Acts 10:46: “FOR they heard them speak with tongues”

Acts 10:46: “FOR they heard them speak with tongues”

“FOR” should be translated “BECAUSE”:

The Greek word translated “for” (Gr: “gar”) is not merely a preposition. It is a conjunction “…which is virtually equivalent to ‘because’…” and must be “…distinguished from the preposition ‘for’… (J.W. Wenham, Elements of N.T. Greek, p. 200).

In fact, “Gar” is “…a conjunction, which acc. (accusative) to its composition ‘ge’ and ‘ara’, is properly a particle of affirmation and conclusion, denoting truly therefore, verily as the case stands, ‘the thing is first affirmed by the particle ‘ge’, and then is referred to what precedes by the force of the particle ‘ara’ (J.H. thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 109). In other words, “gar” comes from two particles, one affirming the previous thought or word, and one referring back to the previous thought or word, making this conjunction a strong “because”.

The fact that “gar” is used in the “accusative” case reinforces the truth of the previous verse (Acts 10:45) and its connection with Acts 10:46, for the accusative case shows the direction, extent, or end of an action. This is the case of the direct object. So then, Acts 10:46 demonstrates that “because (double affirmation – i.e. ‘absolutely because)” those who heard the speaking in tongues, they (they, by their hearing were directed to the end of action) understood “…that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:45).

Further proof that this word is a very strong “because” is the following three-fold basic definitions of “gar” (J.H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 109, 111)

Its primary and original Conclusive force is seen in questions and answers expressed with emotion. (Notice the term “Conclusive force”)

It adduces the Cause or gives the Reason of a preceding statement or opinion. (Notice the term “Reason of a preceding statement”)

It serves to explain, make clear, illustrate, a preceding thought or word.

(For further study, one may note the following words translated “FOR” in the New Testament: anti, apo, achri, dia, eis, ek, en, eneka, epi, kata, peri, pros, huper. These provide interesting insights for comparison studies.)

Therefore, a better translation of Acts 10:45, 46 is presented:

v. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
v. 46 BECAUSE they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.

Correct Objective Hermeneutical Conclusion:

Believers who were with Apostle Peter understood clearly that Speaking in Tongues was the direct result of the preceding thought, mainly, that the GIFT of the HOLY SPIRIT was “poured out”.

Respectfully

The 3,000 Did Not Speak in Tongues ~ Really? (Part 2)

In part 1 of this study we looked at a few quotes from those who teach that none of the 3,000 spoke in tongues. In part 2 we will continue with statements from those who teach that none of the 3,000 spoke in tongues. Just like my last blogs, in order to encourage deeper thought, I will make a few comments after each quote. Hopefully this will clarify the issue for some. However, I will deal with this topic extensively in future blogs.

C. Dr. Rick Walston: (President of Columbia Evangelical Seminary)

“…120 disciples spoke in tongues as the Holy Spirit filled each of them. Three thousand others on the same day accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah, were water baptized, and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, yet Luke is completely silent about them speaking in tongues.” (Walston, Rick. The Speaking in Tongues Controversy. Xulon: Xulon Press, 2003. p. 73)

Comments The first thing I would like to address is the fact that Dr. Waltson has made a bold claim by stating that the 3,000 received the baptism in the Holy Spirit apart from speaking in tongues. First, where does the text explicitly tell us that the 3,000 received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at all? I realize that the answer to that question falls on deductive studies of implicit texts, to which I do agree, at least in principle. On the other hand, the very clear, complete, and explicit text is completely silent about the 3,000 receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as much as it is silent about speaking in tongues (Acts 2:41). Why would it not be just as plausible using the same implicit texts for the 3,000 to have spoken in tongues? What gives this interpreter the right to arbitrarily separate speaking in tongues from the reception of the Gift of the Holy Spirit? After all, we do know that the 120 spoke in tongues when they received the Gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4); Cornelius and company spoke in tongues when they received the Gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-46); and the Ephesian believers spoke in tongues when they received the Gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6). Wouldn’t it have been more in keeping with the clear passages throughout the book of Acts, regarding the Gift of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, to actually embrace the intimate linkage of the two? Does not hermeneutics teach us that we are to interpret the obscure passages through the lens of the clear passages?  Secondly, are you sure Dr. Walston that Luke is completely silent about the 3,000 speaking in tongues?

D. Frank Viola: (Author)

There is no indication that the 3,000 who were saved on the day of Pentecost spoke in tongues.“(Viola, Frank. Rethinking the Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Part II. November 13, 2012.) (http://frankviola.org/2012/11/13/spiritbaptism2/#comment-170953) (accessed May 14, 2014).

Comments This quote is one reason this subject is being addressed. The error Frank Viola is promoting is turning people away from the truth about speaking in tongues. If you read his full article, this is one of his reasons for changing his views. However, does the preponderance of evidence really support the statement above.

E. Dr. Gary E. Gilley: (Senior Pastor Southern View Chapel)

The following believers apparently did not speak in tongues: 3000 at Pentecost…” (Gilley, Dr. Gary E. Doctrinal Distinctives of the Charismatic Movement. August 2000.) (http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/char/more/doct.htm (accessed May 14, 2014).

Comments I am relieved that Dr Gilley at least included “apparently” in his statement, for as will be shown later, the Scriptures do demonstrate that speaking in tongues were spoken by some, if not all, of the three thousand in question.

F. Rob Kerby: (Senior Editor of Beliefnet)

But the Bible does not say whether the 3,000 started speaking in tongues.” (Kerby, Rob. Did Everybody Speak in Tongues on the First Day of Pentecost?)(http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Articles/Did-Everybody-Speak-in-Tongues-on-the-First-Day-of-Pentecost.aspx?p=2#UoLtUci7L2rRTWuw.99 (accessed May 14, 2014).

Comments I will soon demonstrate that the evidence really does support the fact that speaking in tongues was spoken by more than the 120 on the Day of Pentecost.

G. Dr. Derek Carlsen: (Senior Pastor Covenant Reformed Church of Elk Grove)

The 3,000 who believed and were baptized at Pentecost did not speak in in tongues…” (Carlsen, Dr. Derek. Faith and Courage: Commentary on ACTS. Arlington Heights, Illinois: Christian Liberty Press, 2000. p. 429)

Comments To his credit, Dr Carlsen did not state that the Bible explicitly stated the 3,000 received the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

H. Dr. Mark Keown: (Professor of New Testament Studies at Laidlaw College in Auckland, New Zealand)

Nor does it say that all 3000 who were baptized at Pentecost received the gift of tongues (Acts 2:38-39). They received the Spirit, but what gifts manifested remains unknown.” (Keown, Dr. Mark. Should All Christians Speak in Tongues?) (August 15, 2013. http://drmarkk.blogspot.com/2013/08/should-all-christians-speak-in-tongues.html (accessed May 14, 2014).

Comments Again, the Scripture does not explicitly say the 3,000 received the Spirit. On the other hand, Scripture does teach us that the three thousand spoke in tongues.

I. Bill Fallon: (Senior Pastor Journey Bible Fellowship Church)

All the apostles spoke in lan­guages but no reason to think that any of the 3,000 new be­lievers did.” (Fallon, Bill. The Charismatic Movement In Relation to 1 Corinthaisn 13:8-13.)(http://www.freegraceresources.org/1cor13-8.html (accessed May 14, 2014).

J. Robert Liichow: (Founder of Discernment Ministries International)

“Without going into the meat of Peter’s sermon we do learn one thing virtually all people fail to mention. When the 3,000 hearers are pricked to their hearts and are brought to faith in Christ Jesus and baptized —- NONE of these men began to speak in other tongues upon believing and baptism.” (Liichow, Robert. Part Four on Ecstatic Speech. January 2014.) (http://discernmentministriesinternational.wordpress.com/category/tongues/ (accessed May 14, 2014).

Comments I will demonstrate that this statement does not show good Biblical discernment or exegesis.

K. Chris Williamson: (Senior Pastor of Strong Tower Bible Church)

“When the 3,000 were converted that day (2:41), there was no mention of them speaking in tongues.” (Williamson, Chris. Prophecy vs. Tongues.)(http://www.strongtowerbiblechurch.com/prophecy-v-tongues-sermon-notes/ (accessed May 14, 2014).

Comments I will agree that Acts chapter two does not mention any of the three thousand spoke in tongues. However, Luke does mention it elsewhere. As you can see, this is a very popular view in Christian circles. By the time we are finished with this study I hope we will all be Embracing Biblical Realities. See you next blog!

The 3,000 Did Not Speak in Tongues ~ Really? (Part 1)

Day of PentecostLearning what the Bible teaches takes more than just agreeing with popular Bible teachers, commentaries or websites. It takes researching all the passages that address a given topic, asking the right questions, and objectively embracing the information gained. Once all the information is acquired, all information should be regarded as a composite whole. Rejecting any portion of the composited information will lead to exegetical error, which in turn, in some cases leads to extreme doctrinal error. For example, if one were to reject the passages about the Deity of Christ, this leads to either Arianism or Unitarianism ~ both teach that Jesus was a mere man. Both doctrinal errors result from rejecting some portions of the composited whole of all passages regarding the identity of Christ.

I. THE QUESTION

From my perspective, this is the reason that many take issue with speaking in tongues. Many do not take the time to study every passage that relates to the topic to come up with a composited whole. With that said, let us Embrace Biblical Realities about the 3,000 believers mentioned in Acts 2:38-41. If you have taken the time to study the Biblical doctrine of speaking in tongues you have either heard or read that none of the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost spoke in tongues. OK, I will admit that when I first heard the reasons behind that position, I merely accepted it as being true. I would suspect that most reading this blog have done the same. After all, the text in question does not mention that any of them spoke in tongues. It must be true, right? However, is this the final answer? Is this all the Bible has to say about the 3,000 in reference to speaking in tongues? In part 1 of this study we will be looking at a few quotes from those who teach that none of the 3,000 spoke in tongues. In order to encourage deeper thought, I will make a few comments. Hopefully this will clarify the issue for some. However, I will leave my full response for future blogs.

II. THE ALLEGATIONS

A. Dr. John MacArthur:

“When Peter stood up and preached his sermon, three thousand people believed and were saved. All three thousand people received the Holy Spirit at the moment they believed (Acts 2:38). But again, nothing suggest that the three thousand people spoke in tongues as they had heard the disciples do.” (MacArthur, John. F. (1992). Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States: Zondervan Publishing House, p. 217)

“If tongues were to be the normal experience… Why does the text in Acts 2 through 4 not say that everyone who believed following Peter’s sermons (over five thousand people according to Acts 4:4) and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) also spoke in tongues? (MacArthur, John. F. (1992). Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States: Zondervan Publishing House, pp. 211-212)

Comments Where does Acts 2 explicitly state, that is, state clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt, that the three thousand received the Holy Spirit “at the moment they believed?” Acts 2:41: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. The text simply tells us:

1. They received his word
2. They were baptized
3. They were added to the rest of the believers.

If the argument John MacArthur is making is based on implicit textual deduction, that is, implied though not plainly expressed, then is not there just as much a legitimate argument to implicitly embrace that the Gift of the Holy Spirit included speaking in tongues? After all, the text in question does not state clearly that these three thousand received the Gift of the Holy Spirit or were speaking in tongues! Is there substantial evidence that actually supports that not only did the three thousand receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit, but that they also spoke in tongues? Finally, Dr. MacArthur, what if the preponderance of evidence actually supports that the three thousand spoke in tongues, would you accept it as “the normal experience” for believers today?

B. Dr. John Stott:

“The 3,000 do not seem to have experienced the same miraculous phenomena (the rushing mighty wind, the tongues of flame, or the speech in foreign languages). At least nothing is said about these things. Yet because of God’s assurance through Peter they must have inherited the same promise and received the same gift (verses 33, 39). Nevertheless, there was this difference between them: the 120 were regenerate already, and received the baptism of the Spirit only after waiting upon God for ten days. The 3,000 on the other hand were unbelievers, and received the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of the Spirit simultaneously – and it happened immediately they repented believed, without any need to wait.

This distinction between the two companies, the 120 and the 3,000, is of great importance, because the norm for today must surely be the second group, the 3,000, and not (as is often supposed) the first. The fact that the experience of the 120 was in two distinct stages was due simply to historical circumstances. They could not have received the Pentecostal gift before Pentecost. But those historical circumstances have long since ceased to exist. We live after the event of Pentecost, like the 3,000. With us, therefore, as with them, the forgiveness of sins and the “gift” or “baptism” of the Spirit are received together.” (Stott, J. R. (1976). Baptism and Fulness. Downers Grove, Illinois, United States: InterVarsity. pp 28-29)

Comments Yes, it is true that that there isn’t any explicit statement regarding the three thousand experiencing a rushing mighty wind, tongues of flame, or the speech in foreign tongues. It is equally true that there isn’t any explicit statement that the three thousand received the Gift of the Holy Spirit. What is full of irony to me is this statement, Dr. Stott, “Yet because of God’s assurance through Peter they must have inherited the same promise and received the same gift.” In light of the fact that there isn’t any explicit statement that tells us that three thousand actually received the promised Gift of the Holy Spirit, would it not be just as valid an argument, based upon God’s assurance through Peter, that they must have inherited the exact same evidence ~ mainly, speaking in tongues? Where does the objective evidence actually point?

Dr. John Stott said, “This distinction between the two companies, the 120 and the 3,000, is of great importance, because the norm for today must surely be the second group, the 3,000, and not (as is often supposed) the first.” I would suggest that this statement may be considered a false disjunction: an improper appeal to the law of the excluded middle (See Exegetical Fallacies by D.A. Carson, pp. 73-74). In other words, Dr. Stott is implying that a false either/or requirement is mandatory in this text. I would suggest that both events are in total agreement based upon the evidence that will be presented in future blogs. Furthermore, I wonder if there were objective evidence that would suggest that the three thousand did indeed speak in tongues, would Dr. Stott accept it as normative?

One further comment before moving forward, John Stott also tells us that “We live after the event of Pentecost, like the 3,000. With us, therefore, as with them, the forgiveness of sins and the “gift” or “baptism” of the Spirit are received together.” Why does Dr. Stott make statements that are just not explicitly stated in the text? I would like to hope that he doesn’t have an agenda that the an explicit examination of the text does not support? Nowhere does this text explicitly teach that the forgiveness of sins and the “gift” or “baptism” of the Spirit are received together, if by together he is suggesting that that events are to be considered a synonymous parallel (both experiences are totally simultaneous events). If anything, the context would support a synthetic parallel (the second event supplements the first event). We will look at this more ahead. For the explicit record ~ The text simply tells us:

1. They received his word
2. They were baptized
3. They were added to the rest of the believers.

I am not saying that we cannot derive truth from the deduction of implicit texts. Biblical doctrine can be derived from both explicit and implicit texts, but to merely assume that making a statement without clear evidence does not automatically make it so. This is not exegesis. The fact is, he did not supply the needed evidence for his case. To be continued…

The Mocking of Egyptian Gods

Moses and Aaron before PharaohDuring our family devotions recently I was struck with the fact that someone in my family did not know the significance of each of the plagues that God inflicted on Egypt. I merely assumed that everyone knew their significance. I learned my lesson. I am not going to assume that everyone reading this blog knows either. Some just think that the plagues inflicted on Egypt were merely the arbitrary judgments of God on a wicked people. However, every judgment was designed to mock an Egyptian deity, including the serpent eating experience

The Serpent

The Cobra was a royal symbol that glorified Edjo, the Goddess of the Delta/Lower Egypt, which appeared on the front of the headdress of the pharaohs. Just like there are people that “control” Cobra’s today in places like India, the Pharaoh had men who controlled these serpents as well, symbolizing his power over all of the Delta/Lower Egypt. Most ordinary people actually feared Cobras. Therefore, the fact that Aaron’s rod (serpent) ate the rods (serpents) of the magicians was a direct demonstration that Pharaoh nor the Goddess Edjo were not in power, but only the Lord.

Here is a list of the “gods” that were mocked when God judged the Egyptians (Adapted from Barnes’ Bible Charts):

♦ Water Turned to Blood (Exodus 7:14-25)

*Khnum ~ The Guardian of the river’s source.

*Hapi ~ The Spirit of the Nile.

*Osiris ~ The Nile was his bloodstream.

 ♦ Frogs (Exodus 8:1-15)

*Hapi ~ Frog goddess to Egypt.

*Heqt ~ Wife of Khnum. Symbol of resurrection and fertility.

♦ Lice [Fleas or Gnats] (Exodus 8:16-19)

 *Seb ~ the earth god of Egypt

♦ Disease on Cattle (Exodus 9:1-7)

*Ptah ~ Egyptian god associated with bulls and cows.

*Mnevis ~ Egyptian god associated with bulls and cows

*Hathor ~ Egyptian god associated with bulls and cows

*Amon ~ Egyptian god associated with bulls and cows

♦ Boils (Exodus 9:8-12)

*Sekhmet – Egyptian goddess of Epidemics

*Serapis ~ Egyptian god of healing

*Imhotep ~ Egyptian god of healing

♦ Hail (Exodus 9:13-35)

*Nut ~ Egyptian sky goddess.

* Isis & Seth ~ Egyptian agriculture deities.

* Shu ~ Egyptian god of the atmosphere.

♦ Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20)

 *Serapia – Egyptian deity protector from locusts.

♦ Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29)

*Re ~ Egyptian sun gods

*Amon-re ~ Egyptian sun gods

*Aten ~ Egyptian sun gods

*Atum ~ Egyptian sun gods

*Horus  ~ Egyptian sun gods

*Thoth – Egyptian moon god.

♦ Death of the Firstborn (Exodus 12:29-36)

This plague was a judgment on all of Egypt’s gods.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the entire story serves as example for each of us. Are you experiencing trials that seem to have no explanation? Is God mocking those things you are placing your trust in? Well, it is something to think about. Blessings!

Yes ~ There is a Tabernacle of David!

I can still remember the day I asked my professor at seminary what his thoughts were about the Tabernacle of David. Without hesitation he exclaimed, “There is no such thing as a Tabernacle of David!”Tab of David Of course, I disagreed. Later, I discovered that many Christians do not know anything about a Tabernacle of David. My only goal today is to demonstrate that this Davidic Tabernacle is a Scriptural term.

The Prophet Samuel spoke of it:

2 Samuel 6:17:

And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.

1 Chronicles 16:1:

So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God.

The Prophet Isaiah spoke of it:

Isaiah 16:5:

And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.

The Prophet Amos spoke of it:

Amos 9:10-11:

All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

The Apostle James spoke of it:

Acts 15:16-17:

After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

Once some come to realize that the term “Tabernacle of David” does in fact exist in Scripture, it stirs hearts to dig deeper ~ now, that would be a blessing! What Spiritual truths can we glean from understanding this tabernacle?

Permission Granted ~ Using the Old Testament for doctrine (Part One)

Perhaps you have heard from some that it is wrong for New Covenant believers to practice any doctrine based upon the Old Covenant Scriptures. Very few of those who make this claim are consistent with this conviction. Many will still teach that tithing, using musical instruments in worship, and the death penalty, as well as other practices may be practiced. If you ask them how do they determine what is to be practiced from the Old Testament, they do not have any clear answer. Do New Covenant believers have permission from the New Testament Scriptures to practice doctrines contained within the writing of the Old Testament? Absolutely! However, although it is true, it is more complicated than merely reading the Old Covenant Scriptures about animal sacrifices, finding a lamb, and commencing to prepare it for a sacrifice to God. ScrollThere are many factors to consider. However, it is not the intent of this article to deal with how one determines what actually applies to New Covenant believers from the Old Testament. Instead, the blogs in this series will only deal with the general New Testament principles that allows for Old Testament Scripture to be used for doctrine.

2 Timothy 3:15-16:

15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

As way of background, one should note that this passage is quoted from an epistle written by Apostle Paul to Timothy, his son in the faith. Notice how Paul reminds Timothy about his personal acquaintance with  “the holy scriptures.” What Scriptures is Paul referring to? The New Testament wasn’t written yet! More astonishing still, Paul tells Timothy that those Old Testament Scriptures “make [him] wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Although this shouldn’t surprise a student of the Word, some may be surprised by this statement. Yet, Jesus already told us that the Old Testament was speaking about Him:

John 5:39:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

How long was Timothy familiar with the Old Covenant Scriptures? At first glance it does not seem to be very clear, however, the the term “from a child” (ἀπὸ βρέφους apo brephous) would seem to indicate a very “early” age. βρέφος brephos is also used to refer to

1. An unborn baby ~

Luke 1:41:

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:Baby Jesus

Luke 1:44:

For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

2. An Infant ~

Luke 2:12:

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Luke 2:16:

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manager.

Since Timothy’s mother Eunice was a Jewess, it was expected that little Jewish boys would be trained in the Word of God as soon as possible. Rabbi Judah said, “The boy of five years of age ought to apply to the study of the sacred Scriptures.”  Rabbi Solomon declared that “When the boy begins to talk, his father ought to converse with him in the sacred language, and to teach him the law, if he does not do that, he seems to bury him (Both quotes come from Barnes, A. (1884-1885). Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. (R. Frew, Ed.) London: Blackie & Son. 1 Timothy 3:15).” Therefore, it is highly likely that Timothy began studying the Old Testament Scriptures very, very young.

What should be interesting to observe to those reading this text is the fact that Apostle Paul isn’t suggesting that Timothy was wrong studying the Old Testament all of his life. In fact, he makes it abundantly clear that these Old Testament studies were “able to make [him] wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” This seems to be the opposite view of many today who suggest that learning the Old Testament merely has story book value, as opposed to practical doctrinal value. However, Paul makes it abundantly clear that one can actually become “wise unto salvation” through the reading of it. How can that be?

Well, back to the main point.

2 Timothy 3:16:

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

The meaning of this specific text, understood historically, is that the Old Testament is specifically “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Some may not like the implication of this passage, but it cannot be any clearer. The primary meaning of any verse is single, definite and fixed. Does this verse apply to the New Testament Scriptures? Yes, but only in a secondary sense ~ that of application ~ for “There is only one true interpretation – but many applications! (see Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d. 205)!” Since the New Testament was also written by inspiration of God, we know that it is also profitable for doctrine, etc…

There is much more to think though on this topic, but it will have to wait.

The Need for Hermeneutics ~ The Ethiopian Paradigm

On the way from Jerusalem, an Ethiopian man of Ethiopiangreat authority of the court of Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia (Acts 8:27), was reading Scripture. God told Philip to meet the Ethiopian (vv. 26-29), so he ran up to the chariot and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah (vs. 30). Philip asked the African if he understood what he was reading. The man said, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?” He then invited Philip into his chariot, asking him if the Prophet Isaiah was speaking about himself or someone else (vs. 31). This question clearly revealed his need for help with the interpretation. As a result of Philip’s explanation, the Ethiopian man came to faith in Christ and was water baptized.

From my perspective, at times we all need help with interpretation of passages. We have all felt like we were the Ethiopian man. This story demonstrates that merely because someone reads the words of a passage, this does not necessary mean that the one reading understands what he is reading. Hence, the need for principles of interpretation, or in other words, hermeneutics.lains it to me?” He then invited Philip into his chariot, asking him if the Prophet Isaiah was speaking about himself or someone else (vs. 31). This question clearly revealed his need for help with interpretation.

Speaking in Tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 (Part One)

A careful reading of 1 Corinthians 14 reveals that the essence of speaking in tongues is communicating to God through prayer or praise. Verse 2 establishes the theme, “he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto to men, but unto God…” Understanding this truth alone helps decipher what Apostle Paul is truly addressing in this chapter. Let us examine speaking in tongues in this chapter.

Verse 2: “For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him.

The text is very clear ~ speaking in tongues is clearly designed to be communication to God. It is not naturally designed for men to naturally understand the language being spoken. Those who heard tongues in Acts 2 understood what was being spoken, but that seems to be the exception according to this passage. Why? “for no man understands him.”

Verse 3: But he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

Paul is merely contrasting the nature of speaking in tongues with the nature of prophesying. When on speaks in tongues, one is speaking to God. When one prophecies, one is speaking to man. Because of the specific nature of these gifts, he now begins to explain why he is addressing the issue. He begins by expressing the end result of prophesying, mainly, when one prophecy’s to people, the people are edified, exhorted and comforted.

Verse 4: He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the church.

The contrast continues, but the theme is the same. Speaking in tongues is speaking to God. He is now sharing what the end result of speaking in tongues is ~ edification of one’s self. Some people get hung up with this because they do not understand the context. The context is still prayer. Paul has shared so far that speaking in tongues is prayer, and when one prays, one is edified. Anyone who has spent much time in prayer knows intimately how it edifies your soul. There is almost nothing like it. Yet, there are those who actually attempt to teach that speaking in tongues must be bad since it edifies self. If speaking in tongues is so bad, the these people need to ask the question why Paul claimed to speak in tongues more than those who were speaking in Corinth. He says quite clearly, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” (1 Corinthians 14:18). However, Paul continues the contrast between the two gifts by showing that when one prophecies it edifies the entire church.

Hermeneutics ~ Herma What?

031505_divinity_library_57.jpgIn it’s most simple definition, hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. In reality, it should be considered both an art and science. As a science, there are specific principles that need to be applied to a given text. Neglecting to apply a specific principle could lead to an erroneous interpretation.  It is an art in the sense that it requires the skill of an interpreter. The application of these principles cannot be merely mechanical procedures. Some passages are quite complicated. To merely attempt to apply a specific principle to a passage without considering it’s meaning within the full context of Scripture may lead to incomplete interpretation. Sometimes every passage written in Scripture that even slightly refers to the text needing interpretation needs to be brought into the analysis to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the specific passage being studied. Perhaps one of the most insightful definitions comes from Dr. Milton S. Terry, where he suggests that it should be  “…more specifically defined as the science of interpreting an author’s language. This science assumes that there are divers modes of thought and ambiguities of expression among men, and, accordingly, it aims to remove the supposable differences between a writer and his readers, so that the meaning of the one may be truly and accurately apprehended by the others” (Terry, Milton S. Biblical Hermeneutics, A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. New York: Hunt & Eaton, 1890.).

The word hermeneutics is a Greek word, from ἑρμηνεύω (hermēneuō), which means to interpret, to explain, to translate. The Greek New Testament uses the following words within the category of “interpretation.”

Hermeneuo: ~ to interpret, explain, expound, translate

John 1:38:  Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

Hebrews 7:2: To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Hermeneia: ~ explanation, interpretation

1 Corinthians 12:10: To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

1 Corinthians 14:26: How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

Diermeneuo: ~ to interpret, explain thoroughly, interpret fully, to unfold the meaning of what is said, explain, expound

Luke 24:27: And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Acts 9:36: Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms deeds which she did.

Diermeneutes: ~ a thorough interpreter, one who interprets or explains fully

1 Corinthians 14:28: But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

Dusermeneutos: ~ hard to interpret, difficult to explain, hard to be understood

Hebrews 5:11: Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

Methermeneuo: ~ to translate into the language of one with whom communication is desired, to interpret

Matthew 1:23: Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Acts 4:36: And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus

A compilation of the word usages above show that interpretation covers translation, expounding, interpreting and explaining obscure phrases. All of these things are important for one who takes interpretation seriously. Too many take interpretation as merely “this passage means this to me” approach, which has created a cesspool of confusion among believers today instead of Embracing Biblical Realities.