Category: Foundations of Doctrine

Foundations Lesson One: The Bible

Foundations Lesson One: The Bible

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired (theopneustos/God-breathed) and is God’s revelation of Himself to man.

It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. Having God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its content, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. Special note: anything which purports itself to be Scripture or equal thereto but does not give Christ His proper glory is not Scripture but is actually not more than blasphemous trash. 

In the original autographs (manuscripts) we say that the Bible is

  1. Inspired (God-breathed/authored)
  2. Inerrant (no errors, no contradictions)
  3. Infallible (cannot fail)

Special Note: The Bible stands alone as our authority. We submit to its authority because it is Divinely Inspired. There are no additional testaments etc needed.

As part of the Doctrine of the Bible, we teach the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture. When we say that we mean that every word of the Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Every word that is found in the original autographs is there because God wills for it to be so. When we say plenary, we mean that each portion of the Bible is fully authoritative. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are equally inspired and therefore of value to the Christian.

If you remember the Emmaus Road Experience (Luke 24:13-35), you will remember that Jesus began with Moses and the Prophets and interpreted all things in the Scriptures concerning Himself. Moses and the Prophets is a euphemistic way of referring to the Old Testament.

What does the Bible say about the Bible?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 is where we get the idea that the Bible is God-breathed and profitable for

  • Doctrine
  • Reproof
  • Correction
  • Instruction in righteousness
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21
  • 1 Peter 1:23-25
  • Ps 19:7-12
  • Luke 21:33
  • Hebrews 4:12
  • Romans 1:16
  • John 1:1-4, 14
  • Hebrews 1:1-13
  • Titus 1:2

Overview

  • The Bible contains 66 books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament written by over 40 “authors” over 1800 years
  • The books are divided into chapters and verses for reference and navigation.
  • The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language.
  • The New Testament was written in the Greek language.
  • Our English Bible is a translation from these original languages.

Sections:

There are 2 Ways to order the canonical books

“Normal” English Bible reflecting Greek/Western thought and style:

  1. The Pentateuch/Law: Genesis through Deuteronomy
  2. History: Joshua through Esther
  3. Poetry and Wisdom: Job through The Song of Solomon
  4. Prophets: Isaiah through Malachi
  5. Gospels: Matthew through John
  6. History: Acts of the Holy Spirit
  7. Epistles/Letters: Romans through Philemon
  8. The “Catholic/General” Epistles: Hebrews through Jude
  9. The Apocalypse: Revelation

Jewish Bible

TaNaKH and B’rit Hadashah

TaNaKH is Torah (Teaching) Nevi’im (Prophets) and K’tuvim (Writings)

  • Not essential to salvation but interesting as this is the Bible Jesus and the Apostles used

In TaNaKH order the Books are as follows:

Torah

  • B’resheet (Genesis)
  • Sh’mot (Exodus)
  • Vayikra (Leviticus)
  • B’midbar (Numbers but literally, Wanderings)
  • D’varim (Deuteronomy)

Nevi’im Rishonim (Early Prophets)

  • Y’hoshua (Joshua)
  • Shof’tim (Judges)
  • Sh’mu’el Alef (1 Samuel)
  • Sh’mu’el Bet (2 Samuel)
  • M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings)
  • M’lakhim Bet (2 Kings)

Nevi’im Acharonim (Later Prophets)

  • Yesha’yahu (Isaiah)
  • Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah)
  • Yechezk’el
  • Shinem-‘asar (the 12. In Hebrew Scripture these comprise a single book)
  • Hoshea (Hosea)
  • Yo’el (Joel)
  • ‘Amos (Amos)
  • Ovadyah (Obadiah)
  • Yonah (Jonah)
  • Mikha (Micah)
  • Nachum (Nahum)
  • Havakuk (Habakkuk
  • Tz’fanyah (Zephaniah)
  • Hagai (Haggai)
  • Z’kharyah (Zechariah)
  • Mal’akhi (Malachai)

K’tuvim (Writings)

  • Tehillim (Psalms)
  • Mishlei (Proverbs)
  • Iyov (Job)
  • The 5 Megillot (Scrolls)
  • Shir-Hashirim (Song of Songs)
  • Rut (Ruth)
  • Eikhah (Lamentations)
  • Kohelet (Ecclesiastes)
  • Ester (Esther)
  • Dani’el (Daniel)
  • Ezra-Nechemyah (Ezra-Nehemiah)
  • Divrei-Ha Yamim Alef (1 Chronicles)
  • Divrei-Ha Yahim Bet (2 Chronicles)

B’rit Chadeshah would be our normal New Testament

Like other forms of literature, there are types of Scripture

  • Historical Narrative: narrative that lays foundation for future things
  • Poetical: song-like, worshipful or proverbial
  • Prophetical: can be the Word describing future events but more importantly, authoritative communication on behalf of the Lord God. At times, the Prophetic can be polemical in nature, such as when denouncing false prophets.
  • Instructional: practical application of Scripture

Interpreting the Bible

Each passage of Scripture only has 1 correct interpretation, but how do we arrive at that? Start by reading like any other book. No that wasn’t a blasphemous statement…

5 Principles for Interpretation

  1. Literal Principle: We interpret the Bible according to the normal rules of language. We are not looking for some secret “super spiritual” meaning. Normal people wrote using normal language. Metaphors, similes, analogies, etc. These all follow the normal rules just as they would anywhere else. Figures of speech are normal language.  Symbolism is normal language.  But allegory is secret, hidden meaning that is not contained in the normal language.  There are no allegories in the Bible.  There are no allegories, whatsoever, in the Bible, it is normal language, it means exactly what it appears to mean.There is no deeper meaning, there’s no hidden meaning, there’s no secret meaning, there’s no spiritualized meaning.  Yes, there are prophetic passages where there are analogies; these are illustrations.  You read Zechariah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah,  and in the book of Revelation you see images…those images are conveying a reality. They are conveying a reality in a symbolic way.  Even Jesus used differing types of language. Case in point: parables. Parables were fictional stories conveying actual truth.
  1. Historical Principle: culture, geography, politics, religion, the thinking of the people, the perspectives, the world view, what’s going on at the time, how the people think…all of that is informing you on the historical context. (I won’t make many product endorsements but the Bible Background Commentary from InterVarsity Press is an outstanding resource for this.)
  2. Grammatical Principle(Quoting John MacArthur)“This is to take a look at the language and the syntax and lexicography of a passage…the words, the way they’re arranged, the prepositions, the pronouns, the antecedents. And you can do that in your English Bible.  You do it as a matter of course anything.  You interpret, you do that as a matter of course.  What do the words mean?  What does the antecedent of this? What is the preposition telling me?  To what does this pronoun refer?  To whom does it refer?  So it’s a grammatical thing.  We break that into word studies, studies of actual words, syntax which is how the words are connected with each other.”
  3. Synthesis Principle: The Reformers used the expression Scriptrua Scripturum Intepretatur or in English, the Scripture interprets the Scripture. Two of my dear friends like to refer to the New Testament as a commentary on the Old Testament and it certainly is. Example: Sermon on the Mount is expository treatment of many OT Laws
  4. Practical Principle What are the implications of the text? What is the truth that was delivered and what do I do with it?

Choosing Your Bible

  1. Choose a Bible that is as literal as possible but still easy to understand. Ideally, you want to use an essentially literal (form-based/word for word) translation. I use three, primarily: The New American Standard Bible (of which the 1977 edition is the most literal English edition made), The English Standard Version (primarily for teaching because of its global availability) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Other English versions that would be very literal are the King James Version, New King James Version. Many will ask if a thought for thought/dynamic equivalence translation is ok and what they mean is, “is it acceptable to use the NIV or NLT Versions, or perhaps something similar?” Yes. It may have some deficiencies as but you will still be able to have successful study. English versions in this category are the New Living Translation, New International Version, New English Translation, Revised English Bible. Paraphrases like the Message and the Voice should be avoided at all cost. We are not looking for opinion on what the text says.
  2. Choose a Bible that is designed for study. If you are able, you should get a wide margin Bible. As you study the Holy Spirit will bring things to mind that you will want to remember for a long time and a wide margin is an excellent choice here. A Bible with cross references is also an excellent choice, especially where the synthesis principle comes in. The references will be a guide to using the Bible to interpret itself. Some will come with commentary pre-included. This is ok but you really ought to put in the labor for your own study.
  3. Most importantly, get the same translation that your primary pastor uses. (You may listen to many teachers but you need to use the version that is read in the pulpit where you attend church. You will find that it helps you understand better because you will have cohesion with the members of your church and will be able to discuss the text.

Beloved, the Bible is the Foundation of our faith because without it we would not know Christ. It is the single most important investment that you will make.

Until next time, Ahava v’Shalom (love and peace)

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