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  • Writer's pictureRobin Smit

Interpreting Scripture

How are we to interpret Scripture? Christocentric and Christotelic. What does that even mean?

  • Christocentric Interpretation of the Old Testament — Jesus, the Christ is the center and the goal of the entire drama of redemption. Everything points to that. In other words, ALL of our study and teaching of the Old Testament revolves around Jesus, the Christ as the center. And ALL the Old Testament conceptions of God must be understood in the light of Jesus Christ, who is God’s FINAL and perfect self revelation (Hebrews 1). Because everything up to that was an inferior, incomplete, immature, dim understanding of God's glory. For example, Moses saw the backside of God’s glory but Thomas saw the face of God’s glory in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.

  • Christotelic Interpretation of the OT — This means that we are not reading Jesus back into the Old Testament to revise what it once meant, BUT rather Jesus Christ was the goal (the telos) of the redemption story from the start — starting with Genesis. Christ is the heart of redemption history at every point.

I like what Graeme Goldsworthy in his book, Gospel Centered Hermeneutics: "The hermeneutical center of the Bible is therefore Jesus in His being and in his saving acts — the Jesus of the Gospel."

There is a similar kind of quote from Peter Enns (Apostolic Hermeneutics and Evangelical Doctrine of Scripture): It is the conviction of the Apostles that the eschaton (the end) had come in Christ that drove them back to see where and how their Scripture spoke of Him. And this was not a matter of grammatical-historical exegesis but of a Christ-driven hermeneutic… for the church, the Old Testament does not exist on it’s own, in isolation from the completion of the Old Testament story in the death and resurrection of Christ

And I love the disciples exclamation on the road to Emmaus. Luke 24:32 in the Passion Translation says, Stunned, they looked at each other and said, “Why didn’t we recognize him? Didn’t our hearts burn with the flames of holy passion[c] while we walked beside him? He unveiled for us such profound revelation from the Scriptures!” Their hearts burned with passion inside them!! What was the PROFOUND REVELATION from Scriptures that was unveiled to them? Verse 27 says, And beginning with Moses and all the prophets he carefully unveiled to them the revelation of Himself throughout the Scriptures. Jesus unveiled to them the revelation of Himself in the Scriptures (aka the Old Testament).

Lately everyone is wanting to unveil PROFOUND REVELATION in the Scriptures. But the profound revelation is so simple... it is ALWAYS (whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament) pointing to Christ.

Jesus said in John 5:39 (The Passion Translation), "Everything you read points to Me."

Paul said in Galatians 3 that the Law was their tutor to point them to Christ. And in 2 Timothy 3:15, he said, "and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." I love the Mirror Bible translation of that verse: The sacred Scriptures that you were raised with from your mother’s womb dynamically pointed you to the explicit clarity of salvation! God’s belief was always wrapped up in Christ Jesus! And verse 16 in the Mirror Bible is excellent!! It says, Jesus Christ and His work of salvation is the theme of Scripture. The value of scripture in its most complete context is always found in God’s prophetic voice inspiring a thorough education in the revelation of righteousness! This is what carries the breath of God and gives substance and proof to accurately gauge what is being taught.

Any allegorical interpretation we attempt to apply to Old Testament Scriptures that don't make Jesus Christ and His FINISHED work bigger in your understanding needs to be disregarded as untrue. And any definition of Christ outside of Jesus (who was 100% God and 100% Man) needs to also be disregarded. John said in his gospel (John 20:31 - Mirror Bible), "But what is written here is enough evidence for the reader to be absolutely convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God..."

The Old Testament is ONLY interpreted correctly through the lens of Christ centered, Christ as the goal, and bowing to the revelation of Christ in the New Testament. And like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, it's time to get back to that 1st century obsession... simply looking for Him in the Old Testament Scriptures!


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