Interpretation of the Scriptures (Outline)

A brief outline of A. W. Pink’s work published by Baker. I posted this back in Feb. 2011 rebloging it today.

Chapter 1: The first chapter highlights the need and importance of interpreting scripture without falling prey to two common extremes.  One extreme would be the idea held by Rome and other denominations that teach the scriptures are too difficult to understand and therefore need to be presented to the average person by someone with special authority.  The other extreme teaches that we are simply to read and believe without any interpretation needed at all. Pink gives three reasons for interpretation: 1) explain seeming contradictions, 2) to seek the meaning and sense of the words and 3) inserting of an explanatory word into the text.

Chapter 2:  To understand scripture Pink tells the reader that we must have both the tools and the skill.  We must be humble when we approach the word and avoid arrogance when we seeking an interpretation.  Being a regenerate believer does not guarantee we will be able to understand all things perfectly or even well but that we must continue to work on it.  We understand the Bible through reason that is impressed by the Holy Spirit. Pink gives five elements needed to interpret the word: 1) a mind illumined by the Holy Spirit 2) an impartial spirit 3) a humble mind 4) a praying heart 5) a holy design.

Chapter 3:  Expository preaching is covered in this chapter with the emphasis on preaching solid doctrine.  To quote Bible verses is not enough, the student of the word must labour to gleam a meaning from the text to feed self and others.  The lessons learned are not taught through diligent study alone but through experience.  Pink writes, “No one can learn what humility is by means of the concordance, nor secure more faith by studying certain passages of Scripture. The one is acquired through painful discoveries of the plague of our hearts, and the other is increased by a deepening acquaintance with God.”

Chapter 4: The Bible is described as the sole textbook for the student with the author using the Authorized Version.  Commentaries are viewed as useful only when you have exhausted a concordance.  Pink takes a dig at Dispensational theology on pages 25 – 26 for their unbiblical focus on things that differ instead of unity.  Pink gives us the first three rules of biblical interpretation in this chapter: (1) there is a need to recognize the “inter-relation and mutual dependence of both testaments,” (2) to carefully study scripture when it quotes scripture, and to (3) “conform all interpretations to the analogy of faith.”

Chapter 5: Rule 3 is explained in further detail at the beginning of this chapter.  Here the author introduces two more rules, that of (4) context and (5) scope.  It is mentioned that “proof texting” is quoting scripture outside of its context to support the theologians thoughts rather then scripture.

Chapter 6:  Continues with examples of proper and improper use (4) context and (5) scope with Dispensationalism once again in his cross hairs.  The next rule offered is to (6) interpret scripture by scripture or “comparing spiritual things with spiritual things.”

Chapter 7:  The thoughts expressed in chapter 6 are carried over and explained in full detail before recommending the next rule, that being, (7) briefer statements are to be interpreted by fuller ones.   Little is written but common sense agrees with Pink.

Chapter 8:  Collecting and collating (8) scripture is explained as the next rule.  The author goes on to give examples, one being the term “born again.”  It is used in scripture to describe regeneration but idea is found elsewhere with such as “passing from dark to light,” “renewing,” and “resurrection.”  By collecting and collating passages the doctrine will become clear.

Chapter 9:  The rule of (9) simple negative is briefly touched upon as well as (10) interrogative form and the proper use of (11) reason.  It is explained that negative conclusions can be used to infer the opposites, rhetorical questioning of the Socratic method proves useful and human reason does play apart in understanding divine things, although it is subject to divine things.

Chapter 10: Pink gives us an idea of how we find (12) limitations of general statements in this chapter.  The example being “judge not,” being considered in light of “judge righteous” and “thoroughly judge.”  We cannot make a universal truth statement from general truth statement.  In the same line of thought we are told that (13) positive statement with a comparative force, or, seek the context of absolute statements keeping our understanding within the analogy of faith.  This will help to remain consistent.

Chapter 11:  (14) Non-literal language must be viewed as such.  Both translators and expositors must be aware of the finer nuances of the languages.  The wooden literalism found in the more classic schools of Dispensationalism are to be avoided since they remove the original meaning from the text and fail to (15) understand types.

Chapter 12:  The use of the analogy of faith is mentioned in connection with the next rule, to seek a proper (16) exposition of the parables, which are supplementary to direct teaching.  Pink’s sharp mind then directs the Bible student to be aware that words are not translated uniformly so we are to seek other (17) or different meanings that each word might have.

Chapter 13:  The idea is carried forward from the previous chapter with a different emphasis, this being, (18) the Holy Spirit’s use of the words.  We are to note the actual use of the word in scripture alone and not to rely on classical literature to seek a meaning.  The author sites his suggestion of a concordance rather then a dictionary.  Although we find a dislike of Dispensational theology in this work (19) distinguishing between things that differ is still important, and well explained, just not the crux of our theological grid.

Chapter 14 & 15:  The next rule we are instructed to follow is to seek (20) the spiritual meaning of scripture, that scripture often has a double purport, a natural and a spiritual.  Chapter 15 explains this concept in great detail giving plenty of examples.  Anyone familiar with A. W. Pink’s work will know he does implore this rule often and takes care to fully detail its use and importance.

Chapter 16: (21) Double reference and meaning is now taken on and explained. In this chapter, to my surprise, the author confuses a belief that man is tripartite!  Using the rule of double reference Genesis 1:26 is used as support for this belief.  Interesting.

Chapter 17:  The author enlightens the reader to the (22) the law of order, meaning, the position the idea is found within scripture and how it relates to what follows it.

Chapter 18:  (23) The law of cause and effect traces the steps and connection between events.  The example of Peter’s fall is given; self-assurance (Mark 14:29), failed to pray and watch (Mark 14:38-40), disregarded the warning to be sifted (Luke 22:31-33) and trying to take control by force (John 18:10).  This is explained to be a law of cause and effect.  The next canon is that of (24) emphasis.  What God has placed emphasis on, should be well noted to the believer.  The Companion Bible written by the famous Ultra Dispensationlist is mentioned.

Chapter 19:  The (25) origin of a word is understood as being of some use but we are direct back to rule 19 where we are instructed to seek out the Holy Spirit’s use of the words.  (26) The law of comparison and contrast was written to be of interest but of less importance overall.

Chapter 20 & 21:  The first use of a word, (27) the law of first mention, should guide our understanding of it.  (28) The law of progress or progressive revelation is explained in detail and we are reminded that the Bible is full of life.

Chapter 22:  We come to the last chapter and the last interpretive rule given to us by A. W. Pink.  We are reminded of the (29) law of full mention with examples given of John 17 where Christ is interceding for believers, the total inability of man in Romans 3 and election and reprobation in Romans 9.



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