit being given to His people and residing within them. “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:15–27, AV 1873) The promise of the Comforter, as given here, is the promise of the very presence of God within the believer. He lives within us and is to us the love of the Father and Son as well as the manifestation of the Father and the Son within us. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and as such will show us the truth of our Father and His Son Jesus.

Didymus the blind, an ancient teacher from the late fourth century said, “The Holy Spirit then, Who cometh in the name of the Son from the Father, shall teach them, who are established in the faith of Christ, all things; all things which are spiritual, both the understanding of truth, and the sacrament of wisdom. But He will teach not like those who have acquired an art or knowledge by study and industry, but as being the very art, doctrine, knowledge itself. As being this Himself, the Spirit of truth will impart the knowledge of divine things to the mind.[2]” Thus we find that the promise here is that the Holy Spirit’s teaching would be the very words of Jesus. Jesus’ promise was that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things as well as reminding them of Jesus’ words.

Was this promise just for the apostles, or do we profit from it as well as they? It is my conviction that this promise profits the people of God today. The profit is that He dwells within the believer and gives Him assurance, peace, and understanding of the Word of God that He gave to us through the apostles. John Calvin stated essentially the same thing when he said, “The Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you. It is indeed a punishment threatened by Isaiah against unbelievers, that the Word of God shall be to themas a book that is sealed, (Isaiah 29:11) but in this manner, also, the Lord frequently humbles his people. We ought, therefore, to wait patiently and mildly for the time of revelation, and must not, on that account, reject the word. When Christ testifies that it is the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit to teach the apostles what they had already learned from his mouth, it follows that the outward preaching will be vain and useless, if it be not accompanied by the teaching of the Spirit. God has therefore two ways of teaching; for, first, he sounds in our ears by the mouth of men; and, secondly, he addresses us inwardly by his Spirit; and he does this either at the same moment, or at different times, as he thinks fit.

But observe what are all these things which he promises that the Spirit will teach. He will suggest, he says, or bring to your remembrance, all that I have said. Hence it follows, that he will not be a builder of new revelations. By this single word we may refute all the inventions which Satan has brought into the Church from the beginning, under the pretense of the Spirit. Mahomet and the Pope agree in holding this as a principle of their religion, that Scripture does not contain a perfection of doctrine, but that something loftier has been revealed by the Spirit. From the same point the Anabaptists and Libertines, in our own time, have drawn their absurd notions. But the spirit that introduces any doctrine or invention apart from the Gospel is a deceiving spirit, and not the Spirit of Christ.[3]”

Calvin understood that God’s Word was given to us in written form, thus he brought in Isaiah’s prophecy. He also knew that the gospel as preached by Jesus and the apostles was of the same origin and authority as the Old Testament Scriptures, being inspired by God. For this reason Calvin tells us that the Spirit will guide us into the same truths. In other words, the Spirit will give us a written record of Christ and His gospel just as we have the written Word of God in the Old Testament.

We find the same understanding of this passage in the ESV Study Bible: “That he will teach the disciples all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to youis an important promise regarding the disciples’ future role in writing the words of Scripture; see also 16:13–15. Jesus’ promise here is specifically to these disciples (who would become the apostles after Pentecost), though there is of course a broader teaching and guiding ministry of the Holy Spirit generally in the lives of believers, as is taught elsewhere in Scripture (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:16, 18).[4]”

We can conclude that this promise is of profit to the believer today, because he has the gift of Scripture through the Spirit of God, and he has the Spirit within him to help him understand the Divinely given Scriptures.

Finally we come to the passage which speaks even more clearly regarding the Spirit, the apostles, and the Scriptures. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:12–15, AV 1873) Jesus’ promise is that the Spirit will guide us into all truth. The apostles had not received all truth at that point. There were some things that they had not yet become able understand. Jesus promised that the Spirit would guide them into all truth, because He would speak the words of Jesus. These words of Jesus are to be found in the apostolic writings which we call the New Testament. Notice, too, that Jesus promised that the Spirit would show us things to come. Not only do we see that fulfilled in the Revelation, but we find that the New Testament writings are permeated with prophecy of the future. We have good reason to conclude that the New Testament is the Word of God given to us by the Holy Spirit.

Henry Alford stated concerning this passage, “As the directfulfilment to the Apostlesof the leading into the whole truth was the unfolding before them those truths which they have delivered down to us in their Epistles,—so, though scattered traces of the fulfilment of this partof the promise are found in the Acts and those Epistles, its complete fulfilment was the giving of the Apocalypse, in which τὰ ἐρχόμεναare distinctly the subject of the Spirit’s revelation, and with which His directtestimony closes: see Rev. 1:1; 22:6, 20. [5]” “This is in connexion with ver. 12—and sets forth that the Spirit guiding intotruth is in fact the Son declaringthe truth, for He shall shew forth the glory of Christ, by revealing the matters of Christ,—the riches of the Father’s love in Him (ver. 15). [6]” Alford seems to have understood that Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit giving to us God’s Word in the New Testament.

There could be given a multitude of quotations from various scholars, preachers, and commentators in support of this view. Let it suffice me to say that Jesus promised to the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them, remind them, and teach them that they might be used of God to give us His words in the New Testament Scriptures. As John MacArthur said, when commenting on Jesus’ words in this passage, “This verse, like 14:26, points to the supernatural revelation of all truth by which God has revealed Himself in Christ (vv. 14, 15), particularly. This is the subject of the inspired NT writings. [7]” In other words, The New Testament is the inspired Word of God which presents to us the truth of the revelation of God in Christ.

 

 

 

 

[1]Charles Hodge, vol. 1, Systematic Theology, 160-61 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[2]Saint Thomas Aquinas and John Henry Newman, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected Out of the Works of the Fathers, Volume 4: St. John, 471 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1845).

[3]John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Jn 14:25 (Galaxie Software, 2002; 2002).

[4]Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible, 2053 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).

[5]Henry Alford, Alford’s Greek Testament: An Exegetical and Critical Commentary, Jn 16:13 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2010).

[6]Henry Alford, Alford’s Greek Testament: An Exegetical and Critical Commentary, Jn 16:14 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2010).

[7]John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible : New American Standard Bible., Jn 16:13 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006).

A Brief Theology of Inspiration part one

inspiration OT

A Brief Theology of Inspiration

In previous articles we saw that Jesus and the apostles viewed the Old Testament Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God. It is my aim in the next few articles to consider the doctrine of inspiration. As we do so, we shall briefly look back over the Old Testament testimony, the New Testament testimony to the Old Testament Scriptures, the meaning of “given by inspiration of God,” and the New Testament testimony to its own inspiration.

The Inspiration of The Old Testament

There Old Testament does not present us with an explicit statement of its inspiration. That should not discourage us, however, because there is an abundance of testimony to the inspiration of the Old Testament to be found within its pages.

One noticeable thing is that there were times that we find God commanding men to write things down for posterity. For example, when Israel fought against Amalek and conquered them, YHWH told Moses to write a memorial of the battle in a book so that it would be remembered. “And the Lordsaid unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14, AV 1873) We also see that God spoke the words of the law, and then Moses wrote them down (Exodus 20:1;24:4). Not only so, but later those records which Moses wrote down were spoken of as being written with the finger of God (Exodus 31:18;32:15-16;34:1-4,27-28). Instead of thinking that God actually has physical fingers with which He writes, I believe we should understand this as God speaking the words and Moses recording them as He spoke. The end result was that Moses, as the finger of God, wrote God’s words. Commenting on the phrase “written with the finger of God,” John MacArthur says it is “A figurative way of attributing the law to God.[1]” We could certainly say along with others that “The phrase ‘finger of God’ is best understood as an anthropomorphism, that is, a metaphor comparing some aspect of God with the traits of a human being. The phrase does not assert that the Lord God possesses a human body; it affirms that God, and not Moses, was ultimately responsible for the creation of the text inscribed on the stones (cp. 24:12; 32:16; Dt 4:13; 5:22; 9:10). The wording suggests that the means by which the words were recorded was supernatural, but does not indicate the exact method God chose to inscribe them.[2]” If we do subscribe to a miraculous recording of the law instead of Moses writing them, we still have a document that is the very Word of God.

After the tablets containing the law were broken by Moses, he was instructed to write them again. The command to Moses was, “Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.” (Exodus 34:27, AV 1873) We see that Moses was given specific words to write as he recorded the covenant that YHWH was making with Israel. Those words were the words of God, though written by Moses. JFB comments on this verse saying, “Write thou these words—that is, the ceremonial and judicial injunctions comprehended above (Ex 34:11–26); while the rewriting of the ten commandments on the newly prepared slabs was done by God Himself.[3]” Their thoughts were that God re-wrote the tablets of the law and commanded Moses to write some additional words regarding the covenant with YHWH. This does seem to be what happened, as Moses later said, “At that time the Lordsaid unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand. And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the Lordspake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the Lordgave them unto me.” (Deuteronomy 10:1–4, AV 1873)

At the end of Moses’ life he wrote even more and commanded Israel to keep it in the ark of God along with the tablets of the law: “And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,” (Deuteronomy 31:9–10, AV 1873).  Later he was commanded to write more concerning Israel and their covenant with God (Deuteronomy 31:16-27).   John Calvin commented on this passage and said, “Since the two Tables were enclosed in the Ark of the Covenant, a place at the side was assigned to the interpretation, so that they might have no doubt but that it proceeded from the same Divine Author…[4]” His understanding of this passage was that the Word of God as given to/through Moses was more than the ten commandments, but included the rest of Moses’ writings. It is instructive to note the context here, because Moses told Israel to keep all of the commandments which he had given them regarding the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 31:1-5). This leads us to the reasonable conclusion that  all of Moses’ writings were indeed the Word of God. When he concluded his writings he commanded the elders of Israel to put them in the ark of the covenant along with the law of God (Deuteronomy 31:24-26), thus signifying that they were equal to the ten commandments in their authority and origins. We have good reason to conclude that Moses’ writings were the inspired words of God.

Time and space do not permit us to exhaustively survey the Old Testament for testimonies to its inspiration, but we do find numerous instances in which other Old Testament writers and prophets declared that they were presenting the very words of God. David understood that he recorded some of the words of God (2Samuel 23:1-2). He also acknowledged the inspiration of the five books of Moses saying, “He hath remembered his covenant for ever, The word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, And his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, And to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, The lot of your inheritance: When they were but a few men in number; Yea, very few, and strangers in it.” (Psalm 105:8–12, AV 1873) David speaks of the Genesis account of God’s promise to Abraham as being God’s Word, as well as the promises to Isaac and Jacob. All of these things, and the law, are listed as part of God’s covenant with Israel. God’s covenant is His word of promise to Israel to be their God, and they His people. We can conclude from this that David recognized the Pentateuch as the Word of God. In Isaiah chapters six and eight we find Isaiah given commandments to speak God’s Word and to write God’s Word. Jeremiah was commanded to speak God’s words which God would put in his mouth (Jeremiah 1:1-10), and later spoke of those same words burning within him (Jeremiah 20:9). We also have record of Jeremiah being commanded to write God’s Word in a book: “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Thus speaketh the LordGod of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.” (Jeremiah 30:1–2, AV 1873) We find again in Jeremiah 36:1-2 that he is commanded to write God’s words in a book. This book was destroyed by king Jehoiakim, yet Jeremiah was commanded to write the words of God once again (Jeremiah 36:27-30). Ezekiel, too, was given a command to write God’s words (Ezekiel 43:10-11). So, too, was Hakkuk commanded to write the vision that he had seen (Habakkuk 2:1-2). If we couple this with the multiple instances in which we read of God’s words coming to people, men speaking the words of YHWH to Israel, and the many times that “thus saith the LORD” is cited, we find that the Old Testament certainly claims to be the inspired Word of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1]MacArthur, John F., Jr. The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible.Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006.

[2]Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, 136 (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007).

[3]Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al., A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, Ex 34:27–28 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[4]John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Dt 31:14 (Galaxie Software, 2002; 2002).

The Inerrancy Of The Scriptures

5 God Scrip Inerr 1.docx

“In apologetic argument, as in everything else we do, we must presuppose the truth of God’s Word. We either accept God’s authority or we do not, and not to do so is sin”[1]

 

It is supposed by some that we cannot and should not approach any issue with presuppositions. First of all, that in itself is a presuppositional approach; one that supposes one can be absolutely neutral and objective, which is impossible. We may be able to come near to objectivity and neutrality, but we must honestly accept that we all have presuppositions and biases. Those who argue against presuppositions actually live their lives by presuppositions. Simply by scheduling their activities they live by the presupposition that the world is ordered by a uniform movement of the earth in relation to the sun. They live by the presupposition that a week is seven days long and that each month is regulated by the lunar cycles. One simply cannot live without presuppositions. Thus it is that I shall attempt to lay out some presuppositions relating to the inerrancy of the Scriptures.[2]

Presupposition One: God As The Source Of All Knowledge And Truth

We all assume that we have knowledge. Even the person who seeks to tell us that we cannot know anything thinks that he knows what he is saying, and he expects us to understand him.

Where does knowledge come from? Is knowledge based upon certain nervous impulses and hormonal changes? Is knowledge simply the result of observation? If this is the case, knowledge for one person will certainly not be necessarily the knowledge that another thinks that he has. In fact, knowledge would be relative and thus be only opinion. On the other hand, if knowledge is something that can be held in common by humans, knowledge must have an absolute and objective source that determines the truth or falsity of a matter.

For there to be an absolute source and standard of knowledge and truth that source must possess all knowledge and truth. The Christian Theist understands this source of all knowledge and truth to be the God of the Bible.[3]

If God is the source and standard of all truth and all knowledge, then we have a standard by which we can measure all truth claims. If we do not have God as this source and standard of knowledge and truth, we descend into relativism and irrationality.

 

Presupposition Two: God Reveals Himself To His Creatures

When we presuppose God as the source of knowledge and truth we are led to consider that God also is the source of all the media in which knowledge and truth reside: i.e. He is the creator of all things. If God is the creator of all things, then He is also the source of the persons that are human.[4]If that is so, God must be the ultimate person; otherwise how could God relate to us on a personal level if He were not a person?

If we presuppose the personhood of God, then we are left wondering about God relating His purposes to man. How will man know what God wants from him? We don’t see God with our eyes. We don’t physically feel God. How, then, can we know God and His will for us? This leads us to the presupposition that God reveals Himself to His creatures.

Presupposition Three: The Lordship of God

If God is the source of knowledge, truth, personhood, and all of creation, we then find ourselves confronted with the idea that God is Lord and ruler of all. Thus the presupposition of the lordship of God.

The lordship of God means that He must be obeyed. We must yield to Him and His demands, commands, wishes, and purpose for us.[5]

 

Presupposition Four: The Inerrancy Of The Bible[6]

Why presuppose the inerrancy of the Bible? Why not attribute this to the Koran, or the Hindu holy books, or the holy books of other religions?

The inerrancy of the Bible should be presupposed for two reasons:

  1. The one who accepts the authority of the Bible and does not approach it skeptically can easily tell that it is a book that is coherent and reliable in what it says.
  2. Since the Bible is coherent and reliable we can with good reason take it at its word that it is inspired[7], and thus is the Word of God and that it is God’s revelation of Himself and that His plan for us is contained in it[8]. In fact, it is this very inspiration that provides for us the unity and reliability of the Bible.

Since the Bible is the Word of God, we should remember that God is true. It then follows that God’s Word is true[9].

Those who believe that God is the source of all truth, and that He is the Lord who reveals Himself, have no problem establishing the inerrancy of Scripture. It is only in Scripture that we find a God-centered worldview that teaches us that the supreme being is a person who reveals truth. It is no surprise, then, that we find Scripture claiming to be true. Neither is it surprising that we find Scripture claiming to be pure and without error. To deny inerrancy is to throw doubt upon the Scriptures and leave us asking where the Word of God is to be found, and which parts of the Scripture can we determine to be the Word of God.

 

Practical Considerations

The practical side of this is the one to which we should turn. While we do well to accept the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures, we can certainly profess that we believe them without obeying their teachings. There is certainly a need for us to move from theory to practice.

We are bound to yield to God’s Word. God has spoken and man must listen. If we are to learn, we must certainly do so with God’s Word setting the standard for us. This does not mean that we approach the Bible as a science or mathematics textbook. It does mean that we allow the Word of God to guide us as we study mathematics, science, history, etc. Scripture tells us that “The fear of the Lordis the beginning of wisdom: A good understanding have all they that do his commandments: His praise endureth for ever.” (Psalm 111:10) And again, “The fear of the Lordis the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7) Our learning should be shaped by the Word of God.

Inerrancy means, too, that our Bible can be trusted. We do not have to wonder whether or not God has spoken. He has. We need not live in doubt about which parts of Scripture are true and which are not. Scripture is truth. We should trust God because He has spoken to us plainly and truthfully.

 

 

[1]John Frame, Apologetics to The Glory of God, pg 9, P&R Publishing

[2]For those who think that we should not hold to the presupposition of inerrancy we say, there is only one alternative: the presupposition of errancy. One cannot be neutral on this issue.

[3]Deuteronomy 32:4;1Samuel 2:3;John 1:1-4,14;Colossians 2:3 and many more.

[4]I say, “Persons that are human” not to say that there are non-human persons, but so that I don’t attribute to God the creation of the persons that humans are; i.e. sinful persons.

[5]Jesus said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46) See also Psalm 95, which tells us that our Creator is to be worshiped and obeyed.

[6]We attribute inerrancy to the original manuscripts of the biblical books and not to copies and translations of them, though we are convinced that we have reliable copies and translations available to us.

[7]2Timothy 3:16-17;2Peter 1:16-21

[8]We do not mean that the Bible is the only revelation of God. Christians believe that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God.

[9]See John 17:17;Romans 3:1-3;2Timothy 2:11-13;Revelation 21:5;22:6

Three Things The Bible Does

hermeneutics 3 things

(And If You Miss Them, You Will Misunderstand It Terribly.)

 

There are a number of different approaches taken by those who read the Bible. Many of those approaches are errant and only lead to more error.

Among the approaches taken is the approach of declaring that the Bible is either morally wrong, or inconsistent due to there being mentions of such things as polygamy.

The problem with this approach to interpreting the Bible is manifold, but glaringly evident is the fact that the persons making such claims miss the three things that the Bible does.

What are the three things that the Bible does? The reader of the Bible must recognize these three things, or he will misunderstand it and terribly misinterpret it. The Bible prescribes, describes, and circumscribes.

Let me demonstrate this by using the example of polygamy.

 

The Bible prescribes something concerning marriage. What the Bible prescribes is monogamy. The Bible tells us that God Himself said that two (a man and a woman) become one flesh in marriage (See Genesis 2:17-25;Matthew 19:1-6). No more than two are in a marriage. The Bible prescribes monogamy in marriage.

 

The Bible describes polygamy. Over and again we find polygamy described. Many times God’s children fell into this sin. Solomon is an extreme example of this. Lest we should think that the description of polygamy is a condoning of polygamy, we need to recall Solomon’s being rebuked because of this. We should also recognize that Scripture often describes the problems that arose from polygamous relationships. Description is not prescription.

 

Finally, the Bible circumscribes polygamy in that, knowing that some people would be wicked enough to disobey God in this matter, rules were given to Israel about how they were to deal with the issue (See Deuteronomy 21:15-17;Exodus 21:7-11). To circumscribe something is not to say that the whole of the issue is not problematic and sinful. To circumscribe something is not to prescribe that thing that is circumscribed.

 

Far too many people believe that the Scriptures prescribe things that it often only describes or circumscribes. Wise is the one who will recognize the need to approach that Bible carefully, and seeks to recognize these three things.

The Unity Of The Bible

The Unity Of The Bible

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)

 

God Is God Of Order

From the very beginning, when we read of God creating all things, we see that God is orderly. Though the earth was at first a sort of shapeless blob, God very quickly set it in order, gave everything its place, and did it all with a purpose. God does not work in a disjointed, chaotic way. “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) This verse is very relevant to our study, as God is not one who introduces discord and disorder. If God is the author of peace in His churches, certainly we can have confidence that His Word will reveal this in the order and unity that exists within it. If not, then we have the problem of chaos, and that is not of God.

The very nature of God as truth also informs us of the unity of the Bible. “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: For all his ways are judgment: A God of truth and without iniquity, Just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) God does all that He does perfectly. There is no error and untruth mixed in with what He does; and that includes Scripture, which is breathed out by Him (See 2 Timothy 3:16). Truth is coherent. It is united. It does not conflict with itself. We are told this in God’s Word (See 1 John 2:21). This being so, we can expect to find that the Bible is a coherent book from Genesis through Revelation.

 

God Has An Eternal Plan Revealed In His Word

Another reason to expect the Bible to be united from beginning to end is the fact that it tells us that God’s plan is an eternal plan. Paul speaks of God’s “having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he had purposed in himself: 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:” (Ephesians 1:9–10) This tells us that God’s plan is an eternal plan in which He intends to redeem His creation. We also read the words of Paul saying, “of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36) In other words, God made everything, and everything returns to God’s eternal glory and honor. Again, this shows us that God has an eternal purpose for all that He does, and He has made that known to us in His Word. John also saw a vision in which he learned, “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:7) This passage tells us that God’s eternal purpose, as revealed in His Word, is coming to its culmination.

The above verses speak to us of God’s eternal purpose. They tell us of the reason for which God made the world. They also demonstrate to us that God has the singular purpose of getting honor from the demonstration and enjoyment of His glory in this world. From one age to the next, God has been working with one mind, and His Word reflects that, not only in that it presents us His purpose, but also because the books of Scripture are united in teaching us of His eternal plan.

 

Creation An Example Of The Unity Of The Bible

The best way to teach the unity of the Bible is to demonstrate it, so here I shall use creation as an example of this unity.

Scripture tells us that God created all things in the beginning (See Genesis 1:1-2:25), and this theme permeates the Scriptures. After mankind’s fall, there was one promised who would overcome the serpent introduced mankind to sin (Genesis 3:15). After God’s destruction of the earth in the flood, we find that in a sense God re-created the earth (Genesis 8:1-22). From there God began to create for Himself a people through whom He would bring the Savior into the world, and thus He called Abraham, justified him by faith, and promised Him that all the earth would be blessed in his seed (Genesis 12:1-3;15:1-6;22:18). This promise continues to be seen and fulfilled in the history of Israel, and the prophets looked forward to the day that God would overcome sin and redeem this earth (See Isaiah chapters 63-66). The Old Testament ends with the promise of a new creation, saying, “For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; And all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: And the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lordof hosts, That it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise With healing in his wings; And ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet In the day that I shall do this, saith the Lordof hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, Which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, And the heart of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:1–6) From Genesis to Malachi, the Old Testament bears witness to the creative work of God and the promise of the new creation.

This thematic unity continues in the New Testament as the creation motif continues in John’s introduction of Jesus: “Inthe beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1–4) This continues as we see that Jesus was born, died, and rose again as the promised seed who would conquer the serpent (See Galatians 4:1-5;Romans 14:9;Hebrews 2:14). We also find that He makes us new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17;Ephesians 2:8-10), and gives us His Holy Spirit to promise and assure us that He will keep His promise, made in the Old Testament, to create a new world (Isaiah 32:14-20;Ephesians 1:13-14). Finally, we find the New Testament ending with the vision of the promise being fulfilled, as the prophet writes, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:1–7) This creation theme demonstrates that, from beginning to end, the Bible is a book of unity.

 

Practical Applications

What does this mean to us? First of all, we must recognize the duty of believing and obeying the Scriptures. Understanding the unity of the Bible should give us confidence in the Scriptures. Since the Bible is not a disjointed, self-contradictory book, we can be assured that it is trustworthy in what it says. If we have confidence in the Scriptures, we can then go forward in believing the Word of God and obeying it.

Understanding the unity of the Bible should also have a great influence on how we interpret and understand the Bible. Too many times we try to interpret and understand the New Testament in isolation from the Old Testament. This is virtually an impossibility. The unity of the Bible means that the New Testament builds upon the Old Testament. It means that the discontinuity that many people think exists between the Old and New Testaments does not exist. Many times the New Testament tells us that Jesus came and fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures (See Romans 15:8;2 Corinthians 1:20). For example, as we look back on the example of the creation theme in the Scriptures, we find that the Genesis account of the creation and fall of man gives us much insight into the promise of a new creation, and it also helps us understand the imagery of that new creation as it is presented to us in the Revelation. This understanding should cause us to study the New Testament knowing that there will be many things that will be better understood if we interpret study and interpret them in light of the Old Testament Scriptures.

 

A Brief Look At The New Testament Use of The Old Testament

A Brief Look At The New Testament Use of The Old Testament

In my time of studying the Bible I have often wondered about the New Testament use of the Old Testament.   Of special concern were Matthew 2:11-15 and Galatians 3:16.   Did the New Testament writers use some sort of Holy Ghost exegesis that led them to their conclusions?  Did they simply impose their doctrine upon the Old Testament texts?  Neither of these things truly seemed to be in keeping with the integrity of a Christian character, nor did they seem to be consistent with Divine inspiration.  What was I to do, then?  What was I to believe about this issue?  This short paper is my effort to come to a conclusion based upon the two texts above.

In this article I shall begin in Genesis and work my way through several Old Testament texts in an effort to show that the New Testament writers were actually using the texts in a manner that would be consistent with the understanding of the Old Testament writers.

The passage in Matthew 2 reads:

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. ” (Matthew 2:13–15, KJV)

The Galatians 3 reads:

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. ” (Galatians 3:16, KJV)

 

It is my contention that the Old Testament writers did indeed have Christ in mind as they wrote.

The expectation of the people of God in the OT was that there would come a deliver.  God’s promise in Genesis explicitly promises a son to come.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. ” (Genesis 3:15, KJV)

Not only does God promise a son, He promises a seed (singular).  Thus, in the very beginning, the expectation of the savior would that one who is both seed (singular) and son.

The expectation of the people no doubt grew when Jacob prophesied of the coming Messiah saying:

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. ” (Genesis 49:10, KJV)

Later, the LORD would speak of the nation of Israel as “my son” when He sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt (cf Exodus 4:22).  Later the nation of Israel would be spoken of again in the singular in a reference that is no doubt Messianic in nature:
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought! Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain. ” (Numbers 23:21–24, KJV)

In verse 24 the prophecy moves from “the people” to “he shall rise up as a great lion…”  This lion-like man will conquer his enemies.

Balaam prophesied again of the coming Messiah saying:
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city. ” (Numbers 24:17–19, KJV)

Note that the expectation is that there will be a seed out of Jacob.  Though he does not use the word “seed”, yet the Messiah, the coming King shall be a descendant of Jacob.  Not only that, but the prophecy speaks of one man, not many just as Paul shall later do in Galatians 3:16.

 

Later a prophet like Moses would be promised (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) and that would lead the people even further in their expectation of this one man who would come to be their deliverer.

David had an especially significant event in his life when he realized the this deliverer would be a descendant of his.

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. ” (2 Samuel 7:12–15, KJV)

And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God. And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said. And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee. ” (2 Samuel 7:23–26, KJV)

Again, the prophecy is regarding one seed who shall be king.  This seed is the seed of David, yet he is to be the son of God.  (cf Psalm 2:6-12;89:19-29;Isaiah 9:6-7)

Later, Isaiah would speak further of Him (Isaiah 11:1-10), as would Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:5-6;33:15-16), and Daniel would have a vision of Him coming to rule the world:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. ” (Daniel 7:13–14, KJV)

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. ” (Daniel 7:27, KJV)

Having seen the development of the expectation of the Messiah as one who is the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, the son of God, and the king of all, I am not surprised to see the following verse used in reference to Jesus the Christ being the son of God:

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. ” (Hosea 11:1, KJV) (cf Matthew 2:13-15)

After all, the people of Israel looked for this One who is the seed of Abraham (cf Genesis 22:18) and the embodiment of all that God expected Israel as a nation to be, and Jesus is the ultimate Israelite.  He is the Son of God and the son of man.  The seed of the woman (cf Galatians 4:1-5), the seed of Abraham, and the Son of God.  Through the years the people knew that their Messiah would be what they were not – perfect.  He would rule over all as the ultimate Israelite/descendant of Abraham, and the One to whom all of Israel’s history was leading them.  Thus the prophecy of Israel coming out of Egypt could indeed apply to the Messiah as the Son of God.

Considering the Galatian passage we find that it, too, is interpreting the Old Testament text correctly, because the Old Testament prophecies clearly anticipated the coming Christ, the seed of Abraham.

As we read the New Testament we find that there was a very well developed Christological expectation in existence at the time of the birth of Jesus.  The reader will recall that Simeon spoke to Mary about Jesus and even hinted that His work would actually be one that would bring grief to His mother (See Luke 2:25-35).  In so speaking, it is obvious that Simeon’s expectation of Jesus’ work was not simply that of an exalted king who would rule over all.  Simeon evidently understood somewhat of the suffering that was to come to Jesus.  It is most likely that he had this understanding based upon the Old Testament Scriptures and not solely on the basis of any spiritual experience he may have had.

As the Baptizer came on the scene we find that there was much musing about him.  He was questioned whether he were the Messiah or not, showing us that there was a Messianic expectation.  John’s response was to preach Jesus as one who would be a sacrificial lamb given as a sin offering: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29, KJV)  For this to have made any sense to anyone listening there would have of necessity been an expectation of a suffering Christ who would forgive sins.  Again, that expectation would have had its roots in the Old Testament prophecies and promises.

Jesus, Himself, testified to this expectation when He told the people that the Scriptures testified of Him (See John 5:39), that Abraham rejoiced because he saw the day of Christ (See John 8:56), and when He rebuked the disciples because they did not believe the Old Testament Scriptures which prophesied of His coming, suffering, and subsequent glory:  “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. ” (Luke 24:25–27, KJV)  The Old Testament prophecies of Jesus were so clear that Jesus rebuked them for not believing them.  This would have been impossible if the prophecies were vague, imprecise, and could only have been interpreted in light of the New Testament after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.

When we come to an Old Testament quotation in our New Testament which gives us pause to think that there is a difference between the NT writer’s meaning and the OT meaning, then we should seriously consider what the body of OT truth has to say about the matter before we hastily declare that the NT writers were inspired to use the OT in a way inconsistent with the intent of the OT writers, or that the NT writers added meaning to the OT texts.  When writing inspired Scripture the NT writers did not miss anything about the OT texts, but we may very well be missing much.  I am sure that we are.  I trust that this study will help us to consider how we must carefully approach the Scriptures when we study them, and that we should certainly appreciate the richness of the OT texts more than we do.