Apr 22

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In this seventh article on “Hermeneutics,” we are calling attention to basic Hermeneutics. For instance, if you were to read a letter with these words: “I will give you a million dollars;” does it mean that “you” will receive from “me” a million dollars? Sounds simple, does it not?
The first thing “you” need to do is locate the antecedent to the pronoun “I;” as the writer is unknown, unless his name appears on the letter. In this case, the first thing you would do is learn who wrote the letter. One thing for sure, you would know without much effort, the writer of the letter is not the “me,” for I do not have a million dollars! So, you would look at the address or name of the writer on the letter. Let us take “The Second Letter of Peter;” it starts with these words: “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, …” (2 Pet. 1:1). Now we know the writer and his name is “Simon Peter,” but we also know more, he is “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” Now, here is something you may not have thought of that is in “Hermeneutics 101;” the “apostles” used a plural, at times when writing. For instance, in the third verse Peter wrote: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue;…” Who is the “us” in this verse? It is a case where Peter, an apostle of Christ, used the plural pronoun “us” to refer to a group and in this case, it refers to the apostles as a group! Therefore, the “us” in the words: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: …;” the “us” is referring to the apostles as a group or class.
Now, let us turn our attention to verse four: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: …” (verse 4). The pronoun “us” continues to be the apostles as a group! Jesus made the promise, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: …” (John 16:13). The pronoun “you” is here the same as the pronoun “us” in Second Peter! The apostles were a group, unlike any other; and when Peter writes of the: “exceeding great and precious promises;” he is pointing to the fulfilling of the promise given to the apostles and not to you and me! Allow me to point out, that in the commentary of the beloved Guy N. Woods, it appears he failed to notice the pronouns; as he Wrote: “It is through the glory and the virture mentioned in the preceding verse that these precious and exceeding great promises have been vouchsafed to man.” He has the “exceeding great and precious promises” going to “man” in general, as he continued to write: “The promises are precious because of what they mean to the human soul.” If not to mankind in general, then, to Christians and this is just not the case! Why brother Woods failed to notice the change in pronouns, I do not know! However, before you fall out of your seat, let us read Peter’s next word: “that.” Peter used the Greek “hina” which is used to express: “in order that (denoting the purpose or the result)” (Strong G2443). So, what was the result of the apostles being guided “into all truth?” It was “that ye;” and Peter identifies who the pronoun “ye” are, as he wrote in the opening verse: “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” and by implication, it reaches to all who are the same in our day! Even in his opening statement, Peter makes a difference between “them” and “us!” The pronoun “them” in verse one refers to the same as the “ye” in verse four and so it is with the pronoun “us,” being a different group from “them,” and the “us” is the apostles of Christ!
With the above understanding in mind, let us read on as Peter wrote: “that by these (The “exceeding great and precious promises,” given to the apostles, frw) ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” Once more let me ask: Why were the apostles guided “into all truth,” or why were they given the “exceeding great and precious promises?” Peter answers: “that by these ye (By extension, you and I) might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” In “Hermeneutics 101,” we are required to notice, who the pronouns refer to! A failure to do so, may and often does cause us to reach a false conclusion! We must always: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
Here is the question: Are you, as you read the inspired word of God, always “rightly dividing the word of truth?” No, if we fail to notice and identify the pronouns and who they refer to!

Frank R. Williams

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