Today there are multitudes of Bible teachers, Pastors, Ministers, religious Leaders, and would-be Prophets, all clamoring to put forth a 'Bible message.' Some of these teachings are genuine and valid. But as Yahushua [Jesus] warned His Disciples, deception would be widespread immediately prior to His return, and multitudes of Believers will become deceived.
Because of the great importance of the Bible message, we must make sure we are receiving the correct message, and not a counterfeit; the pure message, and not one mixed with man-made ideas; the full message, not only a small part.
So how can we avoid deception, even from sincere, but misguided Bible Teachers? How can we begin to understand the Bible for ourselves, so that we may obtain the True Bible message?
The answer is not found within man-made doctrines, nor in man's 'own understanding' of how to study the Bible. The answer is found only in what the Bible actually says about how to study and interpret the Scriptures, and how to understand its content!
And so in this writing, we will look at what the Bible itself says about how to properly study its contents, and how to correctly understand its message. The Bible itself gives us some built-in guidelines to follow, that when used, will help us to study for ourselves, and to correctly understand, the true Bible message!
According to the very words of the Bible, it is the Scriptures themselves that define the Bible's own content, and they also tell us exactly how the Scriptures are to be understood. The Scripture Guidelines presented in this writing are certain Scripture passages that tell us exactly how the written Scriptures alone are able to correctly interpret Scripture, through the leading and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
In this study we will observe the direct, primary principles found in Scripture, as well as some modern-day examples that illustrate common violations of these Biblical principles. We will then look at some important considerations as illustrated by Scripture examples.
In the first section of this study, we will see in detail the Biblical method of Bible study that the Bereans used. We recall that the Bereans (Acts 17:11) were considered to be more noble, because with readiness of mind, they searched the Scriptures daily, to see if what the apostle Paul said was true. And because of their use of the Biblical principles of study, the Bereans became an example for us to follow.
When we follow the Biblical study principles, coupled with a softness of heart and readiness of mind, we too will see the same results.
We will finish this study by echoing a few New Testament caveats or warnings, that we as Believers would be well to follow, in view of the great degree of deception today.
A Few Common-Sense BasicsBefore we look at the Biblical principles, we must first mention a few common-sense, basic rules of reading comprehension that must be applied.
First and foremost, reading the Bible is not like reading a novel! The Scriptures are not to be read speedily, but slowly, in order to study each word and its meaning!
The true 'seekers' are those who will read the Scriptures slowly and deliberately, to draw out the nourishment.
The hurried and impatient Readers, in contrast, are those who read the Scriptures rapidly, skimming over the surface. Those in a hurry will not find the nourishment they need to overcome, and will likely end up being deceived!
The complete sentence must be understood, not only in relation to its immediate context, but in its global context of all of Scripture. Only within its proper context, can a Scripture passage be applied correctly. The subject of Bible context is so significant, and is of such great importance to proper application, that it will appear in a separate writing.
Along with context, the proper understanding of a Scripture passage is then found when it is in full agreement with all the Biblical Guidelines given within the Scriptures themselves.
And finally, we must keep in mind our goal of reading and studying the Scriptures for ourselves: to become cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word, by becoming "DO-ers" of what we read. Only in this way can our lives become adjusted and conformed to Messiah's image; and only in this way are we able to truly love one another (Eph 5:26; James 1:22; Romans 8:29; 1Timothy 1:5; 1Peter 1:22).
Here are two of these passages showing the goal of studying the Scriptures for ourselves:
"...that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word..." (Ephesians 5:26)
Seeing ye have purified ['cleansed'] your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure ['cleansed'] heart fervently: (1Peter 1:22)Notice in the above passage that we do not become purified [cleansed] by knowing the Truth, but by obeying the Truth — by becoming "DO-ers" of Truth.
We become "DO-ers" of Truth, when we obey the sayings, the Words of Scripture spoken by Him who is the Truth!
But in order to obey the truth, we must study the Scriptures diligently, to find how we are to apply the Truth to us personally.
Only in this way can we live our lives as He calls us to do, in a manner that is pleasing to our heavenly Father (John 8:29; Col 1:9-10; 2Tim 2:4; 1John 3:22).
Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? (Ezekiel 33:10)Beloved, the Scriptures ask us, "How should we then live?"
We are called to understand the Scriptures, so that we may then understand how we should then live!
But in order to understand the Scriptures, we must study the Scriptures for ourselves!
And so we begin our study with a look at the great importance of studying and interpreting the Scriptures for ourselves.
Studying the Scriptures for Ourselves
Most Believers today have heard Evangelists, Ministers, Pastors, Teachers, and Spiritual Leaders, faithfully teaching the Scriptures. Many would ask, "Are these teachings not sufficient?" Some would even say, "We have heard enough to be Born-Again, and we are now saved. What more is needed?"
Beloved, there are some Scriptural reasons for studying the Scriptures, that we have not understood!
We are called to walk as Messiah walked, and to live our lives as He did (1John 2:6). But to do this, we must remove the stumbling-blocks.
Removal of Stumbling-Blocks
As Believers, and as Followers of Yahushua, we are called to live our lives according to the Scriptures.
But before one may live a life according to the Scriptures, a great number of obstacles ['stumbling-blocks'] must first be removed. Stumbling-blocks are those things that prevent us from walking 'upright' in The Way, while yoked with Messiah. These stumbling-blocks are 'Religious Doctrines' which Scripture calls 'Traditions' and 'Commandments of Men.'
The terms 'traditions of Men,' 'Commandments of Men,' and 'Doctrines of Men' are the Bible's terminology for the collection of man-made teachings and traditions that men have heard and accumulated over the years.
These teachings and traditions are man-made Bible doctrines that have twisted the true meaning of Scripture, changing a Bible passage to say something it does not really say. This twisting creates a false paradigm — a false perspective or way of understanding of the true meaning of a Scripture passage, and results in blinding a person to the true meaning of the passage.
This twisting occurs when men see the Scriptures through the lenses of their own Doctrinal Statements [mostly based on decrees of Rome], or through a faulty interpretation based on their own understanding. That is, they read their own meaning into a Bible passage [called 'eisegesis'], rather than reading from the Bible passage what it actually says [called 'exegesis'].
Most Bible Schools and Seminaries practice their own forms of eisegesis, in order to conform to the particular Doctrinal positions of their founders and sponsors. And because many Pastors, Ministers, and spiritual Leaders are produced from these schools, these twisted meanings based on non-Biblical paradigms become propagated and transmitted from one generation to the next. They become widely taught in many congregations, and today these man-made teachings and traditions are widely practised by most Believers.
These many non-Biblical paradigms then become mixed with Biblical truths, and the result is pictured in Scripture to a confluence of two rivers or streams — one of pure water, and one of polluted water. This merging of two streams produces a mixture, and the result of this mixture is confusion. As we shall see, the Bible has a name for this system of confusing doctrinal mixture: "Mystery Babylon."
Today Believers are being called out of the confusion of Mystery Babylon, and are being called to return to the pure waters of Scripture alone.
And so our goal is to properly exegete, or draw out from the Scripture passage, what it actually says, even if it goes against all we currently understand! Our goal, however, is not to properly understand the Bible merely for the sake of understanding or 'head' knowledge — but for the sake of becoming a "DO-er" of what it says!
When Yahuweh's Covenant people do not correctly understand the Scriptures, they are not able to walk as He walked, in accordance with the Scriptures. And so the vital importance of correct Scripture understanding can now be seen.
And so we must ask again, "Why is it important for all Believers to study the Scriptures carefully for themselves?"
The tragic truth is, that most Believers today continue to believe and embrace teachings from their Pastors, Ministers, or Spiritual Leaders, without question. Many Believers today are not as the Bereans — they do not search the Scriptures for themselves, to see whether these teachings are true, or not!
The Bible however, calls all Believers not to believe everything they hear, but to diligently study the Scriptures on their own:
The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. (Proverbs 14:15)
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Timothy 2:15)
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Revelation 3:18)
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [actions] of saints. (Revelation 19:7-8)The reasons we are called to study the Scriptures for ourselves can be seen the above passages. Notice the warning, telling us we are to study, in order to avoid the shame of nakedness, of being found without our 'clothing' of righteousness. Messiah living within us is our Righteousness, but the clothing speaks of something that is outwardly seen.
We are then told that we must learn to handle the Word as a 'sword,' able to rightly divide the Words of Scripture, as a sword cutting accurately and steadily.
We are also called to make ourselves ready, as a bride preparing for a wedding, so that we may be clothed in the fine linen of Righteousness. We are then told (Rev 19:8), that this Righteousness consists of our actions of obedience to the Scriptures. This last step requires that we have an understanding of what actions we are to do — and what actions we are not to do — and this requires much study of the Scriptures!
We must first understand how Messiah living within us is our Righteousness. We must then understand how Messiah in us produces the fruit [outward works] of Righteousness in us.
The key to understanding how Messiah produces our Righteousness, can be seen as we study the Hebrew word for Righteousness in the Bible. This can be seen in Isaiah 45:8, and is explained in Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:3-9, Luke 8:5-8, Hebrews 5:13 and Philippians 1:11. We cannot now speak particularly of this, except to say that we have written in other writings on the matter of Messiah as our Righteousness.
Many Believers today are not preparing themselves with this fine linen of Righteousness, as a bride preparing for the wedding to the Bridegroom. They are not being taught what the Scriptures tell us about Biblical Righteousness, but are being given the milk of the Word, mixed with many man-made doctrines and other foolishness.
And so our first Scripture reason for studying for ourselves can be seen in this Scripture passage:
The simple ['foolish, gullible, deceived'] believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. (Proverbs 14:15)The word for 'simple' in the above passage comes from a root word meaning foolish and deceived. If we do not study the Scriptures for ourselves, we will surely be deceived. The deceived Believers will be found among the Foolish Virgins. They will not enter in with the Bridegroom.
Another important reason for studying the Scriptures for ourselves can be seen, as we realise that it was THE WORD of Yahuweh, the person of Messiah Yahushua Himself, who spoke the words to Abraham, Moses, and all the Prophets! (See Genesis 15:1; Num 3:16; Num 15:31; Jer 18:5; Zep 1:1; Zec 1:1; John 1:1, 14).
Many Bible teachers today deny this truth of Messiah's identity, by their teachings and by their actions (Titus 1:16). As a result, many Believers today are walking in partial disobedience and partial deception, and do not yet 'know' Messiah.
But in order to understand how deception takes hold, we must take careful note of this one fact. Yahuweh has purposely spoken His Words in such a way that His enemies, as well as those not in covenant with Him, will not see nor understand the true meaning of His Words. Instead, they will take them incorrectly! (Isaiah 6:9-10; Isaiah 29:10; Mark 4:11-12).
Thus it is only after Messiah opens our eyes to see — to know Him, and to understand His Word — that we receive the correct meaning of the words! (Luke 24:16,31; Eph 1:17-18).
In contrast, when Pastors or Spiritual Leaders have received the meaning of the words from a Bible School or seminary, rather than from the Holy Spirit, they open themselves to receiving error passed down from man-made doctrines. It is the Holy Spirit alone, who will guide us into Truth (John 16:13; 1John 2:27)].
Those who hear and follow these seminary-trained Leaders must therefore study for themselves (2Tim 2:15), lest they too receive the same errors!
Let us now look at a Biblical example of how this studying is to be done.
When Paul and Silas went to Berea, they spoke and taught the Gospel [the Good News] of Messiah Yahushua and His kingdom. But notice what these Bereans did:
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)First we note that the Bereans were open to hearing the word of the Gospel, but they did not automatically believe everything they heard. Instead, they "searched the scriptures daily," to see whether or not the words of Paul and Silas were true!
Beloved, we are to do likewise! We should not simply believe everything we hear from the pulpit — but we are to be 'more noble,' just as the Bereans, and study the Scriptures, to see whether those things are true!
Perhaps the Bereans were told, "Wow! The apostle Paul will be speaking and teaching in our congregation today!"
Beloved, it does not matter who speaks or teaches! We are called to Beware!
It is significant that the words 'take heed' or 'beware' or 'warn' appear more than 40 times in the New Testament writings. Most of these passages warn us of the many kinds of error that could lead us astray. A few of these passages can be seen in 1Co 10:12; Col 2:8; 1Tim 4:16; 2Tim 4:15; Heb 3:12; 2Pet 3:17.
Beloved, if it were not possible for Believers in Messiah to be led astray, there would be no need for the many New Testament warnings!
Let the Believers Beware!
In the same way that we are to study the Scriptures for ourselves, we are likewise expected to interpret the Scriptures for ourselves!
Interpreting the Scriptures for Ourselves
The answer to this lies in the fact that our understanding of Scripture is dependent upon our interpretation of Scripture!
When we misunderstand the Scriptures, it becomes easy to embrace man-made substitutes instead. When we practice the man-made 'Religious Traditions' and 'Commandments and precepts of Men,' rather than what the Scriptures actually say, we create stumbling-blocks for ourselves.
When put into practice, these Religious Traditions actually cause us to deny Messiah; that is, they turn us away from practicing the Truth — for they cause us to deny the obedience of Messiah Himself, who lives within us! (See Titus 1:14, 16).
Let us recall from Scripture, that if we have been Born-Again, Messiah Yahushua now lives within our fleshly body, in our spirit. And He desires to walk in the same obedience today, living within our fleshly body, that He did when He lived in His own fleshly body, two thousand years ago!
Our walk [Messiah's walk while living in us] is to be a walk of Righteousness, a walk of obedience to all of Scripture. But there are many stumbling-blocks that prevent us from walking of obedience to all of Scripture!
In Scripture, these stumbling-blocks are shown to originate from the Religious Traditions and Doctrines of Men. These stumbling-blocks come as a result of holding on to a false understanding of Scripture, which comes from Bible teachers having a non-Biblical interpretation of Scripture.
Both Paul and Jude warn us of these stumbling-blocks, and of the teachers who have crept in to our assemblies unawares, bringing false doctrines based on a false understanding of Scripture (Romans 16:17; Jude 1:3-4)
These false understandings of Scripture may come from many sources. Today false teachers, false prophets, and deception abound. Likewise there are many sincere Bible teachers, who unknowingly pass along truth mixed with error. But whatever the source, these false teachings come from mixing the Truth of Scripture with the Religious Doctrines of Men.
The end result is that many Believers today unknowingly hold to error, and continue to practice a vast collection of man-made, religious traditions that have been built up over the centuries, and passed down as truth.
Those Believers who do not study the Scriptures for themselves have simply entrusted their eternal destiny, and their eternal, Great Reward of inheritance, into the hands of their Religious Leaders. Many of these Religious Leaders, however, are spiritually blind, and they are leading multitudes astray.
And so we can now see the great importance of studying the Scriptures for ourselves, and of correctly interpreting the Scriptures for ourselves.
If the Reader will adhere strictly to the Bible-based Study principles, he will be more likely to correctly interpret the Scriptures, and to become a "DO-er" of Scripture, thus avoiding deception. He will then be able to identify and remove the many stumbling-blocks that prevent us from walking in THE WAY!
Today Yahuweh is restoring the Bible-based Study principles to His people. He is calling all His people to return to the Bible-based Study principles, so that they may correctly interpret the Scriptures. Only then will His people be able to let go of the many stumbling-blocks they have embraced in their ignorance, the religious baggage they have carried for centuries.
If we are to closely follow Messiah, we must correctly interpret and understand the Scriptures!
But how do we find the correct interpretation, so that we might avoid deception?
Interpretation: What Does it Mean? - Avoiding Deception
We might ask further, "What is the correct interpretation?" and most importantly, "What does this Scripture passage mean for me — how does this apply for me today?"
This last question is the very center of the battlefield of deception today. This question is where many are being led astray by Religious Tradition and Doctrines of Men, which all give false answers to this question.
Fortunately, the Scriptures themselves give us the correct answer to this question. Finding the correct answer, however, requires that each one dig deeply into the Scriptures for himself, to search out the Truth — as if searching for gold, jewels, and hidden treasure!
To find the correct Bible Interpretation, there is only one General Rule to be followed:
The Scriptures alone must interpret the Scriptures!Within the confines of this one General Rule, there are many additional and important considerations. Although secondary to the Biblical Guidelines of what the Scriptures actually say, there are topics such as context, word definition, historical background, and many others that must be considered. These common-sense "Rules of Biblical Interpretation" guidelines have been published in many forms over time, and are valuable aids to reading comprehension.
In this writing, however, we will codify and present only the Biblical guidelines of Biblical Interpretation. Hidden in plain sight in the Scriptures, these Biblical guidelines are of greatest importance, yet virtually unknown in the Religious world.
Today the Biblical Guidelines — what the Scriptures themselves actually give as Guidelines for correct Scripture interpretation — are now being restored!
The Scriptures themselves tell us what these Guidelines are. They tell us what the Scriptures consist of, how they are to be divided, and how they are to be seen as a unified message. And of greatest importance, these Guidelines tell us how we are to 'apply' the Scriptures to our lives today!
We begin with an overview of what the Bible says about the Scriptures themselves.
The Bible: Its Content
Its pages are the complete, written instructions from the Creator of the universe, addressed to mankind! And within its pages can be seen the many different forms of the Author's personal signature, all confirming and verifying the authenticity of its contents!
The Bible itself tells us (2Peter 1:21) that Holy men of ancient times wrote these words of Scripture, as the Holy Spirit moved upon them, telling them what to write. All the words within it pages gave testimony to the Truth, through the absolute agreement of the various writers, even though unknown to each other, and written over a long time span.
From the internal testimony of the Bible, we see that the Bible tells us that it is the Word of the Creator, and all of its Words are Truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2Samuel 7:28; 1Kings 17:24; Nehemiah 9:13; Psalms 19:9, 119:142, 119:151, 119:160; John 17:17; 1Thessalonians 2:13; Revelation 21:5).
An overview of the Bible's Message, and the Bible's Mission and Purpose, are discussed in another writing. As an overview, we might say the Bible speaks a broader message to the many, and a more narrow message to the few, also called His Disciples.
Within the broader message of the Bible can be seen the life-and-death message of coming judgment against all the inhabitants of the world, and also a message of Redemption and forgiveness for all who choose to receive this forgiveness.
The Scriptures pronounce judgment on all people for having rebelled against the Creator, and having transgressed His eternal Laws. There is also a parallel message of the Creator's gift of eternal love and redemption, for all those who choose to return to Him.
This two-fold message confronts all people, and the decision each one makes becomes the most important issue each one must face, within his own lifetime.
Throughout the Bible, a more narrow purpose for the Scriptures can also be seen. Yahuweh has chosen to hide much of the Bible's Content, so that only those who diligently search for Messiah, as one would search for gold, jewels, and hidden treasure, would find Messiah. Those who choose to follow Him would then learn His Ways, by walking with Him, and abiding [remaining] in Him. They would then delight in Him, and would come to know Him!
There are many other purposes for the Scriptures. The central focus of this writing, however, is based on the one purpose of seeking Messiah with all our hearts, so that we can identify and remove the stumbling-blocks from our lives. Only then can we walk in the Light of His Word, abide in Him, and learn His Ways.
And so as we dig deeply to study the Scriptures for the purpose of seeking Messiah, we soon realise that the Scriptures are pure and without fault [in the original manuscripts in which they were written], notwithstanding the variations found within many different manuscripts and translations. The Holy Bible does not merely 'contain' the written Words of the Creator — the Holy Bible is the sum of His written Words!
There are some who study the Bible, however, and never arrive at a correct understanding of the Bible message. Unless the student approaches the study of Scriptures with humility and with a teachable heart, the eyes of his understanding will not be opened, and he will receive no understanding.
We might say that the fundamental reason for incorrect understanding of the Bible is that a correct understanding of Scripture is fully dependent on Yahuweh — for it is He alone who opens our spiritual eyes to understand. We will discuss the 'opening of eyes' throughout this writing.
Let us look next at what the Scriptures themselves tell us about how the Bible is to be divided.
The Bible: Its Divisions
The Bible is not actually divided, in the usual sense of the word. Instead, there is a single, unified message seen throughout the old and new testament writings. The Scriptures do however, use several terms, such as Torah and Testimony, and Old and New, to distinguish between certain covenant aspects of Yahuweh's word.
For example, the Scriptures use the terms old and new not to refer to sections of the Bible, but to various aspects of Father's Covenant provisions for His people. When we associate the terms old and new with sections of the Bible, we begin to walk in error, for these are man-made divisions, of which the Scriptures do not speak. As long as we think of old and new as merely sections of the Bible, we create confusion — and we cut ourselves off from much of our Heavenly Father's provision for His children!
Let us see what the Bible itself says about Old and New.
Divisions: Old and New
Let's look further at our need for both the old and the new, as our necessary provision:
And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. (Leviticus 26:10)In the above Leviticus passage, we see that 'bringing forth' [giving birth to] the correct understanding of the old, must be preceded by our walking in the new. This passage speaks prophetically of the provision and promises of the two [Earlier and Later] versions of Yahuweh's Covenant.
Let's see another:
The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates [doors] are all manner of pleasant fruits ['precious things'], new and old, which I have laid up ['hidden'] for thee, O my beloved. (Song of Songs 7:13)In the above passage, we see that both new and old have been laid up, or hidden for the Bride. These hidden things are called pleasant fruits — 'precious things' — that are hidden in Messiah [who is called the door or gate]! These too speak prophetically of the Earlier and Later versions of Yahuweh's Covenant.
Now we will see further light on what the old and new consist of:
Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. (Matthew 13:52)In the above passage, we first note that the 'treasure' of a scribe consists of his writings. If he is instructed unto the Kingdom, those treasures, we are told, consist of both new and old, in that exact, chronological order. Here we learn that the fullness of instruction unto Messiah's kingdom consists of both new and old.
Now notice How Messiah relates the 'old' Testament writings to the New Covenant:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
Thus saith the LORD, Stand [remain; abide] ye in the ways, and see, and ask [seek] for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (Jeremiah 6:16)Notice that the above two passages do not contradict one another. These passages reveal to us that 'rest for our souls' can be seen from two different perspectives, yet this rest for our soul comes from only one source:
- This rest comes from taking Messiah's yoke, and learning of Him — by learning His Words, and walking in His ways (Matthew 11:29);
- This rest comes from abiding in The Way [in Messiah] — by asking for, seeking, and walking in, the 'old paths' (Jeremiah 6:16).
One may ask, "Why do we not see this taught today?" and, "Why are there so many stumbling-blocks in the Way, that must be removed prior to Messiah's return?"
The prophet Jeremiah has already given us the answer to these questions, seen in the above passage (Jeremiah 6:16b): "...But they said, We will not walk therein." Today many refuse to read, and to walk in the New Covenant provisions found in the 'old' Testament writings.
Why is this? Many Bible teachers today are teaching the error that the 'Old Covenant' means the 'Old Testament' section of the Bible — and these teachers, and their followers, refuse to walk therein!
But the prophet goes on to give us further details:
Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths in a way not cast up [in a way not established by Yahuweh]; (Jeremiah 18:15)What do the old paths, as seen above in Jeremiah 6:16, and the ancient paths, as seen above in Jeremiah 18:15, refer to?
John tells us exactly what these are:
Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from 'the beginning' [B'Re'sheit].The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from 'the beginning'. (1John 2:7)Notice in the above passage that the phrase 'the beginning' is the Hebrew word B'Re'sheit, which is the very first word in the Book of Genesis. This word is also the Hebrew title of the book of Genesis.
Thus we see that the Word that you have heard from 'the Beginning' speaks of the written Words of Scripture that you have heard, starting from the first word in the Book of Genesis.
John confirms to us what all these other passages tell us: that the 'Good Way' that defines how we are to walk, is found within the Old paths and the Ancient paths of which Jeremiah speaks.
John then tells us this is Old Commandment is the Word which you have heard from 'the beginning.' This speaks of all the written Word, the 'old' testament writings from Genesis onward.
In John's day, the only written Word they had was the 'old' testament writings, the T-N-K ["TaNaK"] — the Torah [Instruction], the Nebiim [Prophets], and the Ketubim [Writings]. Together, John and Jeremiah tell us that walking in the Old paths refers to walking according to Torah!
Let us see briefly why this is true.
We must remember, that the Old 'Covenant,' as an agreement, is not the same as the Old Testament 'writings,' as a section of the Bible! This truth becomes evident, when we see that almost all of the New Covenant provisions and promises are found within the Old Testament section of the Bible! We will further discuss this below.
We have seen a brief glimpse, a mere hint, of the necessary [New Covenant] provisions that have been laid up [treasured] for the Beloved, in both the 'old' Testament writings and the 'new' Testament writings.
But Beloved, there is much more to see!
Divisions: The Torah and The Testimony
To the law [Torah] and to the testimony [witness] if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)The Bible itself claims two main sections, called in Scripture the Torah and the Testimony (Isaiah 8:20). These are not 'divisions' as such, but functional descriptions that we might designate as sections of Scripture. It is important that we understand the meaning of these two sections, as they will help us to correctly understand the overall Bible message.
Let's see what the Torah and the Testimony are.
What is the Torah?The Bible itself tells us that the Torah is the Truth (Psalms 119:142). We are told further that the Torah is upright, complete, and perfect (Psalms 19:7), and that it is holy (Romans 7:12).
But what is the Torah?
The word Torah is the Hebrew word translated as 'Law' throughout Scripture, and means 'instruction.' In its narrowest sense, the Torah consists of the first 5 books of Moses, and these make up the first part of the 'old' testament writings.
The apostle Paul, however, in referring to the Prophet's words in Isaiah 28:11, said, "In the Law it is written...." Paul is thus telling us that the 'Law' [the Torah — God's 'instruction' for His people] includes the words of the Prophets.
From this usage and others within the new Testament writings, we see that the early Believers understood that the 'Law' [God's 'instruction'] is not confined to only the first 5 Books of Moses. Instead, the 'Law' includes not only the Torah, but the Nebiim [Prophets] and the Ketubim [writings] as well. Together these are known as the 'old' testament writings.
Throughout the Scriptures, the Hebrew word Torah has been translated into English as the word 'Law.' A closer meaning of the word Torah, however, is the word 'instruction.' This word more accurately defines Torah as "Father's Instructions for the members of his household," or what we might call Father's "House Rules" for His family.
We recall that Paul tells Timothy (2Tim 3:16) that 'all Scripture' is profitable for instruction. This tells us that from a Scriptural standpoint, the word Torah is, in its widest sense, all of Father's instructions to His children. This instruction includes both the written instructions of the Bible, and the living instructions taught by Messiah's testimony, His life example as seen in Scripture.
We can also understand why the apostle Paul's writings were considered to be a part of the Commandments of Scripture (1Co 14:37; 2Pet 3:16). Paul's writings were not 'new' doctrines, but were Paul's prophetic insights to many of Everlasting [New] Covenant Scriptures that had been hidden throughout the Torah, the Writings, and the Prophets, all within the Old Testament writings.
So we see that the Torah consists of all Scripture is in its widest sense of instruction, but only the first five books of Moses in its narrowest. For the purpose of identifying sections of Scripture, the Torah is all the written Scripture in what is popularly called the 'old' Testament writings, as separate from what is called the Testimony or 'new' Testament writings.
Let's see what the Testimony is.
What is the Testimony?The Hebrew word eduwth is commonly translated as testimony or witness. In its most common usage, the testimony refers to the witness or testifying of a particular truth, and sometimes refers to a written record of that truth.
In the Isaiah 8:20 passage seen above, the Hebrew word used is t@'uwdah, meaning the confirming or attesting witness or testimony of a truth. This witness or testimony of the Truth [i.e. of Messiah] is one of the Covenant responsibilities of the Holy Spirit!
The Testimony of Yahushua Messiah is what we seek, in all that we do — but the Testimony of Yahushua comes only by the Holy Spirit, who bears witness according to the written Words of Scripture.
The Word and the Spirit AgreeNow notice the following passages:
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify ['bear witness'] of me. (John 5:39)
"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him." (Acts 5:32)
"...the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city..." (Acts 20:23b)
"...the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us..." (Hebrews 10:15b)As we see in the above passages, it is the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit together, that bear witness of the Truth, bearing witness of Messiah living in and through the lives of His people. The witness of the Scriptures, and the witness of the Holy Spirit in the life of Messiah and His Disciples, are our primary witnesses and examples of New Covenant life today.
In order to understand the unity of these two witnesses, of the Word and of the Holy Spirit, we must look closely at Messiah, as our example.
Messiah's mission to earth had many Scriptural goals. His all-encompassing goal was to implement the promised Everlasting [New] Covenant with His people (Gen 17:7-19; Jer 31:31-33; Eze 36:26-27; Heb 13:20), which necessitated the shedding of His blood, and also required His death, burial, and resurrection (Isaiah 53:1-12; Deut 18:15-19).
By accomplishing this one goal, Messiah brought about the Gospel of redemption and reconciliation, the forgiveness of sins, the destruction of the works of the devil, and the sending of the Holy Spirit to dwell within His people. In doing these, He also became the 'door' or entrance into His eternal Kingdom. The announcement of the fulfillment of all these Kingdom goals is called the Gospel — the Good News of the Kingdom.
During the short time in which Messiah lived His life on earth 2000 years ago, He was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1), and He thus lived His life as a confirming or attesting witness, a testimony of the Living Truth of Torah, by the witness of the Holy Spirit.
Thus we see many places in Scripture, that the Messiah can be referred to as the Living Torah [Law]. Proverbs 6:23 tells us that the Commandment is a Lamp, and the Torah [obedience to the Torah] is Light. Messiah revealed His life as the Light that comes from the Lamp — a testimony of what is seen when being obedient to the Commandments of Torah!
Messiah was our living example of how we, too, are to be Light, and that we too, are called to 'walk in the Light' exactly as He did, through our works of obedience to the Scriptures. (John 8:12, Proverbs 6:23; John 1:1-14; Matthew 5:14; Matthew 5:16; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:8; 1John 1:7; 1John 2:6).
As we saw above, Messiah implemented the Everlasting [New] Covenant in His Blood (Hebrews 13:20). But as the confirming or attesting witness of the truth of Torah, Messiah accomplished much more than the implementing of the Everlasting [New] Covenant. He also became the example for all Believers to follow, and to emulate (John 8:12; John 13:15; 1Peter 2:21).
Likewise, Messiah's Disciples, including the apostle Paul, lived their lives as confirming or attesting witness or testimony of the truth of Torah, and of the Gospel. They too became a testimony of Father's mercy and Grace, and of their obedience to Torah, as we shall see below in this writing. Messiah's Disciples also became an example for us to imitate, and to follow in every way (1Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Philippians 3:17).
And so the 'new' testament writings include letters that bear 'witness' to the events in the lives of Messiah and His Disciples. These writings include many exhortations for us today, so that we, too, would become witnesses or living testimonies, of these same Gospel truths. It is the witness of the Scriptures and the witness of the Holy Spirit together, that reveal the Everlasting [New] Covenant being lived out in the daily lives of the Believers.
Taken together, the Torah and the Testimony are the written record of Scripture [the Torah], and the living witness of Scripture being lived out [the Testimony] in the life of Messiah.
Together these reveal Father's Everlasting [New] Covenant, being lived out in the daily lives of Messiah and His Disciples, by the leading and enablement [Grace] of the Holy Spirit — as living examples for us to follow, who bear the Testimony of Messiah.
The Testimony of MessiahIt is helpful to recall that one's testimony is composed of two parts — the words they speak, and the life they live. As the WORD of Yahuweh, Messiah Himself spoke all the Words of Torah, either directly to the Prophets, or indirectly through the Prophets, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So we see that Messiah's testimony includes all the written Scriptures, including the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings [the T-N-K].
We then understand (John 10:25) that one's life, both his words and his deeds, are a vital part of that witness or testimony. The words Messiah spoke, and the works or deeds He did in His lifetime on earth, both directly and through His Disciples and apostles, are all part of Messiah's testimony. So we see that both the written Scriptures, and the witness of Messiah's words, works, and doings, make up the Testimony of Messiah Yahushua.
To summarise, we can say that the Testimony of Messiah is "the light given off by living in obedience to the Torah in Daily Life, as we see in Yahushua and His Disciples throughout the New Testament writings."
But there is more!
This light or testimony of Messiah can also be seen in our own daily lives, when we allow Yahushua — the "Light of Life" — to live within us, and to manifest Himself through us, through our obedience to the Scriptures!
Notice what we are told in Revelation 12:17:
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)Now, notice what we are told in Revelation 19:10:
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:9-10)The Testimony of Messiah Yahushua is seen when we keep the commandments of Elohim [God] — and we are told that this testimony is the spirit of prophecy! It is Messiah's testimony — His Words, and His deeds of obedience to Torah — that speaks to others, as we allow Him to live in us and work through us today!
And so our goal is to bear the Testimony of Messiah Yahushua, in all that we do. We are cautioned, however, that the Testimony of Messiah is found only where there is exact agreement between the witness of the Holy Spirit, and the written Words of Scripture!
But in order to find the true meaning of Scripture, we must use Biblical Guidelines for Scripture Interpretation.
With these basics in mind, let us look at the Biblical Interpretation Guidelines.
The Biblical Interpretation Guidelines
Scriptures reveal a number of basic principles and guidelines we are to use, in order to hear and understand Yahuweh's communication with us. We will look only at these main ones:
Biblical Interpretation Guidelines: 7 Basic Principles
- 1)All Scripture: Full Agreement — No Contradictions;
- 2)The Torah and the Testimony;
- 3)Two or Three Witnesses;
- 4)All the Words of the Prophets;
- 5)No Private ['ones own' or 'extra-Biblical'] Interpretation;
- 6)Do Not Add to or Remove From Scripture;
- 7)First Obey and Do — then Know and Understand
1. All Scripture: Full Agreement — No Contradictions
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:4)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2Timothy 3:16)Notice in the above passages, that Yahushua tells us we are to live by "Every Word," not just some of them.
Notice also in 2Timothy 3:16 above, it is "All Scripture" that is profitable for us. If we lack some of the Scripture, we will lack some of the profit — we will be 'unprofitable.' Thus we see the first principle.
This principle tells us, that in order for any idea or presumed interpretation of a Scripture passage to be true, there must be no contradiction or violation of any other Scripture passage. Thus the true interpretation is the one which is in agreement with all Scripture, and which is in agreement with every Word that proceeds from the mouth of Yahuweh.
Note that the Scripture basis for this truth lies in the fact that when Messiah appeared on the earth as a man, everything He spoke, and everything He did, was in complete agreement with every Word of Torah. This was the same Torah that He, as the WORD of Yahuweh, had previously spoken to Abraham, to Moses in the Wilderness, and to all the prophets!
It is important also to note that Messiah validated His own ministry on earth as true, simply by repeating or referring to what is written in the 'old' Testament writings.
In like manner, all the 'new' Testament writers validated and confirmed their own statements, by quoting 'old' Testament passages, and by elaborating on the prophetic meaning of these Everlasting [New] Covenant passages found in the 'old' Testament writings.
As an illustration, notice that the phrase, "...is written..." occurs 70 times in all the 'new' Testament writings, including 30 times in the Gospel accounts.
Beloved, have we taken notice of this fact?
Indeed, the validation and foundation of all 'New' Testament teaching is the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings — the T-N-K, or what is today called the 'Tanak' or 'Old' Testament Scriptures.
And so it is, that Scripture itself establishes this first principle, that any idea or presumed interpretation of Scripture must be in agreement with All of Scripture.
As we look at some examples, we will gain further insight to the Scripture basis for each principle. Shown below each principle are one or more examples that show how we might apply them today in real life, and how we may use the Scriptures as a test for today's popular teachings.
For this example, let us look further at Paul's words to Timothy, to see what constitutes 'All Scripture.' Notice what the apostle Paul tells Timothy:
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2Timothy 3:15-16)In the above passage, Paul reminds Timothy that from the time he was a child, Timothy has known the holy Scriptures; and that these Scriptures are able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith in Messiah Yahushua — and that all Scripture is profitable for instruction.
Paul is telling Timothy [and us today] that "ALL" Scripture — not just "some" Scripture — is profitable for our instruction. In the days of Messiah and His Disciples, what were the Scriptures to which this passage refers?
In Paul's and Timothy's day, the only Scriptures they had were the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, what we would call the 'Old' Testament Scriptures.
Paul is thus telling Timothy [and us today] that the 'Old' Testament writings are profitable [and necessary] for our teaching, reproof, and instruction in Righteousness!
The logic of this is easily seen. The Scriptures tell us (John 1:1, 14; Rev 19:13) that Messiah Himself is THE WORD of Yahuweh by whom all things were created (Psalms 33:6), and who spoke all the Words of Scripture, both 'old' and 'new' Testament writings — either directly, or through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These references include Gen 15:1; Num 36:5; Isaiah 38:4; Jer 32:26; Eze 6:1; Zec 7:8; Mal 1:1; Acts 1:16; 1Thess 1:5; and 2Pet 1:21.
And since we know that Messiah does not contradict Himself [that is, Messiah's later words do not contradict Messiah's earlier words], we know that for any idea or doctrine to be true, there must be full agreement between 'old' testament writings and 'new' testament writings!
Because we are to use 'all Scripture' for our instruction, we can easily use the principle given in this passage, to find a correct interpretation of any Scripture passage. That is, any idea, concept, notion, or presumed interpretation, must be in agreement with All of Scripture.
This passage in 2Timothy 3:16 is an important passage to understand and memorise — because there are many today being taught Bible doctrines that violate and contradict this and other Scripture passages!
The next Scripture principle shows us in greater detail how the term All Scripture relates to both Old and New Testament writings.
2. According to the Torah and the Testimony
As we saw above, two basic components that make up all of Scripture are the Torah and the Testimony. In this section, we will see how Scripture reveals the Torah and the Testimony together as being the measuring-stick of what is true, and what is false.
Here is the basic principle as seen in Isaiah 8:20:
To the law [Torah] and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)Let us review these individual Bible components of the Law [Torah] and the Testimony, to see how the passage in Isaiah 8:20 applies to us today.
According to Torah: The written ScripturesAs we saw above, the Torah is considered to be the first 5 books of Moses. We then saw that in Scripture usage, all of Tanak [the 'old' Testament writings] can be considered as Torah.
We then saw that because the Torah is Father's instructions for His children, the Torah can be considered in its widest sense, as all of the written Scripture, which is said to be profitable for our instruction.
We saw also that not only Messiah, but likewise all of His Disciples, validated their words, and their New Covenant ministry, by the Words of Torah, the Prophets, and the writings, which we call today the 'old' Testament writings.
This example of Messiah and His Disciples is for us today. Our words, our teaching, and indeed our entire New Covenant ministry — are likewise validated when they are in agreement with all the Words of the 'old' Testament writings, from a 'new' Testament perspective, that is, as we look through 'new' Testament spectacles.
Agreement with the Torah, however, is only half the requirement. We must also find agreement according to the Testimony of Yahushua!
According to the Testimony: The Attesting Witness of Life, As Seen in the New Testament WritingsWe saw above, that the Testimony is the confirming or attesting witness or testimony of the truths of Torah and of the Gospel, displayed by the Holy Spirit, when Messiah, the "Light of Life," is living within. We saw that this Testimony can be seen, lived out in the daily life of Messiah Yahushua and His Disciples, as recorded in the 'new' Testament writings.
We also saw above, that the Testimony of Messiah in the Believer is "the light given off by living in obedience to the Torah in Daily Life, as we see in Yahushua and His Disciples throughout the New Testament writings." This is the Light of Messiah living within! This is the Light of which Isaiah 8:20 speaks!
As we saw in the Isaiah 8:20 passage above, we are told that the resulting Light is dependent on the singleness of 'this Word' - the agreement of the Word and the Spirit, the Torah and the Testimony:
"Concerning the Law [Torah] and the Testimony [the confirming or attesting witness of the Spirit], if they speak not according to this [one] word [the Torah and the Testimony together, as one word, in full agreement], it is because there is no light [no truth] in them." (Isaiah 8:20)Our 'testimony' or 'witness' is both the works of obedience we do, and the Words of Scripture that we speak, together giving testimony of who Yahuweh is. It is thus by our testimony that we ourselves become as an epistle [a letter or book] read by all men (2Corinthians 3:2)!
Taken together, it is the Torah [the written Words of the T-N-K, the 'old' Testament writings] and the Testimony [the words and examples of Messiah and His apostles and disciples in the 'new' Testament writings], that confirm the Truth of any idea or supposed interpretation of a Bible passage.
Let's look at how the Torah and the Testimony, when taken together, become the measuring-stick of Light, and of Truth.
Finding the Torah Basis for New Testament TruthThe principle of Isaiah 8:20 tells us that for a teaching to be true, it must be:
- According to the Torah - Must be in agreement with the written Scriptures found in the Tanak, the 'old' Testament writings;
- According to the Testimony - Must be in agreement with the Life of Messiah and His disciples, as seen in the 'new' Testament writings.
In like manner, if a supposed meaning or idea appears to be in agreement with the 'new' Testament writings, but contradicts the 'old' Testament writings, the supposed meaning is likewise false.
It is in this way, that the Torah and the Testimony, when taken together, become the single measuring-stick of Light, and of Truth. So we see that the truth or validity of any idea or teaching is found only where there is agreement between the Torah and the Testimony — that is, where there is agreement between the 'old' and 'new' Testament writings.
In the practical application of this Guideline, our goal is to find agreement between the written Torah and the Living Testimony of Messiah and His Disciples as our example.
Thus in order to correctly understand any teaching from the 'new' Testament writings [the Testimony], we must locate and understand the 'old' Testament [T-N-K] basis for the teaching.
We can use this truth of Scripture to test any presumed idea or doctrine:
If there is disagreement between the Torah [an Old Testament passage] and the Testimony [a New Testament passage, within the context of all of the New Testament writings], a given idea or teaching is false.There are many popular New Testament teachings today that fit into this 'false' category. For example, many have been taught the false notion that an 'old' Testament commandment or concept must also be repeated explicitly in the 'new' Testament writings, in order for that commandment or concept to apply to Believers today.
This notion is false, and it goes against all the Scriptural Guidelines. This is just one of many false ideas that have arisen as a result of the widespread, modern teaching of the Doctrine of Balaam, which continues to give rise to many man-made, counterfeit Bible doctrines.
Let the Believer beware!!
Let us now look at some practical applications, to see the importance of finding the Torah Basis for any New Testament Truth.
Here are some examples of how we are to use this Biblical principle.
In this example, we will see a practical example of how we are to use this Biblical principle, of finding the Torah Basis for any New Covenant teachings:
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)In the above passage, the Bereans were said to be more noble, for they searched the Scriptures, to see whether the teachings of Paul and Silas were true or not, according to Torah. We recall that the Torah [the 'old' Testament Scriptures] was all they had in those days. The example of the Bereans is an example for us today!
By this example, we see that in order for us to correctly understand a given Bible idea or concept, we must do as the Bereans did. We must find the "Torah Basis" for that idea or concept in the 'old' Testament writings.
In this example, we will see that throughout the Scriptures, there are pictures of the Torah and the Testimony appearing together. Let's look at some of these passages:
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)We see in the above passage that only a remnant, a small number, maintain the keeping of the commandments [the Torah] and the faith of Yahushua [the Testimony]. It is these with whom the dragon becomes angry, and full of wrath.
Now notice another, in the following passage:
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. (Revelation 15:3)In the above passage, we are again given a prophetic picture of the Torah and the Testimony together.
First, we see the Song of Moses as a prophetic picture of obedience to Moses' words [the Torah - The Sayings of Messiah that He gave to Moses], describing Father's works.
We then see the Song of the Lamb as walking as Messiah walked, and as the doing of Messiah's works of obedience to Torah [the Testimony of the Holy Spirit], the testimony of walking in Father's ways.
These two songs speak of keeping Father's works, and of walking in His ways — as described in the Words Messiah spoke to Moses (Num 3:51, 15:31). Taken together, these two songs become one unified message, revealing the truth of Father's works and His ways.
This is an example for those who have been Born-Again, and have Messiah living within.
In the following passage, a man asks Messiah about Eternal Life, which is a 'new' Covenant question. Notice the answer Messiah gives the man:
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? [a New Covenant question] 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law [The Torah]? how readest thou? (Luke 10:25-26)In the above passage, Messiah answers this 'new' Covenant question, by referring to the Torah, a part of the 'old' Testament writings. The answer is given in the form of a question: "How do you read it?"
Brothers and Sisters, How do 'we' read it?
We are each called to read, study, and obey the Torah [the words Messiah spoke to Moses and all the Prophets] for ourselves (2Timothy 2:15, 3:16; James 1:22; 2Peter 3:2).
And then by our obedience to Torah [the Words of Messiah], we demonstrate whom we have chosen to 'serve' (Romans 6:16).
And also by our obedience to Torah [the Words of Messiah], we demonstrate whom we have chosen to 'love' (John 14:15).
And if we choose to continue in transgression [disobedience] to Torah [the Words of Messiah], we demonstrate we have chosen to continue in 'sin.' (1John 2:1, 3:4; 1Co 15:34).
3. Two or Three Witnesses
At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. (Deuteronomy 17:6)
One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Matthew 18:16)
This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (2Corinthians 13:1)The above Scripture passages tell us that any word or matter must have at least two or 3 witnesses, in order to be established as true or valid.
If there is an idea or concept in Scripture that we assume to be true, then we should be able to find two or three witnesses in Scripture that will confirm the truth. If an idea or teaching has only one mention, however, it is a likely candidate to be a falsehood, unless there is an identical or similar witness to that idea or concept.
As Scripture examples of this truth, notice in the above passages, that both Yahushua (Matthew 18:16) and Paul (2Corinthians 13:1) made statements that were in agreement with two other witnesses of Scripture, in Deuteronomy 17:6 and Deuteronomy 19:15.
From this guideline we see that for any presumed Bible interpretation, idea, or 'doctrine' to be true, it must be established on the testimony of two or 3 witnesses. This tells us that if we are to avoid being found among the foolish, our interpretation of Scripture must find agreement among two or 3 witnesses of Scripture.
Again, many modern 'New Testament' teachings today fit into this 'false' category, having no second witness to confirm them as true. Likewise, the falsehoods abound when there is no second witness found in Torah to give validity to its truth.
Let us see some Examples.
In this example, we will investigate a popular but non-Scriptural teaching that violates this Guideline. Here we will investigate the widespread observance of a common tradition seen today — the celebration of a day known as "the Lord's Day."
Let's see what the Bible says about 'the Lord's Day.'
"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet..." (Revelation 1:10)The phrase "Lord's day" is seen only once in all of Scripture in the above passage (Revelation 1:10). This passage is the source of the man-made notion that the 'Lord's Day' refers to a particular day of the week, giving rise to a popular religious Doctrine and tradition.
But what do the Scriptures tell us?
When we search the Scriptures, we see there is no other mention of 'Lord's Day' in the Bible.
What would the Bereans (Acts 17:11) have concluded from this information? They would have searched the Scriptures [the 'old' testament Scriptures are all they had], and would have concluded there is no such day of the week called 'the Lord's Day.'
There is however, a similar phrase seen throughout the Scriptures. The term 'Day of the LORD' refers to a [yet future] time of judgment. This phrase "Day of the LORD" appears 25 times in the 'old' testament writings, with an additional 5 of these in the 'new' testament writings (Acts 2:20; 1Co 5:5; 2Co 1:14; 1Thess 5:2; 2Pet 3:10).
The phrase "Day of the LORD" was a well-known concept among even the most elementary of Torah students of John's day. They all knew what the "Day of Yahuweh" meant.
The phrase "Day of the LORD," mentioned throughout the Torah, speaks of a future time when Yahuweh will fulfill various parts of His plans for His people.
The Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos was likely well acquainted with this phrase "Day of the LORD." John was simply telling us that he was "In the Spirit" in the [future] Day of the LORD [the Day of Yahuweh], and that what he saw was a panoramic view of the activities that will take place in this [future] Day of the LORD.
We must conclude, as Scripture tells us, that only out of the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall every word, and every matter, be established.
Thus according to Scripture, we can not build a 'day of the week' doctrine, nor any other doctrine, on only one Scripture passage.
To apply the term 'Lord's day' to Sunday, or to any specific day of the week, is a man-made idea. The current 'Lord's day' tradition arose in earlier centuries, and has been vigorously promoted by those Religious Leaders who fail to adhere to the Scriptures (Jude 1:3-4, 11-12).
So the Bereans would have concluded from the Scriptures, that the phrase 'Lord's Day' is not related to a particular day of the week, since there is simply no other witness of Scripture to tie this phrase to a particular day of the week.
With this in mind, we must ask ourselves, "Have we allowed anyone to persuade us of a 'Lord's Day' teaching, as a means of deceiving us into celebrating a man-made substitute, a counterfeit of the Biblical Sabbath Day?"
As New Covenant followers of Messiah, we are called to read the Scriptures for ourselves, so that we might embrace all that is true, and abandon all that is counterfeit! Let us return to reading the Scriptures for ourselves!
Our next guideline for understanding the Bible gives us further confirmation, and introduces a new dimension — the prophetic meaning of Scripture, as seen in all that the Prophets have spoken.
4. All the Words of the Prophets
Then he said unto them, O fools ['foolish'], and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: (Luke 24:25)In the above passage, Yahushua tells us that it is the 'foolish' who are slow of heart to believe [to be "DO-ers" of] all that the prophets have spoken. By contrast, being quick to believe 'all that the prophets have spoken' is the realm of the 'wise.'
This tells us that we should be "DO-ers" of all the words of the prophets, and that we can use the words of the prophets to validate truth.
We see the same principle in the book of Acts:
And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, (Acts 15:15)In the above passage, the apostle James confirms and validates the actions and words of Simon Peter, by finding their agreement with the words of the prophets!
As if that were not enough, Peter then goes on to tell us that we too, should be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets:
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: (2Peter 3:1-2)If we are to avoid being among the foolish, among those who are slow of heart, our interpretation must also be in agreement with all the words of the prophets!
Let's see some Scripture examples of how we may use this guideline.
In this example, we will see how the apostle Paul believed [was a "DO-er" of] all the words of the Prophets, and that Paul exhorts us to follow his example.
What did Paul himself believe, and do?
In order to determine what Paul believed and did, we must look closely at Paul's testimony:
And this I [Paul] confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim [God] of my fathers, believing [being a "DO-er" of] all that has been written in the Torah and in the Prophets (Acts 24:14 - The Scriptures 1998)In the above passage, Paul tells us he worships the Elohim [God] of his fathers, 'believing' [being a "DO-er" of] all things which are written in the law and in the Prophets.
The apostle Paul is telling us that he is a "DO-er" of all the Words of Messiah, which include the Words Messiah spoke to Moses and all the Prophets.
But what did the Prophets speak? What did the apostle Paul do and practise?
Notice the following words of the prophet Ezekiel:
I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; 20 And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God. (Ezekiel 20:19-20)In the above passage, the prophet Ezekiel looks backward, reminding us of the commandments of Torah. Now notice the words of Ezekiel that look forward prophetically, to Believers in Messiah under the New Covenant:
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. (Ezekiel 37:24)In the above passages, the prophet Ezekiel confirms a New Covenant promise. Yahuweh tells us He will give us a new heart; and He will put His Spirit within the Believers, and will cause them to walk in His statutes, and keep and do His judgments. This refers to walking in obedience to all the New Covenant statutes, judgments, and commandments that are written in Torah.
Do we see Ezekiel's prophetic words as a testimony in the life of the apostle Paul?
We now know that the apostle Paul was a "DO-er" of all that has been written in the Torah and in the Prophets. We can now understand that Paul was careful to keep all the commandments, statutes, and judgments of Torah, including the Biblical Feast days and Sabbath days.
Let's look further at Paul's testimony:
Now... Paul and his company... went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. (Acts 13:13-14)
And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. (Acts 13:42)
And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, (Acts 17:2)
But [Paul] bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. (Acts 18:21)
For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. (Acts 20:16)
Defending himself, Paul said, Neither against the Torah of the Jews, nor against the sanctuary, nor against Caesar have I sinned in anything. (Acts 25:8-HRB)
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1Corinthians 5:7-8)In the above passages, Paul reveals that his manner was to assemble on the Sabbath days, and to observe the Biblical Feast days and other commandments of Torah.
With Paul's testimony in mind, notice next what Paul says:
Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers [imitators] of me. (1Corinthians 4:16)
Be ye followers [imitators] of me, even as I also am [an imitator] of Christ. (1Corinthians 11:1)
Brethren, be followers [imitators] together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (Philippians 3:17)In the above passage, Paul exhorts all of Messiah's followers [including us today] to be 'imitators' of him, as he is [an imitator] of Messiah (1Corinthians 11:1). Paul exhorts us to do as he did, by observing Yahuweh's Sabbath Days and Feast Days, and by walking orderly and keeping the Law, according to his own example for us to follow.
Beloved, have you been taught the above information about Paul from your Bible Teachers?
No? Why not?
Scripture tells us in detail, the reason that many Bible teachers today do not teach these Scriptures!
We recall that in a Biblical sense, to 'know' something is to experience that thing. When Paul tells us he writes to those who 'know' the Torah, he is telling us that he writes to those who experience or practice Torah.
So it is, that from a Biblical standpoint, it is not until we 'know' Torah by experiencing and practicing Torah, that we truly 'know' Torah. And because many Bible Teachers today have themselves been taught not to experience Torah, they do not really 'know' Torah — and according to the apostle Peter, they are unlearned!
Peter goes on to give us more details:
"...even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [twist], as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." (2Peter 3:15b-16)Those who read Paul's letters without knowing [practicing] Torah, will not understand Paul's message. They do not 'know' Torah, so from a Biblical standpoint they are 'unlearned' and unstable. They will simply 'wrest' or twist the apostle Paul's words, just as Peter warned us in 2Peter 3:16.
Peter reminds us to "be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets." The apostle Paul likewise exhorts us to imitate him, and become "DO-ers" of all things which are written in the law and in the Prophets!
In this example, we will look at some of the apostle Paul's words. Our goal is to confirm the true meaning of Paul's words, by comparing them to the words of the Holy Prophets of old.
In Paul's letter to the Galatians, he tells them they had begun well, but they had become bewitched, and were being led away from New Covenant practices and principles. Many teachers today, however, teach a non-Biblical meaning for Paul's exhortation.
Let's look at the New Testament passage, and then use the words of the Prophets in Scripture to spot the error:
"Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of [for] you, lest [that perhaps] I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." (Galatians 4:10-11)The above passage is translated correctly in modern Bible translations, but the notes found in many Bibles actually change the meaning of Paul's words in this passage to fit modern church doctrines.
Notice that the Bible notes in many Bibles speculate that Paul is here rebuking the Galatians for observing 'Biblical' feast days. But is this true?
We recall from the above example, that Paul was a "DO-er" of all that is written in the Law [Torah] and in the Prophets. The apostle Paul is telling us that he is a "DO-er" of all the Words of Messiah, including the Words Messiah spoke to Moses, and the Words Messiah spoke to all the Prophets.
So let's see what the Prophets of old say about the Biblical feast days:
And this day [Passover] shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. (Exodus 12:14)
And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. (Exodus 12:17)
Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. (Isaiah 56:2)
In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. (Ezekiel 45:21)In the above passages, we see a few of the many, many words of the Prophets, who continue to call Yahuweh's people to observe His Feasts. Yahuweh's Feasts include His weekly Sabbath days, His annual Passover, and His annual Feast of Unleavened (Lev 23:1-44).
And in the previous example above, we saw that Paul observes the Biblical Sabbath days and Feast days, and other commandments of Torah.
We also saw in 1Corinthians 5:7-8, that Paul exhorts us to keep the Feast of Passover and Unleavened.
We also saw in 1Corinthians 4:16, 11:1, and Philippians 3:17, that Paul exhorts us to be followers [imitators] of him.
Since Paul himself kept all the 'Biblical' feast days [as we saw in the previous example above], and since Paul exhorts us to be 'imitators' of him (1Co 4:16,11:1; Php 3:17), we must ask the next question:
Question: "How could Paul be afraid for the Galatian Believers, and consider his labour to be in vain, if the Galatians were imitating Paul's example, by observing the 'Biblical' feast days as Paul did?"So we see that when we compare the Galatians 4:10-11 Passage with Paul's own words and testimony, the notion that Paul is rebuking the Galatians for keeping of 'Biblical' Feast days does agree.
This is further evidence that Paul is not rebuking the Believers for observing 'Biblical' Feast days.
But this is still not enough evidence thus far. Let's look for further confirmation from the words of the Prophets, to see what else the Prophets have to say about Believers in Messiah observing 'Biblical' Feast days.
In the following passage, notice carefully that the prophet Zechariah describes a future scenario in Messiah's Kingdom:
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16-19)As we have noted in other writings, the Scriptures tell us in great detail that the observing of all the Biblical Feasts are vital, present-day provisions of the Everlasting [New] Covenant!
And as we see in the above Zechariah passage, in the future, all the earth will be subject to Yah's Everlasting [New] Covenant provisions of keeping the Torah, including all the Biblical Feasts.
The Prophet Zechariah is telling us that in Messiah's future Kingdom on earth, all the nations on earth will receive either Blessings or chastisement, according to how they obey, just as it is today!
In Messiah's future Kingdom, those who 'believe' Messiah's words, and observe His Feast days, will receive Blessings. But those who not 'believe' Messiah's words, and do not observe His Feast days, will receive punishment.
So we see in this example, the notion that the apostle Paul is rebuking the Believers for observing 'Biblical' Feast days, actually contradicts Paul's own words and testimony, and in particular, contradicts the words of the Prophets!
We may now conclude that in the Galatians passage, the apostle Paul is not rebuking the Believers for observing 'Biblical' Feast days.
We must then ask, "Why is the apostle Paul rebuking the Believers in Galatians 4:10-11?"
Upon close inspection, we find that in the Galatians 4:10 passage, Paul is referring back to the "weak and beggarly elements of the world" (Gal 4:3; Col 2:8,20).
Paul then tells us these "weak and beggarly elements" [Greek stoicheon <4747>] are of the world, and are the worldly precepts that will perish, and will be done away with, because they are not based on Messiah's Words (Col 2:8).
Instead, Paul tells us in Colossians 2:20-22, that these same stoicheon are based on man-made 'ordinances' [dogmas; decrees of men] that are according to the "commandments and doctrines of men."
Did we catch this? The 'elements of the world' are not based on based on Messiah's Words.
The commandments to observe the Feasts of Yahuweh, however, are Messiah's Words. The Scriptures tell us plainly that it was the WORD of Yahuweh [Messiah Himself], who spoke the words to Moses and all the Prophets.
So we see further proof that Paul is not rebuking the Believers for observing 'Biblical' Feast days.
The "days and months and seasons and years" to which Paul refers in Galatians, are the popular [but man-made] 'holy' days "not commanded" in Scripture. These are man-made days of pagan origin — the popular religious 'holidays' celebrated by the nations. These 'holy' seasons and 'holy' days were popular in ancient times, even before the birth of Messiah, and they were popular in Paul's day.
Today these same pagan 'holy' days continue to attract and deceive many, and are popular within the modern Christian culture!
As we can read in any Encyclopaedia, these modern Religious 'holy days' are of ancient, pagan origin, but have been 'Christianised' and given new names and new 'packaging,' and have been vigorously promoted by Rome for almost two thousand years.
Today these ancient customs are known as Christmas [from the pagan 'Saturnalia' Sun worship celebration on 25 December], Easter [from the pagan 'Ishtar' fertility celebration featuring eggs and rabbits in the Spring], Good Friday, Lent, All-saints Day, and many other 'holy' days, months, seasons, and years not mentioned in Scripture.
There are many more words that the Prophets have spoken, which describe in much more detail some of the pagan celebrations forbidden to Yahuweh's people. For example, Jeremiah 10:1-4 warns us against observing certain Religious rites that are not commanded in Scripture! Note that this particular warning tells us that bringing an evergreen tree into the home, and decorating it as part of a Religious celebration, is one of the ways of the heathen that we are to avoid.
Let us now look at the next Biblical Guideline.
5. No Private [Our Own, non-Biblical] Interpretation
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private <2398> interpretation. (2Peter 1:20)In the above passage, we are told that no prophecy of the Scriptures is of any 'private' [Greek idios, Strong's Number <2398>, "privately, ones own"] interpretation. A prophecy of Scripture is any word of Scripture, whether uttered from the mouth of Yahuweh, or inspired to the writer by the Holy Spirit.
And so we are told that the interpretation of these Bible words is not to be 'our own' [non-Biblical] interpretation. When a Scripture passage is interpreted correctly, it must have the same meaning today, as when it was originally written.
And so in order for an interpretation to be true, the interpretation must find agreement with all the Biblical Guidelines of Scripture, and must not have any contradiction, when considering all of Scripture.
Here we must note that 'All Scripture' has many levels of truth, just as layers of an onion. One Scripture passage may have one meaning in its Biblical and historical context, but may also have many additional meanings, on several levels, in a prophetic context.
For example, words may have several levels of meaning in the direct, literal sense, but may take on additional meanings in the allegorical or 'prophetic' sense. To interpret these words in a prophetic sense requires much study of the Scripture, especially in the Book of Proverbs (See Prov 1:2-6).
Despite the many levels of meanings, there is one unifying principle of Scripture that can tell us if an idea or interpretation of a Scripture passage is true, on any level, either literal or prophetic.
This principle tells us that for an idea or interpretation to be true, it must not be in contradiction to all of Scripture considered as a whole.
That is, an interpretation must have no contradiction within All of Scripture, in either 'Old' or 'New' Testament writings, regardless of how many levels of interpretation may be apparent. There must also be two or 3 witnesses of Scripture to confirm an idea as true.
If the supposed idea or interpretation seems to contradict any Scripture passage, we may then conclude that the idea is in error. We must then propose a different meaning or interpretation for that passage, so that we may find the meaning that agrees with all of Scripture.
Let us now look at the next guideline.
6. Do Not Add to or Remove From Scripture
The Words of Father, as we see written in Scripture, must not be added to, or taken away from. Notice the following Scripture passages:
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (Deuteronomy 12:32)
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:6)
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18-19)
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)The implications of the above passages are serious! It is here that many of the stumbling-blocks of man-made Bible doctrines originate.
This principle tells us first, that we are not to add to, or take from, the Words of Scripture. Fair enough.
But most Bible Teachers today have taught that Messiah Himself has done this very thing — that He added to, and removed from, the Words of Scripture!
When Messiah was walking on the earth, in His own body, if He had added or removed anything from Scripture, he would have broken the Law — He would have violated Torah, which is committing a sin (1John 3:4)! If Yahushua had committed any sin at all, He would have been unfit as a perfect, sinless sacrifice — and He would have been disqualified from being our Redeemer and Saviour!
So we see from this principle, that any ideas or interpretation regarding Messiah's Words, as well as His actions, must be based on this truth — that Messiah Himself added nothing new to the Scriptures, nor diminished or removed anything old from the Scriptures.
That is, Yahushua Messiah did not 'change' anything written in the Scriptures! He did not add any new commandments or ordinances to the New Covenant — and He did not remove or nullify any commands or ordinances, or their application today, from the 'old' Testament writings. He did not change or remove the Scriptures, nor any of its truths, nor any of its application for us today! To do so would have disqualified Him — and we would not be forgiven of our sins!
Instead, He became a sacrifice, and His walk of obedience to Torah became an example for His people to follow today! His timely fulfilment of certain existing Covenant provisions did not 'nullify' any Scripture. Instead, His fulfilment ushered in a new phase of His dealings with man, as promised in the 'old' testament writings, and as described in detail in the book of Hebrews.
Let us look at an example, to see what this means for us today.
There are many examples today of removing words from Scripture, and adding words to Scripture. We can see one example by merely reading the Scriptures. In this example, we will look at Isaiah 42:8, to see what it says, according to various translations.
Notice the following passage in several translations:
"I am יהוה, that is My Name...." (Isaiah 42:8a — The Scriptures 1998)Notice in the above passages, that the true, Hebrew name of Yahuweh can be seen in a few translations. In most modern translations, however, the translators have removed His true name — and have added the title 'LORD' or 'Adonai' in place of His name!"I am YHWH: that is my name...." (Isaiah 42:8a RNKJV — Restored Name King James Version)
"I am YAHWEH; that is My name...." (Isaiah 42:8a HRB — Hebrew Roots Bible)
"I am Yahweh; that is My name...." (Isaiah 42:8a LEB — Lexham English Bible)
"I am Jehovah, that is My name...." (Isaiah 42:8a ASV — American Standard Version)
"I am Jehovah, this is My name...." (Isaiah 42:8a YLT — Young's Literal Translation)
"I am ADONAI; that is my name...." (Isaiah 42:8a CJB — Complete Jewish Bible)
"I am God, that's my name...." (Isaiah 42:8a MSG — The Message)
"I am the LORD: that is my name...." (Isaiah 42:8a KJV — King James Version)
"I am the Lord, that is My name...." (Isaiah 42:8a NRS — New Revised Standard)
Now notice the following passage:
And Elohim [God] said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, YHWH Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:15 RNKJV)In the above passage, Yahuweh tells us that His name is His memorial forever — that His name Yahuweh is to be communicated to, and remembered in all generations!
This means that we must communicate His name, and teach it to our children, so that those in the next generation will remember His name.
But His 'name' has been removed — and a 'title' has been added — in violation of the clear commands of Scripture!
Now, we must ask the following questions:
- "If Yahuweh's name has been removed from the Bible, how can we know His name?"
- "And not knowing His name, how can we teach it to our children, so they will remember it?"
Today Yahuweh is restoring to His people, the knowledge of the names of the Father, and of the Son!
Hallelu-Yah! Praise Yah!
In this example, we will test another popular, modern Bible doctrine using this Guideline.
In this example, we will investigate the question, "Did Messiah institute the Lord's Supper as a 'New Thing'?"
Notice the following passage:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)In the above passage, we see a scene familiar to many Believers today, who have been told that Messiah instituted the Lord's Supper as a 'new ceremony' for those who Believe in Him.
We recall that the Bereans used the Scriptures [the Tanak, or 'old' Testament writings], to check the validity of the apostle Paul's New Covenant teachings. And according to the Scriptures, anyone who attempts to institute any 'new' religious practice that was not previously commanded in the 'old' testament Scriptures, is to be considered a heretic — a deceiver, and a false prophet (Deut 13:1-5).
We are also told that to institute a 'new' religious practice [something that was not commanded], would be considered 'strange fire' (Lev 10:1), and would be adding to the Scriptures.
If we were to imagine that Yahushua Messiah instituted the Lord's Supper as a 'new ceremony' not commanded in Torah, we would be saying that Messiah added something new to Scripture. And if the Lord's Supper were not commanded in Torah, it would be considered 'strange fire' before Yahuweh.
Thus what we imagine Messiah did, would be to imagine He committed sin — and this sin would have rendered Him unfit to be a sinless sacrifice, and unfit to be our Saviour.
As we search the Scriptures, however, we find that Messiah did not add to the Scriptures. He did not implement the Lord's Supper as a 'new thing.'
Instead, the Lord's Supper was a part of the centuries-old Passover, at which time after supper, Messiah revealed to His disciples the true meaning of the Passover, and of the Passover Sacrifice, and of the Passover Cup. A careful reading of Matthew 25 and Luke 22 will confirm that the Lord's Supper took place on the night of Passover.
From that time forward, Messiah expects all of His Disciples to continue to observe the Passover Memorial meal, in the same manner as He did with His Disciples. He expects us today to 'walk as He walked' (1John 2:6), by following His example.
To 'walk as He walked' includes observing the Lord's Supper in the same manner as He did, at the same, prescribed time He did — at night, at the start of the 14th day of the first Biblical month, which is the prescribed, Biblical day of Passover (Lev 23:5; Num 28:16).
This prescribed timing of the Lord's Supper, on the night of Passover, was the exact timing that the apostle Paul received of the Lord (1Co 11:23), and delivered unto us for our instruction!
But because many have thought Messiah instituted the Lord's Supper as a 'new ceremony' not commanded in Torah, they have ignored the timing prescribed in Torah, and have ignored what Paul passed along to us for our instruction.
Many Bible Teachers, by having their own [non-Biblical] interpretation, violate this Biblical Guideline themselves, when they assume that Messiah Himself violated this Guideline, by adding something new to the Scriptures!
We are not allowed to have our own [non-Biblical] interpretation, nor are we to add anything or remove anything from what is written in Scripture!
7. First Obey and Do — And Then We Will Know and Understand
This principle is the most basic expression of Biblical Faith!
We not only see this principle spoken clearly and revealed in many Scripture passages, but we see it set forth by example in the lives of many Bible characters.
Lets see this Guideline, as we look at a few of the Scripture passages:
Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:16-17)In the above passage, we see that if we will do [make, produce, bring forth] Father's will, then we shall know [perceive, understand] the doctrine [teaching, instruction].
From here we must proceed to seek out Father's will:
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)Here we see Father's will is two-fold: to see the Son; and then to believe on Him. The word 'believe' as used in Scripture is from the Hebrew perspective, as opposed to the Greek perspective.
The Greek perspective says, "What I 'think' is what I believe." This is merely a mental agreement of certain facts being true, and is not Biblical belief.
The Hebrew perspective, on the other hand, says, "What I 'do' proves what I believe." To 'believe' in the Scriptural sense, therefore, is an action that we take, that reveals what we think.
From this we see that to 'believe' Yahushua is to 'obey' Him, just as if His Words were true. That is the Hebrew way — and the Biblical way — of understanding the word 'believe.'
But in order to obey Messiah's Words, His sayings, we must know what they are.
As the WORD of Yahuweh, Messiah spoke all the Words of Scripture, including the commandments He gave to Moses, as we see throughout the 'old' Testament writings.
So in order to know Messiah's Words, we must then read all of Messiah's Words.
But in order to read all of Messiah's Words, all of His sayings, we must read all of the Scriptures.
We then find that as we begin to truly obey Messiah and walk with Him, He then begins to open our spiritual eyes further. He enables us to 'see' more clearly, and to have to a greater understanding of His Word. He also begins to give us Wisdom, and a greater 'Knowing' of Himself.
To further illustrate this principle of "first obey and do, then know and understand," let's look at a few more passages:
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. (Deuteronomy 4:5-6)
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4 So shalt thou find favour ['Grace'] and good understanding in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:1-4)
I understand more than the ancients, because I keep [guard, watch; obey] thy precepts. (Psalms 119:100)The above passages vividly show the Biblical principle of "first obey and do, then know and understand" — which is the essence of Biblical faith!
In the last passage above, the Psalmist gives us a clear picture of the cause-and-effect principle of 'keeping' [to keep: to guard, watch; obey] Father's precepts — with the result of having greater understanding, discernment and wisdom.
Daniel, who was great in understanding, discernment, and wisdom, must have understood this principle:
As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. (Daniel 9:13)In the above passage, Daniel tells us the same truths as we saw above in John 7:16-17 and in Psalms 119:100. Here Daniel tells us that 'turn from our iniquities' comes before 'understand thy truth.' We see that this order is significant, for it reveals again the cause-and-effect principle of first doing, then knowing!
But one might ask, "What does it mean to turn from our iniquities?" It simply means to cease our disobedience to Messiah's commandments of Torah [the definition of 'sin' as stated in 1John 3:4]. We cease our disobedience when we begin to obey Messiah's Commandments in Torah.
When we realise it was Messiah Himself who gave the Words to Moses, we then realise that Messiah has spoken Father's Words to Moses, and to us, for the purpose of our obedience.
According to this Biblical Guideline, when we, as Born-again Believers, begin to obey more of Messiah's Words in the Ten Commandments, He will then open our eyes to give us more understanding of His Word!
Likewise, when we realise it was Messiah Himself who gave His 'sayings' to Moses, we begin to have a better understanding of the following passages:
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (John 14:24)For years we have not understood the above passages. Today there are many who are beginning to see and understand that Messiah is the WORD of Yahuweh, who spoke all the Commandments written in the Law of Moses!
Those who understand who Messiah is, are beginning to turn from their iniquities, by obedience to Torah. As a result they are showing their love for Messiah, and they are beginning to understand His truth!
Let's see an example of this Guideline:
In this example, we will see why some of the apostle Paul's writings were hard to understand in Paul's day (2Peter 3:15-16), and why they are hard to understand in our day.
We saw in the previous example of Guideline #4 above, that the apostle Paul exhorts all of Messiah's followers [including us today] to be 'imitators' of him, as he is [an imitator] of Messiah.
We then saw that the apostle Paul himself observed all the Law [Torah] (Acts 21:24; Acts 24:14), including the Biblical Feasts (Acts 18:21; 1Co 5:7-8). This is important information for us, considering that Paul tells us repeatedly that he is an example for us to follow (1Co 4:16; 1Co 11:1; Php 3:17).
Thus we see that Paul exhorts us to do as he did, in observing Yahuweh's Sabbath Days and Feast Days, and by walking orderly and keeping the Law [Torah], according to Paul's own example.
Why is it that we do we not hear the above information about Paul from today's popular Bible Teachers?
Scripture tells us in detail why this is, and illustrates this Guideline in action today!
We recall that in a Biblical sense, to 'know' something is to experience that something. With this in mind, we can understand the following words of Paul in Romans 7:1:
"Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law)..." (Romans 7:1a)In this passage, Paul tells us he speaks [writes] to those who 'know' the Torah — that is, to those who experience or practice Torah.
So from a Biblical standpoint, we 'know' Torah, not by higher education or head-knowledge, but by experiencing and practicing Torah.
But notice that Peter goes further, to give us more details:
"...even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [twist], as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." (2Peter 3:15b-16)Now we can see this Guideline coming into view, through Peter's words in the above passage. Those who read Paul's letters without first knowing [practicing] Torah, are unlearned in Torah — and they will not understand Paul's message.
And so we see that those Bible Teachers today who do not 'know' and practice Torah, do not 'understand' that Paul's letters are all based on Torah, and that Paul advocates obedience to Torah. They have not understood that all of Paul's teachings reveal his prophetic insight into the Everlasting [new] Covenant provisions seen throughout the Tanak [the 'old' Testament writings].
Thus Peter tells us that, from a Biblical standpoint, those who do not 'know' Torah by practicing Torah, do not 'understand' — they are 'unlearned' and unstable. They will simply 'wrest' or twist the apostle Paul's words, just as Peter warned us in 2Peter 3:16. They have walked away from keeping and doing the Commandments in the Law [Torah], and the final result is, that they do not understand the Commandments in the Torah.
According to this Bible Principle, we can say in this example:
"The Words of Scripture we do not obey, are the Words of Scripture we will not understand."And so today we see the result. Those who do not practice Torah, are those who twist Paul's writings. They do not understand Paul's words, because Paul is not writing to them. Paul is writing to those who 'know' the Torah.
And so we see why a great many popular Bible Teachers of today are themselves in error, and how they are leading multitudes astray with their error. This error of twisting Paul's words is rampant today, and has contributed to the Great Falling Away that has occurred over the past two thousand years.
This principle is true on every level. Those who do not first obey the Gospel, to become Born-Again, will not understand what it means to be Born-Again.
Now, notice what Paul tells us:
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools [foolish], but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise [foolish], but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)In the above passage, Paul focuses on our walk — what we do — and it is here that Paul reveals that the 'wise' and 'foolish' both begin by what they do — and their 'understanding' is the result of what they do!
Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul exhorts us to do as he does, as he believes [is a "DO-er" of] all things which are written in the law and in the Prophets!
The above example is but one of many throughout the Scriptures, to illustrate that Yahuweh gives Wisdom and Understanding to all who see the Son, and who truly 'believe' on Him from a Biblical perspective.
Those who truly 'believe' on Him are they who become Born-again, and then choose to follow Messiah, by learning to become "DO-ers" of all of His words!
Thus we see that those to whom Yahuweh gives Wisdom and Understanding, are they who are learning to become "DO-ers" of all of His words!
Some may consider this type of obedience a 'blind' obedience to the Word. Yes, a lack of understanding is a form of blindness. But as we see throughout the Scriptures, Father sometimes gives this 'blindness' to His children for a purpose, and then removes the blindness to fulfill His purposes.
Father is looking for those who have Faith — those who see Messiah, and who choose to 'believe' on Him — that is, who choose to obey and do, even though they do not yet know or understand.
Additional Principles to Consider
Along with these Biblical Guidelines, there are many additional principles seen throughout the Scriptures, that will help us in our study and understanding of the Scriptures.
Some of these Additional Principles are presented below.
The need for the Holy Spirit to open the eyes & ears, so that we may 'see' the Scriptures:
Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, (Job 33:16)
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. (Psalms 40:6)
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. (Psalms 119:18)
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)
But their eyes were holden that they should not know him... And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24:16, 31)
The need for the Holy Spirit to reveal the true meaning to the Scriptures:
And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things: (1Chronicles 28:12)
But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. (Job 32:8)
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13)
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1John 2:27)
The need for following the living examples of Messiah and His Disciples, as seen in Scripture:
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (John 13:15)
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
Be ye followers ['imitators'] of me, even as I also am of Christ. (1Corinthians 11:1)
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (1John 2:6)
The need for Prayer to understand the Scriptures:
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 1:9)
Pray without ceasing. (1Thessalonians 5:17)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)
The need for us to humble ourselves, in order to understand the Scriptures:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:10)
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (1Peter 5:5-6)
The above are some important, additional principles that must be considered, for those who choose to follow after Yahushua Messiah.
The need to hear and obey the Scriptures, as a pre-requisite for receiving further understanding:
The need to hear and obey the Scriptures, as a pre-requisite for receiving further understanding:
He that turneth away his ear from hearing [hearken: to hear and obey] the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. (Proverbs 28:9)
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. (Deuteronomy 4:6)
I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. (Psalms 119:100)
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:1-4)
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:3)
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:7-8)
The above principles are not complete as presented, but represent only those this writer has seen thus far. By Yahuweh's mercy and grace, we will find more Biblical principles and examples to add in the future!
In this writing we have seen the Scripture Guidelines for correct Bible Interpretation, as presented within the Scriptures themselves:
Biblical Interpretation Guidelines: Summary
- 1)All Scripture: Full Agreement — No Contradictions;
- 2)The Torah and the Testimony;
- 3)Two or Three Witnesses;
- 4)All the Words of the Prophets;
- 5)No Private ['ones own' or 'extra-Biblical'] Interpretation;
- 6)Do Not Add to or Remove From Scripture;
- 7)First Obey and Do — then Know and Understand
As we study the Scriptures for ourselves, let us always be mindful of the Seven Biblical Guidelines for Bible Interpretation!