“You Can Understand the Bible” with Dr. Bob Utley 2009 Bible Interpretation Seminar Lesson 9 For more information, contact: www.freebiblecommentary.org I was talking about the Gospels I was on page 35 or so of your notes and talking about the Gospels and I want to make a comment that I left out and it’s an important comment to me I don’t preach out of the Gospels very much I thought about why not? Why not preach out of the Gospels? I certainly love Jesus I certainly believe his words to be true That’s not the issue The issue is Jesus makes such broad, cosmic, life-changing statements and I say to myself, “What does that mean? What are the implications of that?” I’m overwhelmed with the teachings of Jesus I would do it if I knew what I was supposed to do but they’re overwhelming to me The epistles take the teachings of Jesus, the letters, Paul’s, James’, John’s, and they explain them They take Jesus’ teachings and put them in a form that I can understand I don’t know if that’s true for you but I want to say the epistles interpret the Gospels Historically, the epistles came before the Gospels for the most part I’ve heard people say through the years, “I love the red letters.” May I say to you, you cannot say the red letters, the Bibles that print Jesus’ words in red are more important than the black letters because if you go down that road, then you get a canon within a canon We have to say, though it sounds rather strange, that Jesus, though he is the incarnate Son of God, is no more inspired than Paul or James or any other Bible writer We believe the Spirit is behind all Scripture And all of the Bible writers are equal in their inspiration Without that presupposition, I think there’s real danger in picking certain phrases out of Jesus and ignoring the other parts of the New Testament With that in mind, I’d like to move to the next section I really wanted to say that with the Gospels and I left it out I want to make a comment about parables Parables, of course, are a literary genre found mostly within the Gospels There are some parables in the Old Testament, Samson and on and on, riddles, parables, “mashals” is what they’re called in Hebrew But parables are unique to the teachings of Jesus I’ve always been amazed that they only occur in the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and do not occur really in John But I think Jesus publicly taught by parables Now because of Mark 4, where Jesus says, “Parables are meant to hide truth from the unbelieving,” what I want to say is that parables are illustrations of truths put into everyday life That’s what I want to say, that here’s a difficult spiritual truth so Jesus picks something from everyday life to explain it And I think that’s true But the paradox is that parables hide truth from the heart that is not repentant and faithful So parables kind of have a dual task They inform believers but they confuse unbelievers So it makes us say that the heart of the hearer is as important as the parable itself And surprisingly enough, there are so many different kinds of parables, some, spiritual truth is like this and some, spiritual truth is exactly opposite of this Now you can tell if you mix those up you’re in bad trouble Jesus and God are not like the unjust judge Yeah, that’s a parable of comparison, of contrast Most of the parables show us a spiritual truth in a way that says, “Spiritual realm is like this.” When it comes to parables, I think that we have to see that you’ve got to see who is the parable spoken to, that most of the parables only have one main truth Now I want to do a caveat to that I think the parables that have two people, like let’s just take the prodigal son I’m afraid that evangelicals have jumped on the first son and turned the prodigal son into evangelistic sermon But I would submit to you that God is not well represented in that father
Yes, the father ran to see his son What father wouldn’t? But that father almost destroyed the family by giving that young son cash in a day when cash wasn’t available and knew that boy was so young that he would squander that wealth That’s not a good picture of God So there probably is a truth in the prodigal son but the real point of the parable is: Will the older son come in and welcome the younger son home? And that older son represents Judaism and the parable never tells you I would say there may be a main truth to every main character But do not push the details My little illustration of this, I don’t know if you ever have been to Russia They always do these paintings in about 10 by 12 foot canvasses They’re monster paintings and they’re realism They look like Rembrandt If you had a beautiful picture, let’s just say it’s a girl and a boy in a rowboat on a sunny day in the middle of a lake and down in the corner is a green frog If you miss the girl and the boy in the center of the picture in the boat and you start griping about “The frog doesn’t look real, frogs aren’t green around here,” you’ve missed the point of the painting, amen? That’s what we do to parables all the time We push the details that are just part of the story I would say for parables, what you got to look for is something in this parable, it tells people what they expect, tells them about their culture, tells them about everyday life in their culture, in their time, and then something surprising, shocking, gotcha, unexpected, absolutely out-of-the-ordinary is in the parable The point of that parable is the gotcha The point of that parable is the unexpected twist Everything else is window dressing And parables are not meant for you to say, “What a great truth.” Parables are not meant to teach doctrine Parables can illustrate doctrine but no doctrine should be based solely on a parable Parables are meant to get you to rethink about this spiritual aspect of your life and to change what you’re doing based on that new insight So they are much like proverbs in the sense they’re meant to have a practical application, not a theological structure to them Once you see that, it’ll free you from a lot of what I think is bad theology Example, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus That has nothing to do about heaven and hell The word there is not “hell.” The rich man was not in hell Nobody is in hell until after Judgment Day Nobody is in hell tonight The Greek word there is “Hades,” not “Gehenna.” He is in the holding place of the dead, which the Old Testament would call “Sheol.” So you can’t build a sermon on what is heaven like and you can see hell from heaven Absolutely inappropriate We’re building on a parable totally outside the realm of the purposes of that parable We’ve got to be careful You can make a parable say anything and that’s the great danger of them That’s free for those that gets the corporate program Okay, I want to go to New Testament letters As I’ve analyzed my preaching, I’m primarily a Pauline preacher I guess I preach 80% out of Paul And I’ve tried to think to myself, “Why do I do that?” I think it’s because Paul and the letters are most like western literary productions They usually give a premise, then they get evidences about that premise, and then they illustrate that premise Now see, that is the way westerners think So letters are the easiest kind of Biblical literature to interpret for us in the west because it parallels the way we tend to write and the way we tend to think, which is propositional, syllogistic logic We make a major premise, a minor premise, a conclusion and then that conclusion is what we want to say is the main truth That is western thinking And that is not eastern thinking And so the letters most parallel the way we normally think It’s why they’re so important and easier for us to interpret I would say, again, that the key to the letters is the paragraphs, not the verses Those of you who are English teachers, I think you want to get up and say, “Amen,” I hope Every paragraph has one topical thought It’s sometimes called, “the topical sentence.” And every thought, clause, sentence in that paragraph
does something to that main truth It defines it It explains it It limits it It illustrates it So the key to interpreting letters is a paragraph-by-paragraph outline and application And that’s really what this Four Reading Cycle is trying to get you to, is a detailed outline-to-paragraph level of the Biblical book on the right-hand side of the page and how does this apply to my life on the left-hand side of the page and that outline, with its application, becomes the heart of true Bible study because outlining is the only way to follow the original author’s intent through his main subjects and how he presents those subjects What I left out of your notes and I’m sorry it’s not in there, if you want to take notes on those, I hope you will, but I want to read a few things to get them in this seminar and what I left out on page 36 in your notes is apocalyptic literature I don’t know how I left that out because through the years that has been a major study of mine I just spent years on the Book of Revelation and then I thought, “If I’m going to do Revelation, I better do Daniel and Zechariah.” Then I thought, “If I’m going to do Daniel and Zechariah, I ought to do Ezekiel.” Do you know how many years is caught up in all that? So this has become something that I think a lot about And it is different than anything Americans are used to Unless you catch the Christian symbolism of the “Lord of the Rings” or some of C.S. Lewis’s writings, this kind of literature is going to be difficult for you So let me read a couple of paragraphs Now apocalyptic literature is primarily a Jewish literature and is a literature that is usually done in times of crisis Somebody has crushed the people of God and they just see no hope and their inspired writers begin to talk about, one day, God is going to set us free One day, God is going to overthrow this yoke And they do it in a very strange way Let me read a little bit It’s uniquely Jewish genre, often used in tension-filled times to express the conviction that God was in control of history and would bring deliverance to his people This type of literature is characterized by a strong sense of the universal sovereignty of God, monotheism, and almost determinism, not just predestination, determinism A struggle between good and evil, in this current evil age and the good age of righteousness which is to come So dualism Number three, the use of secret code words, usually from the Old Testament inter-Biblical period Now, just to illustrate In the Book of the Revelation, I think there are 403 Old Testament illusions in the Book of Revelation but no quote, which means what you have to ask yourself when you interpret Revelation is this symbol coming from the Old Testament, is this coming from ancient mythology, the red dragon, is this coming from the Greco-Roman world, or is this coming from inter-Biblical Jewish apocalyptic literature like First Enoch or the Sibylline Oracles? And the source of the imagery will tell you something about its meaning But these code words are not used the same way in all books, which means we don’t know these code words and some are lost to us, but that don’t mean it should be taken literal I usually tell people if you’re expecting to see a dragon chase a pregnant lady across the night sky, cancel your subscription to the Sci-Fi network immediately because you have been brain-damaged That is not meant to be literal Holy moly, that’s crazy But there is a truth there There is a meaning there There is a revelation there We got to get to that revelation So we look for the imagery, where does it come from, and what are the secret code words When stars fall, always in Jewish apocalyptic literature, that is angels coming, always So we got to know that So stars are falling, we’re probably talking about angels And that kind of a code words is recurrent The use of colors, numbers, animals, and sometimes human animal forms I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the word “Kabbalah.” They are really big on Jewish numerology You can go crazy on anything but I think there is an appropriate number symbolism in the Bible Seven is always perfection One less than seven is always human imperfection Ten is always a sense of completeness Twelve is organization
So if you get numbers that are these words, 6, 7, 10, and 12, or multiples, it’s probably symbolic Probably symbolic And colors, some of the colors in these books, it’s vivid language It just jumps at you with its vividness and its metaphorical truth Number five, the use of angelic mediation by means of visions or dreams but usually through angelic mediation and interpretation There is a dream about something and an angel comes We usually call them interpreting angels and they explain the vision They take the person on a vision of heaven or a tour of hell or that sees these strange things happening and the angel tells him what it means Just think of Daniel And of course, Revelation, this interpreting angel Number six, primarily focuses on the soon coming climactic events of the end time or the new age God is coming tomorrow, he’s coming soon, get ready That’s what this literature is characterized by That’s why Revelation says “soon,” “very soon,” “very near.” It’s been 2000 years See, we took it literally and it’s symbolic It means get ready You don’t know if tonight the Lord’s coming but there have been many nights he hadn’t come Americans don’t do well in this literature Number seven, used a fixed set of symbols, not reality, to communicate an end-time message for God I remember when I was getting somebody to proofread my Book of Revelation, they said, “Bob, you probably ought to change this because you’re going to get killed.” I didn’t and I did I described this This is visionary, non-literal, metaphorical imagination But it is Spirit-led imagination to communicate real truth in time, historical truth, but by means of symbols, colors, animals, angels, but for America to say, “The Bible says it, that settles it,” and not recognize the genre, is one of the epitomes of why we don’t interpret the Bible well If you interpret parables like historical narrative, if you interpret apocalyptic like historical narrative, you are going to be a strange person And some are The second one I want to talk about, there is a sense of duality in this genre Now, John is the author I think it’s the Apostle John John’s Gospel is known for what we call a vertical and horizontical dualism I’m from above, you’re from below It’s always this, in John’s Gospel, he’s the heavenly one, you’re the earthly one Well, that dualism is carried over in this apocalyptic literature Here is some of them: “earth and heaven; “the evil age, evil humans, even angels, “and the age of righteousness, godly humans, godly angels; “current existence contrasted with future existence “All of these are moving toward a consummation “brought about by God “This is not the world that God intended it to be “but he is continuing to plan, work, and project his will “for a restoration of intimate fellowship begun in the Garden of Eden.” That’s what apocalyptic literature does And it may surprise you, as God creates the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1 and 2, God, the animals, and then man, and they’re all in fellowship, does it surprise you that the Bible ends in the same scenario of God and man and a garden and, by the prophesies of Isaiah, the animals Now I’m not sure if that’s metaphorical or literal If it’s literal, heaven’s going to be like the restored Garden of Eden If it’s metaphorical, humans in their fallen state cannot perceive the wonders of the eternal state, nor the horrors of eternal separation If it’s the Garden of Eden, I get my dog back, and if it’s not, it’s better than that Number three, apocalyptic literature was never presented orally Think what I’m saying to you This was never preached in a church Nobody got up and preached Revelation It is always highly structured which means the structure and the genre are the keys to interpreting the book, structure and genre This is highly developed I personally believe, just an example, that the Book of Revelation is in the form of a Greek drama in seven acts where the second coming occurs at the end of every act And every act covers the period from the first coming to the second coming, which the Bible calls the latter days Now that’s a structural bias on my part What you say to me is, “You’ve got to prove that to me.” Well, I think I can do that I think I can do that
But structure and genre are the key to this kind of literature Okay, that’s what I want to do for that Let’s go back to the notes again There’s a couple of books here I’ve suggested I’ve suggested some of these before Number three, suggested readings I just hope you’ll buy number b, little b, “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth,” by Fee and Stuart It’ll change the way you look at the Bible It will be a blessing to you It costs $15 This is not a technical book It’s not a hardback book It will open your eyes to Bible interpretation by literary genre There’s a couple more good ones here Number g is a good one This book is a little more technical This book put me in the bed, physically, literally When I read this man talk about how to interpret the Bible, I thought to myself, “God, how many people have I sent to hell with my preaching? How many people have I confused and led wrong?” It made me physically sick to recognize how poorly I had handled the Bible and from what selfish reasons, denominational reasons I had done it for If you’re up to it, “Exegetical Fallacies.” Number h, this is the book that has helped me more than any other book understand prophesy and apocalyptic literature This is by a professor named D. Brent Sandy and the book is called, “Ploughshares & Pruning Hooks.” Now, it’s small, it’s not technical, it’s paperback It will help you if you are a prophesy buff, if you are a Revelation buff, this will open your eyes to a whole new understanding of this genre and I hope you’ll think about it The last one is a book from the chairman of the New Testament Department at Southern Baptist Seminary in Kentucky and he has written this small brief paperback book on Biblical interpretation based on following the rules of the game Remember the first time you saw (the game) “Monopoly,” you had no clue how all those things went and how to do it? You had to read the rules of Monopoly before you could play Monopoly Well, he says, “You’ve got to know how to interpret before you jump in the Bible somewhere.” I think that makes sense So this is a Southern Baptist, hermeneutical textbook, that’s in paper, it’s non-technical I think you’ll enjoy it Now, number c, I’m always a little nervous about this and I tell you why I think we all get intimidated here At least, I do I grew up in a day where grammar was not really a part of my English education in high school, which means the reason that Greek and Hebrew were so hard for me is because they teach these languages in a grammatical form and I didn’t have a good basis in English grammar, much less Greek and Hebrew grammar I could bet the vast majority of my age is in that same boat But I want to say to you and I want you to look at me when I say this, grammatical features, no doctrine hangs on grammatical features No doctrine hangs on grammatical features Do you remember when you used to tune your old carburetor, not the new ones, but the old carburetor and you’d put your hand on the steering wheel in the side of the car and if that finger shook, you’d change the mixture of air and fuel until your finger quit doing that? That’s what grammar will do for you It will fine-tune the meaning of a text, it will not change the meaning of a text I hope I can say that before I get into this because many of you are going to say, “I can’t do this.” I would say, “If you can do it, God bless you.” If you can’t do it, this is not the big deal Just get on with life, and get over it and you’ll get to heaven without grammar, amen? But what we try to do is understand the word order Now, what Greek does, it is an inflected language English is a word order language If you change the place of the subject and the object you’ve changed the sentence In Greek, if you want to highlight the subject, highlight the action, or highlight the object you put it out of its normal order Now the normal order for Greek is going to be verb, subject, object So if it’s put out of order, there’s a reason Everything in Greek grammar with the verbs, except for aorist active indicative, that’s a form, which just means it happened It doesn’t tell you anything about how it happened, when it happened, it just says something happened Now every other grammatical form, it is saying something about the action, the completion, the incompletion, the focus on the subject, the focus on the object, the focus on the when, the focus on the how Everything else is what we call “flagged.” Now, it’s been my joy to go right over here in Cedarville, Texas, right up the road on the loop, to go to Wycliffe Summers Institute of Linguistics In my opinion, they teach the best way on how to use Greek and Hebrew Do you know that the translators for Wycliffe
do not learn Greek and Hebrew? They don’t teach them that There’s 500 forms for every Greek verb You’re talking about something that’ll kill you They teach them the grammatical significance of these forms and then they have the books to identify the form and know what it means That is the smartest way to do that so I would say if word order is important, and it is, the best way to do it is an interlinear It’s a book by Zondervan for $30 It has Hebrew or Greek– Hebrew costs more– it’s got the original language and right under every word is the English word Very quickly you can see the word order If you don’t want to do that, the American Standard Version of 1901 is the most literal English translation that’s ever been done It’s bad grammar, it’s so literal But it shows you what’s out of place So it’s hard to read but it’s a great study Bible American Standard Version I want to give you a couple of examples to try to show what I’m talking about You all know Galatians 2:20, it’s that wonderful verse You want to quote it with me? “I’m crucified with Christ: yet I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” If you look at that in the Greek text, it doesn’t say, “I am crucified with Christ.” It says, “with Christ, I am crucified” first, because the thrust of this is not me dying Where’s the thrust? Christ dying So “With Christ” is put first to emphasize that there is the key You’ve got your Bibles with you, I hope Would you turn quickly to Hebrews 1:1 Hebrews 1:1 is a passage about how God has revealed himself Now, most translations say and this is probably New American Standard, “God in olden times spoke through the prophets in bits and pieces.” That’s probably New American Standards in my mind But that’s not what the Greek text says The emphasis is not that God has spoken God is not first in Hebrews 1:1 In Hebrews 1:1 it says, “In bits and pieces God in olden times spoke through the prophets.” This is a text on how has God spoken He spoke to us in hired servants in little pieces, no Old Testament book has all the truth, but now he’s spoken to us in a family member who grew up in the Father’s house so it’s a much superior revelation, the New Testament through Christ than the Old Testament through the prophets They’re both inspired but the Old Testament is bits and pieces and the New Testament’s a family member Well, that makes a critical, critical distinction in interpreting Hebrews 1:1 through 3 And that’s what I’m saying Sometimes, these things help Remember, this is like a mechanic’s tool chest, that big red one, has all those tools in it He doesn’t use all those tools on every broken car, but he has got to know how those tools work so when your car is broken in a particular way, he knows what tool to use That’s exactly what hermeneutics is Hermeneutics, you can’t use all these principles on every verse, but if you know these principles are here, when they do work, holy moly, they work well, right? And you’ve got to know what’s available and try it, put that wrench on there and see if this is the one Many times it won’t help but when it does, it just gives insight, incredible insight into God’s word Now the verbs is at C2, I’ve talked about this In the back of the seminar that you’ll get a copy of at the end, I have tried to summarize the grammatical forms that make a difference in Bible interpretation both for Hebrew and for Greek If you go online, they’re online free, you can copy them But I have tried to do that to tell you what does it mean if it’s an aorist passive imperative? Now, what does it mean, if it’s a periphrastic? I’ve tried to define that in three or four or five pages so that if you are into grammar, this will bless you If you’re not, forget it and move on You just can’t let it eat you alive But I did want to give an example at the top of page 37 And I’m going to pick on Baptists again Why do we say to people, “Are you saved?” That’s how we express it “Are you saved?” That’s past tense, right? For Greek that’s going to be aorist, completed action Are you saved? But I submit to you, the Bible presents salvation in every Greek verb form So if you look at the notes, it does have aorist, Acts 15:11, Romans 8:24, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5, but it also says and this is the famous Ephesians 2:5 and 8, this is perfect tense, “You have been,” saved in the past, “and continue to be saved,” as a state of being Have been, continue to be But look at number three, (Present Tense) This is equally true
You are in the process of being saved tonight No one is fully and completely saved tonight Aahh! Look at those texts 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 15:2, 2 Corinthians 2:15, we are in the process of salvation Now, look at the next one There are several places where salvation is future tense By the way, if you’ll look at the Beatitudes, the first and last beatitude are present tense Every one in the middle is future “The pure in heart shall see God.” That’s future tense Now, look at these in Romans, Romans 5:9, 5:10, 10:9, 1 Corinthians 3:15, Philippians 1:28, this is a lot of text We will not be fully saved until we see Jesus as he is and are changed into his likeness on Resurrection Day and get our new bodies There, now if you put it in the terms, justified, we’re saved from the penalty of sin; sanctified, we’re saved from the power of sin; and one day, glorified, we’re going to be saved from the presence of sin and that’s where salvation is consummated But see, we only talk in the past tense That’s why when we go to somebody and we’re trying to witness to them and they say, “Well, I prayed when I was a child,” we have another question: If you prayed as a child, what’s the matter with the way you live? That’s the prayer ongoing That’s as valid a New Testament question as “Did you ever pray,” is “How are you living?” That is as valid and as Biblical So if I ask you, “Are we saved, are we being saved, or shall we be saved,” the answer is, “Yes.” Okay, number three is talking about connectors and conjunctions and stuff and, of course, in English you’re familiar with this The word “because” is crucial “Therefore” is crucial, “so that” is crucial Friends, I hope you are a close reader of the Scripture Read this to understand Is this statement the main statement and then there are some implications? You know these words You’re used to these connectors and English reflects these Greek connectors Think through how the clauses are related because quite often we have a main verb and several auxiliary verbs Or one statement and several illustrations Once you pick up on this close reading of the Bible, this thing’s going to start outlining to you in wonderful ways And when it does, you’re going to be free from all the gotchas that are in our world and people trying to tell you what the Bible says Number four is I think we ought to start looking– this is in the fourth reading cycle, is where this comes in in my structure– for repetitious words I think the author of Genesis outlines his own books by the little phrase, “These are the generations of.” This is the generation of heaven and earth This is the generation of Adam It goes right on through the book and outlines that I think that’s an outline That is the author’s way of outlining his own book It’s one of these recurrent phrases I’ve been doing Ephesians for you I preached that early and went back The word “Heavenlies” only appears in Ephesians It appears five times That is theologically exegetically significant If a word is repeated five times in only one book, we’ve got to ask, “What is Paul doing with that word?” And what it is, is the spiritual conflict every day for every Christian? That becomes very significant Another one, “to the praise of his glory.” Now that’s in Ephesians 1 Remember, we marked off the three persons of the Trinity in that one sentence from chapter 1 verse 3 to verse 14 and we marked off the Father in verse 6 “to the praise of his glory,” marked off the Son in 12 “to the praise of his glory” and then marked off the Holy Spirit at the end of 14 “to the praise of his glory.” If you start asking questions when you read the Bible, looking for these repeated phrases, it’s going to start outlining itself, making much more sense to you than just trying to read it quickly The Bible’s not meant to be read it quickly Reading through the Bible in 1 year is not a good spiritual experience Read through Romans in 1 year, then you may get it Don’t do Jeremiah, it’ll take 10 Now I want to deal with the idioms and the Bible has idioms like we do I remember I got off the plane in India We were doing a mission trip in India and I told the pastor, “I am tickled to death to be here.” The pastor said, “I’m so sorry.” “Tickled to death” makes no sense “That was awfully good.” What? “I’m all ears.” Well, get a giant Q-Tip We talk that way Don’t you know the ancient world talked that way?
And yet we just take it like’s it all morning newspaper, absolutely literal Of course, we misunderstand Give you a couple of ones The word “hate.” This is where the Moonies used to come on college campuses and say, “You love Jesus?” “Yes.” “Do you believe the Bible?” “Yes.” “The Bible says you got to hate Father and Mother “or you’re not worthy of me “Leave your dorm room, pack your bags, “and come to our camp “And you’ll never contact your parents again if you’re going to be Biblical.” Don’t you know that was a methodology that they used to recruit sincere, ignorant young people Now the word “hate” in the Bible does not mean what you think about “hate.” And you’ve got to go back to the Old Testament Jacob got stuck with Leah By the way, I don’t think that she was unattractive She just wasn’t as attractive as the girl he fell in love with So it says, “Jacob hated Leah.” He did not hate Leah She was not the favorite The word “hate” in the Bible is the Hebrew idiom of comparison which means “you cannot love Father and Mother more than me,” Jesus is saying You hear the difference? I’ve given you all the Scripture text, I hope you’ll look at it Another idiom is “bless.” Remember where Job’s wife, bless her heart, God got her, she was pregnant forever Forever, she was pregnant Anyway, remember she said, “Curse God and die.” If you’ll look that up, that Hebrew word is not “curse.” That’s the Hebrew word “bless.” That’s an idiom If I said to English speakers, the word “all” and the word “many” mean the same, you would go, “You are crazy.” Well, see, the word “all” and “many” have been used by ultra Calvinists to talk about that God doesn’t love all, he loves many, and that Jesus didn’t die for the all, Jesus died for the many And that’s the elect I hope you got your Bibles Turn with me to the greatest text on substitutionary atonement, which is Isaiah 53 In Isaiah 53, beginning in verse 11, about line 4, Isaiah 53:11, line 4, it says, “My servant will justify the many.” Look at verse 12, line 5, “Yet he himself bore the sin of many,” and people say, “Well, see, that means ‘many’ not ‘all.’ “Jesus didn’t die for all The Gospel’s not open to all, it’s only open to the elect.” Wait just a minute Would you look at verse 6 please, line 3 “But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all.” You cannot let the “many” in the same chapter on the same subject be diametrically opposite to the “all” of verse 6 But I’m not through there Would you turn to Romans chapter 5 Now you know Romans 5:1 through 11 is a description of the basis and benefits of justification by faith Beginning in verse 12 through verse 21 is the “Adam Christ typology.” Look at verse 18 and 19, exactly parallel, except for the word “all” and “many.” Look with me, Romans 5:18 and 19 “So then through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men.” Adam sinned, everyone fell I think you would agree with that “Even so, through one act of righteousness, there resulted justification of life to all men.” Now look at verse 19 It’s exactly the same except the word the “many” is put in the place of the “all.” Now watch, “For as through one man’s disobedient, the many were made sinners.” Let me stop there and say, would you agree that when Adam sinned, just some sinned? Do you see the parallelism here that the word “many” must refer to the “all” and cannot be used as a select group of the elect and that Jesus only dies for a limited group? Grammatical structure Again, you will see this in the appendix but I just want to show you how significant this is There are only two commentaries that I know that identifies every conditional sentence Every “if” in your New Testament is one of four Greek conditional sentences Now, unfortunately, “if” in English for us is a contingency word “This will happen if,” that’s the way we often think of it But that is not what this means in Greek Give you example Remember in the temptation of Jesus where it says, “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.” Every temptation starts, “If you are the Son of God.” Now is Satan saying, “You’re really not the Messiah Prove it, prove it.” Is that what that means?
Does that “if” mean I don’t believe you’re a Messiah Prove to me you’re the Messiah by changing these stones that look like they’re bread into bread? No That is not at all what that means That is a first-class conditional sentence, assumed to be true for the author’s purposes And probably should be translated “since.” “Since you are the Messiah.” Satan is not doubting who Jesus is Satan is affirming who Jesus is Then he’s saying, “Now, Jesus, how are you going to win men? Why don’t you feed them, Jesus?” Remember when they almost made him king because he fed them? “Why don’t you do a miracle, Jesus? Wow them, jump off the pinnacle Compromise with me, every one of those, Satan says, “I know who you are Now, how are you going to win men?” See, that changes everything in that temptation I’ll give you another one Romans 8:31 I don’t know about you My life has not always been all that I want it to be And Satan says to me, “How do you get off preaching? “How do you get off being a minister? “Look what you did Look what you said Look what you used to do.” That “if” bothers me If God is for you, because some days I wonder, is he for me? Could he be for me? Should he be for me? That’s a first-class conditional “Since,” praise God, “since” God is for you, who can be against you? Don’t let that “if” confuse you That “if” is an affirmation, first-class conditional “if.” You’ve got to do a little work on “ifs” to fully understand these clauses The second class is kind of strange Let me see if I can think of one “If you loved me, you would have rejoiced.” Second class, meaning, “If you love me, which you do not, you would have rejoiced, which you do not.” Do you catch it? It’s a play on making a false statement to emphasize a false conclusion The commentaries that do this are A.T. Robertson’s “Word Picture of the New Testament” in six volumes You can get it on Amazon for about $30 or $40 or you can get Bob’s free commentaries online and I target every “if” in the entire New Testament Third-class condition just means action, potential action It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, it just means it could happen And fourth class is kind of a wish or a possibility but the farthest removed from reality Number one is reality asserted, number four is farthest removed from that reality If you don’t know those conditions, you cannot understand those clauses So those conditions are important I think the way we say “No” is important Greek has several ways to say “No.” It certainly has a word for “No,” but it puts strings of verbs together to say “No” in very powerful ways Once you know that some of Jesus’ statements, “I will never, no, never, leave you or forsake you.” That’s a powerful negative Even in the Great Commission, “Lo, I am with you always.” Hear that emphasis? Those are text tool That Interlinear will show you that with just a little knowledge of these grammatical forms You can do this It’s available. It’s not hard If you have any background in grammar, if you’re an English teacher, you can do this For more information, please contact: Bible Lessons International www.freebiblecommentary.org