Friday, July 24, 2015

Context, Context, and Context

Three Things To Consider When Interpreting Scripture:

Context, Context, and Context

Matthew 16:28 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

28 I assure you: There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

     When reading this passage of scripture carefully in attempt to interpret its meaning, or any other difficult to understand passage, one must read around it (before and after). This is a passage that is difficult to understand because Jesus states to His disciples that only, “some standing here...will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom”; but only one problem may be found, and that is the problem that Jesus' second coming has not yet occurred. As you're pondering this Bible difficulty I want to share about how I started looking for that answer to the question of Jesus' second coming.
     At my job there are many more skeptics and atheists than anyone who are Christians, agnostics, deists, or any other theistic belief system. One atheist in particular would challenge me on my beliefs about God, Jesus, the Holy Bible, etc. I like a good challenge so I never turned him down. Every break time on the graveyard shift I was working we'd debate over the existence of God and the reliability of the Holy Bible. One break, when he was unusually emboldened, I was stumped as to how to answer his challenging question as to how I interpret Matthew 16:28. Right in front of everyone I read it, and I know that I had read this verse many times before and had thought about it myself as to what this actually meant. Could Jesus' second coming really had been at His resurrection? If so, then my understanding that Jesus was coming back was just a myth, a hoax, bunk, etc... It bugged me to think that someone asked me a question that I had questions about myself because it is one of my goals in life to find difficulties, such as this, and expose the the truth behind it. I had to find answers.
     I'm not proud to say that a little seed of doubt actually entered my mind. All the evidence that I could find led to his understanding of the verse. As I admit that I was a bit overwhelmed with this, I asked if I could speak with him after work and he agreed. I told him about my conversion story and ultimately came to the point to where I said I wanted to do private debates as opposed to public ones. He agreed, and from that point on there was no public discourse on the matter.
As I was a bit relieved that I knew that I was not going to be publicly humiliated for not being able to answer, what I considered at the time to be, such a troublesome Bible Difficulty I still couldn't shake that I still didn't know the answer! What I should've told him was that I would get back with him, but because of my, “head knowledge pride” as I sometimes call it I was too stubborn to be humble in the situation.
    A couple of weeks later I had a look in a Dakes Annotated Bible, which is KJV (and I'm not so much a big fan of the KJV), that has VERY extensive notes (and I am a big fan of VERY extensive notes!). I looked at the notes and it directed me to the first eight verses of the very next chapter. I however want to focus attention on the first two verses which read:

Matthew 17:1-8Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The Transfiguration

17 1 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 He was transformed in front of them, and His face shone like the sun. Even His clothes became as white as the light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it’s good for us to be here! If You want, I will make three tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said:
This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him.
Listen to Him!

6 When the disciples heard it, they fell facedown and were terrified.7 Then Jesus came up, touched them, and said, “Get up; don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up they saw no one except Him—Jesus alone.
And also 2 Peter 1:16-18:

2 Peter 1:16-18Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The Trustworthy Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory:
This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him!

18 And we heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with Him on the holy mountain.

    What does this tell me? This tells me that I took the scenic route instead of the short cut (so to speak). I could've asked someone who actually had their doctoral degree in theology/more extensive knowledge of theology, more wisdom, and experience. This is how the body of Christ works. Each part of the body has a different function, and help each other work more effectively.
So, the answer to the question at hand, which is, “Did the second coming of Christ happen at His resurrection?”. No. The prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 16 was fulfilled in the first eight verses of Matthew 17. This is the same transfiguration referred to in 2 Peter 1:16-18, and like the words of Jesus only some of them were there, but all of the disciples saw Jesus when He resurrected. The transfiguration is the better explanation, and the only explanation that actually makes sense.
     If you read carefully before and after each verse at hand, you will more than likely be able to find your answer, and if not then pray. If the Holy Spirit doesn't lead you to the answer that you're trying to find then pray that He will lead you to someone in the body that can give you an answer. Lets function as a body does as each part brings balance to another, and each part compliments another.
1 Peter 3:15-16 – John 16:13 – Romans 12:3-21

Excerpt from the Words of Encouragement newsletter August 2015 issue by Joseph Fincher

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