A Glimpse of Pauline Hermeneutics


The hope and expectation of the Christian is not earthly or natural, but spiritual. It is not tainted with sin as a result of the fall of the first Adam, but is to be realized in its perfected state in the spiritual realm. It was thus indicated in the beginning of recorded Scripture by promise of a Savior and continues throughout to the end.

In interpreting the Bible, there are those who would ignore biblically inspired principles and guidelines given by the New Testament witnesses, and, by doing so, have wrought much confusion within the Church. Yet  interpretive precepts do exist in the New testament, so abundant they cannot be ignored unless willfully so.

To the Jewish people of Apostle Paul’s day, the offense of the cross was more than simply that Messiah would die upon a tree, an accursed death unthinkable for those expecting an earthly rule in a political and military kingdom. No, the offense of the cross of Christ also indicated that the observance of regulations or ordinances under the law were formally revoked forever, abolished; the prophetic shadows of the greater realty of Christ fulfilled and needed no longer.  In regards to salvation, obedience to the Law, done away with. In terms of Jewish prominence in true religion, gone, the wall between Jew and the Gentile nations forever removed. There will be only one holy nation in the New Jerusalem, the Church.

For those with eyes to see, it is near unavoidable to see the aforementioned truths when reading the Scripture, particularly the epistles of Paul. There are dangers in both over spiritualizing as well as being too literal, and we are well aware of their abuse. However, just as there is a natural birth and a spiritual rebirth, so there is a pattern set forth by God through the Apostle Paul as to how we are to interpret Scripture. The examples are too numerous to cite them all, but I thought it helpful to quote a few. In them all, the sufficiency and glory of the cross of Christ is shown to be the offense that it truly is for those who desire to bring back the shadows after the perfect has come! As the Apostle points out: “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. [9]  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, [10]  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. – I Cor. 13:8-10 (ESV).

The Biblically Based Hermeneutic

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. [43]  It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. [44]  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. [45]  Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. [46]  But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. – I Corinthians 15:42-46 (ESV, emphasis mine, ed.)

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. – Hebrews 8:13 (ESV).

By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing [9] (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, [10]  but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. [11]  But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) [12]  he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. – Hebrews 9:8-12 (ESV, emphasis mine, ed.)

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. – Hebrews 10:1 (ESV)

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), [9]  then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. [10]  And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. – Hebrews 10:8-10 (ESV, emphasis mine, ed.)