The Berean Expositor
Volume 38 - Page 99 of 249
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meaning or intention. A dog, who has no ability to consult either a dictionary or a
lexicon knows what his master intends, when he makes certain sounds, and if his master
had always said "in front" when he meant "to heel" the faithful animal would have
obeyed the intention regardless of the common usage of the words. Significance is
In the eighth chapter of Daniel a vision is recorded, and after the record come the
words "And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for
the meaning", that a voice commanded "Gabriel make this man to understand the vision"
(8: 15, 16), showing the Lord's pleasure in this desire of his servant.
Zechariah the prophet manifests a vivid inquisitiveness, that is answered by the
heavenly visitant, and his questions "What are these, my lord?" "What is it?" and
"whither?" run through chapters 4:, 5: and 6:
We find when turning to the N.T. that the same concern that the "meaning" of the
message should be perceived actuates both the Lord and His apostles. "Declare unto us"
said the disciples, "the parable of the tares of the field" (Matt. 13: 36), and a patient
comparative explanation follows.  Peter received a strange vision, and hears a yet
stranger command to "Rise, kill and eat", and while he pondered what the meaning of
such a vision could be the answer is provided by the embassy from Cornelius
(Acts 10: 17).
The Apostle makes much of intention, significance and meaning, when he sought to
guide and restrain the Corinthians in the use of the gift of tongues. Let us read Moffatt's
"Suppose now I were to come to you speaking with `tongues' my brothers, what good
could I do you, unless I had some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching to lay
before you? Inanimate instruments, such as the flute or the harp, may give a sound, but if
no intervals occur in their music, how then can one make out the air that is being played
either on flute or on harp? If the trumpet sounds indistinct, who will get ready for the
fray? Well, it is the same with yourselves. Unless your tongue utters language that is
readily understood, how can people make out what you say? You will be pouring words
into the empty air! There are ever so many kinds of language in the world, every one of
them meaning something. Well, unless I understand the meaning of what is said to me, I
shall appear to the speaker to be talking gibberish, and to my mind he will be talking
gibberish himself. So with yourselves; since your heart is set on possessing `spirits'
make the edification of the church your aim in this desire to excel" (I Cor. 14: 6-12).
As the body without the spirit is dead being alone, so the Scriptures deprived of their
meaning are empty sounds and unedifying symbols.
In the O.T. "meaning" is the translation of either the word binah "to understand"
(Dan. 8: 15), damah "to think, or devise", from the root meaning "to be like" (Isa. 10: 7);
or chashab "to devise, to count". In the N.T. "meaning" is expressed, either by parts
of the verb "to be", as esti "it is" (Matt. 9: 13); eie "it would be" (Acts 10: 17);
a combination of "to be" and "to wish" thelo einai (Acts 2: 12); or dunamis "power"
(I Cor. 14: 11). Should the student seek the Hebrew word that is translated "mean" in