E. W. Bullinger
Part IIThe Words
The Importance of Accuracy
This canon will be conceded by all as one of the first magnitude. Accuracy is everywhere demanded, and in every department of life, and in every branch of service. How many calamities and disasters have occurred from a want of accuracy. The want of accuracy in understanding a word of command led to the disastrous cavalry charge at Balaclava. Want of accuracy or the misunderstanding of a word in a correspondence has led to the separation of close friends or the miscarriage of important business.
Inaccuracy is no less disastrous in the reading and study of the Word of God. It is said of a poorly-informed preacher in southern Illinois, that he took his text from Luke 14:4, and read it out "And he took him, and held him, and let him go." The preacher was trying to explain the difficulty thus created, when a daring interrupter called, out, "My Bible says, 'He healed him, and let him go.'" As may be imagined, the proposed exegesis was brought to a sudden close.
But there are many popular difficulties of which this is a typical example; and which might all be ended as suddenly, if a similar remark were made. How long shall we hear of the Fall as having been brought about by the eating of an apple? And how soon would the fiction vanish if we would exclaim, "My Bible doesn't say apple." How long shall we hear about Jonah's being swallowed by the whale? when we could stop it by simply saying "My Bible doesn't say whale." Jonah 1:17 says, "The LORD had prepared a great fish."*
How long are we to hear about the sin of the children of Israel by command of God, as borrowing without intention of returning the property of the Egyptians (Exo 3:22, 11:2, 12:35,36)? Our AV seems to say this, and has thus provided material for scoffers. The RV rightly translates the Hebrew l)a#$af (sha'al), to ask: and out of one hundred and sixty-eight occurrences it is only six times rendered in the AV borrow; while in all the other one hundred and sixty-two passages it is rendered ask, beg, require, or some similar word. (See Psa 2:8, "Ask of me," etc.: this, surely, cannot mean "Borrow of me?")
The same want of accuracy in reading the sacred text has led to the mistakes of artists as well as of theologians. For angels are always represented as women instead of men; and in the piercing of the Lord the heart is always represented as being on the right side instead of on the left.
Similar are the mistakes of interpreters.
Examples and illustrations abound where this canon may be applied. We cannot pretend to make the list of those we give exhaustive; we offer them only as specimens.
We will divide them into two classes: where the principle may be used
i. In the removal of difficulties.
1. The Ammonite and Moabite.
2. Zedekiah and Babylon.
If we read these two passages accurately, we shall see how both are true as recorded in 2 Kings 25:6, 7, where we are told that Zedekiah was brought to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and spoke with him; that he was tried and then condemned, had his eyes put out, and bound with fetters of brass and was taken to Babylon. Thus, though he died there, he never "saw" it.
This apparent difficulty might have been given under Canon IV as being explained by a reference in the Remoter Context.
But if we read the two passages accurately we find the former is spelt "omer," and the latter is spelt "homer." And though the letter "h" is often treated with scant respect in speaking, it is well to give it its place when we find it in writing. The difference compels us to look at the Hebrew, where we find that in Exodus 16 the word is rme(& ('omer), while in Ezekiel 45 the word is rmex& (chomer).
Thus we have two totally different words denoting two different measures.
4. The Going of Balaam.
5. God's command concerning sacrifices.
If Leviticus be read accurately it will be seen that God did not "COMMAND" the offering of sacrifices. The very essence of all offerings was that the act should be voluntary, "of his own voluntary will." This being the case, God did then lay down the conditions on which they should be brought and offered. Hence the book of Leviticus begins by saying, "IF any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring," etc. (Compare Lev 1:2,3,10,14, 2:4,5,7,14, 3:1,6,7,12, 4:32, etc.).
It was essential that all sacrifices should be of the offerer's "own voluntary will" (Lev 1:3). What Jehovah commanded "in the day that He brought them out of Egypt" was to "diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD"; and "Do that which is right" in His sight; and "Give ear to His commandments; keep all His statutes." This was the command "in the day that He brought them out of Egypt" (see Exo 15:26).
This inaccurate reading not only creates the difficulty; but misses the very scope of Jeremiah 7:22, 23.
In Acts 22:9 "they heard not the voice of him that spake to me." In this case it is the Greek that has to be read accurately. The verb akouw (akouo), to hear, is the same in both passages, but it governs two cases of the noun which follows it. It takes the Genitive case of the sound which is heard; and it takes the Accusative case of the words or matter which is heard.
In Acts 9:7 "the voice" that was heard is in the Genitive case (fwnhV, phones).
In Acts 22:9 "the voice" that was not heard (i.e., the matter) is in the Accusative case: so that while the men with Saul heard the sound of the voice, they did not hear the words that were spoken. (Compare Luke 11:28.)
7. Standing and falling to the earth.
This difficulty is removed the moment we read the passage accurately and notice that the word istamai (histamai) has another meaning besides standing erect on one's legs. It means to remain motionless in whatever position one may be. It is rendered abode in John 8:44; continue in Acts 26:22 (RV stand); stanch in Luke 8:44. Hence it is used of standing fast (1 Cor 7:37; Col 4:12; 2 Tim 2:19).
More to the point is the Septuagint of 1 Samuel 28:20, where it is said of Saul that he "made haste, and fell motionless upon the earth." No one would think of rendering this, he "fell standing."*
So that the two passages taken together mean that "the men that journeyed with him" fell to the ground and remained speechless; or were motionless as well as speechless.
8. Spoken and written.
The Hebrew word rcen' (netzer), a branch, is then taken, and an attempt is made to identify it with "Nazarene." But even if this could be established (which it cannot be) it would not solve the difficulty which has been created; for the word netzer is used of Christ, only in Isaiah; and it says prophetS. If we read the verse accurately we notice that it says "spoken," and not written. Some prophecies were written and not spoken. Some were spoken and not written; others were both spoken and written.
There is all the difference, surely, between to rhqen (to rhethen), that which was spoken, and o gegraptai (ho gegraptai), that which standeth written.
Even granting that by a figure of speech, what is written is sometimes said to be spoken, there is no necessity arbitrarily to introduce the hypothesis when such introduction actually creates the difficulty.
9. Jeremiah the Prophet.
We make no comment on these, but only mention them to show the shifts to which expositors are driven in order to get out of the pit which they have digged themselves.
The solutions which are suggested are a greater obstacle to faith than the original difficulty; even if it were real instead of being only apparent.
10. The sending of the Centurion (Luke 7:3,6 and Matt 8:5).
In Luke 7:3 it is the verb apostellw (apostello), which means to send away from, the sender remaining behind. This is when he sends "the elders of the Jews." In verse 6 the centurion "sent friends," but here it is the verb pempw (pempo), which means to send with, the sender either accompanying or sending an escort.*
From the latter word being used in verse 6 it is clear that the centurion accompanied his "friends." This is where the account in Matthew takes up the narrative, when he says "there came to him a centurion."
We may note further that, in Matthew 8:13, the Lord said, "Go thy way." But from Luke 7:10 it appears that the Centurion did not go; his great faith not making it necessary for him to go and verify the Lord's word.
11. The Inscriptions on the Cross.
The inscriptions are as follows:
the four consisting of certain words which formed a part of that whole.
It has been suggested by one (the late Rev. James Kelly) that these four, respectively, are in harmony with the special object and scope of the Gospel in which it is found. This is ingenious and would be worthy of Divine revelation if it could be substantiated.
Others suggest that as the inscription was originally in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, they are the translations of these respectively.
But this involves another assumption, viz., that these three were not only not the same, but were so different as to allow of such various renderings. It also accounts for only three out of the four; and does not explain how the Greek form could be a translation of the Greek!
In all these cases of difficulty it is well to "open the book" and see exactly what is said, and whether there is any ground for the original assumption that there was only one inscription, which is the foundation of the difficulty and the cause of its explanations.
Let us begin with Mark 15:26:
If we accurately notice what is written we conclude:
12. The offering of drink at the Cross.
There are great differences between the three accounts. If these are identified and treated as being different versions of one event, instead of complementary accounts, each supplementing the other, then we shall have what is so glibly called a "discrepancy."
Now read the words accurately and note
1. The three occasions:
Thus so far from there being any discrepancy, the absolute accuracy of the Divine word is brought clearly out.
13. The "others" crucified with Christ.
The pictures and tradition give us "two" men who were crucified with Christ. In Matthew 27:44, and Mark 15:32, it is stated that they both reviled Christ: "the thieves also which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth." But in Luke 23:39 it is as distinctly stated that it was only "one" of them: and that they were not "thieves," but "malefactors."
Moreover, in Luke, the two were led forth, with Christ, from Pilate's presence; whereas, in Matthew and Mark, they were not brought to the place of crucifixion until after the dividing of Christ's garments. These are adduced as obvious errors: and it is alleged that both accounts cannot be correct.
The usual defence of the accuracy of these Scriptures is to assume that both the men reviled Christ at first; but that afterward one of them repented. But this is a pure assumption, and is not only not so stated, but is quite contrary to what is so clearly written: "One of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be the Messiah, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him saying...This man hath done nothing amiss" (Luke 23:40,41).
But even if this were not so, and there were nothing against the assumption, there are still other difficulties which require explanation.
This also is supposed to be an inaccuracy. And so it is, if we accept the assumption of Tradition and Painting.
But if we read the accounts, as written in the Word of God, more accurately, we shall have to revise all our views which we have received from the "Traditions of Men."
We thus reach the conclusion that there were four others crucified with the Lord Jesus. This fact not only removes all difficulties, but perfectly harmonizes all the four Scriptures, and establishes the Divine accuracy of every word and every expression.
Of course it does not agree with Tradition; and we are quite aware that we shall have to reckon with all Traditionalists for thus upsetting their idol.
14. The burying of Jacob and his sons.
There can be no confusion between these two. As to the historical record, the burials in Abraham's sepulchre were Sarah (Gen 23:19), Abraham (Gen 25:9), Isaac (Gen 35:29), Rebekah and Leah (Gen 49:31), and Jacob (Gen 50:12,13). The burials in Jacob's field were Joseph (Josh 24:32), and, according to Acts 7:16, the other sons of Jacob who were carried over into Sychem.
Acts 7:15, 16 agrees with this history if we note two simple Various Readings of the Greek supported by most of the Textual Editors (see Canon XII); and if we remember that the circumstances were so well known to Stephen's hearers that they perfectly understood what he said. Though they were waiting to catch something out of his lips, yet they saw nothing to stumble at.
The two readings are w (ho), in that which, instead of o (ho), that (before Abraham); and en (en), in, instead of tou (tou), of [the], in the phrase "[the father] of Sychem." In which case we read "in Sychem," and do not read the italics "the father" or the word "of" before Sychem.
Thus, Jacob was buried in the sepulchre which Abraham bought; and his sons were afterwards buried in that which Jacob bought. The historic record is perfectly simple and clear; and no difficulty whatever exists, except in the minds of those who create it.
1. Words and Expressions.
If the following passages be read carefully this will be seen to be the meaning: Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; John 3:3, 7, 31, 19:11, 23; James 1:17, 3:15, 17.
With two exceptions (Acts 26:5 and Gal 4:9) the word always means from above. There is no occasion to introduce the idea of time where it is not needed. If the ordinary meaning makes sense, and makes for the Inspiration of God's Word, why arbitrarily take a meaning which destroys the sense? If holy men of old spake from God, who is "above" (2 Peter 1:21), why give anwqen a meaning here which makes them speak from themselves?
"Another King" (Acts 7:17,18).
The word points, therefore, to the fact that it was not another king of the same dynasty, but a different dynasty altogether. With this agrees Exodus 1:8, not, of course, in the use of the word heteros, which is Greek, but in the Hebrew "arose," which is Mw@q (kum), and means to stand up and occupy the place of another (See Dan 2:31,39,44, 3:24). Moreover the word "new" is #$dafqaf (chadash) (for the meaning of which see Deut 32:17, and compare Judg 5:8).
Josephus says, "the crown being come into another family" (Ant. ii. 9). The discoveries now made in Egypt prove that this was the case. The mummy of this very Pharaoh is to be seen to-day in the Museum at Bulak, and it is clear that this Rameses was the Pharaoh of the Oppression.*
He was an Assyrian, and every feature of his face shows that this was the case, being so different from the pictures of the Pharaoh who preceded him. Now we can understand Isaiah 52:4, which has so puzzled the commentators, who were unable to understand why the two oppressions, in Egypt and Assyria, should be mentioned together in the same sentence, as though they were almost contemporary. The discoveries in Egypt, and the Accuracy of the Divine Words, show that this latter was indeed the case. For in Isaiah 52:4 we read:
These words are now seen to be exquisitely accurate; for that was exactly what took place: Israel did go down into Egypt to sojourn there, but a new king arose, of a different dynasty, and he, an Assyrian, oppressed them without cause.
There is no occasion to assume that Isaiah couple together two events separated by centuries, when such assumption creates the very difficulty complained of.
"The world that then was" (Gen 1:2).
In Genesis 1:2 (AV) we read: "And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Here, it will be seen that, the first "was" is in Roman type, while the second is in Italic type. This accuracy tells us that the latter verb, "was," represents the verb to be; and that the former "was" must represent a different verb, and not the verb "to be." This is the case; and the verb is hyahaf (hayah), to become, come to pass.
That this is its meaning is clear from the very next verse (v 3): "Let there be light, and there was light." Here the verb for "be" and "was" is hayah, and means become, while, in verse 4, the verb "was" is the verb to be, and is in italics. The same use of "was" (Roman type) and "was" (Italic type) may be seen in verses 9 and 10; and in verses 11 and 12. If we enquire further about the verb hayah we find it in Genesis 2:7, "and man became a living soul; 4:14, "it shall come to pass"; 9:15, "the waters shall no more become a flood"; 19:26, Lot's wife "became a pillar of salt."
Having made this discovery we now pursue it further; and we "search the Scriptures" to find out whether God has said anything else about the way in which He created the earth. And we find it in Isaiah 45:18. Here the sentences are heaped together, in order to impress us with the fact that, He who created the earth, ought to know, and be able to tell us, how He made it. Note the words:
But this word w@ht& (tohu) is the very word which is translated "without form" in Genesis 1:2. So that, whatever tohu means, it is evident that God did not create the earth tohu. Therefore it must have become so, at some time, in some way, and from some cause which we are not told.
It is clear from this that in Genesis 1:1 we have the record concerning what is called in 2 Peter 3:6 "the world that then was." This earth, we are there told also, "being overflowed with water perished." This is exactly what is stated in Genesis 1:1, 2.
So that at the end of the first verse we must put a very large full stop; or draw a line; or leave a blank space, so as to separate verse 1 from what follows in verse 2, which relates to "the heavens and earth which are now" (2 Peter 3:7), and which will continue, until the time comes for "the new heavens and the new earth" of 2 Peter 3:13, and of many other Scriptures.
When Geologists have settled how many years they require between the first and second verses of Genesis 1 there is ample room for all they want, and a large margin beside. Meanwhile, we may well conclude that all the fossils and remains which are found belonged to "the world that then was," and thus, at one stroke, remove all friction between Geology and Scripture.
Again, we ask, why assume that all the Geological phenomena pertain to the earth "which is now," when it is this very assumption which creates the difficulty?
and compels us to ignore all the phenomena of God's Word mentioned above?
His Word is misinterpreted, and His works are misunderstood, and the difficulty thus created is charged against the Scriptures of Truth!
"The mention of the blood" in 1 John 1:7 and 2:1.
This fact speaks to us, if we have ears to hear, and tells us that, when we "walk in the light," i.e., when we have access into His presence, as the High Priest had (though only on one day in the year), it is entirely in virtue of that precious blood of Christ which gives us a title to that access, and preserves us in that presence. The High Priest could not enter into the Holy of Holies and see that glorious light of the Shekinah which symbolized the presence of God, without blood; neither can we enter into and enjoy "fellowship" with God, who is light (vv 5-7), apart from the merits of that precious blood of Christ. Then it is that we need those merits; then it is that we are reminded of them; then it is that the blood is mentioned.
But, in 1 John 2:1, when it is a question of sin, there is no need to mention it at all; for it was once offered, once for all, and its virtues and merits in the putting away of sin are eternal in their results. It is "eternal redemption," "eternal salvation."
Hence, "if any man sin we have an Advocate with the Father." It does not say "a high priest with God"; for that title was in connection with the priestly act of access and approach through blood, but "an advocate with the Father." This is to remind us that relationship has not been broken. He who is spoken of as "God" in connection with the access of his sinful creatures, is spoken of as "Father" in connection with His sinful "children."
Thus, accuracy in reading shows us that these Scriptures are Divine; for where the Holy Spirit mentions
the blood, man (if he had written it) would surely have left it out; while, where the Holy Spirit does not mention it, man would certainly have put it in. Indeed he does so, constantly, in his prayers, and in his writings.
"Accepted" and "Acceptable" (Eph 1:6 and 2 Cor 5:9).
The former (Eph 1:6) is caritow (charitoo), to make one an object of favour. This refers to the standing which God has given us, in Christ, in the heavenlies. The latter (2 Cor 5:9) is euarestoV (euarestos), well-pleasing. This refers to our state, and our daily walk and life on earth.
The former relates to the person, the latter to his actions. It is one thing for us to be accepted in Christ, for His merits' sake; and it is another thing for our walk to be well-pleasing to God.
The former is the gift of God's grace; the latter is the fruit of that grace.
It is most important that we should be accurate in noting this distinction, so that we may be preserved from legality on the one hand, and from laxity on the other.
All the children of God have the same standing; the strongest as well as the feeblest, the oldest as well as the youngest.
We do not labour to be accepted, but having been "accepted in the Beloved" we make it our aim (RV) for our walk to be acceptable.
"Man" and "men."
In this is manifested the difference between God's thoughts and the world's thoughts (Isa 55:8).
God declares that "there is no good thing" in man (Rom 7:18). The world with one voice, in Pulpit, Platform, and Press, declares that there is some good thing in man.
The issue is clear, sharp, and decisive; and the only question is, Do we believe what God says? or Do we believe what man says?
Thus what God remembers, man forgets; and what God forgets, man remembers.
It is sometimes useful, if not important, to note this; and to put what is said into opposite language.
"Out of the Scriptures" (Acts 17:2).
"Except there come the Apostasy first" (2 Thess 2:3).
These are of the utmost importance, often pointing the way to the correct interpretation; giving us the clue to the explanation of some difficulty; or, bringing out some hidden truth or beauty concealed in that particular Scripture.
"The second day" (Joshua 10:31,32).
This point of accuracy invites our attention: and when we give it by looking more closely into Lachish, we find that In 2 Chronicles 32:9 "Sennacherib himself laid siege against Lachish, and all his power with him"; while he sent Rabshakeh to Jerusalem with a summons to Hezekiah. Yet when Rabshakeh returned he "found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah; for he heard that he was departed from Lachish" (2 Kings 19:8). He evidently found Lachish a difficult place to take, as Joshua had done.
We note the further confirmation of this in a reference by Jeremiah to a subsequent assault by another king of Babylon. He says:
So that when we read in Joshua 10:31, 32, about Joshua taking Lachish on "the second day" of the siege, we get a note of time which is not a mere casual remark, but is full of meaning when compared with other references to the same city.
"Then came Amalek" (Exo 17:8).
No wonder then that such a miraculous supply of water as at Rephidim should at once become a reason why Amalek should thus make this assault against Israel "then."
When? When Jehovah shall have taken the house of Israel from among the heathen whither He has scattered them, and gathered them out of all countries and brought them "INTO THEIR OWN LAND" (vv 16-24).
If we observe this mark of time, it will effectually prevent our misinterpretation of this passage, and save us from taking what is spoken of Israel in a future day and applying it to the Church of God in the present day.
"Then shall the offering" (Mal 3:4)."THEN shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto Jehovah as in the days of old, and as in former years." When? When Jehovah shall have sent His Messenger, who will sit as a refiner and "purify the sons of Levi that they may offer unto Jehovah an offering in righteousness" (vv 1-3).
"THEN they that feared Jehovah spake often one to another," etc. (Mal 3:16). When? In a time of apostasy, and neglect of the service and worship of Jehovah. In days of darkness and "perilous times." When the godly are minished; and it is difficult to find the assembly of true worshippers. "THEN" will be the time for believers to meet together, and speak often to one another and "think upon His name" (vv 7-18). May we not apply this Scripture to the condition of things in the present day, without robbing Israel of the interpretation of it in a future day?
"THEN we which are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:17). When? When the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven; and when the dead in Christ shall have first risen.
"Then" (Matt 25:1).'"THEN shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom." The word "then" points to the fact that this prophetic parable will have its fulfillment, not now, but at that particular moment in the sequence of events then being revealed by the Lord.
It forms part of the Lord's instruction and teaching as to His coming; and finds its place in His last great prophetic discourse contained in Matthew 24 and 25. No one part may be taken out from its context, and interpreted apart from it, as conveying a lesson different from that which it was first intended to teach.
In the first place, the whole discourse is wrongly divided from the literary point of view. The Structure and the Scope combine to show that chapter 25 should begin at 24:29. It consists of two portions of unequal length, answering to the two questions of 24:3. These portions are differently constructed in order to mark their different subjects and scope.
The first part is an Extended Alternation. The second part is a Complex Introversion.
A. 4-6. Events heard of, leading up to the end (telos), which is "not yet." Direction to "see that ye be not troubled."
A. 15-20. Events seen, sign of the end (telos). Direction to "understand it," and "flee."
Thus far we have the Great Tribulation: and the events leading up to, characterizing, and ending it.
Now, in the second part, we have the events following it.
Answer to the Second Question, "What?"
D.a. 29, 30. The Coming of the Son of Man.
D.a. 31. The Coming of the Son of Man.
From all this, which is pointed out by the word "THEN" in Matt 25:1, it will be seen how impossible it is for us to read the Church of God into the parable of the Ten Virgins without introducing confusion of thought, loss of instruction, and dislocation of our Lord's teaching.
"Immediately" (Matt 24:29).
It convicts of grossest ignorance all the Church's self-claimed mission to "convert the world" before that Advent. If the Church is to convert the world, where is the place or possibility of the Great Tribulation? And, if the Coming of Christ follows that Tribulation "immediately," where is there room for the conversion of the world, or for any Millennium before His coming?
The whole argument which is so universally made on behalf of Foreign Missions is radically false. It must be, and can be based on truly Scriptural grounds, without thus mangling and marring the Scriptures of truth. Not only does this want of accuracy in interpreting the Word of God bring it into contempt and make it of none effect; but it deceives the world, and enables the scoffer to ask, "Where are the signs that your mission is being accomplished?"
The Church answers back, that though there are no signs yet; though heathen births far exceed the converts' deaths, yet they are "waiting for an outpouring of the Spirit." Thus they deceive themselves with a false hope, and substitute it for the true hope which God has given, which is, "to wait for God's Son (not God's Spirit) from heaven."
If the Church urges, as it does, that Daniel's prophecies were fulfilled under Antiochus Epiphanes, and that it was
he who set up "the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet," it is a sufficient answer to point out that the Lord speaks of it, in His day, as being still future, and gives solemn warning to those who shall see it, to heed it and "understand" it; and adds specific directions as to what they are to do.
"Afterward" (Joel 2:28).
After what? After God has brought Israel back into their own land, and made it fruitful, and blessed it and them with all blessings. If we read the previous part of the chapter we can see plainly enough when the pouring out of spiritual gifts shall take place. The verse immediately before reads:
This shows that Peter could not have been referring to Joel to show that that prophecy was then being fulfilled, for none of those things had taken place; and none of those conditions had been enjoyed.
Peter is merely rebutting the charge of drunkenness, and showing that it could not be true, inasmuch as similar scenes were spoken of by Joel the prophet. When he says, "This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel" he can mean only this (sing.) prophecy which he proceeds to quote; not those (pl.) events which were taking place.
And yet his utterance is so worded that had the people and their rulers repented, as he exhorted them (Acts 2:38, 3:19-26, RV), and as it was required by the one great condition of the fulfillment of the promise of Joel 2:12-17, then the prophecy of Joel 2:28 (which Peter quoted) would have been fulfilled: for that will be the time when the LORD will "be jealous for His LAND and pity His PEOPLE," as long before foretold in "the Song of Moses" (Deut 32:43).
"At that time" (Matt 11:25).
"Therefore" (Eph 4:1).
"THEREFORE," endeavour to keep this unity of the spirit (this spiritual unity) which God HAS MADE in Christ.
Seek not to make a corporate or bodily unity; but give diligence to KEEP to the Spiritual unity which God has made.
To do this will require "all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love" (v 2).
"Therefore...I charge thee" (2 Tim 4:1).
A good example is furnished in 2 Timothy 4:1. The chapter begins:
Why is this charge given? and why is it given here?
The answer to these questions is furnished by the word "therefore." Chapter 3 had ended with a statement as to the wonderful profitableness of the God-breathed Word, fitting out God's spokesman for every emergency (see under Canon V, pp. 304, 305, and VI, p 321). The solemn conclusion is:
Seeing that the Divine Word is God-breathed;seeing that it is so profitable,seeing that it is so necessary to fit out him who thus possesses it,
"Preach the Word." Note the comparison thus suggested between 3:16 and 4:2.
All this, and more, is wrapped up in this word "therefore."
Similar examples may be noted, and instruction gained by accurately observing the occurrences of such words.
It is a great question whether we have the correct method of translating numbers. Each nation has its own method of reckoning, and its own idioms of numeration.
We have only to go to the French and to one illustration to see this. Take as an example our simple ninety-seven (97). How is this to be translated into French? Idiomatically, of course, and not literally. The French would be quatre-vingt-dix-sept, or four-twenty-ten-seven: i.e.,
Now, may it not be well to ask whether the Hebrew mode of reckoning was the same as the English; or, indeed, whether it was the same in Old Testament days as it is to-day?
In any case, is it not wiser to ask this question instead of first assuming an answer which may be incorrect, then charging the error on the inspired writers, and then explaining it by talking of "exaggeration," or of "round numbers"?
That is an easy, not to say the usual, way out of difficulties which we ourselves perhaps have created.
This is what the AV says. But, Is this what the Word of God says? The Hebrew of the latter clause reads: "Jehovah smote seventy men, [two] fifties and one thousand." The word "fifties" is in the Dual number, which means two fifties.
So that we have, according to this
There is a slight difference it will be observed. And, as Beth-shemesh was quite a small place, this smaller number would appear to be more correct.
This would be more in harmony with Numbers 26:37, which gives the total of the second census of Ephraim as 32,500, while the first was not more than 40,500 (Num 1:33). Not only is the above more in harmony, for the other reckoning is out of all harmony; as those slain of the tribe would be more than the number of the whole tribe, within about three hundred years.
The Census of Numbers 1 and 26.
But the objection to this is (1) that it is not "people," but the "men over twenty years of age"; (2) that the first list works out at 598 eleph 5,550 men over twenty years old (not people), whereas it is several times given as 603 eleph 3,550 men; which shows that the 598 and 5,550 must be reckoned as thousands, in order to arrive at the totals as given in Exodus 38:26; Numbers 1:46, 2:32, viz., 598,000 + 3,550 = 603,550 (compare Exo 12:37; Num 11:21).
We must therefore conclude that Moses knew more about what he was writing than explorers and critics can imagine.
Our suggestion as given above does not lie under these serious objections, but relates merely to the principle underlying the method of numeration, and the idioms used in stating it.
Accuracy is also required in the study of the names of persons and places. Apart from Scripture evidence we know that, in all countries, many places and persons have the same name; while on the other hand some are known by, and have, several names.
We should expect, therefore, to find these phenomena in the Bible.
Moreover, it is an argument for the veracity of God's Word, in that, what are difficulties to us, are left unexplained because the truth as to the facts was perfectly well known.
1. The same name was borne by different persons then, as now.
This is particularly noticeable in the case of James.
JAMES.We have to distinguish:
JOHN.We have to distinguish
SIMON was a name borne by at least ten persons in the New Testament. There were
The same name in some cases arises from the fact that it is a title associated with royalty; just as the words "Czar," "Kaiser," etc.
We may learn a solemn lesson from the history of the calamitous and fatal matrimonial alliance of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat with Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. We find, after this, the same names being given to members of both families, showing how close this alliance became, and how the evil leaven worked and permeated the whole mass.
Not only was the house of Jehovah broken up and the vessels thereof taken to the house of Baal, but the two families became alike in their life and their religion.
Care has to be taken by the Bible student in the midst of the confusion created for him by this unholy alliance: and the difficulties caused by it have to be noted and unravelled.
Esau's Wives.Perhaps one of the most intricate of these problems is that of Esau's wives. As infidels and "higher" critics (which too often mean very much the same thing) have sometimes referred to this as showing the human element in an untrustworthy record, it may be well to say a few words about it.
In Genesis 36:1-3 we have "the generations of Esau." This, therefore, is the correct and standard genealogy which must be our foundation.
Here Esau's wives are stated to be three in number; and their names are thus definitely stated:
There is no difficulty, therefore, if we accurately note these different names; and remember that a forger would be perfectly sure to have made all clear, and have left no such matters in doubt; also that women, as a rule, received a second or additional name on their marriage.
3. Changes in Names.In some cases different names came from a definite change, as ABRAHAM for ABRAM (Gen 17:5). BOANERGES for JOHN and JAMES, PETER for SIMON (Mark 3:16,17). PAUL for SAUL (Acts 13:9). DANIEL and his three companions (Dan 1:7). JOSEPH (Gen 41:45).
There is no need to say anything on the subject here, as the whole subject is referred to above (p. 312); and is fully dealt with in our separate pamphlet on this subject.
1. The same name was given to different places.
Sometimes these names were so indeterminate that it was necessary to couple with them some explanatory word:
The same phenomena are seen in all countries.
Accurate reading of the words, as written, will soon make it apparent that there is no Chronology as such in the Scriptures. Years are numbered not as dates, but as to duration. And when dates are used they are
reckoned as having happened in a certain year from some event, or from the commencement of a reign, or a captivity, etc.: otherwise, the years are reckoned only as being so many, during a certain period. This is the case with
The 120 years of Genesis 6:3.
There are several traditional interpretations of this verse, all equally unsatisfactory. There is the fanciful Rabbinical one which makes it refer to Moses' age. The popular idea is that it refers to the period of probation between that time and the Flood: another explanation refers it to the altered duration of human life.
But, if we note accurately the words employed another interpretation will be suggested.
1. The word rendered "man" is Mdaf)af ('adam), Adam. It occurs thirty-seven times in these early chapters of Genesis (from Gen 1-6:3), and is rendered Adam nineteen times and man eighteen times. It occurs without the article twelve times.*
2. It occurs with the article Mdaf)afhaf (ha'adam), twenty-one times.*
3. It occurs not only with the article, but with this and the very strong demonstrative t)e (eth) four times.* Eth means self, this same, this very, and is quite emphatic.**
4. Nos. 2 and 3 always mean the man, Adam.
Where it is used without the article and with the pronoun and verb in the plural number, as in 1:26, it denotes man or mankind as such ("Let us make man (sing.)...and let them have dominion," etc.).
In Genesis 6:1 we have Adam in the singular with the article, and it means, "Adam began to multiply, and daughters were born to them." Here the plural pronoun shows that Eve is associated with Adam as in 5:2.
In Genesis 6:3 it must mean the man Adam, because it has the article and is followed by the pronoun and the verb in the Singular Number: "because that he also is flesh." The Hebrew is )w@h Mg@af#ab@: (beshaggam hu'), because that also he. This has no sense whatever if it does not refer to the man Adam. To whom does the word "also" refer if it refers not to him? If men as such were meant, it would say, "for that they also are flesh": but it says, "for that he also is." That is to say, Adam had become like the others. He was flesh as they were. All flesh had corrupted his way on the earth. Noah and his family alone had preserved their breed "perfect" (v 8): Hebrew, Mymit@af (tamim), without blemish.*
The word "generations" occurs twice in verse 8. The first time it means Noah's family history (Toledoth); but the second is a different word (Dor), and means his contemporaries.
This is the third reference to the man Adam's end. In Genesis 2:17 it was prophetically announced. In 3:22-24 he was driven out from the tree of life that he might not eat and live for ever; and now, here, the actual year of his death was fixed. He should live 120 years more, but not for ever.
In Genesis 6:3 we have a chronological indication of the date of this announcement. Adam lived, altogether, 930 years. If we deduct from this, these 120 years, we get AM 810 as the date. But the corruption spoken of in this chapter must have commenced much earlier.
The word rendered "strive" is Nw@d (dun). It occurs only here. The Ancient Versions (the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, and Latin) give it the sense of remaining or dwelling. They are right; and what Genesis 6:3 actually says is, "My spirit [or, breath of life] shall not always remain in Adam, for that he also is flesh." (Compare Isa 62:16).
"Spirit," here, must mean "breath," or life, as in verse 17, 7:15, 22.*
Both AV and RV use a small "s" and not a capital letter.
These are part of a larger period: the second of the four periods of 490 years, which was the duration of the four hundred and seventy hebdomads, or seventy sevens of years, during which Jehovah stood in special covenant relation with Israel. As these were covenant relations, the years when those relations were interrupted were not reckoned in the number of the years of such periods.
Just as, in this present interval, while Israel is Lo ammi, ("not my people," Hosea 1:9,10; Isa 54:7,8), the years are not reckoned, but are deducted from the 490 years.
That there are such parentheses in God's reckonings; and the particular parenthesis of this present Dispensation see above under "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth as to its Times and Dispensations." See Part I, pages 100-104.
The importance of accuracy in discriminating many synonymous Greek words cannot be overrated. This can be done by English readers who know little or nothing of Greek by the use of our Lexicon and Concordance. By means of this the meaning of any Greek word can be seen at a glance, and the different shades of meaning between various words which are similarly translated. Among the most important are the words rendered "world," "wash," "if," "search," "hell," "judgment," "no," and "not."
There are 32 different Greek words rendered "come," 10 "destroy," 18 "receive," 5 "rest" (noun), 8 "say," 13 "see," 12 "deliver," 13 "in," 20 "show," 13 "then," 12 "think," 17 "when," 22 "for," 11 "suffer," 22 "take," 17 "therefore," 14 "call," 12 "behold," 6 "know," 9 "leave," 10 "ordain," 14 "make," 7 "master," 7 "mind," 16 "give," 21 "go," 15 "keep," 5 "pray," 6 "preach," 4 "redeem," 8 "wash," 12 "perceive," 4 "perfect," 6 "perish," etc.
It will thus be seen that Cruden's Concordance, while indispensable for the purpose of finding a particular passage, is misleading for finding the sense of it, if we suppose that in each passage we have the same Greek word.
Sometimes the same English word occurs only in two passages, but in each case it may be a different word in the Greek; e.g., "found," "be spent," "spill," "tidings," "victuals," "company with," "censer," "certain" (adj), "deceitful," "settle," "unmoveable," "unreasonable," "bring word," "eye-witness," "joyfully," "justification," "unblameable," "unwise," "be wearied," "young," "assent," "last," "lend," "liberality," "malefactor," "melt," "spy," "stay," "make straight," "support," "unawares," "mist," "pollution," "powerful," "purification," "quarrel," "be quiet," "quietness," "race," "reason," "religious," "rust."
Sometimes an English word will occur three times, and each time represent a different Greek word: e.g., "imagination," "merchandise," "press," "reasoning," "roar," "sorcerer," "stand with," "subvert," "swift," "break up," "trial," "uncircumcised," "unruly," "vehemently," "vile," "confer," "brightness," "bring again," "assay."
These examples (taken promiscuously) will be sufficient to show the importance of accuracy when we sit down to interpret the "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth."
We can, commend, therefore, the use of our own Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testaments, because all the occurrences of the English word on which light is sought are given in one list, in which the Greek words are referred to by numbers; and the correct meaning is seen at a glance. Young's Concordance gives as many separate lists of passages as there are Greek words, and each list has to be examined in turn: e.g., if there are twelve Greek words the reader has to wade through twelve separate lists of words. Moreover, the Lexicographical part is very meagre, generally giving only one meaning; and what is more, it is not critical: that is to say, it gives the word which stands in the Textus Receptus, but does not indicate any of the Various Readings which are found in the MSS or in the Greek Texts of the various printed editions.
Our own work gives, in addition to all this, an Index of Greek Words showing all the various renderings of each, and the number of times such rendering is given.
We have a similar phenomenon in the case of the rendering of Hebrew words.
No less than 66 different Hebrew words are translated "bring," 45 "lay," 49 "make," 24 "think," 74 "take," 23 "run," 24 "keep," 21 "join," 26 "hold," 26 "high," 29 "grief," 23 "grow," 26 "turn," 30 "trouble," 35 "give," 68 "go," 23 "burn," 47 "come," 26 "cover," 25 "deliver," 55 "destroy," 12 "eat," 27 "end," 30 "fail," 24 "fall."
Our English word "know" is used to represent 5 Hebrew words, "judge" 10, "iniquity" 7, "increase" 17, "hear" 4, "haste" 14, "habitation" 11, "prophet" 5, "wicked" 13, "world" 5, "worm" 4, "work" 21, "word" 5, "good" 13, "grave" 8, "guide" 9, "hand" 13, "hard" 14, "heart" 7, "congregation" 4.
The importance of this branch of our subject will be seen in connection with such words as "man," which represents thirteen different Hebrew words, four of which it is very important for us to distinguish, e.g.:
Sometimes one English word occurs only three times, and each time represents a different Hebrew word:
The Hebrew words for "Tabernacle" must be carefully distinguished; e.g.:
The Hebrew words rendered "sin" are also to be distinguished:
These examples are taken out at random, merely to serve as illustrations of this branch of our subject.
As to helps for these Old Testament Words, there is Strong's Concordance, or Young's. The drawbacks to the latter are stated above.
Far and away the best is The Bible Student's Guide, by the late Rev. W. Wilson, DD, Canon of Winchester, the second edition of which was published by Macmillan & Co. in 1870. It is, unfortunately, out of print, and can now occasionally be obtained second-hand.* It is on exactly the same lines as our Lexicon and Concordance of the Greek New Testament.
The importance of accuracy is nowhere so clearly shown as in the interpretation of the word "of." It is usually the sign of the Genitive case, though it is used also to represent fourteen different Greek words. What these words are and where the renderings are can be seen at a glance (so far as the New Testament is concerned) under the word "OF" in our Critical Lexicon and Concordance.
In all other cases it is the rendering of the Genitive Case of a noun: and is used by the Holy Spirit in quite a variety of different senses. We propose to present them in nine different classes. We have gone fully into them in our work on Figures of Speech used in the Bible, and Appendix B of that work ought to be studied in this connection. We give a brief resume here.
Every Bible student who desires to enjoy the study of the "words" of God must stop whenever he comes to the word "of," and first look at our Critical Lexicon and see whether it represents a separate Greek word. If he finds it does not, then it must be the Genitive Case of some noun; and in that case it belongs to one of the following nine classes.
No one can help him in determining to which of the nine it belongs. Opinions may, and do, differ. The Context and a spiritual instinct will be the best guides.
Sometimes it may be doubtful as to which of two classes it belongs; and it may often be that it belongs to both, and that each may yield a truly Scriptural sense.
This is when it is an emphatic adjective. The ordinary way of qualifying a Noun is by using an Adjective; but when special emphasis is desired to be placed on the Adjective, the author goes out of his way to use a Noun instead, which is a Figure of Speech called Enallage, or exchange. Thus, if we say, "a bright day," the emphasis is on "day," and we mean "a bright DAY." If we say "a day of brightness," we exchange the Adjective "bright" for the Noun "brightness," and thus put the emphasis on "brightness," and we mean "a BRIGHT day."
In the former case we think only of the day as being bright. In the latter case we think of the brightness which characterizes the day.
So, if the Scripture used the Adjective "mighty" in connection with "angels," the emphasis would be on the Noun "angels": "mighty ANGELS, " but if attention is called to their power it would say "angels of might," i.e., "MIGHTY angels" (2 Thess 1:7; see margin).
The following examples will illustrate this:
This marks the efficient cause; the source from which anything has its origin.
This is perhaps the most common, and is generally unmistakable. But there are some cases where it may not be so clear.
In this case the "of" means "that is to say," or "which is."
This is perhaps the most interesting of all; and requires a greater variety in the manner of expressing the particular relation. This must be gathered from the context. It may be objective, or subjective, or both. For example:
"The love of Christ" (2 Cor 5:14). Is this the love which Christ bears to us? or is it our love which we bear to Christ? No one can decide apart from the context. Verse 14 seems to show that it means the love which Christ bore to us in thus dying for us; or, if we judge from verse 13, it seems to be the constraining power of love for Christ which made the Apostle to appear to be beside himself for their sakes.
The following are a few examples:
When the genitive denotes the material of which anything is made, the words "made of" have to be substituted for it, e.g.:
Denotes that with which anything is filled.
"They were all filled OF pneuma hagion [i.e., with the gift of speaking with tongues], and began to speak with tongues as the Spirit [the Giver] gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4).
In Romans 15:13 we have all three Cases in one verse. "Now the God of hope [i.e., 'who GIVES hope.' Gen. of Origin] fill you [Acc. Case] of all joy [i.e., 'WITH all joy.' Gen. Case] and peace, in [i.e., 'BY or THROUGH'] believing." (Dative Case).
So we have
But not "filled of the spirit" in Ephesians 5:18. For here it is the Dative Case and means "be filled BY wine..." but be "filled BY the Spirit" with His own precious gifts, which the context shows to be the gift of speaking.
Separation, or Ablation, where it denotes to be in or among, or have part in; e.g.:
These have both to be distinguished, and are often quite different, the one from the other.
The above passages are given only as examples of each class of Genitive: and they are sufficient to show how the door is open to a vast field of profitable study, if we see the importance of accuracy in our study of God's word.
It is wonderful to think how there can be so much to think of, and think out, in connection with this smallest of words, "of."