Class Notes: 2/11/2009

2Tim 1:13-14; 1Thes 4:18; The pattern of sound words is the basis of the comfort and encouragement for believers

The mandate of the PPOG for the church age believer that we are presently examining is found in 2Tim 1:13; where we have the command to retain the "standard of sound words" or doctrine and in verse 14 we have the command to " Protect” that doctrine.

In verse 13 the word translated "retain" in the NASB, "hold fast" in the KJV and "keep" in the NIV is the second person singular present active imperative of the Greek word "echo" that means to " keep on having" the present tense signifies action in progress or in a state of persistence, the active voice shows that the believer performs the action of the verb and the imperative mood is a command.


So we have the command for the believer and especially the communicator of Bible Doctrine to hold on to and to guard "the pattern of sound words" that have been taught by Paul.

Given the mandate to hold to and protect this "pattern of sound doctrine" we are presently examining the hermeneutical system or system of interpretation that the pastor is to use for the development of that doctrine.

We have seen that the Protestant Reformation that started with Luther, Calvin and Zwingli was the result of their switch from the allegorical to the historical literal grammatical method of hermeneutics based on the original languages of scripture that subsequently led to a rediscovery of the doctrines of Salvation by Grace through Faith alone in TLJC alone and the Eternal Security of the believer led to the further rediscovery of the divine outline of human history that emerges in the theology of dispensationalism.

We have seen that dispensationalism provides a timeline of history and that the church age began at Pentecost in the year of the Lord's crucifixion and ends imminently but not immediately with the exit resurrection or rapture of the church.

Last time we were discussing Origen and the proponents of the allegorical method at the Alexandrian school and how the allegorical method became ascendant over the literal-grammatical method of hermeneutics that occurred in the 3rd and 4th centuries as summarized in The Dictionary of Premillennial Theology on Pages 145, 289:

Origen maintained a theoretical three-level understanding of the meaning of Scripture: the literal, the typological, and the spiritual.

The literal method, that uses the plain meaning of the words was regarded by Origen as crude and unreliable. It was allowed to the weak of intellect, the mass of Christians in general.

The typological method is used as a means of interpreting the unity of the Bible from the standpoint of history.

The spiritual method, as extolled by Origen, was reserved for a few like himself "on whom the grace of the Holy Spirit is bestowed in the word of wisdom and knowledge."

It is this kind of arrogance that is fostered by the allegorical method of interpretation.

Several religious organizations have actively discouraged their followers from reading the Bible by asserting that a literal reading does not result in a clear understanding of the passage. Only those few whom the Holy Spirit has bestowed the "word of wisdom and knowledge" are able to do so.

It is true that pastor-teachers should know more than the average member of the local assembly, but the average believer will pick up more knowledge than that of the allegorist pastor-teacher by simply reading an English translation literally.

Origen's method of exegesis was so subjective that it allowed for an almost infinite number of symbolic meanings and interpretations of the biblical text, most of which bore little resemblance to the plain meaning of the words.

Origen's allegorical interpretations gained wide acceptance in the church of his day. His influence, followed by Constantine's acceptance of Christianity and Augustine's teaching in the fourth century, are usually cited as the principle causes of premillennialism's eventual replacement by amillennial eschatology.

The counterattack against the allegorical method occurred in the third century with the founding of the school of Antioch of Syria.

Origin's allegorical method of hermeneutics was considered by this school's leaders to be unacceptable. The school at Antioch offered a curriculum that stressed literal interpretation.

A summary of the Antiochians' literal grammatical hermeneutic is provided in The Dictionary of Premillennial Theology starting on page 145:

The school of Antioch began to develop the historical-grammatical approach: they stressed the importance of Hebrew and Greek exegesis and historical backgrounds and recognition of figures of speech.

In contrast to the multiple meanings generated by the allegorical method, the Antiochians argued that every passage has only one plain, simple meaning conveyed by its words and grammar.

While the Alexandrians claimed that the literal meaning of a text did not include its metaphorical meaning, the Antiochians insisted that the literal meaning couldn’t exclude metaphor.

While the Alexandrians employed allegory to defend the unity of the Old and New Testaments, the Antiochians based this unity upon directly predictive prophecy and indirectly predictive typology viewed retrospectively through progressive revelation.

Dispensationalists claim that the literal-grammatical-historical system for biblical analysis is the approach originally used by the early church Fathers.

In contrast to the allegorical method of the Alexandrians, Theophilus of Antioch (115-188ad), stressed historical-grammatical exegesis.

In contrast to the Alexandrians who denied the historicity of Old Testament narratives, Theophilus stressed that the Old Testament was an authentic historical record of God's dealings with Israel.

While the Alexandrians allegorized Old Testament laws, Theophilus interpreted the laws in a historical-grammatical manner, and used many parts of the laws as guidance for the Christian life.

Diodorus of Tarsus ( born around 392ad) made three important contributions:

He wrote the first systematic treatment defending and explaining the literal historical-grammatical method.

He affirmed the validity of a historical-typological method.

He was the teacher of Theodore of Mopsuestia and John Chrysostom who would become the greatest exegetical and expositional exponents of the school of Antioch.

Diodorus's most important publication, entitled What Is the Difference Between Insight and Allegory, denounced the Alexandrian method and set forth basic principles of the historical-grammatical method.

According to Diodorus, the key to interpreting Scripture was not allegory, but theoria or insight.

Insight is the ability to perceive both the literal historical facts in a text, as well as the spiritual (theological) reality to which these facts point.

Diodorus did not down play the literal meaning in favor of a hidden spiritual one, like the Alexandrians; rather, he argued that, like an image, the historical sense directly corresponded to the spiritual (theological) sense.

In his concept of theoria or insight, the prophet's vision and the interpreter's insight encompassed more than what is immediately evident in the bare historical details of the text.

Diodorus laid the foundation for the later articulation of the illumination of the Spirit that allows the interpreter to perceive the overall theological unity and contemporary relevance of the Scriptures.

Many regard Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428AD) as the greatest interpreter of the school of Antioch. He was the most adamant in rejecting the allegorical method of Origen and the Alexandrians, the most extreme in emphasizing historical-grammatical exegesis, and consequently, the most original in his exegetical conclusions.

His commentary on the epistles of Paul is the first and almost the last exegetical work produced in the ancient church that bears any similarity to modern exegetical commentaries.

Like Diodorus, he challenged the nonhistorical aspect of the allegorical method … in which he argued that Origen deprived biblical history of its reality, seen most clearly in his denial of the historicity of Adam.

Theodore argued that Origen's denial of the reality of the fall of Adam destroyed the reality of redemption.

The description of Diodorus's system of biblical analysis reminds us of a point that was made earlier in our study that bears repeating.

The view that biblical interpretation is both a science and an art was obviously held by Diodorus in the fourth century and adopted by the theologians of the Reformation and beyond.

These two concepts are stated as a principle by Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics. By Ramm, on Page 9:

Hermeneutics is a science in that it can determine certain principles for discovering the meaning of a document. These principles are not a mere list of rules but bear organic connection to each other. It is also an art because principles or rules can never be applied mechanically but involve the skill of the interpreter.

The school at Antioch developed the system of hermeneutics that was intended by the Holy Spirit and made clear by the human writers.

The literal-grammatical-historical method leads to the harmony of the Scripture while the allegorical method does not.

When the allegorical method caused contradictions to occur, the school of Alexandria would resolve the issue by forcing harmony by means of allegory.

Whereas the Alexandrians were all allegory all the time, the Antiochians recognized allegory and metaphor when the literal method indicated these were the intent of the writer.

Unfortunately the school of Antioch lost its influence in the sixth century because of a theological controversy having to do with the two natures of Christ.

The two natures of Christ are defined by the post-Reformation term "hypostatic union." that we are familiar with.

The word "hypostatic" is the adjectival form of the Greek noun hupostasis which means "the real essence or nature of an individual."

The Bible presents the doctrine that Jesus Christ had two real essences or natures or that he was divine and human in one person.

The precise definition of the union of these two natures in the person of Christ is stated in King of Kings and Lord of Lords by Thieme, R. B., Jr. on page 78

Hypostatic union - The presence of two natures, undiminished deity and true humanity, in the one person of Jesus Christ. Both natures are inseparably united without loss or mixture of separate identity, without loss or transfer of properties or attributes, the union being personal and eternal.

A controversy arose between the schools of Alexandria and Antioch regarding how these two natures were to be defined.

How this conflict played out is summarized for us in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. on pages 758-759 under Nestorius, Nestorianism.

In 428AD Nestorius preached a series of sermons in which he attacked the popular attribution of the title theotokos (God-bearing) or, "mother of God," to the Virgin Mary. As a representative of Antioch's school of Christology, he demurred at what he understood to be in that title a mixing of the human and divine natures in Christ.

In an effort to combat this erroneous concept, Nestorius as explained in the Encyclopedia Britannica: Micropaedia, volume 7:page 269 :

"stressed the independence of the divine and human natures of Christ and in effect suggested that they were two persons" .

Cyril who was Nestorius's counterpart at the school of Alexandria at the time, attacked Nestorius for heresy. This ultimately resulted in the famous church council of Chalcedon (Turkey) being called in 451AD to resolve the dispute.

This resulted in a formal statement regarding the hypostatic union.

Details are provided in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, on page 540:

Hypostatic Union. The doctrine of the hypostatic union, first set forth officially in the definition of faith produced by the Council of Chalcedon, concerns the union of the two natures of deity and humanity in the one person of Jesus Christ.

It can be stated as follows: In the incarnation of the Son of God, a human nature was inseparably united forever with the divine nature in the one person of Jesus Christ, yet with the two natures remaining distinct, whole, and unchanged, without mixture or confusion so that the one person, Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man.

Several important Christological issues are highlighted by this doctrine:

The unipersonality of the Savior with the result that Nestorianism, which divided the natures as persons, is ruled out.

There is only one, the unique son of God, John 3:16;( note 1)who is at the same time God and man.

The continuity of the Savior's personality. Jesus Christ is the same person who was the preexistent Logos, the Son of God. The hypostatic union excludes the independent personal subsistence of the human nature.

The complexity of the Savior's personality is established. It is no longer the divine nature alone which is expressed in his person.

The incarnate Christ is the theanthropos, or the "God-Man".

The distinction of the natures. A (third "person") is excluded.

The impeccability or perfection of the natures is established. Every Christology which diminishes either the deity or the humanity of Jesus Christ would be considered inadequate from the standpoint of this doctrine.

Jesus Christ is truly, perfectly, and wholly God, and simultaneously he is truly, perfectly, and wholly man.

This doctrine was offered as a precise description of the incarnation recorded in Scripture, drawn from the greatest extent of biblical data and making use of whatever language that might help in that descriptive task.

The considered biblical data included all the major passages on the incarnation, such as Phil 2:6-11; John 1:1-14; Rom 1:2-5; Rom 9:5; 1Tim 3:16; Heb 2:14; and 1John 1:1-3.

The council at Chalcedon was the catalyst for the decline of the school of Antioch and a transition away from its literal-grammatical-historical system of hermeneutics over to the allegorical method of the school of Alexandria.

The school of Antioch began to lose its hermeneutical influence in the fourth and fifth centuries as a result of these theological controversies. Its loss of hermeneutical influence was further aggravated when the church split into Eastern and Western segments.

Without the opposition of Antioch to keep it in check, the school of Alexandria grew in power and influence, and the allegorical method became more prevalent.

By the Middle Ages ( 500-1600AD), the allegorical method had become the dominant hermeneutical approach.

The church would not begin to be released from its grip again until the Reformation when Luther became disgusted with the corruption in the church began to use the historical literal grammatical method.

The point of this is for believers to hold to the pattern of sound doctrine or words that Paul taught so that they would be comforted by them.

The pattern of doctrine or "sound words" that Paul taught provides believers with hope or absolute confident expectation in God for their eternal future no matter what happens to them on the earth in time in the devil's world.

This leads us to the next mandate we will discuss that is found in 1Thes 4:18; and 1Thes 5:11; where we have the second person plural active imperative of the Greek word "parakaleo" that is translated as "comfort" and "encourage" in the NASB.

This word is used to describe the work of God the Holy Spirit in John 14:26; John 15:26 and John 16:7; He does this by helping the believer recall "all that I said to you"

So it is the words that are spoken and recalled that are the source of the encouragement. The words of TLJC and the words of Paul.

This mandate occurs in the context of the doctrine of the rapture or exit resurrection of the church prior to "wrath" that is part of the hope of all church age believers. 1Cor 15:50-58; Verse 51 specifically states that " we will all be changed" at that time.

Using a historical literal grammatical method of interpretation, these passages describe a pretribulational, premillennial exit resurrection or rapture of the church that we have been discussing as the "pattern of sound words" that Paul taught. 2Tim1:13;

This is the point of view that holds that Christ will come for the church before the seventieth week of Daniel is fulfilled and therefore before the great tribulation.

This view is in harmony with the doctrine of the immanency of the rapture held by the early church fathers and is held by premillenialists today, especially those who distinguish the program of God for Israel and the church and who as we have seen, tend to interpret prophecy in a normal, literal way.

The doctrine of pretribulationism depends upon two important premises:

First, the church must be regarded as a body of believers distinct from those of other ages, either before or after.

Second, the tribulation is viewed as a future period of unprecedented trouble that will occur in the last half of Daniel's seventieth week, a seven-year period that is future and subsequent to the rapture.

Opponents of pretribulationism have assumed that the church includes believers of all ages, often with no proof, and they have tended to neglect the specifics revealed in the word concerning the tribulation itself.

The supporting evidence for pretribulationism falls into six categories:

Pretribulationism is an outgrowth of a literal interpretation of prophecy as opposed to the amillennial, spiritualized or allegorical interpretation of prophecy that is the same interpretation that leads to premillennialism.

The use of consistent premillennial hermeneutics also leads to pretribulationism. This is demonstrated by the fact that many who abandon pretribulationism also abandon premillennialism.

No positive evidence can be produced that the church is in the tribulation because no specific term describing church age believers is ever used in connection with the believers that are in the tribulation.

According to the accounts of the tribulation in the Scripture, the events are related to Israel and the Gentiles and not to the church. In fact, the church is promised deliverance from the entire period according to 1Thes 5:9 Rev 6:17; 1Thes 1:9-10;; and Rev 3:10.

Whenever the truth of the rapture or exit resurrection of the church is presented in the Bible, it is always in the form of a prediction as an imminent event. It is therefore offered as a hope to believers and is a basis for their comfort and encouragement with no event described as occurring prior to their reunion with TLJC. 1Thes 4:18; 1Thes 5:6; Titus 2:13; and 1John 3:1-3;

The period in which lawlessness is permitted to manifest itself without restraint cannot occur until the restrainer, the Holy Spirit, is removed 2Thes 2:7;.

Given the relationship between the church and God the Holy Spirit, this would require the removal of the church to occur before the tribulation can begin. 1Cor 6:19;

A number of events are described in prophecy as occurring in heaven between the rapture and Christ's coming to the earth, such as the evaluation seat of Christ 2Cor 5:10; and the consummation of the marriage union Eph 5:27;.

On earth a period of time is needed between the rapture and the second coming to provide a group of believers who will remain in their natural bodies and populate the earth in the millennium Isa 65:20-25;.

If the rapture occurred at the end of the tribulation, there would be no believers left in their natural bodies on the earth to populate the earth at the beginning of the millennial reign of TLJC.

Of course, as previously stated, if one does not believe in a literal millennium then they most likely don't believe in the rapture or exit resurrection either.

There is also a necessity for an interval of time for the divine judgments that will be brought on the Gentiles at the second coming. Matt 25:31-46; and the judgment of Israel Ezek 20:34-38;, both of these judgments presume that there has been no separation of the saved from the unsaved as is described in the exit resurrection of the church.

Many distinct contrasts exist between the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ to the earth which tends to indicate that they are distinct events and separated by a period of time.

The rapture pictures believers meeting Christ in the air while at the second coming Christ meets the believers on earth.

At the rapture believers are caught up in cloud formations; at the second coming resurrected believers return with TLJC to the earth.

At the rapture there is no indication that sin is judged in the earth as it occurs before the day of wrath; at the second coming Christ establishes His kingdom, returning to the Mount of Olives, and remaining on earth where He reigns as king.

At that time sin will be brought into judgment and righteousness and peace will fill the earth. The second coming clearly follows the great tribulation which is given as a definite sign of the Lord's return.

But the rapture is constantly viewed as a signless event that as we have seen is imminent but not necessarily immediate.

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