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Figures of Rhetoric. -- These are figures that use words with an
This threefold division is based upon the nature of the subject, and
seems the most useful.
Dr. E.W. Bullinger arranged his treatise under the three following
Figures which depend for their peculiarity on Omission.
Figures which depend upon Addition by Repetition.
Figures which depend upon Change, or alteration in the usage or
application of words.
The reader who, 'in all his getting', desires to 'get understanding'
will probably appreciate the following remarks from Dr. Bullinger's
introductory Note to the subject:
'"How are we to know, then, when words are to be taken in their simple,
original form (i.e., literally), and when they are to be taken in some
other and peculiar form (i.e., as a Figure)?" The answer is, that
whenever and wherever it is possible, the words of Scripture are to be
understood literally, but when a statement appears to be contrary to
our experience, or to known fact, or revealed truth; or seems to be a
variance with the general teaching of the Scriptures, then we may
reasonably expect that some figure is employed'.
We shall, therefore, watch carefully for any departure from the usual
in Scripture, believing that all such departures are intentional and for a
specific purpose. On the other hand, we shall be careful to keep to the
literal truth of the Scriptures. God has spoken concerning Jew, Gentile and
Church, concerning heaven, earth, and the sphere that is 'far above all
heavens' (Eph. 4:10). We are not at liberty to interpret Zion as meaning the
Church, or the 144,000 of the twelve tribes of Israel as meaning saved
Gentiles. The specific promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob concerning
a land and a seed cannot be spiritualized and made to refer to a Church
consisting of saved Gentiles, who have no hope in Palestine, but a hope in
heaven. With a true understanding of the significance of figures of speech,
we shall not fall into the Romish error concerning the words of Christ, 'This
is My body'; neither shall we confuse symbolic titles such as the 'Bride' and
the 'Body'. It is, however, too formidable a task, in this Analysis to do
anything more than introduce the subject, indicate its usefulness, and direct
the reader to the work of Dr. Bullinger, either in the exhaustive treatise
entitled, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, or to the most useful Appendix
in The Companion Bible.
Flesh. Cremer, in his Biblico -Theological Lexicon, subdivides the meaning
of sarx, 'flesh', into six different phases. Omitting the great mass of
quotation and detail with which he illustrates and proves his points, the
reader may find the following digest of service:
Flesh (Jas. 5:3).
Flesh and bone, the substance of the body
(Luke 24:39; Eph. 5:30).