Tag Archives: biblical interpretation

Handbook on the NT Use of the OT – G.K. Beale

(Old Facebook Post)

A lot of rather careless biblical interpretation is happening today. (By God’s grace, thankfully much of the time the truth is still being taught, even if by using questionable or haphazard exegetical methods.) On the other hand, there are a lot of really helpful books out there on how to interpret the Bible–books like Grasping God’s Word that I do highly recommended.

Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation Buy on Amazon What I’ve rarely seen, however, are books and interpreters that consciously try to determine from the Bible itself how the Bible should be interpreted. Usually lots of helpful methods are imported from the disciplines of literature and history into the practice of biblical interpretation. All truth is God’s truth, so these importations can be very useful. But rarely do we ask: How did the Bible authors interpret the parts of the Bible that already existed in their day?

For the student who wants to seriously investigate that question and then apply the results to shape their own interpretive methods, I know of know better place to begin than this brief, information-packed book by G. K. Beale: Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. It’s only 173 pages, but it distills the very best on this topic that has been written in over 100 years.

Beale quotes Moises Silva:

“If we refuse to pattern our exegesis after that of the apostles, we are in practice denying the authoritative character of their scriptural interpretation–and to do so is to strike at the very heart of the Christian faith.”

And Beale states his goal for his own book:

“The goal is to better grasp the way the two Testaments are related at the particular points where OT references are found. Our ultimate aim is to hear and understand more clearly the voice of the living God as he has spoken and continues to speak in his ‘living words’ (Acts 7:38 NIV) and accordingly to know and encounter God increasingly, to know his will, and so to honor him.”

Highly recommended.

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“Getting Excited About Melchizedek”

If you want to finally understand that bit about Melchizedek, or what to know the real reason why we today talk about Jesus being our high priest, or just want to watch a veteran Bible student demonstrate how to read the whole Bible, paying close attention to the tiniest meaningful details and tracing how the Bible writers read their own Bibles… then watch this talk by D. A. Carson. (An audio file should also be available.) Zonya and I watched it together tonight and were blessed!

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On the danger of turning norms into absolutes

(Old Facebook Post)

One danger in biblical interpretation is the temptation to turn pragmatic norms into absolute rules. I’ve been thinking about this in relation to the question of who may baptize or serve the Lord’s Supper.

It is only natural and right, given biblical teaching about the responsibility pastors/elders bear to lead churches, and given socially-driven expectations placed upon leaders, that they will regularly perform baptisms and serve the Lord’s Supper. However, besides the command in the Great Commission about baptizing (Matt. 28:19), no biblical text gives any explicit instructions whatsoever about who should perform either of these tasks. Yet most Protestant and Anabaptist congregations have created a near-absolute rule that only ordained ministers may “administer the ordinances.” I think this does violence to Scripture, turning norms into absolutes.

Indeed, it could be argued that the more mature a local church is, the freer its individual members will be to all baptize and serve the Lord’s Supper without direct ministerial participation. As I understand it, Ephesians 4:11-12 does not say that leaders are given “for the work of ministry” (as KJV wrongly indicates), but that they are to given “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (ESV). Should not a well-equipped saint be prepared for “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16), including baptizing new believers and celebrating the Lord’s Supper with fellow saints?

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