Instructor 2 - DEALING WITH LANGUAGE
Thinking about Scripture means dealing with language. Mostly what we need to do is to think in very basic common sense ways. This lesson is intended to stir up things you already know.
The terms related to redemption that we have been looking at occur in several forms (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, etc). Pick one of those terms and list its various forms as well as any alternates. Redemption, redeem, redeemer, the redeemed
Though the basic terms are defined differently, their definitions overlap reflecting the interconnected relationships of various concepts. Definitions give us a starting place, but flexibility allows usage and context to determine meaning in a given place.
There are all kinds of symbols (things that stand for or represent something else). In art, a halo represents deity or holiness. A white wedding dress represents the bride's purity. Words themselves are symbols (ie, the word chair is not the thing you actually sit on) composed of other symbols (letters representing sounds). Carefully defined words are more objective in their use, yet many still have a subjective connotation (the suggestive effect on the reader or listener). Persistent suggests something positive - not giving up easily. One of its synonyms, stubborn, impresses the reader as being unreasonable, narrow-minded, and unwilling to listen.
Flexibility is one of the great
characteristics of language. Most
misunderstandings of what Jesus said often come from taking His words in a material
temporal sense. Both the Pharisees and
modern cults exhibit comparable ignorance.
I use the term literalistic to
refer to such a rigid literal handling of Scripture that both robs it of its meaning
and its richness - the beauty, color, and depth of its figurative language (Chap.1 of RPCD -
Figurative language often involves the substitution of another word or phrase for the accurate or literal word that actually means what is being said. The expression fallen asleep is used as a substitute for the idea of the physical death connoting the fact that one is alive in Christ and will rise (1 Cor.15:16-18). The word blood is often used in the NT with reference to Christ as a substitute for death (1 Pt.1:18-19). Blood appropriately ties His death back into the symbolism of OT animal sacrifices (Heb.9:21-22). Neither the Bible verses mentioning it nor the sentiment expressed in Christian songs and hymns (There’s Power in the Blood) refer to a magic fluid that has the power to wash away sins.
In order to get at the meaning of a passage, our first object is to think along the lines the passage leads us – to follow the thrust of it to get us moving in the right direction without fully working through the details. Read the context of the passage you are interested in. – [see The Force and Flow of the Passage at RPCD – Appendices http://pop.eradman.com/]
What is the thrust of Jn.1:13 [below]? It is speaking about a change in our very being that is not physical [the negative details] and that we cannot cause [the positive detail] that changes our standing with God (v.12).
What other passages make the same point or lead in the same direction?
flesh and blood cannot inherit
Jas.1:18, He brought us forth [gave birth to us] of His own will
The details are modifiers – words, phrases, and clauses that provide additional information to the basic thought that serve to clarify or condition its meaning.
Notice the different ways the details have been interpreted in Jn.1:13.
The ESV uses a literal word-for-word interpretation. Jn.1:12-13, But to all who did receive Him [Jesus Christ], who believed in His name [explanation], He gave the right [authorization, lawful entitlement] to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood [plural] nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but [by the will] of God.
The NIV attempts to better express the meaning while adhering to a word-for-word equivalency with the original language. 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Phillips paraphrases the text. these were men who truly believed in Him, 13and their birth depended not on the course of nature, nor on any impulse or plan of man, but on God.
Many passages have a recognizable symmetry or parallelism of structure (Jn.1:13).
Some words, phrases, and clauses are ambiguous and require clarification (ie, of). The Bible often takes shortcuts that invite the reader to interpret [see The Force and Flow of the Passage], to fill in the obvious words to complete the thought and clarify its meaning (ie, pronouns; Jn.1:13)
Change or transition of status, condition, or situation can either be recognized by the context or by the word become (Jn.1:12; come to be or came into being Jn.1:3) in contrast to the steady state or unchanged condition (be – am, is, are) [translations are inconsistent].
Stating what something means as well as what it doesn’t mean clarifies the thought.
Tit.3:5 He [God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Changing active sentence construction to passive and visa versa helps us explore implications: Tit.3:5, He saved us > we were or have been saved; we are (or are being) saved; we will be saved.
Notice that verbs have both factual and temporal implications.
Actual situations or experiences contain much more information than their written accounts which are abbreviated. Therefore what is written or included as well as what is omitted about an event, circumstance, etc, is by design. The written account serves the purposes of the author. The same is true of paraphrases. To paraphrase what the text says means to restate in your own words the line of thought you are interested in. It results in an accurate concise tracing of events or progression of thought.
What do you picture when I say, Joe and I walked to the church”? If the context has something to do with the Sunday school class, you wound be warranted in thinking I meant we walked a block from the Tunkhannock Baptist Church Sunday school building to the Grace Baptist Church building. What else do you suppose? About what time was it? Were we together? Was anyone else tagging along? Were we the only ones to take that walk? What were the conditions like, icy walkways, cold, windy?
Passages carry a limited amount of information. Anything beyond that is speculation. What can appropriately and logically be gleaned from a passage vs. faulty assumptions is largely dependent upon context and exclusionary clarifications.
Sanctification means making holy, setting apart to God. It is most often associated with growth as a Christian, progress in the Christian life as we “work out” our salvation. However it is also used to describe God’s definitive work at conversion, the inception of our new lives as believers. 2 Thes.2:13, God saved people “through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” Therefore sanctification is like salvation in that it refers to the work God has begun in us that He has not yet completed.