A Fellowship In Christ Jesus

A Fellowship in the World, but not of the World

A Ministry of D. Paul Walker

Confirming Defending Bearing the Gospel of Christ Jesus

Seven Precepts to Understanding the Bible

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I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.

Hosea 12:10

What would education be without the use of examples? Instruction in any craft or skill is based on learning the governing principles and studying examples of both the correct and incorrect, following these comes their application. It is the same with God's word. The Bible is a book of precepts and instruction by example or similitudes.

That the historical events recorded in the Scriptures are similitudes is of extreme importance to remember. The Bible was not written for the sole purpose of providing us with a historical record of the past, although its record is true. The segments of history that are recorded were done so for the express purpose of revelation. They are for revealing God, as we have seen in precept four, but just as importantly, there are examples of the personalities and characters of men. It is much too easy to deceive ourselves, we need an accurate characterization.

Additionally, many of the historical accounts are graphic representations of spiritual events. As similitudes the Scriptures transcend all historical and cultural limitations; the commandments, doctrines, and lessons of the Bible are eternal, as applicable today as when they were written. Its teachings cannot be dismissed on the tenuous excuse of historical progress or cultural bias. The times and cultures for the settings of the lessons of scripture were well chosen by God conveying his exact meaning. These teachings stand at any time in history; man has not evolved to greater truths or cultural advancements but has fallen away from the truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Peter 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example,…

Luke 17:26-30 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man…. 28Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot;… 30Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Colossians 2:16-17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17Which are a shadow of things to come;…

Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Hebrews 8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle:..

1 Corinthians 10:11  Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Several similitudes are pointed out with explanations as to their interpretations giving us a guide to understanding and interpreting the others. An example to demonstrate the breadth and scope of this precept begins with allowing an ox to eat as it works and ends with its application to men.

Deuteronomy 25:4 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.

1 Corinthians 9:9-10 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

1 Timothy 5:17-18 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Similitudes can come in a variety of forms, which we will briefly define here. Probably every form of English style is represented within the Scriptures and you need to have some familiarity with them. Let us review the definition of similitude.

Likeness; resemblance; likeness in nature, qualities, or appearance; comparison, simile, a representation; a facsimile; a portrait, allegory

The forms represented in biblical similitudes are as follows:

1. Allegory—A symbolic representation

Galatians 4:22-24 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

2. Metaphor—Speaking of one object as if it were another
  • Sleep, the peaceable death of the saved.

John 11:11-13 …Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep…. 13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death:…

1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

  • Light for truth and righteousness, Darkness for lies and unrighteousness.

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

  • The strait gate and narrow way of life opposed to the wide gate and broad way of death.

Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.

3. Parable—Instruction not only in morals but in general knowledge made by comparison with natural or plain things. In the Scriptures, they are to give understanding in the things that pertain to God and his ways. Parables are also to hide the truth from those who do not follow our first three precepts.

Matthew 13:10-11 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

4. Paradigm {para dime}—A list, an example serving as a model; pattern; A framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology. (Not all lists would constitute a paradigm.)

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

  • A proud look,
  • A lying tongue,
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
  • Feet that be swift in running to mischief,
  • A false witness that speaketh lies,
  • He that soweth discord among brethren.

Paradigms can be descriptive lists of the constituent parts, rules, teachings or behavior of individuals, organizations or religious beliefs that recur throughout history. They may appear under different names or guises and it is important to recognize and evaluate them correctly. The parts may not necessarily be contained in the same verse.

Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Matthew 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

Mark 12:38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,…

Luke 20:46-47 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; 47Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.

In the above verses, there are several descriptions of practices and mentalities given that transcend time and appear under different guises in history. When these descriptive acts are combined in a list they form the systems constituent parts, a paradigm. The Lord specifically points these things out to us and we ought to be able to recognize them wherever they occur. The paradigm would be:

X= Repetitious Prayer
Religious Title of Father
Long Robes, i.e., Religious Costumes
Love of Preeminence
Requires donations/Payment for Prayer and/or Spiritual Services

Many such lists are contained within the Scriptures, the Ten Commandments as a list is a paradigm, a set of conditions setting the proper parameters of life.

Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Upon salvation one encounters a paradigm shift. You operate under a different list of conventions than the carnal mind.

5. Proverb—A pithy saying condensing the wisdom of experience. We should all be familiar with the book of Proverbs.
6. Simile—A comparison or likeness using the words 'like' or 'as,' etc.

Matthew 11:15-19 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 16But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.

Jeremiah 6:2 I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.

7. Types—Are descriptions or pictures God has woven into history

Remember our forth precept; Revelation, and examine Genesis chapter twenty-four for the types or pictures that God has drawn in history:

Abraham being a type, picture, of God, Isaac a type of Jesus, Abraham's servant a picture of the Holy Spirit and Rebekah a picture of the Church. That is Abraham (God)sends his servant (Holy Spirit) into the world to find a bride for his son Isaac (Jesus). The servant gives gifts unto Rebekah (the Church) and men. Rebekah never having seen the son by faith believes the servant and is carried by the servant to the son, a picture of the Rapture.

As you can see, if we will diligently study we will find a great amount of detail in the histories of the Bible.

Many such types open the Scriptures as part of the revelations of our fourth precept. They graphically describe the operational methods, person, personality, and character of God as well as that of men and Satan. Marriage is one such type being a picture of the Church's relationship to our Lord.

Ephesians 5:31-32 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

This is the reason marriage is constantly being assailed to destroy the picture and pattern in the minds of men of God’s relationship with the Church. An epic work on the subject is that of similitudes is "Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible," Benjamin Keach; 1640-1704, Kregel Publications, ISBN 0-8254-3008-9, a comprehensive work reprinted at approximately a thousand pages.

The fifth precept to understanding the Bible is:

God uses Similitudes

The scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering and the most comfortable way of dying.

John Flavel English
Clergy 1627—91

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