Category Archives: Redemptive History

Why Should We Care about Good Interpretation?


Many of us might have heard many a time in the church claiming that “this is what the Bible says” and so and so. Some people take the biblical text that was written to address specific people group in the particular time and history literally and apply the text the same way that was applied to the original audience. On the other extreme, people try to find some relevance from the original text and make the verse and message of their own. After all, it is God’s Word that is relevant to all generation! For example, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” On the other hand, there are people out there in the churches who preach that the Sermon on the Mount regarding the teachings of Jesus on divorce and his call to be perfect like the Father does not apply to us. Is this what the biblical interpretation all about?

Taking both these cases, we need to be careful of what we make up of the meaning of the biblical text and apply it in our time to make the message still relevant for us. Bad interpretation can crush people’s faith and shatter their hope. Biblical interpretation is a pivotal job to get across the true meaning of the text to the target group without squandering the meaning that was intended for its original readers. Only proper interpretation can determine the intended meaning in the text.

What then does good interpretation look like? It is necessary that we understand historical, literary, grammatical, and theological context well before we interpret the biblical text. Without having proper knowledge of one of the contexts, our interpretation can become misleading and obscure and, to the extreme, even heretic. Let’s outline them.

A. HISTORICAL CONTEXT

i. Original Audience: We need to know who were the intended audiences when the book was written.

ii. Social Situation: When was this written and how was their social situation, culture, lifestyle looked like? What was the purpose of this writing? What happened in the history?

iii. Purpose: In other words, what might have motivated the writer to write the book? If we have answer to these basic questions, we can move along and work on the literary and grammatical area.

B. LITERARY AND GRAMMATICAL CONTEXT

Pay close attention to the specific genre of the text. We simply cannot interpret the poem as a narrative and prophecy as an epistle. Scriptural context is another area that demands our attention. Look for language issues like word-meaning. The meaning of the word changes over time. A certain word might have utterly different meaning in the past than we use and understand it in our time. Writing styles are also important, since the Bible is comprised of 66 different books that was written by about 40 different authors over period of 1600 years. So, it is obvious that the writing style and meaning also vary from the time of its writing to in our present day. One more important thing to look for is the word-repetition.  Repeating words should trigger us to look into the text deeper and carefully, as the author is saying something important that he wants his audience to know.

C. THEOLOGICAL CONTEXT

Once we move from the historical, literary and grammatical context, we need to work on the text in its theological context to determine the application of the text. We need to do biblical theology in its framework: (i) Creation (ii) Fall (iii) Redemption and (iv) Consummation. Biblical theology helps us to see the progressive history that how God has revealed himself to humanity and also teaches us about his redemptive work throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. The biblical theology seeks to understand how epochs of the Old Testament have pointed toward the fulfillment of the promise in the life and work of Jesus Christ. The biblical theology thereby encourages us to know the intended meaning of the biblical text by understanding whether the biblical text points toward something in the New Testament or back to the Old Testament. For instance, Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

From here on, we can see what the author’s message was for his audience back in the history. Today, our context is completely different than the time the book was authored. Next, we are not the original audience; however, we can now know the centrality of the message and apply it to our time without claiming or making the verses as our own.

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Sabbatum Excerpt: N.T. Wright on God’s Overflowing Divine Love in Jesus’ Death


And as we watch the events of Jesus’s final days unfold, we cannot simply look on and register them as an odd quirk of history. The claim being made in the stories of Jesus is that this was the perfect storm. This was where the hurricane of divine love met the cold might of empire and the overheated aspiration of Israel. Only when we reflect on that combination do we begin to understand the meaning of Jesus’s death. Only then might we begin to understand how it is that the true Son of God, the true High Priest, has indeed become king of the world. This is, of course, to run too far ahead of ourselves. If we are to approach that density of understanding, we must first grasp just how powerful, within the ancient scriptures, this theme of God’s sovereign, independent action really was.

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Wright, N. T. (2011-10-25). Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters (p. 39). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

Sabbatum Excerpt: Jesus’ Execution for being a Messianic Pretender by N.T. Wright


We have now uncovered plentiful evidence that Jesus, at the climax of his prophetic ministry engaged in a powerful and simplicity messianic act, in riding into Jerusalem and symbolically enacting the Temple’s destruction; and that he explained – if we can call it that – this action in a multiplicity of ways which, taken together, show that he was indeed working within a Temple-and Messiah frame of thought. He was the true king, who had authority over the Temple. As such, he would be vindicated when his prediction came true, and the Temple was finally destroyed.

On the other hand, we know that, when Jesus was finally executed, the charge against him was that he was a messianic claimant. The title on the cross, whose historicity used to be challenged from time to time, is now generally accepted as historical.[152] Even without it, the crucifixion itself points us to the charge that Jesus was a revolutionary, an insurgent, like the two lestai (‘brigands’) crucified with him. The mocking of Jesus fits exactly: the royal robe, the crown of thorns, the reed instead of the scepter speak symbolically of a messianic charge.[153] The explicit taunts of the crowd make sense within this picture, bringing together once more the Temple riddles and the messianic claim.[154] Merely threatening the Temple might not have been enough to have Jesus executed; the Essenes had been opposed to the Tempe for many years, and the strange prophet called Jesus son of Ananias who proclaimed woe against the city during the war was beaten, but not killed.[155] Only a charge of leading a messianic movement will explain the scenario which is the more remarkable when we remind ourselves that the earliest Christians did not follow the pattern of popular messianic movements, that is, they did not mount a military revolt against Rome. There can be no doubt, historically speaking, that Jesus was executed as a messianic pretender.

Footnotes:


[152] Cf. recently Hengel 1995b, 47-54, against e.g. Conzelmann and Lindemann. Cf. Suetonius Caligula 32.2; Domitian 10.1; Cassius Dio 54.3.7; Eusebius Hist. 5.1.44.

[153] Mk. 15.16-20 par.

[154] Mk. 15.29-32 par.

[155] Jos. War 6.300-9, on which cf. Brown 1994, 539f.; Brown is wrong to say (547 n.46) that the Jerusalem authorities wanted this Jesus put to death. On violent opposition to the Essenes from the Jerusalem regime, cf. Brown 1994, 539, with refs. (e.g. 1QpHab. 9.9f.; 11.4-8; 4QpPs37 4.8f.).

Bibliography:

Wright, N.T. Christian Origins and the Question of God. 1st North American ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 521-522. 1997.

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Bible Verses and Scriptures on Christmas


These selected verses tell us the Nativity Story of Jesus Christ who was born in  Bethlehem through the conception of the Holy Spirit. Thus he fulfilled the ancient prophecy about him who being God himself took a human form and lived among us.

Isaiah 7:14

English Standard Version (ESV)

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, thevirgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his nameImmanuel.[a]

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 7:14 Immanuel means God is with us

Isaiah 9:6-7

English Standard Version (ESV)

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[a] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[b]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 9:6 Or is upon
  2. Isaiah 9:6 Or is called

Micah 5:2

English Standard Version (ESV)

2 [a] But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

Footnotes:

  1. Micah 5:2 Ch 5:1 in Hebrew

Matthew 1:18-24

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way.When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 1:18 Some manuscripts of the Christ
  2. Matthew 1:18 That is, legally pledged to be married

Matthew 2:1-12

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Visit of the Wise Men

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come toworship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense andmyrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16
  2. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

Luke 1:35

English Standard Version (ESV)

 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[a] will be called holy—the Son of God.

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you

Luke 2:1-20

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the firstregistration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, tothe city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christthe Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babywrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[c]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 2:2 Or This was the registration before
  2. Luke 2:5 That is, one legally pledged to be married
  3. Luke 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men
Bible verses are taken from http://www.biblegateway.com

Biblical Nuggets: The Missionary Movement of the Early Church


God’s Purpose in the Redemptive History

1. Suggested to Abraham 

Genesis 12:1-3 ESV

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. (2) And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (3) I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

2. Prophesied by Daniel (2:1-49)

3. Taught and Commissioned by Jesus

a. Mat 28:18-20 ESV

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

b. Luk 24:45-49 ESV

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (46) and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, (47) and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (48) You are witnesses of these things. (49) And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

c. Act 1:7-8 ESV

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. (8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

4. Explained by Paul: This is the mystery once hidden but now revealed.

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Class Notes from HI361 | History of Western Christianity