Thursday, February 12, 2004

Hints, Allegories, and Mysteries -- The New Testament Quotes the Old

RSSAbstract: Some final remarks

This series of essays comes from a complete paper available on this web site. I am serializing it on this blog to both advertise it and to invite discussion. You can read the entire paper by clicking here.

Practical Points

This is not a call for a radical change in scholarly hermeneutics. The grammatical and historical approach to the scriptures is the foundation of understanding Biblical truth. It remains the only basis by which we can objectively discuss the doctrines of our belief.

When it comes to communicating doctrine, we should allow ourselves greater latitude. This, of course, also means that we must communicate to our hearers the 4 interpretive modes, their principles and their boundaries. As in all that we do: “the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). It is not to sound mystical. It is not to sound enlightened. It is not to seek our own glory. Instead, like the writers of the New Testament, we have a gospel of regeneration to communicate to a lost and dying world. That world consists of right and left brained people, who have different learning modes. The use of p’shat, remez, drash, and sod can broaden our audience and enhance the effectiveness of our teaching.

Here are some examples this point:

Moses, Joshua, and Caleb: A Drash and Remez

Moses the lawgiver could not lead the Israelites into Canaan, because he violated the command of God to speak to the rock. He struck the rock instead (Numbers 20:3-11). Instead, it was Joshua who led the Israelites into Canaan. Of all the first generation that left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb entered the land.

Moses typifies the failure and sternness of the Law. Unless obedience is perfect, we are doomed to judgment and kept out of the Promised Land.

Joshua typifies salvation. Not only did Joshua and Caleb enter the land because of their faith, but Joshua’s name means “The Lord’s Salvation.”  It was the “Lord’s Salvation” that led the Israelites into the Promised Land.

Caleb hints at the salvation of the Gentiles. Caleb means “Dog,” a euphemism for Gentiles, a remez of the coming salvation of the Gentiles by faith.

The Missing Name of God in Esther: A Sod

In his book, Explore the Book, J. Sidlow Baxter has this observation about the missing name of God in the Book of Esther.

As a matter of fact the name of God does occur in this Book of Esther, in a most remarkable way. The name “Jehovah” is secretly hidden four times in an acrostic form, and the name Eyeh (“I am that I am”) once. In several ancient manuscripts the acrostic consonants which represent the name are written larger, to make them stand out, as though we might write it in English thus – JeHoVaH. There are no other acrostics in the book, so that the intentionalness of these five is clear. The five places where the acrostics occur are i. 20; v. 4; v. 13; vii. 7; vii. 5.

In the four acrostics which form the name Jehovah, the four words forming the J H V H are in each case consecutive. Each of the four is spoken by a different person. In the first two cases, the acrostic is formed by the initial  letters of the words. In the other two it is formed by the final letters of the words. In the first and third acrostics, the letters spell the name backwards and the speakers are Gentiles. In the second and fourth, the letters spell the name forwards and the speakers are Hebrews[1].

Kingdom (p’shat) and Kingdom (remez)

Robert P. Lightner, in his The Last Days Handbook, wrote:

Those classified as evangelical (conservative, orthodox, or fundamental) have a great deal in common as they embrace the historic Christian faith. Yet they battle fiercely with each other over things to come. While they stand united when it comes to the great truths of the historic Christian faith, they are sorely divided in their understanding of God’s plan for the future. Why?[2]

He then goes on in his book to lay out the different viewpoints side by side, with a good effort towards impartiality. One of his chapters, Interpreting Scriptures, is as good a discussion of the differences between covenant and dispensational approaches to the scriptures as one might read. He concludes:

All evangelicals do use the literal method for their understanding of most of the Bible, but some, namely those of amillenial and postmillenial persuasion, think it best to use a less than literal hermeneutic with much unfulfilled prophecy. It is at this point that the evangelical world is divided over things to come and this is what puts prophecy in the middle of the debate. Premillenialists cannot understand why their brothers and sisters insist on using a different method in interpretation with some unfulfilled prophecy but not with all of it. They wonder on what grounds is the less-than-literal approach to be restricted to only some themes of unfulfilled prophecy?[3]

Do the rabbinical modes of scriptural interpretation provide firm footing for the interpretive work of the covenant theologians?  Are they right in saying that there is no literal Messianic Kingdom, or at the least future blessings unique to national Israel, on the earth?  No, but it is time to understand that a synthesis is possible.

This paper has argued for the recognition of four rabbinical modes of scriptural interpretation; p’shat, remez, drash, and sod. It has shown that Old Testament verses clearly have both a grammatical-historical meaning and an extended meaning that comes from semantic associations arising from future revelation. Reflect again on what Isaiah 7:14 meant to King Ahaz. At that time and in that place, it was not about the virgin birth of the Messiah. It was about the timetable of the removal of two troublesome kings. That is the p’shat. With the virgin birth of Jesus, who is God in the flesh, Isaiah 7:14 becomes a remez (hint) of the virgin birth. It is worthy to note that the remez today has more relevance than the p’shat of yesterday, but the p’shat stands firm in its truth nonetheless.

There is Old Testament prophecy concerning a Kingdom in Israel that will be ruled by the Messiah on David’s throne. The p’shat of the Hebrew text reveals this. It is how the author of the book would have understood his own writing and it is how a Jew today would understand. It is also what a rabbi with his four rabbinical modes of interpretation would understand as well. So, a bible scholar should be free to hold such a position without being labeled a “hyper-literalist.”

But can the dispensational theologian really say, “That’s all there is?”  Did not Jesus say, as record in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jewish leaders; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm?”  Is there not a real sense that the spread of the gospel is the spread of the “Kingdom of God?”  In Matthew 24:14 Jesus says, “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”  How excited can a gentile nation really get over a future and far off kingdom in Israel?  How is that kingdom good news to an outback aborigine?

So the covenant theologians are on to something. The “Kingdom of God” is about the rule of God’s Law in the hearts of men. It is about the power and authority of God over Sin, Satan, and Sickness. The words of Jesus lend support to their viewpoint. A bible scholar should be free to hold such a position without being accused of “spiritualizing” the text.

We can use the New Testament quotes of the Old Testament as a model and embrace both viewpoints.

There is a p’shat interpretation of Kingdom prophecies that speak of the return of Jesus in battle array to defeat the armies that have surrounded Jerusalem. It will be the day that all Israel will be saved and the day that Jesus assumes the throne of David. It is the time when Ezekiel’s temple will be built. It is the age when the gentile nations will come to Jerusalem once a year to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

There is a remez interpretation of Kingdom prophecies that speak of the spread of the gospel through the earth. Its force in the world is through the Church with Jesus Christ as its head. The Law of God is written on the hearts of men. Its citizens are the true children of Abraham by reason of faith. It is no longer possible to read about the coming Messianic Kingdom without thinking of the Church. The semantic associations are there and we should recognize them.

Both streams are true. Both streams have support from the New Testament. Why do we persist that we must accept the one and reject the other?  At the return of Jesus the Messiah, both will be brought into unity. There will be a King in Jerusalem, but all other nations in the world will call him King and bring Him tribute. As in the days of the British Empire when colonial peoples would acknowledge the English crown, so will there be a commonwealth that is centered in Jerusalem.


Many have grappled with how the New Testament authors quoted the Old Testament. It is an important subject. There is legitimate hope to be found in recognizing and adopting a Jewish approach to the problem. There is a logical basis for doing so, because the authors, themselves, were Jews. Furthermore, the approach holds forth the promise of reconciling covenant and dispensational theologies. This small effort only scratches the surface of possibilities.

[1] Baxter, J. Sidlow Explore the Book (Zondervan, 1978), 261.
[2] Lightner, Daniel P. The Last Days Handbook (Thomas Nelson Publishers 1990, pp. xi, xii)
[3] ibid. pp. 130, 131

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Hints, Allegories, and Mysteries -- The New Testament Quotes the Old

RSSAbstract: Are the Rabbinic interpretive methods of value?

This series of essays comes from a complete paper available on this web site. I am serializing it on this blog to both advertise it and to invite discussion. You can read the entire paper by clicking here.

Is it for Today?

Must one be an inspired writer of sacred scripture to detect and teach from hints, allegories, and hidden meanings from the scriptures?  There is no suggestion in the scriptures that this is so, and many who employ a grammatical-historical hermeneutic also acknowledge the existence of types (drashim). All that’s left is to add the use of hints (remezim) and possible discovery of hidden meanings (sodim) to our interpretive toolkit. The scriptures model all four and, therefore, they seem to be legitimate.

The fundamental issue with this notion is quality control and purity of doctrine. One can dialog over the simple meaning of the text and arise at consensus meaning (most of the time). How might one dialog over subjective interpretations?  How do we avoid the pitfalls of error and protect people from falling prey to cults?  Here are some actual instruction from a church membership class that illustrates the problem:

The Kingdom of God, like any other kingdom has a culture and a language all of its own. Its language is of divine origin. It is the way in which deity has chosen to communicate with humanity. If we are going to dialogue with God in his word or in prayer we best learn the Language of his Kingdom. One cannot understand much of the Bible, without understanding the language of symbols, types, and shadows. Until we see the divine intent in the OLD TESTAMENT we will never fully comprehend the contents of the NEW TESTAMENT. (Emphasis is in the original. I am maintaining the anonymity of the pastor and church)

The pastor’s sermons, at this church, are filled with symbols, types, and shadows. Consequently, he can say anything that he wants. There are no controls. His approach removes understanding of the scriptures from the common person and places it in the domain of the enlightened, i.e. those who “understand the language.”  If this leader develops cultic tendencies, his congregation will be ill equipped to challenge him. The situation could become bad indeed.

Paul also warns us to be careful.

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. (1 Timothy 1:3, 4)

In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. (1 Timothy 4:6,7a)

Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, (2 Timothy 2:14-16)

If it were not for the contraindications of the New Testament authors’ use of the Old Testament (i.e. (remezim, drashim, and sodim), there would be no clearer proof texts than the above to promote a strict grammatical-historical interpretation. Instead, we must take them as severe warnings about their misuse. We must work hard to discern when, why, and how to use them. The answer, it seems, is to use the scriptures as a model. And from that model we can derive these principles:

1. New Testament quotes of the Old Testament are largely in the p’shat sense. Christianity represented a dramatic change for the Jews and the Gentiles. It had to swim against the current of centuries of entrenched doctrine. Its champions had to show from the scriptures that the “new order” was not entirely new or unexpected. Nothing but a consistent presentation of plain simple passages from the Old Testament could win the day. They were the proof texts for New Testament doctrine and were quoted to convince the Jews and the Gentiles of the truth about Jesus the Messiah.

Our first rule must be to use the simple p’shat sense predominantly. People must first of all know what the Book says in order to benefit from its message.

2. New Testament quotes of the Old Testament never introduce or establish doctrine with anything other than the simple p’shat sense. Instead, the use of remez, drash, and sod serve to amplify and illustrate themes established by the sounder method. To put this another way, remez, drash, and sod are not a bridge to esoteric knowledge. They are servants of the p’shat. Paul, in Galatians, firmly laid a plain text foundation for justification by faith, before using an allegory to provide a human dimension. In the allegory, Paul was not trying to be deep, he was trying to be clear. The story of Hagar and Sarah would stick much better and longer than his propositional logic. On the other hand, without the logic the allegory has no power.

3. The more error prone is an interpretive model, the less frequently the New Testament uses it. Thus the New Testament employs p’shat, remez, drash, and sod in decreasing frequency. Mysticism attracts people with a promise of a deeper experience with God that transcends the need for righteousness. Because of this, there is a persistent temptation to create a biblical mystique by emphasizing hints, allegories, and hidden themes above simple understanding. This is the area that Paul was warning Timothy about.

4. The New Testament books that favor a Jewish audience have the highest frequency of remez, drash, and sod. Matthew, Hebrews, and the writings of John contain the highest concentrations of this material, whereas Paul’s letters use it very sparingly. This suggests that their use today has favorable implications for Jewish evangelism. Also by communicating outright that these are Jewish authors using Jewish principles of interpretation, we disarm the efforts of the anti-missionaries, who stridently use the quotes in Matthew to turn the ears of seeking Jews from the claims of Messianic Judaism.

5. Remezim derive their meaning by semantic association with New Testament events or by communicating universal principles in pictorial form.

6. Drashim make room for expanded meditation on major p’shat themes. One can even see where the force of the allegory stems from the maxim, “History repeats itself.”  Thus the choice of Abram to father a child by Hagar stems from the same misunderstanding driving the Galatian churches to choose justification by self-effort. The meaning of an allegory does not derive from a symbolic language of the scriptures, but on the common behaviors in the human heart that link past events to a current situation.

7. There is some room for seeking hidden messages in the scriptures, subject to the restrictions noted above. An important criterion before teaching from such a text, though, is for us to discern author intent. One could imagine the human author intentionally hiding a message in his text and that he gives clues to its presence. Such a criterion protects us from efforts like the equi-distant letter sequences concept discussed by Michael Drosnin in his book The Bible Code[1]. This is certainly true of Genesis 1:1, where one can connect aleph and tov (the basics of language) with the phrase “And God said.” The abrupt appearance and disappearance of Melchizedek, who was obviously of great significance to Abram, leaves us wondering who he was and why more is not said about him.

And so, I would conclude that the use of these methods is for today subject to the above guidelines.

Thursday: Some practical points and some examples.

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

[1] For an interesting debunking of Michael Drosnin’s book, see: McKay, Brendan Assassinations Foretold in Moby Dick (1997) [On-line]. Available:


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Hints, Allegories, and Mysteries -- The New Testament Quotes the Old

RSSAbstract: This essay presents examples where the New Testament treats Old Testament passages as containing hidden meanings.

This series of essays comes from a complete paper available on this web site. I am serializing it on this blog to both advertise it and to invite discussion. You can read the entire paper by clicking here.

Sodim (Mysteries)

There are also places where the New Testament either quotes or alludes to an Old Testament passage in a way that reveals a hidden meaning. One is in John’s Gospel. Several are in the Book of Hebrews.

The Sod in John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5)

Both John’s Gospel and the Book of Genesis begin with the phrase, “In the beginning.” The first subject, in both, is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and both separate light from darkness. But Genesis begins, "In the beginning God created," but John has "In the beginning was the Word" and goes on to connect Jesus to “the Word.”  Why?  As you ponder both passages side by side, you might begin to see a connection between Genesis’ “God said” and John’s “the Word.” It is as if John looked at the phrase “God said” and saw Jesus hidden in the verb. As the Father speaks, the “spoken” Word executes.

Many have seen the parallel between the opening of Genesis and the opening of John. However, there is reason to think that it goes still deeper. This derives from a somewhat sod understanding of Genesis 1:1. In Hebrew it reads, “BERESHIT (beginning)  BARA(created) ELOHIM(God) ET(not translated) HA'SHAMAYIM(the heavens) V'ET(and) HA'ERETZ(the earth)  Some rabbis have noted that the first Hebrew word after “In the beginning God created…” is ET. This word is not translated into English, because it is redundant with the HA prefix of the next word. But this word, ET, is made up of the Hebrew letters aleph and tav, which are the first and last letters of the Hebrew alefbet. 

By extension the first and the last include all the ones in between. The Hebrew language often makes use of opposites to communicate the whole. When Moses speaks of meditating on the law when we rise up and when we lie down, he means all the time. So Aleph and Tav are the first and last letters, and therefore represent all letters and their combinations. So one might mystically read, “In the beginning God ET created” That is the Universe could be created by speech. As John said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The opening of John's gospel is based on the Aleph Tav in the Hebrew text and may even be viewed as a translation that includes it.

What makes this idea not quite so far fetched are the words of Jesus, also recorded by John in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”  In Hebrew, He would have said, “I am the Aleph and the Tav.”  Therefore, it is possible that both John 1:1 and Revelation 1:8 have roots in the hidden revelation in Genesis 1:1. Also, the Old Testament authors frequently employed the letters of the Hebrew alefbet in special ways. Psalm 119 has 22 sections of 7 verses each. The 7 verses in the first section all begin with the letter Aleph; the 7 verses in the second section all begin with the letter Bet; and so forth through all the Hebrew letters in order. Psalm 119 is, therefore, a 22 by 7 acrostic poem that uses the device to emphasize how the Word of God can make a man complete (all 22 letters) and perfect (7 verses per section). The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:10-31 is portrayed by a 22-verse acrostic. And perhaps the most amazing use of the alefbet occurs in Zephaniah 3:8 in which all 22 of the Hebrew letters plus the 5 special final forms occur in a single verse. Such constructions require author intent and show the literary importance of the Hebrew letters in Hebrew literature. I have documented the rather sophisticated use of Hebrew acrostics in the book of Lamentations in this online paper.

It is not, therefore, impossible that as Moses penned Genesis 1:1 that he chose to use ET to mean more than just emphasis. John, then, seems to pick up on this hidden usage in uses it in John 1:1 and Revelation 1:8.

The Sod in Hebrews 7:1

Then there is the great connection, brought to light by the writer to the Hebrews, between Jesus and Melchizedek.

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. (Hebrews 7:1)

Look at the hidden details the writer to the first century Jewish believers extracts from the text of Genesis 14:18. “Melchizedek”, in Hebrew, means “King of Righteousness”. “King of Salem” means “King of Peace.” Scripture records no genealogy, no parents, no birth and no death for Melchizedek. Scholars with a strict grammatical and historical perspective would still assume that Melchizedek had parents, was born, and died. And, of course, they would be correct. But the writer to the Hebrews, taking a hint from Psalm 110:4, sees in their absence a hidden connection with Jesus, who is our eternal High Priest. Jesus, as the Son of God, had no parents and no genealogy. Jesus has always been and always will be.

It makes little difference that the writer to the Hebrews is also expounding on Psalm 110:4. Where did the psalmist get the idea? If the answer is, “From the Lord,” that is fine. It only affirms that there can be hidden meanings below the surface of the p’shat or simple meaning of the text. Furthermore, the author alludes to there being more to know about the relationship between Melchizedek and Jesus (Hebrews 5:11).

Hebrews 7:1 is not merely a remez or hint about Jesus' priesthood. Hints have more of a surface connection. Isaiah 7:14, "The virgin shall conceive" has an immediate connection to Jesus' virgin birth. As I wrote previously, you cannot read Isaiah 7:14 without making the connection. But Hebrews 7:1 makes connections that are far from automatic. The writer to the Hebrews goes into the translation of names and places and includes missing information in his use of Genesis 14.

Nor can we say that Hebrews 7:1 is an allegory. There is no symbolic assignment like Hagar = Mount Sinai and Sarah = Mount Zion. There is no incidental, but real, connection like Abram/Hagar = human effort and Abraham/Sarah = God's covenant. Instead, the message only comes to light, again, by the decoding of names and places and highlighting the significance of things unsaid in the text.

The use of sod in the Scriptures is rare, and some might argue that even the ones I presented here are better categorized as hints or allegories. 

Those coming to these concepts from a reformed covenantal background are probably comfortable with much of what I have written so far. They are used to seeing the hints and applying them to their concept of the church, kingdom, and Israel. On the other hand, they fail to see that the p'shat meaning might still be valid. Isaiah 7:14 might hint at the virgin birth of Jesus, but it still maintains its meaning to Ahab and his court. The same is true of Hosea 11:1, and Hagar and Sarah, and Melchizedek. I will address this more later in this series.

Those coming from a grammatical-historical background might be troubled. There may be a tendency to say that such use was fine for the authors of Scripture who had divine revelation to guide them, but it is not for us to use. It is this that I will discuss next.

Wednesday: Is it for today?

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

Monday, February 09, 2004

Hints, Allegories, and Mysteries -- The New Testament Quotes the Old

RSSAbstract: This essay presents examples where the New Testament treats Old Testament passages allegorically.

This series of essays comes from a complete paper available on this web site. I am serializing it on this blog to both advertise it and to invite discussion. You can read the entire paper by clicking here.

Drashim (Allegories or Types)

The rabbinical concept of drashim has a parallel with the Christian concept of “types.” For example, there was a time during the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites when poisonous snakes came into the camp. People, when bitten by the snakes, died. So, the Lord directed Moses to craft a serpent out of bronze and lift it up in the camp. After that, if a snake bit someone, he could look at the snake and be cured. Christian theologians say that the “serpent in the wilderness” was a “type” of Christ. Both were lifted up for the sake of dying men. In fact, Jesus gave us the allusion of the bronze snake (John 3:14). He also gave us the connections between His burial and Jonah’s great fish (Matthew 12:39-41). These are examples of drashim.

There is a classic allegory that Paul penned to the Christians in Galatia.

Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; for more numerous are the children of the desolate than of the one who has a husband.” And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman. (Galatians 4:21-31)

Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, defined, with God’s direction, a doctrine of Gentile faith that was independent of the Laws and traditions of Judaism. In making his case, he quoted frequently from the Old Testament. Most of the time, he used the p’shat or simple sense so that:

·         To declare the pre-eminence of Faith he quoted Genesis 15:6, “And Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

·         To declare the hopelessness of justification by Law, he quoted Deuteronomy 27:26, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.”

But in this section, Paul switched from p’shat to a drash drawn from Abraham’s life. Although Abram believed that God would fulfill the covenant, he decided that God needed help. So Abram went into Hagar, who conceived and gave birth to Ishmael. Much later, Sarah miraculously conceived and gave birth to Isaac. Paul saw a parallel, in these events, between those who seek justification by human effort and those who trust God alone for their salvation. On the one hand, he showed the allegorical correspondence of Flesh-Hagar-Slave. On the other hand, he showed the correspondence of Promise-Sarah-Freedom. By way of the allegory, Paul asked the Galatians, “Whose son are you? Whose son do you want to be?”

But Paul also used the allegory to exhort the Galatians to action when he writes, “Cast out the bondwoman.” If they were children of the free-woman, then allegorically speaking they needed to cast out the son of the slave woman, i.e. those who were pressuring them to find justification through obedience to the Law and the traditions of men. Yes, Paul spoke allegorically, but the allegory was strong and full of meaning. It became the vehicle to communicate strong action.

But note that Paul believed the allegory to be, in some sense, inspired. That is, Paul believed that God intended for Sarah and Hagar to represent two covenants. What else could he mean by beginning this section with the words, “Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written…?” Real history becomes a parable for the ages by the inspired hand of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday: Mysteries

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