In the Scriptures there are two senses of things: the sense under the first covenant and the sense under the second covenant. For every entity in the first covenant there is a spiritual equivalent in the second covenant.
The Good News of Christ Jesus
By Marcus Booker
God v. Man
Man has been estranged from God because of sin (Romans 5:10). The purpose of the Scriptures is to show how God reconciles men to Himself and in so doing deems them righteous (2 Timothy 3:14-17; Romans 15:4; Luke 24:27; 44; John 5:39-40; 45-47). Two ways are opposed: God and man (Galatians 5:17). The way of reconciliation between these two is through Christ alone, who is the only door between man and God (John 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12), and is himself the fullness of the living God in the flesh (Philippians 2:6-7; John 1:14). The way of man is called sin (Luke 16:15), the way of God righteousness. Sin is to trust in, fear, and follow after man. Righteousness is to trust in, fear, and follow after God. The central, unifying, and overarching theme of the Scriptures is the God v. Man dichotomy. Every other theme and sub-theme in the Scriptures fits within an overall thematic structure in which this God v. Man dichotomy is the ultimate head. The Scriptures also express the good news in terms of a transformation from man (and the things of man) to God (and the things of God). The cross of Christ is everything because righteousness is based upon God s doing by His strength and power and not upon Man s doings and strivings. The cross undoes all boasting (Ephesians 2:9; Romans 3:19; 27). Righteousness, then, accords with trusting in what God has done and not in works accomplished by your own power (2 Timothy 1:8-9; Romans 9:11-12; Titus 3:4-8; Ephesians 2:4-10).
Moreover, the distinction between Flesh and Spirit and between Adam and Christ (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 45-50) is synonymous with the Man v. God dichotomy. The Scriptures constantly contrast man and God. Grass, that withers away, characterizes man; yet God endures forever (1 Peter 1:24-25; Psalm 37:2-3; 78:39-43; 92:7-8; 102:11-12; 103:13-18; 109:23-26; 129:6-8; 144:3-5; Ecclesiastes 8:13; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Isaiah 40:6-8; 51:12-13; 1 Samuel 15:29). Man cannot help; yet God is mighty (John 6:63; Matthew 19:26; 26:41; Psalm 146:3-6). Man looks upon the outward appearance; but God tries the reins and the heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 21:2). Man is an image; but God is the heavenly original (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8).
Yet the chief, most noteworthy way in which the Scriptures employ this Man v. God dichotomy and reveal the righteousness that is in Christ is by the many contrasts between the second covenant (or new covenant) and the first covenant, the latter of which served as a tutor to point to the former (Galatians 3:24). The second covenant corresponds to God, and the first covenant corresponds to Man [and God ordained this arrangement] (Galatians 4:21-31). The first covenant was an image of the second covenant just as man is the image of God. The first covenant was a shadow; the second covenant was the body (Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 10:1). Just as a shadow is useful to reveal something about the body, so also was the first covenant useful to reveal something about the second covenant. Yet the full revelation of the body terminates the usefulness of the shadow (2 Corinthians 3:11). Such being the case, the Scriptures express the good news also in terms of two covenants, a transformation from the first to the second through Christ s cross.
In addition, the following especially represent the entire first covenant, or the Law.
- the center of worship [Tabernacle and later the Temple] (Hebrews 9:8-9; Matthew 24:1-3),
- the heavens and earth [two witnesses of the covenant],
- the circumcision of the flesh [sign of the covenant],
- and the tablets of stone
The passing away of these elemental things in favor of
- a Temple in heaven,
- a new heavens and new earth,
- a circumcision of the heart,
- and a law written upon the tablet of the heart
all represent the new covenant or Grace.
The field of study called eschatology or the study of last things or end times also is really about the transformation from the flesh to the spirit, or from the first covenant to the second through Christ. So the end concerns not the literal termination of the physical creation to take place in the future but the end of the first covenant that took place in the past (1 Peter 4:7; Matthew 13:39; Hebrews 9:24-26; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 John 2:17-18). It would seem that the first covenant ended when the Temple made with hands was destroyed (Hebrews 9:8-9; Matthew 24:1-3). The power of the Cross brought about this destruction. In other words, every prophesy in the Scriptures has been fulfilled in the cross.
Two Senses of Everything
In the Scriptures there are two senses of things: the sense under the first covenant and the sense under the second covenant. For every entity in the first covenant there is a spiritual equivalent in the second covenant. The word might be the same in both cases, but carry with it entirely different meanings in each case. For instance, the word Israel means the unique son of God, God s anointed nation, the seed of Jacob comprised of His anointed ones (Psalm 2:2,7,12; Proverbs 30:4; Hosea 11:1; Psalm 105:15). Yet not all Israel are Israel (Romans 9:6)! In the first covenant this Israel consists of the sons of Jacob after the flesh. In the second covenant, on the other hand, Israel consists of the sons of Jacob after the spirit (Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12,19; 6:3). The Anointed [or Messiah/Christ] is the unique son of God (Matthew 2:15). All those who are in him are His anointed ones, a nation comprised of the seed of Jacob (1 Peter 2:9). We are in unity: Christ is the head; we are the body (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:23). We, together, are Israel. This Israel is the son of man who approaches the Ancient of Days, coming on the clouds of heaven and is led into His presence (Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Revelation 1:7). He is the man at God s right hand and the son of man that He has strengthened for Himself (Psalm 80:17).
Another example, among many such examples, of this twofold sense of words is Law. Law means the terms of the covenant. Moreover, someone breaks the covenant by transgressing the law. Thus, the word law is a way of speaking of the covenant as a whole. Typically, the word law by itself refers to the first covenant. Yet there is also a law for the second covenant. So there are two laws for two covenants. The first law [or covenant] Israel does not heed. Nationally, the commands are written upon stone. The second law [or covenant] Israel heeds fully. Nationally, the commands are written upon the heart (2 Corinthians 3:3-18; Romans 7:6). We who are in Christ died to the first law and are married now to the second (Romans 7-8). The first law [the Law of Moses] is the law of sin and death, the law of works, and the law of bondage. The second law [the Law of Christ] is the law of the spirit, the law of faith, and the law of liberty. This second law is also called grace.
Worship in the New Covenant A Picture of Grace
A true Jew is one inwardly (Romans 2:29), worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We who are in Messiah, are the Circumcised, with a circumcision not hand-wrought, but accomplished by him (Colossians 2:11). And those who are not circumcised have broken the covenant (Genesis 17:14). Our God delivered us from the house of bondage, and gave us rest in the earth promised as an inheritance to the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 5:5; Romans 6:17-20; 8:21). And Joshua did not give us this rest, but Messiah (Hebrews 4:8). And we inherited an earth flowing with milk and honey. In the wilderness, we partook of manna from heaven and water from the rock, which rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3-4; John 6:27, 31-32, 35, 48-51; Revelation 2:17; 7:16-17). Our deliverer gave us a Law, not written on tablets of stone, but on tablets of the hearts of men (2 Corinthians 3:3-18; Romans 7:6). So we are not hearers of the law merely, but doers of it (Romans 2:13; James 1:22-25; Luke 11:28; Matthew 7:24,26; Revelation 1:3). And we came not to Sinai, a tangible mountain, but to Zion, the mount of the living God (Hebrews 12:18-22; Galatians 4:25-26). We follow after a new covenant to which witness a new heavens and a new earth in which dwell righteousness (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). Israel and the God of Israel are these witnesses (Revelation 11). The blessings and curses of the covenant concern long life in the promised earth. We are the twelve tribes (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; Revelation 7; Romans 11) inheriting a better fatherland, a heavenly one (Hebrews 11:16). We are citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, the city whose architect and builder is God which city is Messiah (Hebrews 11:10,16; 12:22; Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20; Galatians 4:26; Revelation 21). We abide every day of our lives in the Temple of our God, not made with hands (Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Corinthians 3:9-17; Revelation 2:12; 14:17; 21:22; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5). And we serve therein as priests (Isaiah 66:21), under a high priest who offered, once and for all, the atoning sacrifice for the sins of Israel by placing the blood of the New Covenant upon the Ark in the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 2:17; 7:26-27). We wear fine linen, which are our righteous deeds in the Messiah (Revelation 6:11; 19:8); thus are we clothed by him in beautiful and holy robes. We offer perpetual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to our God (for our redemption) (1 Peter 2:5; Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15), over which also we skillfully play the musical instruments that He has established and upheld. Yet our harps, lyres, trumpets, and cymbals are not made with hands, but are our hearts sounding forth a melody of joy over the Messiah s sacrifice of himself for his people Israel (Revelation 14:2-5; 15:2). So we also send up the fragrant aroma of incense, which are our prayers before God in thanksgiving for our redemption (Revelation 8:3; Psalm 141:2). We observe the Day of Atonement; we eat of the Paschal Lamb (John 1:29; Revelation); we observe from week to week and month to month the New Moons and Sabbaths (Isaiah 66:19,21), for Messiah took us, who were weary and heavy-laden, and gave us rest (Matthew 11:28). So there is still a Sabbath-keeping for God s people (Hebrews 4:9)! Furthermore, we partake in cattle, wine and strong drink, and all the fatness of the earth on the days of our feasts. So we rejoice in what He has done!
Moreover, we neither add nor subtract, nor go to the right nor to the left of what God has instituted in His holy covenant worship, which we perform in unity together in heaven (Deuteronomy 4:2; 5:32; Revelation 22:18-19). Yet our worship permeates every area of life and every last moment. It has genuine manifestations on earth. Our righteous deeds in Christ that is our worship!
The Worship in the First Covenant The Law as Shadow
The worship of the first covenant was a mere shadow of the worship of the second. Yet apart from a body and a light (God) to strike the body from above, there can be no shadow cast upon the earth! So where there is a shadow, there too must be a body and a light, though that body itself may be hidden for a time. Thus, the shadow and the body necessarily coexisted. Yet the shadow itself is nothing! The body is everything, and is the reality even when not fully revealed or seen. The body could impart everlasting life to faithful men in all ages. Thus, all of the saints of all ages are united in Christ.
In times of old, some men recognized the body from the shadow, while others did not. Such was the case in Israel after the flesh. Yet those who both saw and served the body (and not the shadow merely) belonged not merely to the first covenant, but to the second also. We, therefore, are united together with them in faith. For really, there is only one true covenant to which both they and us belong. The blessings and curses of the first covenant gave them only long or short life in the [physical] land all earthly things. Yet the life in the [spiritual] land of the living, belongs to the second covenant exclusively all heavenly things.
The people of old surely heard the good news (Galatians 3:8; Romans 1:2; Hebrews 4:2; Revelation 10:7). They had ample glimpses and foreshadows of Christ. They knew of the circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Leviticus 26:41; Jeremiah 4:4; 9:26; Ezekiel 44:7,9) and of the Temple in heaven, from which the LORD would descend and judge. They knew which sacrifices were well pleasing to God (Psalm 27:6; 40:6-10; 50:9-15; 51:16-19, 69:30-31, 107:22, 116:17, 141:2; Isaiah 1:11-20, Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:6-8; 1 Samuel 15:22). Indeed, the spiritual meanings behind the fleshly ordinances of the first covenant were partially revealed, and not altogether hidden from the men of old. Many of them surely tasted of the heavenly gift and benefited from Christ!
Yet while some were faithful, most were not (1 Corinthians 10:5). For this reason, God was not pleased with Israel after the flesh. And since God s covenant was with the nation, it was kept or broken on a national level. And Israel had broken the covenant, notwithstanding the faithfulness of exceptional individuals for when Israel and Judah were in exile, faithful Daniel was with them. The nation was cursed. Indeed, Israel had been unfaithful since coming out of Egypt s land (Jeremiah 7:24-26). Jeremiah expresses the difference between the broken covenant and the renewed covenant thus:
Lo, days are coming, an affirmation of Jehovah,
And I have made with the house of Israel
And with the house of Judah a new covenant,
Not like the covenant that I made with their fathers,
In the day of My laying hold on their hand,
To bring them out of the land of Egypt,
In that they made void My covenant,
And I ruled over them an affirmation of Jehovah.
For this is the covenant that I make,
With the house of Israel, after those days,
An affirmation of Jehovah,
I have given My law in their inward part,
And on their heart I do write it,
And I have been to them for God,
And they are to me for a people.
And they do not teach any more
Each his neighbor, and each his brother,
Saying, Know ye Jehovah,
For they all know Me, from their least unto their greatest,
An affirmation of Jehovah;
For I pardon their iniquity,
And of their sin I make mention no more.
The Hope of Israel
Christ is the hope of Israel, the one who raised the [cursed] nation from the dust and breathed life again into its dry bones (Acts 24:15; 28:20). He gathers together his people from the four winds as a shepherd gathers his sheep (Matthew 24:31; Luke 15:4-7). He brings the scattered ones into their own land, where he causes them to lie down in safety (Ezekiel 34:11-13). Christ, restores the nation and the kingdom, which had been divided because of idolatry (John 18:36). He takes away this idolatry, so that one king may reign over Israel and Judah, so that his people may live long in the land. The tribes of the earth mourn him, and are blessed forevermore in their God (Zechariah 12:2-10; Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7).
Two Covenants: Law of Moses v. Law of Christ
The difference between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ is not a difference between two ways in which God truly justifies man unto everlasting life. Rather, the difference is between two kinds of people, the people of Israel after the flesh and the people of Israel after the spirit. Indeed, the difference between the temple made with hands and the temple not made with hands, and between the circumcision of the flesh and the circumcision of the heart aptly summarize the distinction between the two covenant-laws.
Therefore, the command, Love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength applies equally to both covenants both laws command it! Nevertheless, physical Israel [nationally, corporately, and characteristically] writes this command upon their stony hearts, for which reason they disobey it (Ezekiel 36:26). On the other hand, spiritual Israel writes the command upon their renewed hearts, for which reason they bear fruit for righteousness.
Law v. Grace Two Covenants
|First covenant||Second covenant|
|Law of Moses
|Law of Christ (perfect law James 1:25 Psalms, law is perfect)|
Angels and Moses
God and Christ
|Law written on tablets of stone||Law written on tablet of the heart|
|Law of Bondage||Law of Liberty|
|Law of works||Law of faith|
|Law of sin/death||Law of the Spirit|
|Hearer (of the Law)||Doer (of the Law)|
|Tangible mountain/Sinai (Law) Galatians/Hebrews||Intangible mountain/Zion (Grace)|
Faith v. Works
The distinction between faith and works is primarily a distinction between the two covenants. The distinction may be summarized and expressed thus:
|Works of the flesh||
Works of the spirit
Works made with hands (like the Temple)
Works not made with hands (like the Temple)
Works of men
Works of God
|Works of the Law of Moses these works set physical Israel apart from the nations, like circumcision of the flesh||Works of the Law of Christ these works set spiritual Israel apart from the nations, like circumcision of the heart|
|Faith without love||Faith with love|
|Faith without works||Faith with works|
It is impossible for men to be justified before God other than through His grace. For God never receives anything from man, but gives to all men life, breath, and all things. Nobody has given to God, that He should repay him! (Job 35:5-8; 41:11; Romans 11:34-35, Acts 17:24-28). Moreover, the Scriptures constantly affirm that God blesses His people according to His own covenant purposes, and not based upon merit (Deuteronomy 9:5; 2 Timothy 1:8-9; Romans 9:11-12; Titus 3:4-8; Ephesians 2:4-10).
Now, whether we are justified by faith or by works is largely a matter of definitions! Here I would make four claims:
- We are justified by faith.
- We are not justified by faith.
- We are justified by works.
- We are not justified by works.
- That we are justified by faith is evident. We are righteous before God because of faith that works by love, faith unfeigned (Galatians 5:6; Philippians 3:9; 1 Timothy 1:5; Romans 5:1).
- That we are not justified by faith is evident. If I have all faith so that I could move mountains, and have not love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13). Also, faith without works is dead (James 2:1-26). Faith without love/works is not a true or living faith!
- That we are justified by works is evident (2 Corinthians 5:10; 11:15; 1 Corinthians 3:6-13; John 5:28-29; Matthew 3:8-10; 7:13-19; 12:33-37; 16:27; John 8:39-44; 15:1-16; 2 Timothy 2:19; Titus 1:16; Revelation 20:12-13; 22:12-14). Yet when God judges the works, he tries the reins and the heart (Revelation 2:23; Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Isaiah 66:18). Also, the saints do not accomplish their righteous works by their own strength and power, but God prepares those works for them (Revelation 6:11; 19:8; Ephesians 2:10). He quickens His holy ones, and enables them, through the spirit of God dwelling within them, to accomplish good works. Moreover, we are justified by the works of the law of Christ! and by the works of the spirit! This is true faith! (1 John 2:3-4; 29; 3 John 11; John 14:15-24; 15:10)
- That we are not justified by works is evident (Matthew 7:21:23; 23:5-28). The works of the Law of Moses do not help! Works accomplished by our own strength and power cannot save us.
Why is the First Covenant the Covenant of Man, and the Second Covenant the Covenant of God?
Man looks on the outward appearance.
To be justified [i.e. declared clean] in the fleshly ordinances of the First Covenant (Hebrews 9:10) required an external/outward conformity, circumcision of the flesh, and other ceremonial observances that could not cleanse the conscience of the worshipper. [Note: This justification is not unto everlasting life].
God looks on the heart.
To be justified [i.e. declared clean] in the spiritual ordinances of the New Covenant requires an internal/inward conformity, circumcision of the heart, and other true observances that could cleanse the conscience of the worshipper.
[Note: This justification is unto everlasting life].
|Man cannot help/save. Man returns to dust. The flesh is worthless.
The blood of the First Covenant cannot take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). The First Covenant grows old and passes away (Hebrews 8:13).
|God helps/saves. God remains. The spirit gives life.
The blood of the New Covenant takes sins away. The New Covenant remains forever.
Man is sinful. (Ecclesiastes 7:29)
The First Covenant is called the Law of sin and death. Israel breaks the covenant.
God is righteous.
The New Covenant is the Law of the Spirit. Israel keeps the covenant.
|Man is image of God (a copy and shadow).
The First Covenant is shown to be a copy and shadow of the Second. For instance, the Temple made with hands is called a copy and shadow of the Temple in heaven.
|God is the reality.
The Second Covenant is shown to be the heavenly original of the First. For instance, the Temple made without hands is called the heavenly original
What is a Covenant?
A covenant is an understanding between close parties; it is an agreement to have a particular relationship. God has a covenant with the sun, moon, and stars; they must abide by certain laws and are upheld by God (Jeremiah 31:35-37; 33:20, 25). Job made a covenant with his eyes, that he might not look upon a maid (Job 31:1). And there are many other such examples. The union between husband and wife, or between two dear friends (as David and Jonathan), or between two closely allied or brotherly nations is a covenant relationship. God s relationship to His people Israel is just such a covenant union. [The people that God has chosen for Himself are special to Him and receive blessings from His hand not because of their own inherent merit, but on the basis of the covenant relationship].
To be more technical, a covenant is a cohesive arrangement and a solemn pact, subject to stated or understood terms and conditions, which are usually made binding by enforcers [as two or three witnesses], whereunto also may attest oaths, vows, or promises, that establish a distinct relationship, a special solidarity, and a unique unity between two [or more] parties who willingly and consciously commune one with another according to a single shared purpose or end.
God s Covenant with Israel
|1.||A cohesive arrangement or a solemn pact||Yes|
|2.||Subject to stated or understood terms and conditions||The terms of the covenant are the laws, statutes, rulings and precepts. The conditions are the covenant blessings and curses (See Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 especially).|
|a.||Made binding by enforcers [usually two or three witnesses]||I call heaven and earth to witness against you today.|
|b.||Attested to by oaths, vows, or promises||Promises: Land, People, God s presence|
|3.||A distinct relationship, a special solidarity, and a unique unity||I will be your God; you will be My people.|
|4.||Two [or more] parties||God and Israel|
|5.||Willingly and consciously commune one with another||Yes there is agreement|
|6.||A single shared purpose or end||Accomplish God s will|
The First Book of the Law
The Beginning of a Covenant:
- Heaven and Earth (Genesis 1:1) two witnesses of the covenant see Deuteronomy 4:26; 30:19; 31:28
- Earth formless and void (Genesis 1:2) earth unfit to provide covenant blessings see Jeremiah 4:23 God prepares the desert and wasteland for habitation.
- Spirit of God/sanctifier (Genesis 1:2)
- Division and separation, light from darkness, leads up to Israel s separation from the nations (Genesis 1)
- Holy Days of the covenant
- signs, seasons, days, and years (Genesis 1:14) see Galatians 4:10
- Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3) sets seventh day apart
- Man made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) sets out the Man v. God division, which becomes a way of separating/contrasting two covenants.
- Woman made for Man, Man leaves Father and Mother to cling to wife (Genesis 2:24) Church made for Christ, Man leaves Father in Heaven and Zion to cling to His Bride (Ephesians 5:30)
- Adam and Eve cast out of land prepared for them because of disobedience (Genesis 3:24). This account serves as a warning to Israel who God will likewise cast out of the land for disobedience to the covenant.
The Father and Zion Adam and Eve Abraham and Sarah Christ and the Church
Let us make man in our image, proclaims God (Genesis 1:26). This statement is neither polytheistic nor Trinitarian. Rather, the Father is with Zion in the beginning (Zion being spirit from His spirit). Together they make man in their image; male and female they make them (Genesis 1:27). And just as Zion proceeds from the Father, Eve proceeds from Adam and is bone from his bone and flesh from his flesh. Adam ( the first man ) comes from God, and Eve from Adam; they sin! which summarizes the first covenant. Likewise, Christ ( the second man ) comes from God, and the Church comes from Christ, and the two become one flesh; they are spotless! which summarizes the second covenant (Ephesians 5:29-32). God is our Father, and Zion is our mother [Revelation 12 (See Genesis 37:9; Isaiah 66:7-13); Isaiah 7:14; Daniel 2:45; Galatians 4:26]. [Zion is not to be confused with the infamous Queen of Heaven. ]
Adam is the image of the Father. Eve is the image of Zion. They beget two sons, one who slays the other. These two sons are two covenants.
Moreover, Abraham corresponds to God and represents the Almighty (Luke 16:22), and Sarah corresponds to Zion (Galatians 4:24-26). They beget Isaac, a son according to the promise. In faith, Abraham proceeds willingly to offer up his only begotten son [of the free woman] as a sacrifice. The slave woman corresponds to Sinai. Abraham sends both her and her son away according to the word of God. God promises Abraham that, In you, all nations will be blessed. Yet Abraham s faithfulness concerning his son s birth and sacrifice only foreshadowed the faithfulness of the Father. And it is by this latter faithfulness alone that all nations are blessed and justified in God. So, in God (and by His faithfulness in sacrificing His son), all nations will be blessed. This is the good news! (Galatians 3:8)
Male and Female
1. First Covenant
2. Second Covenant
|Father and Zion||1. Adam and Eve broke the covenant, cast out of land
2. Christ and Church
|Father and Zion||1. Israel after the flesh broke the covenant, cast out of land
2. Israel after the spirit
|Adam and Eve||1. Cain
|Abraham and Sarah||1. Ishmael (Sarah s child through Hagar)
|Isaac and Rebekah||1. Esau
Tree of Life [and every other tree in the garden] v. Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: [Parallels in the quails v. manna and simple soup v. addition of gourd] (Colossians 2:16-17, 22-23 Genesis 3:6)(2 Corinthians 11:3)
The Tree of Life is God. The fruit of the tree is His righteousness in Christ. The tree is the spirit. The fruits are the works of the spirit, which impart life to the saints.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is Man. The fruits of the tree are the doctrines and teachings of men, or man s righteousness. The tree is the flesh. The fruits are the works of the flesh, which bring death to men who partake of it.
Animal Skins v. Fig Leaves:
Animal skins require a blood sacrifice and ransom. God Himself, by His mercy, clothes those who, by their sin, were naked and ashamed and had endeavored to clothe themselves, only inadequately.
Fig leaves represent the attempt of man, both male and female, to clothe himself in a righteousness of his own.
Seed of the Woman v. Seed of the Serpent: (Revelation 13:3)
The seed of the woman are the sons of righteousness, being in Christ. They adhere to the righteousness of God in the New Covenant. The seed of the serpent strikes the heel of the seed of the woman.
The seed of the serpent are the sons of perdition, being antichrist. They adhere to the righteousness of man in the Old Covenant. The seed of the woman bruises the head [which is a fatal blow] of the seed of the serpent.
Abel v. Cain: [Similar to David v. Saul](Jude 11)(1 John 3:11-15)(Matthew 23:35)(Hebrews 11:4; 12:24)
Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice before God, in faith. This sacrifice represents the blood and body of Christ, which takes away sins. Abel was of God and corresponds to the adherents to the New Covenant [who lived in liberty by the Law of Christ].
Cain offered an unacceptable sacrifice before God, faithlessly. This sacrifice represents the blood and body of bulls and he-goats, which cannot take away sins. Cain was of man and corresponds to the adherents to the Old Covenant [those who sought to be in bondage to the Law of Moses]. In envy, he sought to slay his innocent brother Abel.
Noah [and household] v. world: (Luke 17:26-27; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5)
Noah was a man of God, a preacher of righteousness in his own generation. By God s mercy, he and his household were delivered from the flood by means of an ark. Noah corresponds to the New Covenant.
The dwellers in the land walked according to the flesh, the way of man. By God s wrath, they were submerged by the flood, being without the ark. They correspond to the Old Covenant.
Lot v. Sodom: (Luke 17:28-29, 32; 2 Peter 2:6-10; Jude 7; Revelation 11:8)
Lot was a righteous man. He did not walk the way of man but the way of God. God delivered him from the coming destruction. Lot represents the aliens and temporary residents in the earth, being in Christ and His covenant.
Sodom was unrighteous. The Sodomites walked the way of man, not God. God destroyed their city with fire and sulfur. Sodom represents the citizens of the earth, being in Adam and his covenant.
Sarah v. Hagar: (***Galatians 4:21-31)
Sarah s womb was opened up by the special grace of God. It was accomplished according to the promise, through the spirit. Sarah endured the ridicule of Hagar. Sarah is the New Covenant.
Hagar s womb was opened up by the ordinary working of men. It was accomplished through the flesh. Hagar ridiculed Sarah. Hagar is the Old Covenant.
Isaac v. Ishmael: (Romans 9:7-9)(Galatians 4:29-31)
Isaac is the son of the free woman, born according to the spirit. He corresponds to the sons of righteousness, the image-bearers of the man from heaven. He came to be because of the promise of God.
Ishmael is the son of the slave woman [an Egyptian], born according to the flesh. He corresponds to the sons of unrighteousness, the image-bearers of the man from dust. He came to be by the doings of men. He is a wild-donkey of a man.
Jacob v. Esau: (Romans 9:10-13)(Hebrews 12:16-17)(Hebrews 13:9)
God loved Jacob and blessed him. Jacob lived according to the spirit, seeking the permanence of the blessing and birthright. The elder served the younger. Thus the New Covenant and the sons of Jacob according to the spirit displaced the Old Covenant and the sons of Jacob according to the flesh.
God hated Esau and cursed him. Esau lived according to the flesh, exchanging God s glory for vanity. He traded his birthright [spirit] for a single meal [flesh]. Nevertheless, he sought the blessing with tears, after having traded it. Yet it was too late. God s promises were for Jacob.
Heaven and Earth: Two Witnesses of the Covenant
Heaven and earth language is important to recognize, though it is somewhat intricate. In both Hebrew and Greek, heaven and sky (and sometimes air ) are the same word, as are earth and land (and sometimes ground and field ). Translations often mask this language. The terms heaven and earth, therefore, refer oftentimes to the physical [and to the spiritual] sky and land. Yet sometimes heaven and earth are contrasted: heaven is the spiritual realm of God, earth the physical realm of man. There are also many other usages, often employing the language to show forth a dominion over a particular nation or person. But in any case, the heavens, earth [and sea] language exists largely to remind forgetful Israel that the LORD made the heavens, the earth, and the sea and all things in them besides Him there is no God therefore do not be idolatrous. The language, then, shows forth the exclusive dominion of God. Yet it also broadcasts the dominion of man, who God made in His image [in that man has a mini-dominion over the heavens, the earth, and the sea].
So, to constantly remind Israel not to be idolatrous, the two witnesses to the covenant are the heavens and the earth (the sea may be deemed a third witness).
The Law states the following concerning idolatry, On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people (Deuteronomy 17:5-7). Thus the two witnesses not only testify but are themselves the first to execute vengeance upon transgressors of the covenant. In the same way, God uses His two witnesses not only to testify but to execute justice, to administer both the blessings and the curses of the covenant. When the people are blessed, the heavens and the earth bring about the blessings. When the people are cursed, they bring about the curses. And God controls the heavens and the earth through His angels.
The final book of the law makes explicit that the heavens and the earth are the two witnesses of the covenant. Moses proclaims, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants. (Deuteronomy 30:19)(See also Deuteronomy 4:26; 31:28)
Every blessing and curse can be understood in terms of the heavens and the earth. Even the promise of many descendants to Abraham: descendants as numerous as the stars in the heaven, and as the dust on the earth. Even descriptions of exile, capture, and destruction by the nations are put in this form: earth vomiting you out; name blotted out from under heaven.
Here are some examples:
- Birds of the heaven and beasts of the earth eating your carrion (Deuteronomy 28:26; Isaiah 18:6; 34:13-17; Jeremiah 7:33; 15:3; 16:4; 19:7; 34:20; Ezekiel 29:5-6; 31:13; 32:4-5; 38:20; 39:4, 17-20; Hosea 2:18; Matthew 24:28; Revelation 6:8; 19:17,21)
- [Near or away from] Dew of heaven and fatness of the earth (Genesis 27:28, 39)
- Open up storehouse, heavens to give rain to your earth (Deuteronomy 28:11-12; 1 Kings 8:35-36)
- Heaven over head bronze, earth under you iron. (Deuteronomy 28:23)
- Descendants as numerous as the stars in heaven, and dust on the earth (Genesis 26:4; 28:14; Deuteronomy 1:10; 10:22; Nehemiah 9:23; 1 Chronicles 27:23; 2 Chronicles 1:9)[Note: descendants as numerous as sand by sea is a third descriptive (Hosea 1:10; Isaiah 10:22-23; 1 Kings 4:20-21)]
- Bread from heaven, water from the rock. [Psalm 114:7 says From before the LORD be afraid, O earth, from before the God of Jacob. He is turning the rock into a pool of water, flint to a fountain of waters. ]
- Promise of earth of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven. (Deuteronomy 11:11)
- In the earth the LORD your God gives to you, you blot out the memory of the Amelek from under the heavens. (Deuteronomy 25:19)
- Cover the heaven, make stars black, cover sun with cloud, moon not give light. Spread darkness over your earth [or make the earth a desolation, or earth quakes, earth shall mourn, etc.]. (Ezekiel 32:7-8; Isaiah 13:9-10; 24:21-23; 34:1-4; Joel 2:9-11; 3:14-16; Jeremiah 4:27-28; Matthew 24:29-30, 35; Mark 13:25-27; Luke 21:25; Revelation 6:12-15; 9:1; 12:1-9; Zechariah 14:6-9; Genesis 37:9-10)
- Earth vomiting nation out (Leviticus 18:24-30)
- Name blotted out from under heaven (Deuteronomy 29:20; 2 Kings 14:27).
The heavens and the earth, in their ever-present witness function, are so intricately tied to the covenant, to which they witness, that the passing away of the [ old ] heavens and the [ old ] earth is synonymous with the passing away of the [old] covenant or the Law (Revelation 21:1). So the passing away of the physical heavens and earth should not be taken literally, but as the Scriptures uses it covenantally. The passing away shows forth God s dominion over the heavens and the earth and over the covenant to which they witness. It signifies also the passing away of the first covenant law. The creation of a renewed or new covenant, therefore, requires the establishment of a new heavens and a new earth. (See Isaiah 34:1-4; 51:6,16; 65; 66, Psalm 102; 2 Peter 3, Matthew 5:17-19, 24:35, 28:18-20, Revelation 21:1, Hebrews 12:22-29).
Just as the copy and shadow of the Temple pointed to a Temple in heaven, which represented spiritual Israel (i.e. the head Christ, the body church, and the God of Israel), so likewise did the physical heavens and earth point to a new heavens and a new earth, a spiritual equivalent in the heavenly realms, which also represented Israel after the spirit. (See Revelation 11:3, 6, 19; 15:3 the two witnesses, Ark of Covenant, and song of Moses compare with Deuteronomy 31:19, 26, 28)
Constituents of the HEAVENS and the EARTH and the SEA in the Holy Scriptures
|Multitude vast numbers||
|Dust (grains)||Sand (grains)|
|Overall Representative||Heaven/Sky (which God darkens)||Earth/Land (which God makes desolate)||Sea/Water (which God restrains)|
Sun, Moon, and Stars
(Sun-day; Moon and Stars-night) (Constellations-sometimes Pleiades or Orion)(sometimes kings)
Mountains-Hills (Valleys); Fields-Meadows; Rivers-Springs-Streams (Jordan);
Trees (Cedars of Lebanon, Oaks of Bashan, Fig, Fir, Sycamore, Willow, Olive, Fruit trees, Palm); Grass, Lilies, Bushes, Crops
Surface of the water (over which the Spirit hovers)(Waves, Surges, Billows, Roaring, Raging, Turbulence)
|Representative animal||Birds (sometimes flying creatures in general)||
Beasts (sometimes creatures roaming the earth )
Fish (sometimes sea creatures in general)
|Examples of representative animal||Birds: ravens, eagles, hawks, vultures, sparrows, swallows, doves, storks||Wild beasts/Livestock (Dogs-reptiles-creeping things-oxen-sheep-horses-wild donkeys-wild goats-deer-young lions-wolves-jackals)||Fish not usually listed or elaborated upon|
|Mightiest representative animal||
|Inmost regions (Hidden behind barrier, but unleashed at times)||Storehouse/Windows of the Sky (Hail-Snow-Rain-Winds-Ice-Frost-Clouds-Thick Darkness-Whirlwind-Lightning-Thunder-Fire-Sulfur)||Depths of the Earth (Gates of Death, Sheol, Hades, pit, destruction, nether realms, death-dark gloom)||Fountains of the Deep/Floodgate (Depths-Abyss)|
|Fearsome Outpouring proceeding from Inmost regions||Storms||
God and Angels
|Far reaches Remotest extent||One End of Heaven to the other||Coasts/Islands/Ends of Earth (Sheva, Kittim, Tarshish)||
(See Psalm 104, 147, 148; Job 37-41; Revelation 8)
Some Instances Where Christ Contrasts Two Covenants
Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord does man live. (Flesh v. Spirit)(Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3)
And having gone forward a little, he fell on his face, praying, and saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping, and he saith to Peter, So! ye were not able one hour to watch with me! watch, and pray, that ye may not enter into temptation: the spirit indeed is forward, but the flesh weak. (Matthew 26:39-41)
He saith to them, And ye who do ye say me to be? and Simon Peter answering said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering said to him, Happy art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to thee, but my Father who is in the heavens. And I also say to thee, that thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my assembly. (Matthew 16:15-18)
And certain having risen up, were bearing false testimony against him, saying We heard him saying I will throw down this sanctuary made with hands, and by three days, another made without hands I will build; and neither so was their testimony alike. (Mark 14:57-59)
The Jews then answered and said to him, What sign dost thou shew to us that thou dost these things? Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews, therefore, said, Forty and six years was this sanctuary building, and wilt thou in three days raise it up? but he spake concerning the sanctuary of his body; when, then, he was raised out of the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this to them, and they believed the Writing, and the word that Jesus said. (John 2:18-22)(Christ contrasts their killing of him with God s raising of him)
Matthew 23:37-39–Present Jerusalem v. Jerusalem that is above
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that art killing the prophets, and stoning those sent unto thee, how often did I will to gather thy children together, as a hen doth gather her own chickens under the wings, and ye did not will. Lo, left desolate to you is your house;
for I say to you, ye may not see me henceforth, till ye may say, Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord.
John 3:5-15 Moses v. Son of Man
Verily, verily, I say to thee, If any one may not be born of water, and the Spirit, he is not able to enter into the reign of God; that which hath been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which hath been born of the Spirit is spirit.
Thou mayest not wonder that I said to thee, It behoveth you to be born from above the Spirit where he willeth doth blow, and his voice thou dost hear, but thou hast not known whence he cometh, and whither he goeth; thus is every one who hath been born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered and said to him, How are these things able to happen? Jesus answered and said to him, Thou art the teacher of Israel and these things thou dost not know!
Verily, verily, I say to thee What we have known we speak, and what we have seen we testify, and our testimony ye do not receive; if the earthly things I said to you, and ye do not believe, how, if I shall say to you the heavenly things, will ye believe? and no one hath gone up to the heaven, except he who out of the heaven came down the Son of Man who is in the heaven.
And as Moses did lift up the serpent in the wilderness, so it behoveth the Son of Man to be lifted up, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during, for God did so love the world, that His Son the only begotten He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.
John 6:26-34 Two Mannas, Two Covenants
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say to you,
Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs,
But because ye did eat of the loaves, and were satisfied;
Work not for the food that is perishing,
But for the food that is remaining to life age-during, which the Son of Man will give to you, for him did the Father seal even God.
They said therefore unto him, What may we do that we may work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that ye may believe in him whom He did send.
They said therefore to him, What sign, then, dost thou, that we may see and may believe thee? what dost thou work? our fathers the manna did eat in the wilderness, according as it is having been written, Bread out of the heaven He gave them to eat.
Jesus, therefore, said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread out of the heaven; but my Father doth give you the true bread out of the heaven; for the bread of God is that which is coming down out of the heaven, and giving life to the world.
They said, therefore, unto him, Sir, always give us this bread.
Luke 18:18-23 Law v. Grace
And a certain ruler questioned him, saying, Good teacher, what having done shall I inherit life age-during?
And Jesus said to him, Why me dost thou call good? no one is good, except One God;
the commands thou hast known: Thou mayest not commit adultery, Thou mayest do no murder, Thou mayest not steal, Thou mayest not bear false witness,
Honour thy father and thy mother.
And he said, All these I did keep from my youth;
And having heard these things, Jesus said to him, Yet one thing to thee is lacking; all things as many as thou hast sell, and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, be following me;
And he, having heard these things, became very sorrowful, for he was exceeding rich.
And Jesus having seen him become very sorrowful, said, How hardly shall those having riches enter into the reign of God! for it is easier for a camel through the eye of a needle to enter, than for a rich man into the reign of God to enter. And those who heard, said, And who is able to be saved?
And he said, The things impossible with men are possible with God.
Heavens and Earth Psalm 102, Isaiah, and Christ,
Perishable v. Imperishable
I say, My God, take me not up in the midst of my days,
Through all generations are Thine years.
Beforetime the earth Thou didst found,
And the work of Thy hands are the heavens.
They They perish, and Thou remainest,
And all of them as a garment become old,
As clothing Thou changest them,
And they are changed.
And Thou art the same, and Thine years are not finished.
The sons of Thy servants do continue,
And their seed before Thee is established! (Psalm 102:19-28)
Attend unto Me, O My people,
And, O My nation, unto Me give ear.
For a law from Me goeth out,
And My judgment to the light,
Peoples I do cause to rest.
Near is My righteousness,
Gone out hath My salvation and Mine arms,
Peoples they judge, on Me isles do wait,
Yea, on Mine arm they do wait with hope.
Lift ye up to the heavens your eyes,
And look attentively unto the earth beneath,
For the heavens as smoke have vanished,
And the earth as a garment weareth out,
And its inhabitants as gnats do die,
And My salvation is to the age,
And My righteousness is not broken.
Hearken unto Me, ye who know righteousness,
A people, in whose heart is My law,
Fear ye not the reproach of men,
And for their reviling be not affrighted,
For as a garment eat them doth a moth,
And as wool eat them doth a worm,
And My righteousness is to the age,
And My salvation to all generations. (Isaiah 51:4-8)
And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in the heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth smite the breast, and they shall see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of the heaven, with power and much glory; and he shall send his messengers with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the heavens unto the ends thereof.
And from the fig-tree learn ye the simile: When already its branch may have become tender, and the leaves it may put forth, ye know that summer is nigh, so also ye, when ye may see all these, ye know that it is nigh at the doors. Verily I say to you, this generation may not pass away till all these may come to pass. The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:29-35)
Do not suppose that I came to throw down the law or the prophets I did not come to throw down, but to fulfil; for, verily I say to you, till that the heaven and the earth may pass away, one iota or one tittle may not pass away from the law, till that all may come to pass.
Whoever therefore may loose one of these commands the least and may teach men so, least he shall be called in the reign of the heavens, but whoever may do and may teach them, he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens.
For I say to you, that if your righteousness may not abound above that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye may not enter to the reign of the heavens.
Ye heard that it was said to the ancients: Thou shalt not kill, and whoever may kill shall be in danger of the judgment; but I I say to you, that every one who is angry at his brother without cause, shall be in danger of the judgment, and whoever may say to his brother, Empty fellow! shall be in danger of the sanhedrim, and whoever may say, Rebel! shall be in danger of the gehenna of the fire. (Matthew 5:17-22)
[See also Rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31; Tax collector and Pharisee, Luke 18:10-14, The Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37 and all the other parables and sayings of Christ in the Scriptures.]
Other Contrasts Betweens the Two Covenants
He was the true Light, which doth enlighten every man, coming to the world; in the world he was, and the world through him was made, and the world did not know him: to his own things he came, and his own people did not receive him; but as many as did receive him to them he gave authority to become sons of God to those believing in his name, who not of blood nor of a will of flesh, nor of a will of man but of God were begotten.
And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.
John doth testify concerning him, and hath cried, saying, This was he of whom I said, He who after me is coming, hath come before me, for he was before me; and out of his fulness did we all receive, and grace over-against grace; for the law through Moses was given, the grace and the truth through Jesus Christ did come; God no one hath ever seen; the only begotten Son, who is on the bosom of the Father he did declare. (John 1:9-18)
Romans 7-8: Two covenants contrasted Flesh v. Spirit
Sin came through first law; righteousness through the second.
Are ye ignorant, brethren for to those knowing law I speak that the law hath lordship over the man as long as he liveth?
for the married woman to the living husband hath been bound by law,
and if the husband may die, she hath been free from the law of the husband;
so, then, the husband being alive, an adulteress she shall be called if she may become another man s;
and if the husband may die, she is free from the law, so as not to be an adulteress, having become another man s.
So that, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law
through the body of the Christ, for your becoming another s,
who out of the dead was raised up, that we might bear fruit to God;
for when we were in the flesh, the passions of the sins, that are through the law, were working in our members, to bear fruit to the death;
and now we have ceased from the law, that being dead in which we were held, so that we may serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter.
What, then, shall we say? the law is sin? let it not be!
but the sin I did not know except through law,
for also the covetousness I had not known if the law had not said: Thou shalt not covet;
and the sin having received an opportunity, through the command, did work in me all covetousness
for apart from law sin is dead. And I was alive apart from law once,
and the command having come, the sin revived, and I died;
and the command that is for life,
this was found by me for death;
for the sin, having received an opportunity, through the command, did deceive me,
and through it did slay me;
so that the law, indeed, is holy, and the command holy, and righteous, and good.
That which is good then, to me hath it become death? let it not be!
but the sin, that it might appear sin, through the good, working death to me,
that the sin might become exceeding sinful through the command,
for we have known that the law is spiritual,
and I am fleshly, sold by the sin;
for that which I work,
I do not acknowledge;
for not what I will, this I practice,
but what I hate, this I do.
And if what I do not will, this I do,
I consent to the law that it is good,
and now it is no longer I that work it,
but the sin dwelling in me,
for I have known that there doth not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh, good:
for to will is present with me,
and to work that which is right I do not find,
for the good that I will,
I do not; but the evil that I do not will, this I practice.
And if what I do not will, this I do,
it is no longer I that work it,
but the sin that is dwelling in me.
I find, then, the law, that when I desire to do what is right,
with me the evil is present,
for I delight in the law of God according to the inward man,
and I behold another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind,
and bringing me into captivity to the law of the sin that is in my members.
A wretched man I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord;
so then, I myself indeed with the mind do serve the law of God,
and with the flesh, the law of sin.
There is, then, now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus,
who walk not according to the flesh,
but according to the Spirit;
for the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus did set me free
from the law of the sin and of the death;
for what the law was not able to do, in that it was weak through the flesh,
God, His own Son having sent in the likeness of sinful flesh,
and for sin, did condemn the sin in the flesh,
that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us,
who do not walk according to the flesh,
but according to the Spirit.
For those who are according to the flesh, the things of the flesh do mind;
and those according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit;
for the mind of the flesh is death,
and the mind of the Spirit life and peace;
because the mind of the flesh is enmity to God, for to the law of God it doth not subject itself, for neither is it able; and those who are in the flesh are not able to please God.
And ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God doth dwell in you; and if any one hath not the Spirit of Christ this one is not His; and if Christ is in you,
the body, indeed, is dead because of sin,
and the Spirit is life because of righteousness,
and if the Spirit of Him who did raise up Jesus out of the dead doth dwell in you,
He who did raise up the Christ out of the dead shall quicken also your dying bodies, through His Spirit dwelling in you.
So, then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh; for if according to the flesh ye do live, ye are about to die;
and if, by the Spirit, the deeds of the body ye put to death, ye shall live; for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God;
for ye did not receive a spirit of bondage again for fear,
but ye did receive a spirit of adoption in which we cry, Abba Father.
The Spirit himself doth testify with our spirit, that we are children of God;
and if children, also heirs, heirs, indeed, of God, and heirs together of Christ
if, indeed, we suffer together, that we may also be glorified together.
2 Corinthians 3 two covenants contrasted
Do we begin again to recommend ourselves, except we need, as some, letters of recommendation unto you, or from you? our letter ye are, having been written in our hearts, known and read by all men, manifested that ye are a letter of Christ ministered by us,
written not with ink,
but with the Spirit of the living God,
not in the tablets of stone,
but in fleshy tablets of the heart,
and such trust we have through the Christ toward God,
not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything, as of ourselves,
but our sufficiency is of God, who also made us sufficient to be ministrants of a new covenant,
not of letter,
but of spirit;
for the letter doth kill,
and the spirit doth make alive.
And if the ministration of the death, in letters, engraved in stones, came in glory, so that the sons of Israel were not able to look steadfastly to the face of Moses, because of the glory of his face which was being made useless,
how shall the ministration of the Spirit not be more in glory?
for if the ministration of the condemnation is glory,
much more doth the ministration of the righteousness abound in glory;
for also even that which hath been glorious, hath not been glorious
in this respect, because of the superior glory;
for if that which is being made useless is through glory,
much more that which is remaining is in glory.
Having, then, such hope, we use much freedom of speech,
and are not as Moses, who was putting a veil upon his own face, for the sons of Israel not steadfastly to look to the end of that which is being made useless, but their minds were hardened, for unto this day the same veil at the reading of the Old Covenant doth remain unwithdrawn which in Christ is being made useless
but till to-day, when Moses is read, a veil upon their heart doth lie,
and whenever they may turn unto the Lord, the veil is taken away.
And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;
and we all, with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord beholding in a mirror, to the same image are being transformed, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Galatians 4 These two women are two covenants.
Those children of the first covenant are sent away; those of the second receive the inheritance. [Note God v. Man theme throughout Galatians]
|First covenant||Second covenant|
|Hagar slave woman||Sarah free woman|
|Ishmael children for slavery||Isaac children for freedom|
|Sinai (Law) present Jerusalem||[Zion] Jerusalem above which is free|
|[Hagar is their mother]||Sarah is our mother|
|Get rid of slave woman and her son||Inheritance belongs to son of free woman|
1 Peter 1:24-25 [Quoting Isaiah] Good news, new covenant
Because all flesh is as grass,
and all glory of man as flower of grass;
wither did the grass,
and the flower of it fell away,
and the saying of the Lord doth remain to the age;
and this is the saying that was proclaimed good news to you.
1 Peter 2:21-24 Good news, new covenant
Christ also did suffer for you, leaving to you an example, that ye may follow his steps, who did not commit sin, nor was guile found in his mouth, who being reviled was not reviling again, suffering was not threatening, and was committing himself to Him who is judging righteously, who our sins himself did bear in his body, upon the tree, that to the sins having died, to the righteousness we may live; by whose stripes ye were healed.
2 Peter 3 first covenant passes away in favor of new covenant
- Heaven and Earth passing away
- Elements passing away (Galatians 4:3, 9-10; Colossians 2:8, 16-17, 20)
- New Heavens and New Earth–righteousness
Hebrews two covenants contrasted, new covenant superior
- Law (Angels and Moses) v. Grace (Christ) (Hebrews 1-3)
- Them (under law) v. Us (under grace) (Hebrews 4:2)
- Entering God s rest first covenant (Joshua) v. second covenant (Christ) (Hebrews 4:8)
- Levitical priesthood v. Christ s priesthood (on the order of Melchizedek) (Hebrews 5-7)
- Physical lineage v. Indestructible life (Hebrews 6:16)
- True Tent of Meeting, erected not by men but by God (Hebrews 8:2; 9:11-12)
- (Tent) Copy and shadow v. heavenly original (Hebrews 8:5)
- First covenant v. Second covenant (then Jeremiah quotation) (Hebrews 8:7)
- Made void my covenant v. Law written upon the heart (Hebrews 8:9-10)
- First high priest v. Second high priest (Christ) (Hebrews 7, 9, 10)
- Cleaning outward purity v. Cleaning conscience (Hebrews 9:13-14)
- Enters not the copy and shadow of Holy Place, but heaven itself (Hebrews 9:24)
- Law as shadow v. manifestation of the originals (Hebrews 10:1)
- Blood of bulls and goats v. sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 10:4; 13:15-16)
- Animal sacrifice v. doing God s will (Hebrews 10:5-9)
- Sets aside the first to establish the second (Hebrews 10:10)
- Law of Moses put to death v. worse punishment for those who trample underfoot the Son of God, insulted the spirit, the giver of grace (Hebrews 10:28-29)
- Discipline physical fathers v. spiritual Father (Hebrews 12:9)
- Esau v. Jacob flesh v. spirit (Hebrews 12:16-17)
- Strengthened not by foods but by grace (Hebrews 13:9)
- Law (Sinai) v. Grace (Zion) (Hebrews 12:18-22)
- [Earthly Jerusalem] v. Heavenly Jerusalem (v. 22)
- Shakes heaven and earth, things shaken are removed v. Unshakeable kingdom (Hebrews 12:25-29)
- The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6)
Sin v. Righteousness
Sin is casting aside the commands of God and going your own crooked way. Righteousness is forsaking yourself and your former ways and following after God alone (Matthew 6:24; 13:44-46). Though both sin and righteousness have outward manifestations, they may be hidden as well, because they lie deep in the heart. Yet God tries the reins and the heart and in so doing discerns where a man s inner trust abides. He therefore concerns Himself not so much with the man s outward actions, except they flow from the heart. The man who loves titles, honors, greetings, and recognitions in the flesh and who accomplishes his righteous deeds to be seen by men is like a whitewashed tomb, full of death and decay on the inside, though white on the outside. God is not pleased with this man, though he may be much loved and highly esteemed by men (who he serves).
Ecclesiastes Chasing after the flesh is vanity
|Wind, vanity, works of my hands||God|
|Laughter, pleasure, wine, wisdom, foolishness, palaces, vineyards, gardens, parks, fruit trees, pools, male and female slaves, cattle, sheep, silver and gold, male and female singers, things that provide sensual delight, concubines||Fear God and keep his commands|
1:11 There is not a remembrance of former generations; and also of the latter that are, there is no remembrance of them with those that are at the last.
2:14-16 The wise! his eyes are in his head, and the fool in darkness is walking, and I also knew that one event happeneth with them all; and I said in my heart, As it happeneth with the fool, it happeneth also with me, and why am I then more wise? And I spake in my heart, that also this is vanity: That there is no remembrance to the wise with the fool to the age, for that which is already, in the days that are coming is all forgotten, and how dieth the wise? with the fool!
3:18-21 I said in my heart concerning the matter of the sons of man that God might cleanse them, so as to see that they themselves are beasts. For an event is to the sons of man, and an event is to the beasts, even one event is to them; as the death of this, so is the death of that; and one spirit is to all, and the advantage of man above the beast is nothing, for the whole isvanity. The whole are going unto one place, the whole have been from the dust, and the whole are turning back unto the dust. Who knoweth the spirit of the sons of man that is going up on high, and the spirit of the beast that is going down below to the earth?
5:15 As he came out from the belly of his mother, naked he turneth back to go as he came, and he taketh not away anything of his labor, that doth go in his hand.
9:6 For the living know that they die, and the dead know not anything, and there is no more to them a reward, for their remembrance hath been forgotten. Their love also, their hatred also, their envy also, hath already perished, and they have no more a portion to the age in all that hath been done under the sun.
Galatians 5:16-26, Works of the flesh v. fruit of the spirit
And I say: In the Spirit walk ye,
and the desire of the flesh ye may not complete;
for the flesh doth desire contrary to the Spirit,
and the Spirit contrary to the flesh,
and these are opposed one to another,
that the things that ye may will
these ye may not do;
and if by the Spirit ye are led,
ye are not under law.
And manifest also are the works of the flesh, which are: Adultery, whoredom, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, strifes, emulations, wraths, rivalries, dissensions, sects, envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revellings, and such like, of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that those doing such things the reign of God shall not inherit.
And the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law; and those who are Christ s, the flesh did crucify with the affections, and the desires; if we may live in the Spirit, in the Spirit also we may walk; let us not become vain-glorious one another provoking, one another envying!
Psalms God v. Man
The day I am afraid I am confident toward Thee.
In God I praise His word, in God I have trusted,
I fear not what flesh doth to me. (Psalm 56: 2-4)
In God I trusted,
I fear not what man doth to me. (v. 11)
Jehovah is my light and my salvation,
Whom do I fear?
Jehovah is the strength of my life,
Of whom am I afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Jehovah is for me,
I do not fear what man doth to me.
Jehovah is for me among my helpers,
And I I look on those hating me.
Better to take refuge in Jehovah
than to trust in man,
Better to take refuge in Jehovah,
Than to trust in princes. (Psalm 118:6-9)
I praise Jehovah during my life,
I sing praise to my God while I exist.
Trust not in princes in a son of man,
For he hath no deliverance.
His spirit goeth forth, he returneth to his earth,
In that day have his thoughts perished.
O the happiness of him
Who hath the God of Jacob for his help,
His hope is on Jehovah his God. (Psalm 146:2-5)
For, not by their sword
Possessed they the land,
And their arm gave not salvation to them,
But Thy right hand, and Thine arm,
And the light of Thy countenance,
Because Thou hadst accepted them.
Thou art He, my king, O God,
Command the deliverances of Jacob.
By Thee our adversaries we do push,
By Thy name tread down our withstanders,
For, not in my bow do I trust,
And my sword doth not save me.
For Thou hast saved us from our adversaries,
And those hating us Thou hast put to shame.
In God we have boasted all the day,
And Thy name to the age we thank. Selah. (Psalm 44:3-8)
Some of chariots, and some of horses,
And we of the name of Jehovah our God make mention. (Psalm 20:7)
Not in the might of the horse doth He delight,
Not in the legs of a man is He pleased.
Jehovah is pleased with those fearing Him,
With those waiting for His kindness. (Psalm 147:9-11)
Jehovah made void the counsel of nations,
He disallowed the thoughts of the peoples.
The counsel of Jehovah to the age standeth,
The thoughts of His heart to all generations.
O the happiness of the nation whose God is Jehovah,
Of the people He did choose,
For an inheritance to Him.
From the heavens hath Jehovah looked,
He hath seen all the sons of men.
From the fixed place of His dwelling,
He looked unto all inhabitants of the earth;
Who is forming their hearts together,
Who is attending unto all their works.
The king is not saved by the multitude of a force.
A mighty man is not delivered,
By abundance of power.
A false thing is the horse for safety,
And by the abundance of his strength
He doth not deliver.
Lo, the eye of Jehovah is to those fearing Him,
To those waiting for His kindness,
To deliver from death their soul,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul hath waited for Jehovah,
Our help and our shield is He,
For in Him doth our heart rejoice,
For in His holy name we have trusted. (Psalm 33:10-21)
Hear this, all ye peoples,
Give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world.
Both low and high, together rich and needy.
My mouth speaketh wise things,
And the meditations of my heart are things of understanding.
I incline to a simile mine ear,
I open with a harp my riddle:
Why do I fear in days of evil?
The iniquity of my supplanters doth compass me.
Those trusting on their wealth,
And in the multitude of their riches,
Do shew themselves foolish.
A brother doth no one at all ransom,
He doth not give to God his atonement.
And precious is the redemption of their soul,
And it hath ceased to the age.
And still he liveth for ever, He seeth not the pit.
For he seeth wise men die,
Together the foolish and brutish perish,
And have left to others their wealth.
Their heart is: Their houses are to the age,
Their tabernacles to all generations.
They proclaimed their names over the lands.
And man in honour doth not remain,
He hath been like the beasts, they have been cut off.
This their way is folly for them,
And their posterity with their sayings are pleased. Selah.
As sheep for Sheol they have set themselves,
Death doth afflict them,
And the upright rule over them in the morning,
And their form is for consumption.
Sheol is a dwelling for him.
Only, God doth ransom my soul from the hand of Sheol,
For He doth receive me. Selah.
Fear not, when one maketh wealth,
When the honour of his house is abundant,
For at his death he receiveth nothing,
His honour goeth not down after him.
For his soul in his life he blesseth,
(And they praise thee when thou dost well for thyself.)
It cometh to the generation of his fathers,
For ever they see not the light.
Man in honour, who understandest not,
Hath been like the beasts, they have been cut off! (Psalm 49)
Sin/Righteousness Language in the Holy Scriptures:
The following language is representative and symbolical of sin/righteousness
(it is by no means an exhaustive list)
|Sin (transgression, iniquity, lawlessness, crimes, rebellion, wickedness, violence, deceit, guilt, treachery, disgusting practices, abominable, idolatrous, traitorous, cruel, hateful, perverse, unjust, unfaithful, vile, haughty, proud, profane, blameworthy, evil-doing, covenant-breaking, etc.)||Righteousness/integrity (just, honest, upright, faithful, obedient, blameless, innocent, trustworthy, true, reliable, pure, holy, merciful, compassionate, generous, peaceable, longsuffering, patient, kind, loving, charitable, hopeful, covenant-keeping)|
|Sins counted against you||Sins blotted out (erased, wiped out, stricken from record, forgotten, forgiven, covered, hidden from God s view)|
|War (sword, spear, horse, chariot, bow)(Romans-war in members)||Peace (plowshares, pruning-hooks, broken spears, horse and chariot lying low)|
|Disaster, distress, anguish, calamity, trouble, woes||Safety/Security|
|Traps, snares, nets, holes, pits||Providence, kept safe, under His pinions|
|Sun-Moon scorching (day/night)
Heavens unleash their fury
|Shade (Lord is the light)|
|Slippery (sliding foot) (stumble, fall)
(upon sand, muddy ooze Ps 40)
|Firm, unshakeable, immovable, with foundation, upon Rock, Stronghold, Fortress|
|Raging seas (troubled waters, roaring sea billows)||Still (calm, quiet water)|
|Crooked way||Straight paths|
|Consumed (burnt up) as hay, wood, stubble||Cleansed, refined, purified as gold, silver, iron|
|Work (labor, toil, burdens, troubles, worries, tired, restless, weary, heavy-laden)||Rest/Sabbath (sleep, contentment, trust, no worries, renewed youth, strength/sustainment)|
|Covenant Curses||Covenant Blessings|
|Death (Sheol/Hades, pit, sea, depths, destruction, silence, darkness, death-dark gloom)||Life (resurrection, victory)|
|Barren/fruitless ( Cursed is the womb that never bore. )||Many children ( Rejoice barren woman . )( the fruit of the womb in a reward )|
|Desert (wilderness, ruined wastes, desolate land, salt flats, useless, formless, void)||Productive land (yielding fruit, rain in season, cattle bearing, etc.)(pools of water, rivers)|
|Bitter (wormwood, curdled milk/honey, bitter/poison water)||Sweet (land flowing with milk and honey; rivers, streams, fountains of water)|
|Defeat, exile (enemies escaping, foes prevailing)||Victory over enemies (enemies handed over)|
|Shame, abhorrence, reproach, byword, hissing||Glory, honor, praise|
|Tail (Borrower)||Head (Lender)|
|Poor, needy, destitute, downtrodden||Rich, wealthy, laden with silver and gold|
|Spread Darkness over land (Sun-Moon-Stars darkened/cover with cloud)
|Light (Face of the Lord shining)|
|Senseless (dull, stupid, brainless, heartless, foolish)||With perception (wisdom, discernment, knowledge, intelligence, insight)|
|Deaf (not hearing)||Hearing|
|Blind (not seeing)||Seeing (sight restored)|
|Dumb||Talking (speaking, singing)|
|Diseases (infirmities, illnesses, pestilence, plagues, sores, boils, inflictions, sicknesses)
(not whole, member removed, skin diseases, leprosy)
|Healed (cured, made whole, spotless, without defect)|
|Tears (weeping)||No tears|
|Lowliness (bowed down in mind, sorrow, misery, sackcloth)||Feasts (festivals, dancing, timbrels, merriment, fattened-calf, wine/strong drink, joy, cheer, happiness, thanksgiving)|
|In Want||Not in Want|
|Thirsty (drought, dry)||Quenched|
House of Bondage
|Your own Land (Promised Land)|
|Slavery||Exodus (Deliverance, Salvation)|
|Unclean (dirty, filthy, stained, dung)
|Clean (sprinklings hyssop, blood, water)(anointings oil)|
|Uncircumcised (flesh not cut away)||Circumcised (flesh cut away)|
|Of the World||Not of the World|
|Marrying/Given in Marriage||Virgins (chaste/eunuchs)|
|Rich Man||No Riches on earth|
|Oppressor/rich man||Fatherless, widow, stranger|
Why lay out a system of doctrine?
A system is a compilation of doctrines, ideas, and principles intended to explain the arrangement and working of a whole. Thus, a system of doctrine on righteousness includes the core principles and key underlying themes and ideas governing the interpretation of the entire text of the Scriptures. A system enables methodical investigation. It should encourage consistency and accountability in the interpretation of the text. A basic system does not seek to prove primarily but to state presuppositions and give a broad, overall perspective on the whole [for proof is for commentaries]. It does not address every theme and pattern in the Scriptures. Nevertheless, such a system may grow to become more comprehensive in scope and detail. A more comprehensive system may include a dictionary and encyclopedia on Scriptural themes and patterns. It may also enter somewhat into the realm of commentary, using the Scriptures to defend the core principles that the system lays out.
A system then serves as a springboard for commentaries on the books of the Scriptures. A commentary should not stray from the system, unless the system itself needs rework or modification. Commentaries make no sense apart from some underlying system, whether that system is formally written, informally understood, or known by consensus, or implied. Likewise, commentaries may be written or unwritten. After commentaries come practical exhortations or contemporary applications on righteousness. Such exhortations may be discussions, books, or articles on how to shepherd children, how to govern nations, how to conduct business, etc. in keeping with righteousness (Note: John the Baptist s teachings). There should be specific exhortations for all kinds of people: kings and judges, elders and servants, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, children, maids and youths, old men and old women, masters and slaves, soldiers, tax-collectors, etc.
A system provides meaningful vision to the eye. An eye must be well-trained so that it may see and interpret incoming images in a particular, determinate, distinctive, relevant, practical, and accurate way. A painting, say Mona Lisa, would seem nothing more than a hodge-podge collection of colors to a man who had never seen [or sensed in any way] any thing in this world. Truly, the painting would not immediately have relevance to that man who had hypothetically never before learned to visualize a person or anything like a person. Such a man has nothing in the storehouse of his mind to which he may compare the new input. Indeed, in looking around we all recognize objects that have useful and discernable significance to us. I may gaze about and observe a telephone, a wallet, a hat, a book, a dog, and any number of things. Because of my system, these things all have a particular meaning to me. Someone else may look upon these exact same items, and not yet having the same terms and categories developed in his mind, would technically see them with the same clarity. Nevertheless, that person would assign an altogether different meaning, or little meaning, or maybe no meaning to those same visions. He might misinterpret [according to the standard of my system] what he sees, or the sight would be pure nonsense to him. Though he observes the vision, he does not really see!
How are the Scriptures rightly interpreted?
- Be spiritual Have the Spirit of God [which thing is a work of God, and cannot be accomplished by men] love the Lord your God with all your soul
- Be diligent in searching the Scriptures love the Lord your God with all your strength
- Be jealous for God Disregard traditions of men [in matters of righteousness]
- Be noble Consult, seek out, and investigate the arguments of those who come and speak in the LORD S name, and test their doctrines honestly
- Be critical a fool believes every word, a wise man understands his steps
- Be submissive Conform yourself to God, not God to yourself
- Be willing to go wherever the Spirit leads you in deliverance of the truth, regardless of consequence love the Lord your God with all your heart
- Be reasonable and consistent in approach and methodology love the Lord your God with all your mind
Assumptions for interpretation:
- Everyone utilizes a system of doctrine which system may be haphazard, incoherent, and informal, or refined, sophisticated, and consistent. This system consists of terms and categories in which we think and operate.
- This system governs our interpretation of the text; it causes us to see and understand the text as we do. A faulty system leads to faulty interpretation.
- Any system of doctrine concerning righteousness that cannot fully account for and satisfactorily explain to others within that same system the meaning of the entirety of the Scriptures [i.e. every book] in a plain, precise, and straightforward manner is ultimately incomplete, even if not wholly inadequate.
- When read by spiritual men with the Spirit of God the Scriptures sufficiently contain instructions as to how men should rightly interpret them. Truly, the Scriptures lay out the terms and categories in which men ought to think and operate in dealing in matters of righteousness. The Holy Spirit is the counselor who instructs the saints of the Most High concerning the comprehension, implementation, and practical life-application of these proper terms and categories which ultimately bear fruit for righteousness in the lives of the saints.
- Men read the Scriptures in light of the terms and categories, whether false or true [or partially-false or partially-true], in which they have already learned to think and operate.
- Thinking and operating in the proper [or closer to the proper] terms and categories in matters of righteous life and godliness results from continued [qualitative] experience in the Spirit, in the life of righteousness, and in the writings given by His divine inspiration. Light begets more light, according to the secret working of God. A saint s system changes to conform increasingly to the Scriptures thus he sees continually with new eyes and a renewed mind insofar as the Spirit leads him.
- A book of the Scriptures must have both a contemporary and a lasting relevance.
- A book of the Scriptures must be highly relevant and significant to its original audience. Being relevant, the book must also be comprehensible to those addressed insofar as those addressed are spiritual men. Yet, it need not be fully-understandable. Some implications may be hidden according to God s prerogative. [Note: In Christ and in the revelation of His covenant, however, nothing is hidden in the Scriptures any longer].
- Interpreters should attempt, insofar as they are able, to discern the original intent of the authors. They should afford due attention to the historical and redemptive context and to the audience originally addressed, and they should consider how the text would be understood by that audience. They should also bear in mind where a portion of the Scriptures fits in with previous [and subsequent] deliverances.
- An exhaustive investigation into the meaning of a book of the Scriptures as derived exclusively by consulting those texts that preceded it in time and served as its background, and not those that thereafter shed more light upon it, is a helpful exercise in accomplishing #9 above. After fully accomplishing such an investigation, then it is profitable to consult the texts that shed more light upon the book.
- Where a book of the Scriptures quotes or alludes to another book of the Scriptures, an interpreter should expect a similar but contemporary [often heightened] application of that text, rather than a radical departure from the cited text or dissimilarity to the original context. Consulting the broader context of the more recent book will also help to establish the precise meaning and application of a cited text.
- Unless there is adequate explanation for it, a particular book of the Scriptures ought not to be deemed disjointed in either argument or flow in any segment thereof. [Note: Each Psalm may be viewed independently].
- Men should not neglect, in the interpretation of a book, consideration of structure, form, style, and stated function of the book [or portions thereof].
- Men should not interpret the Scriptures in such a way as to make them fit a majority or prevailing opinion within Christendom at any time or any place in its history. Interpreters should consider and weigh such opinions against the Scriptures, not vice versa.
- The Scriptures should not be made to fit with man-made constructs or even doctrines that men regard as orthodox, or traditional, or essential, or as defining the faith. The same is true regardless of how early, how universal, or how widespread such doctrines may be. Interpreters may give such constructs their due consideration.
- A true system of doctrine is not properly a man-made construct, even if it is men who derived that construct from the Scriptures. Rather, such a system is a manifestation of the very constructs of the Holy Spirit of God for spiritual men discern spiritual things. Yet interpreters must highly scrutinize all such constructs lest they be not truly or fully of God.
Assumptions concerning the Scriptures
- The canon of the Scriptures consists of the following
|The Law (5 components)||Consisting of five scrolls|
|The Prophets (21 components)||Consisting of the scroll of Joshua, the scroll of the Judges of Israel, the two scrolls of the prophet Samuel, the two scrolls of the Kings of Israel and Judah, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, the scroll of the prophet Jeremiah, the scroll of the prophet Ezekiel, the scroll of the prophet Hosea, the scroll of the prophet Joel, the scroll of the prophet Amos, the scroll of the prophet Obadiah, the scroll of the prophet Jonah, the scroll of the prophet Micah, the scroll of the prophet Nahum, the scroll of the prophet Habakkuk, the scroll of the prophet Zephaniah, the scroll of the prophet Haggai, the scroll of the prophet Zechariah, and the scroll of the prophet Malachi|
|The Writings (13 components)||Consisting of the scroll of Praises [150 hymns], the scroll of Proverbs, the scroll of Job, the Song of Songs, the account of Ruth, the Lamentations concerning the exile, the scroll of Meaning, the account of Esther, the writings of Daniel, the accounts of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the two Chronicles of Israel and Judah|
|The Gospels [or Gospel narratives] (4 components)||The four Gospels|
|The Epistles (23 components)||Consisting of the Acts of the Apostles [an epistle to Theophilus], the epistle to those in Rome whom God loves and called, the epistles to the assembly in Corinth and to all those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the epistle to the assembly in Corinth and to all God s people throughout Achaia, the epistle to the assemblies in Galatia, the epistle to God s people living in Ephesus [those who are trusting in Christ Jesus], the epistle to all God s people living in Philippi [along with the leaders and servants], the epistle to God s people in Colossae [faithful brothers in the Christ], the two epistles to the assembly of the Thessalonians [united with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ], the epistle to Timothy [a true son], the second epistle to Timothy, the epistle to Titus [a true son in the faith we share], the epistle to our dear fellow-worker Philemon, sister Apphia, our fellow-soldier Archippus and the assembly that gathers in their home, the epistle to the Hebrews, the epistle to the Twelve Tribes in the dispersion, the epistle to God s chosen people [living as aliens in the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythnia], the epistle to those who through the righteousness of our God and of our Deliverer Jesus the Christ have been given the same kind of trust as ours, the epistle to the children, the epistle to the chosen lady and her children, the epistle to Gaius, the epistle to those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept for Jesus the Christ, the epistle to the seven assemblies in the province of Asia|
- The Scriptures themselves are not the means to everlasting life. Rather, they point to Christ, who Himself is that means. The purpose of the Scriptures is to reveal the everlasting Covenant to manifest the Christ, whom the Father sent to remove idolatry from Israel. The books of the Scriptures, therefore, as their chief end, reveal to the saints God s way of making men righteous, which pervades every area of life.
- The holy Scriptures were written by men, not according to their private interpretations, but by the power and spirit of God. God authored the Scriptures, as did the men. The Holy Spirit is fully and truly the author of all of the Scriptures. The human writers also truly and fully wrote their works, each with their own respective flavor. Their works were God-breathed. Yet they were not merely scribes or copyists of heavenly manuscripts. Being from God, the original texts of the Scriptures are powerful, trustworthy, and infallible concerning matters of righteous doctrine [i.e. the area in which they treat].
- The Scriptures, properly understood, are wholly sufficient for guidance in keeping with the righteous life and godliness. They are sacred writings concerning God s covenant dealings with His people, His treatment of sin. The words of men, whether written or oral, are only profitable for making men righteous insofar as those words meaningfully and accurately expound, manifest, utilize, or apply the Scriptures and the doctrines of Christ.
- The many books of the Scriptures are in complete harmony in their overall message and revelation in unfolding Christ s covenant. Each book of the Scriptures is in harmony first of all with itself. Yet each book is also in harmony with the several books of the Scriptures.
- Each book of the holy Scriptures is worthy of considerable study and, when properly understood, impacts the lives of the saints, in a practical way, so that they may bear fruit for righteousness. No book of the Scriptures is frivolous.
- Inconsistencies in the Scriptures pertain to subsequent transmitters and transcribers of the text, neither to the original writers nor to the original texts. Other discrepancies concerning the dispensations of God by no means compromise the harmony of God s overall purpose in revealing His Son [for instance: a change in priesthood, circumcision, Temple worship, etc.].
- The Spirit Himself testifies concerning the trustworthiness and validity of the Scriptures that were written through His power and agency. Various signs, wonders, contemporary prophesies, and other manifestations of God s power and authority attested to the source behind the prophets and their words, both written and spoken. Correspondence with and natural development of the Scriptures and the message that had been properly delivered and accepted beforehand by the people of God also verified and validated the written and spoken words of subsequent men of God.
- The Spirit reveals Himself by unfolding the meaning of the Scriptures to spiritual men, through which the will of God is manifested and the knowledge of His covenant is shown. The will of God as revealed in Christ is no longer discoverable, as it had been in times of old, by angelic revelations, by prophetic utterances, by the casting of lots, and by other special dispensations. The will of God is not revealed even in prayer [where men often deceive themselves]. Rather, it is in the Scriptures alone that the knowledge of His covenant, the will of God [concerning matters of righteousness], is to be found and discerned.
- A perfect interpretation of the Scriptures, which cannot functionally be accomplished, requires a perfect communion with both the Holy Spirit and the human author–being of one mind with both, and especially the former. Such interpreters must perfectly know what the authors [both man and God] had in mind to communicate and argue. They must know exactly what was meant in every nuance of speech, every sentence, every expression, every word [or phrase] in the original manuscript [and in the original language]. They must follow every flow of meaning, and understand the broad argument and case without flaw. They must also understand the circumstances and the reasons and intent surrounding the writing, as did the authors.
- The original manuscripts, none of which are extant to us, are the perfect Scriptures. Reconstructing the original from subsequent transmissions, which are prone to error and divergence, is a careful task to be accomplished by knowledgeable, God-fearing men, well-suited for the task.
- Translations of the Scriptures into the vernacular languages should likewise be accomplished by knowledgeable, God-fearing men who shun compromising the text by imposing their own ideas upon it, and seek faithfully to keep with the meaning of the original. These translators should include in their work an article explaining, defending, and detailing the methodology employed in translating the text. Translations should be tailored to the audience and well-suited for the purpose for which the work was written. There is no one best translation of the Scriptures in any language [including the Septuagint]. Interlinear versions, literal translations, more eloquent translations, and even faithful paraphrases each have a legitimate place among the people of a tongue. Yet none of these must ever override the Hebrew and Greek texts.
- The text of every book of the Scriptures is fully understandable and intelligible and can be known, by faith, to such a degree of certainty that spiritual men may act upon the truths of these texts without being deemed presumptuous. Ambiguity in the Scriptures pertains not properly to deficiencies in the Scriptures themselves, but to shortcomings and ignorance in the men who read them. In Christ, nothing in the Scriptures is hidden. Neither subsequent events nor yet-future prophesies remain to cast further light upon the truth of the Scriptures. Everything of redemptive eschatological significance has been revealed to its fullest extent. [This assumption, therefore, is fully-Preteristic].
- Although the core of the faith of Christ, sufficient guidelines to righteous life and godliness, and the pith and marrow of the good news have been held and understood by faithful men since Christ built His Church, and though such [as I suspect] will ever be so held, there has been no assurance of perfect doctrine in every particular. Furthermore, it is possible that there are segments and entire books in the Scriptures that have neither been rightly nor fully understood by the Church since the time of the apostles. [I count both the book of Daniel and Revelation among these].
Some practical and helpful guidelines concerning interpretation:
- Begin reading the Scriptures
- Keep a record in your mind, preferably a written record also, of themes and patterns in the Scriptures. There are hundreds and thousands of such themes, which are spiritual things expressed spiritually. Themes may be based on similar words, language, and figures of speech, similar forms of argument, similar issues or circumstances addressed, or similar doctrines taught. Do not assume that any theme is irrelevant to piecing together the doctrine of righteousness. Do not assume that the themes and ties that you notice are inconsequential or minor.
- Similar words and language [examples: birds and wild animals, Sodom and Gomorrah, sword-famine-plague, sun-moon-stars, heavens and earth, winepress, harvest, figs, cup, wormwood, etc.]
- Similar structures and forms of argument [example: Prophets speaking harsh words of judgment against something, then immediately speaking words of mercy in favor of that same thing in some renewed and transformed state thereof, or Jehovah made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all things in them, besides Him there is no God; therefore do not be idolatrous, or similar parables, or similar poetic structures]
- Similar issues or circumstances [examples: unfaithfulness of leadership, idolatry among the people, exile or impending exile, etc.]
- Similar doctrines taught [examples: nature and purpose of the Scriptures, on what basis God judges men and declares them righteous or wicked, nature of the resurrection, purpose of the law, content of the covenants, etc.]
- Begin making your own cross-references in the Scriptures.
- Block out, circle, highlight, underline, and otherwise mark-up portions of the Scriptures in a way useful unto you.
- Start noticing connections between these themes [in #2], without trying to make some connection that is not really there. Write down these themes, even if you do not yet see a unifying connection between the instances where the theme is employed. Eventually you may see the theme as a sub-theme of a much larger theme or structure.
- Start piecing together a comprehensive and consistent system of doctrine in your mind, and perhaps also on paper. Look through and carefully investigate the Scriptures again and continually with new eyes.
- Start recognizing old themes and patterns in the Scriptures, and continue to take note of new themes and patterns that you have not yet noted so that you may add them to your register and improve, update, and renovate your overall system of doctrine. Make this process continual.
Marcus comes from a Reformed Presbyterian background. He is a husband, father and U.S. Air Force officer stationed in Minot, ND.