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Keys to the Understanding of Scripture
pp. 219, 220
The interpretation of Scripture is difficult enough, but it is made more difficult when
we ignore the keys given to us by the Holy Spirit which help to unlock the truth. Very
often those keys hang at the door of each book, and properly heeded provide an
understanding of Scripture which would otherwise not be ours. Consider some examples.
The book of the Revelation has provided commentators with enough enigmas to bring
forth a variety of interpretations, some of them very fanciful. But at the head of that book
hangs a key to its correct interpretation:
"I (John) was in the spirit on the Lord's day . . . . ." (1: 10).
This key has been neglected by those who will insist that the expression, "the Lord's
day" refers to Sunday, the "Christian Sabbath", and fail to see that, interpreted in the light
of other Scripture, it must rather refer to "the day of the Lord", that great prophetic period
referred to in Joel 2: 31 and etc. The Revelation was written concerning "things which
must shortly come to pass" (1: 1), and the situation during the Acts period, when Peter
quoted the prophecy of Joel referred to above (Acts 2: 16-21), was ripe for the coming of
"the day of the Lord" and the "things which must shortly come to pass".
Consider the epistle of James as a further example. In the A.V. we have the heading,
"The General Epistle of James", and yet when we heed the actual heading given to us by
James himself we note that, far from being a "general" epistle it is rather a specific
"James . . . . . to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad . . . . ." (1: 1).
To a "church" which reckoned itself to be "spiritual Israel", the twelve tribes may well
have been interpreted as referring to that catholic, universal church, but to those who
wish to allow Scripture to mean what it says, the twelve tribes can only refer to a literal
Israel, such as Paul had in mind in Acts 26: 7. (It is granted that "the twelve tribes"
referred to in James 1: 1 may be limited to believers amongst Israel on the basis of
James 2: 1.)
Consider the so called "Sermon on the Mount", thought by many to set forth the code
of practice for believers today. However it may legitimately in part be applied today, it
must first be interpreted in its context, using the keys provided. We note:
"He went up into a mountain . . . . . His disciples came unto Him: And He taught
them" (Matt. 5: 1, 2).