Rules of Interpretation and Definitions

THE FIVE BASIC RULES FOR INTERPRETING THE BIBLE

  1. Accept the meaning of Scripture in its most normal, natural and customary sense.
  2. Take Scripture in context.
  3. Compare Scripture with Scripture.
  4. Before truth is realized, all seeming Scriptural contradictions must be harmonized.
  5. Watch for near/far prophetic applications in Scripture.

      “The Five Keys to a Face-Value Hermeneutic”

 -Robert Van Kampen, The Sign, Crossway, p. 9

-Definitions-

Dispensationalism is a theological system by which God is seen in terms of different “workings” (dispensations) from Creation until the end of time. Dispensationalists divide Scripture into seven sections or distinct ages as a means of explaining the unique purposes of God during each one. Out of this “seven different ages” view of history and the future, the Pre-Tribulational Rapture position (PTR) was formed.

Imminent means “impending” or “ready to take place at any moment.” According to its leading advocates, “the imminent return of Christ for his Church” is the pillar on which Pre-tribulation Rapturism (see PTR below) rests. If Christ comes before the next dispensation commences, then his return must be “at any moment.” This position—exclusive to Dispensational Pre-Millennialists—teaches that no more signs are necessary prior to Christ’s return; so, the Lord’s coming will be sudden and unexpected.

The Pre-Tribulational Rapture (PTR) position affirms that Jesus will soon come physically, in power, and with a demonstration of great glory, to establish his Millennial Kingdom on earth. This literal approach to Scripture goes on to claim that the Lord’s taking up of his church (i.e. rapture) begins a seven-year period they commonly refer to as “The Tribulation Period”. (See “70th Week of Daniel” below)

Since their teachers maintain the true church will be taken up before the seven-year Tribulation Period begins, the PTR view is the rapture of those who belong to Christ can be at “any moment”.

The Pre-Wrath Rapture (PWR) position also presents a literal Pre-millennial view. It differs from PTR in that it divides this age’s last seven years into two parts. The first and longest segment is what PWR advocates refer to as “Satan’s wrath.” This part was characterized by Jesus as “the beginning of birth pains”. Later, within the same period, birth pains give way to “hard labor”. Terrible times increase in intensity until the world experiences an unparalleled time of distress.

After the time of great distress is complete, God’s people are rescued and “the time of God’s wrath” commences. It begins on the Day of the Lord. The PWR position further holds that the Day of the Lord or Day of Judgment includes simultaneous, one-after-the-other events such as signs in the sky, a great earthquake, the rapture, and the sealing of the 144,000. Specifics about the length of the two segments may differ among PWR advocates, yet all maintain the rapture is the deliverance of the saints from Satan’s wrath. The Lord’s appearance cuts off or ends any possibility of further harm to his elect.

The Rapture is the “taking up,” the physical gathering upward of God’s people in the clouds to meet the returning Christ in the air. Though the word “rapture” (Latin, meaning “taken up”) does not appear in English translations of the Bible, support for the term is Biblical (cf. 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18). The rapture’s timing has been a subject of debate among Bible-believing Christians for some time. At what point, does the “taking up” occur and what immediately follows? The purpose of the “gathering upward” is also a point of confusion. In my opinion, this confusion is due to PTR’s influence. Because of PTR’s widespread appeal, the rapture has been disregarded as the saint’s “rescue” from great distress; then argued to be “resurrection”, which it is not.

The 70th Week of Daniel is the yet unfulfilled last seven years of this age. The term is derived from the prophecy in The Book of Daniel (9:24) and the prophet who received promise of it from God. The 70th Week is initiated by a treaty between representatives of the people of Israel and antichrist or his representatives. The 70th Week is a reference to the 70th or last of the 70 weeks of years (seventy years x seven years) of God’s sentence on Judah (the Jews) for their grievous sins of idolatry and rebellion.

  1. ElijahJacobs’s avatar

    Here is a question for whoever wants to answer: Do you think that the Magi, in Matthew 2, knew the time frame in which the King of the Jews would be born? Did they know from the prophecy of the 70 wks of Daniel (Daniel 7:24-27)? If they did have knowledge of the 70 wks of Daniel, from whom did they receive this information?

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  2. John Finkbeiner’s avatar

    I will offer my opinion: I say absolutely the Magi had inside information, but it was the same as the Jews had. The popular depictions have them at the stable worshipping a newborn Jesus. Matthew records the Magi going to a “oikos” “house” to see a “paidion” or “small child”. It then seems reasonable to assume that much of what they knew of the season for Messiah came early on from the Jewish Daniel. (Salvation is from the Jews.) Not only would Daniel, himself a former chief of the Magi, acquaint the curious God-fearers among the wise men with The Book of the Law (Num. 24:17) and of the Prophets (Is.60:6), but he might teach them how Christ’s first coming was associated with Israel’s Spring Religious Feasts. I think it was a combination of at least three signs from God: This might include the above, the prophecy of the 70 weeks of Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27) as well as the star. I would not exclude the possibility of a divine visitation. It was the combination of the prophesies, signs and witnesses, in my view, that were at work prompting the Magi to travel to Jerusalem. The gifts they brought their King were Scriptural as well as timely. They provided the resources for the flight to Egypt. God directed these holy men from among the Gentiles the way he always has.

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  3. ElijahJacobs’s avatar

    I agree with you completely. The gifts of the Magi were also prophetic in that they also represented the different roles of Jesus.
    Gold=King
    Frankincense=High Priest
    Myrrh=Suffering Servant

    Pastor John: You have taught in “The Prophets of God” that the Lord is presently raising up Magi for the time of the end. These Magi will have the tools (Scriptures and Knowledge of Prophecy) to anticipate what is coming. How important do you think their role will be in exposing the Anti-Christ? Do you see some of the end time Magi also fulfilling the role of prophets of God?

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  4. John Finkbeiner’s avatar

    At Christ’s birth, the Magi or Wisemen were a priestly class who searched intently for information concerning the coming of the King of the Jews. Magi will unite as a priesthood, particularly as we get closer to Jesus’ second coming. The Magi will use Scriptures and their knowledge of prophecy, as you say, to expose the antichrist’s schemes. It is my hope that this site will serve as a magnet, a beacon or a rallying point for the last day’s Magi. After they are identified, they must be put to work on behalf of the people of God. I do not see the Magi as prophets. Prophets, to me, are front-line troops and Magi are more command and control, diligently interpreting the Scriptures and listening to God for prophetic insight (ex. 2 Kings 6:8-12).

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  5. ElijahJacobs’s avatar

    Thank you for showing the difference between the roles of a magi and a prophet. The reason I asked if the magi can also fill the role of end time prophets is because Daniel actually was both a wise man (magi) and a prophet.

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    1. John Finkbeiner’s avatar

      Yes, Daniel was indeed both a prophet and a Magi. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon, appointed him ruler over the Magi which would incorporate the role of a king. He also offered up long prayers of intercession for his people Israel, which would make him a priest of God. Different roles at different times.

      The Jewish exile Daniel is a prime example of the major concept behind “The Prophets, Priests and Kings Series” (P,P & K) we are developing; that is, God’s servant leaders perform all three roles when the situation calls for it. “The People of God” was the introductory book in the P,P & K Series. It occurs to me that God’s people, in the truest sense, are to be synonymous with the Magi or the Wise. Are we not to possess and manifest the wisdom of God just as Christ, our King, did? Wouldn’t Magi then be a role consistent with the term “saint”?

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    2. ElijahJacobs’s avatar

      You make an outstanding point. Jesus was a Prophet, is our High Priest and will forever be our King. The Apostle John said that we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is. So when Peter says that we are to be priests and kings, it is because those who really belong to Jesus are like Him in every way. As you said, that is who a saint is.

      So if we are to inherit the earth and take our proper place, then we must drink Jesus’ cup of suffering. We read in Scripture that David was a man after God’s own heart. Before David became king, was life easy? Did he not protect his father’s flock from the lion and the bear? Did he not also defend Israel from the blasphemers of his Heavenly Father’s name (ex. Goliath of Gath)? Incidentally, defending God’s name was the job of Israel’s king Saul, but he shirked his duty. It is simple; those who are given the authority to rule in the Millennium will have proven themselves worthy prior to assuming their throne. We must stand up to those who curse God’s name and perpetuate lies against God’s people.

      God Bless Yo

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    3. ElijahJacobs’s avatar

      From reading other websites and attending different Bible Studies, I am seeing a repeated pattern: People are breaking Rule #1 of the 5 Basic Rules for Interpreting the Bible. It seems that “accepting Scripture in its most normal, natural and customary sense” is seldom the norm. People want to interpret Scripture to fit their points, instead of allowing it to speak for itself. Rarely am I seeing the original Hebrew and Greek examined to find the intended meaning. Recently, I had to explain to a fellow Christian that Genesis 1-11 actually happened; they were not just part of a story with a spiritual meaning. Jesus said that the days preceding his personal return will resemble those of Noah’s day. It is telling that Christ references the Flood as an actual event. So are we to believe modern leaders who teach another gospel or Jesus himself?

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