Verse of the Day

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Study of the Scriptures - Session 5: Wednesday, 25 MAR 2015 at Faith Baptist Fellowship Church, Lake Ariel, PA

The Study of the Scriptures
Session 5, Wednesday 25 MAR 2015
Faith Baptist Fellowship Church
Lake Ariel, PA

Note: There was no audio recording of this session.

Review Sessions 1-4

1. Placing trust in God: The ability of God and the sufficiency of the Scriptures — Coming to the Scriptures with Faith

2. Putting man in his place: The inability of fallen man and an understanding of the responses of the creature to the revelation of God — Coming to the Scriptures with Humility

3. The Unity of the Word of God and the First, Progressive, and Full Mention Principles of Interpretation — Coming to the Scriptures with Hope

4. The Diversity of the Contexts within the Canon of Scripture — Coming to the Scriptures with Respect

Session 5: The Humiliation of Incarnational Hermeneutics


Are we given examples in the Scriptures of where others went wrong in their understanding of God’s Word, or the lack of understanding?

What we can learn from those examples?

Are the same errors occurring in our midst today, and on the same basis?

Whatever we do in Bible study, whatever principles we employ, our goal must not just be a positive one, i.e., to gain an understanding of the true meaning of the Scriptures. We must also at the same time have a negative goal, i.e., to avoid adding to, taking away from, twisting, or wrongly dividing the Word of God. In other words, given our sinful tendencies, and the darkness of our minds apart from the illumination of the Holy Spirit, extreme care must be taken to avoid the errors that have been made, are being made, and will be made as people handle the Scriptures. We must seek the truth, but we must always guard against error. Neither the sword nor the shield are sufficient without the other.

Where we have been: contexts within contexts!

Where we will go now: canons within the Canon.

1. Historical canons within the Canon: The Humiliation of Incarnational Hermeneutics — A Lesson to be Learned, and an Error to be Avoided

canons within the Canon[1]

Canon - the whole counsel of God

“The English word canon goes back to the Greek word kanon and then to the Hebrew qaneh. Its basic meaning is reed, our English word cane being derived from it. Since a reed was sometimes used as a measuring rod, the word kanon came to mean a standard or rule. It was also used to refer to a list or index, and when so applied to the Bible denotes the list of books which are received as Holy Scripture. Thus if one speaks of the canonical writings, he is speaking of those books which are regarded as having divine authority and which comprise our Bible.”[2]

“canon within the Canon”

1) “canon within the Canon” defined

A “canon within the Canon” is a text that is superposed over others in such a way that the meaning of the other texts is forced into a box created by the “canon within” text. 

(1) The imposition of one context on another, or on all others.

(2) The elevation of one meaning, with the subordination or denial of all others.

(3) The construction of an “either/or” framework or box, when the truth demands a “both/and.”

This has been defined as: “A subset of scriptures taught in exclusion of those that would result in true doctrine.”[3]

The Trinity? Is God one or is God three?

Have I failed to mention thus far in our study the Trinitarian Test of Truth?
“Union without confusion, and distinction without division.”
In other words, “Unity in diversity, and diversity in unity.”

The Christ? Is Christ God or is Christ man?

The Bible? Is the Bible the Word of God or is it the words of men?

What we will observe where this fallacy occurs is that one context may be rightly handled and understood, but then other contexts are violated by the imposition of what has been understood elsewhere upon them.

The humiliation of incarnational hermeneutics

2) “canon within the Canon” exemplified

In the “Introduction” to this session I asked:

Are we given examples in the Scriptures of where others went wrong in their understanding of God’s Word, or the lack of understanding?

What we can learn from those examples?

In the Gospels we learn of the first century disciples of Christ repeatedly failing to understand that Two Advents were prophesied, specifically the Humiliation preceding the Exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ, e.g., as seen especially in the presentation of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah.

The humiliation of incarnational hermeneutics

Text: Isaiah 61:1-2 — 1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

Text: Luke 4:14-29 — 14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. 22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son? 23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. 24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. 28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

Did anybody get it? Are there any exceptions to this misunderstanding?
What about the wise men and the shepherds at Bethlehem, or Simeon and Anna in Jerusalem?  — They recognized the reality of the incarnation at his Birth. However, this does not necessarily carry with it an understanding that the crucifixion was the purpose of this incarnation.

Satan and demons! — They had no doubt who He was, and what He intended. They acknowledged Him for who He was in fact, and Satan attempted to prevent Him from following through with His intent.

In the meantime His followers at times acknowledged Him as the Messiah, and as sent by God, but never understand or acknowledged prior to the crucifixion that this event could possibly be His goal. Rather, they denied it, at times even vehemently and violently. A hermeneutical error that had been rooted in centuries of Bible study had brought them to this conclusion concerning the First Advent, with the consequent inability to process the clear teaching of Christ about it, and the distinction between the two Advents.

What is involved here? Unfulfilled prophecy! The fulfillment of unfulfilled prophecy! Eschatology!

Here is where we need to be very careful, and very humble, so that we are not guilty of missing the teachings of the Scriptures just as they did!

The humiliation of incarnational hermeneutics

2. The Concept of Corporate Solidarity[4]

This concept, foreign to the culture and thought of much of the western and modern worlds, is nevertheless implicitly understood in the Ancient Near East, and tribal and clan cultures throughout history.  Crossing the two millennia plus year old gap on a historical-cultural bridge to comprehend the Scriptures requires moving into such a mindset while casting off the independent person oriented fixation of the modern western culture.  This concept is a critical factor in rightly comprehending what is taught in Romans 5, but it is not just there.  The Scriptural usage of terms like Israel, Servant and Temple are also involved.

Examples of Scriptural teachings or concepts where Corporate Solidarity should be understood:

1)  Israel

There are at least five usages for “Israel” that may be found in the Scriptures.  The term is often used for:

(1) The individual so renamed (Gen. 32:28; 35:10);

(2) Israel’s physical descendants, i.e., the nation of the twelve tribes descended from the individual so named (Gen. 32:32; 34:7; 49:16, 28; Ex. 1:8; Rom. 11:25; etc.);

(3) The elect descendants, i.e., the remnant, or “true” Israel from the twelve tribes descended from the individual so named (Ps. 73:1; Rom. 9:6; Gal. 6:16; Rev. 21:12);

(4) The northern ten tribes of the divided nation — contrasted with the southern tribes, Judah allied with Benjamin (1 Kings 12; Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:8; etc.); and,

(5) Christ in corporate solidarity with the nation (Is. 49:3; Hos. 11:1; Mt. 2:15; cp. also Ex. 4:22; etc.).[5]

Note:  It is not uncommon for two or more of these usages to be found in the same context.  Such back and forth movement between considerations of various aspects of the same corporate entity was natural to the cultures of the Ancient Near East. This subject will be referred to below.

2)  The Suffering Servant

The Suffering Servant portions of Isaiah involve a shifting between the nation Israel as the Suffering Servant and an individual Suffering Servant presented as the person of the Messiah in union with and representing the nation.  At a minimum the revelation of this corporate identity involves the Suffering Servant Songs of Is. 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; and 52:13-52:12.  The entirety of Is. 42-53 serves as the larger context for these Songs.

3) The Temple

The Temple imagery involving a corporate identity of believers in the Church under the New Covenant has no partial counterpart like that of the metaphor involving the building and the parts of the building, and the body and the members of the body that is found in some of the same passages.  The “one” and the “many” has everything to do with rightly understanding not only the grammar, but also the intended application of such passages as 1 Cor. 3:16-17 (9-17); 1 Cor. 6:19 (12-20); and 2 Cor. 6:16 (14-18).  See also 1 Pet 2:4-12; Heb. 3:1-6; etc. These passages were addressed in Session 4.

Note:  I would posit that, apart from the supernatural healing of grace, sin inevitably fractures true community relationships.  Even in cultures that are not inherently as individualistic as modern America their native/natural “groups” may, due to sin, often interfere with true supernatural body life in fellowship with other believers.  This was evidenced in the 1st century church at Corinth (e.g., 1 Cor. 3, 6, 11), and elsewhere (e.g., Gal. 5; Jas. 2-5; 3 Jn.; Jude).

Examples of significant Scripture passages where Corporate Solidarity must be understood:

1) The subordination of the Levitical priesthood to that of Melchizedek proved by Levi, in the loins of Abraham, paying tithes to Mechizedek

Hebrews 7:6-10 — “6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. 8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. 9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.”

2) The union of New Covenant believers in Christ seen in the accusation of Saul persecuting Christ

Acts 9:4-5 — “4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

3) The entire human race seen in Adam, and therefore fallen, condemned in sin, and dead; and the redeemed of the human race seen in Christ, and therefore justified as righteous and reigning in life.

Romans 5:12-19 — “12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

The humiliation of incarnational hermeneutics

3. Modern canons within the Canon: Exegetical and Theological Errors that violate Corporate Solidarity due to “canons within the Canon” — Lessons to be Learned and Errors to be Avoided

In the “Introduction” to this session I asked:

Are we given examples in the Scriptures of where others went wrong in their understanding of God’s Word, or the lack of understanding?

What we can learn from those examples?

Are the same errors occurring in our midst today, and on the same basis?

We have already considered the first of these questions. We must now consider the third question while applying what we learned in addressing the first two.

In the examples that follow the same error may be observed that was found in the “historical canons within the Canon” already considered. In other words, many modern Bible scholars are guilty of committing the same error regarding other subjects that the disciples did in the first century regarding the First Advent of Christ.

1) Seed[6]

What do many do today with the meaning of the seed in the Bible?

How do they arrive at that conclusion?

Israel is no longer the seed, if indeed, they ever were. Christ, and the Church in Christ is the seed/seeds. The physical descendants of Abraham may only be seen as seeds of Abraham when they are regenerated in the Church.

Text: Galatians 3:16-19, 28-29 — 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator….28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

2) Israel[7]

What do many do today with the meaning of Israel in the Bible?
How do they arrive at that conclusion?

The Church is the true Israel. Israel as a nation as understood in the Old Testament has been replaced, or superseded, or fulfilled in the Church.

Text: Galatians 6:16 — “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Romans 2:28-29 — “28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

A related term involved with this “canon within the Canon” treatment of “Israel” is found in Obadiah 17-21 — 17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. 18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it. 19 And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. 20 And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south. 21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.

What proper nouns may we legitimately see as spiritual realities or symbols in these verses?  What are we to think of “mount Zion”? Should we impose the following passages as “canons within the Canon,” and see what Obadiah is prophesying as something other than the physical, earthly Mount Zion?

Galatians 4:25-26 — 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Hebrews 12:22 — But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

“the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven”
“the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven
that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God”
— Revelation 3:12; 21:2, 10.

Why is that so many single out only those proper nouns that refer to the people and land of Israel as symbols or types to be interpreted/reinterpreted as spiritual entities, and do not do the same with the other proper nouns here?

If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture without such inconsistent imposing of a “canon within the Canon” on the text, wouldn’t we see 2 Samuel 5:7, 1 Kings 8:1; 1 Chronicles 11:5; and 2 Chronicles 5:2 as defining what is meant here by “Mount Zion”?

“Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.” (2 Samuel 5:7)

“Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.” (1 Kings 8:1)

“And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David.” (1 Chronicles 11:5)

“Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.” (2 Chronicles 5:2)

Elsewhere throughout the Old Testament Zion is paralleled with the earthly city of Jerusalem. What exegetical warrant is there to depart from that understanding here, while refusing to handle the other proper nouns in the same fashion?

3) Kingdom[8]

What do many do today with the meaning of the kingdom in the Bible?

How do they arrive at that conclusion?

The kingdom of God is a heavenly kingdom, and is within you. The kingdom is spiritual, and neither natural nor earthly.  Therefore there is not now, nor shall there ever be any earthly kingdom of God.

Text: Matthew 21:43 — “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

Text: Luke 17:21 — “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Text: John 18:36 — “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

4) Other modern examples (open theism, and evangelical feminism):

"Second, open theists erect interpretive centers or controlling metaphors. An interpretive center is the establishment of one portion of Scripture as a basis for interpreting other sections of Scripture.” [22]
22 “Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old, 482-85.”

“In other words, one key verse or concept is used as a filter for viewing and understanding the rest of biblical data.” [23]
23 “Evangelical feminist's use the same hermeneutical method when they interpret New Testament gender role distinctions through the lens of Gal 3:28.”

“The interpretive center used by open theists in building their doctrine of God is 1 John 4:8, which says, “God is love.””[9]

The humiliation of incarnational hermeneutics

I have a very dear friend, whom I love and respect greatly, who has asserted on numerous occasions, “If all I had was the Old Testament, I would be a Dispensationalist!” As strange as it may seem to many today, the only Bible that John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul had was what we now refer to as the Old Testament! That would lead me to the conclusion that they were Dispensationalists when it came to the seed, Israel, and the kingdom! They had part of their eschatology right, and only erred initially (prior to Pentecost) when it came to the First Advent due to the “canon within the Canon” error.

Conclusion: These erroneous approaches to the Scriptures are identical in kind to that followed by those who deny the Trinity, the true deity and humanity of Christ, and the inspiration of the Word of God.

If we:

1) humbly empathize with the followers of Christ in the first century A.D., and strive to carefully avoid their errors;

2) maintain an awareness of our fleshly tendency to take a simplistic or reductionist approach to truth, i.e. realizing that in this cases it is not an either/or consideration, but rather both/and must be maintained at one and the same time; and,

3) bring our tentative conclusions to the touchstone of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Bible; then we may steer clear of twisting the Scriptures.

The humiliation of incarnational hermeneutics

Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria,

John T. “Jack” Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
Greentown, PA

24 MAR 2015

25 MAR 2015
26 MAR 2015

Appendix A: Recommended Sources on “canons within the Canon”

1. D. A. Carson, “The Problem Of The Canon Within The Canon,” in Biblical Interpretation And The Church: The Problem of Contextualization, ed. D. A. Carson (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984; reprint ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002), pp. 20-24. This entire chapter by Carson, “A Sketch of the Factors Determining Current Hermeneutical Debate in Cross-Cultural Contexts,” pp. 11-29, is available online at [accessed 25 MAR 2015].

In this chapter Carson references two of his previous writings on this subject:

D. A. Carson, “Hermeneutics: A brief assessment of some recent trends,” Themelios 5:2 (JAN 1980), pp. 12-20; reprinted in Evangelical Review of Theology 5 (1981), pp. 8-25.

D. A. Carson, “Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: On the Possibility of Systematic Theology,” Scripture and Truth, eds. D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge (Grand Rapids and Leicester 1983), pp. 65-95, 368-375; online at [accessed 25 MAR 2015].

2. Robert L. Thomas, “The Fallacy of the Interpretive Center,” in Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old, ed. Robert L. Thomas (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2002), pp. 482-485; see also pp. 86, 104 note 48, and 377-380.

See also:

Robert L. Thomas, “The Hermeneutics Of “Open Theism”,” The  Master’s Seminary Journal 12:2 (Fall 2001), pp. 179-203; on The Master’s Seminary at [accessed 24 MAR 2015].

Appendix B: Resources on the Concept of Corporate Solidarity

G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), pp. 179, 192-193, 395, 713.[10]

Abner Chou, “Corporate Solidarity: A Heuristic Grid For New Testament Use of the Old Testament,” paper delivered at the Far West Regional Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, May, 2, 2003, at Sun Valley, CA.[11]

E. Earle Ellis, Paul’s Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957), pp. 58-60, 72-73, 95, 132-133, 136, and 139.

Mehrdad Fatehi, The Spirit's Relation to the Risen Lord in Paul (Mohr Siebeck, 2000).

David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck, eds., Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000), pp. 285-287, s.v. “Corporate Personality.”

Morna Dorothy Hooker, Jesus and the Servant: The Influence of the Servant Concept of Deutero-Isaiah in the New Testament (London: SPCK, 1959).

Aubrey R. Johnson, The One and the Many in the Israelite Conception of God (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1960).[12]

Arthur H. Lewis, “Resurgent Semitisms In The Testament Theology”, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 17:1 (Winter 1974), pp. 3-10.

Kenneth D. Litwak, “The Use Of Quotations From Isaiah 52:13-53:12 In The New Testament,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 26:4 (DEC 1983), pp. 385-394.

Richard Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975).

John Murray “The Imputation Of Adam’s Sin”, Westminster Theological Journal 18:2 (MAY 1956), pp.146-162, and Westminster Theological Journal 19:1 (NOV 1956), pp. 25-44.

C. R. North, Isaiah 40–55 (London: SCM, 1952).

C. R. North, The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah (London: Oxford University Press, 1948).

Douglas A. Oss, “The Interpretation Of The "Stone" Passages By Peter And Paul: A Comparative Study”,  Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 32:2 (JUN 1989), pp. 181-200.

Johannes Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture, Vol. 28 in South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991).

Henry Wheeler Robinson, The Christian Doctrine of Man (1934).

Henry Wheeler Robinson, Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel (1935; reprint Philadelphia: Fortress, 1973, 1980).[13]

Henry Wheeler Robinson, The Old Testament: Its Making and Meaning (1937).

Henry Wheeler Robinson, The History of Israel: Its Fact and Factors (1938).

Henry Wheeler Robinson, The Religious Ideas of the Old Testament (1956).

H. H. Rowley, The Servant of the Lord and Other Essays on the Old Testament (London: Lutterworth, 1957.

Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God's Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2001), pp. 156-159, s.v. “In Christ”.[14]

Russell Phillip Shedd, Man in Community: A Study of St. Paul’s Application of Old Testament and Early Jewish Conceptions of Human Solidarity (London: Epworth Press, 1958).

Klyne Snodgrass, “The Use of the Old Testament in the New,” in New Testament Criticism and Interpretation, eds. David Alan Black and David S. Dockery (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), pg. 416.[15]

Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, ed. Robert T. Walker (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), pp. 137-138.[16]

Sang-Won (Aaron) Son, Corporate Elements in Pauline Anthropology (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 2001).[17]

Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1973).

Objections: [18]

Joshua R. Porter, “The Legal Aspects of the Concept of ‘Corporate Personality’ in the Old Testament,” Vetus Testamentum 15 (1965), pp. 361-380.

John W. Rogerson, “The Hebrew Conception of Corporate Personality: A Re-examination,” Journal of Theological Studies 21 (1970), pp. 1-16.[19]

Stanley E. Porter, “Two Myths: Corporate Personality and Language/Mentality Determinism,” Scottish Journal of Theology 43 (1990), pp. 289-307.[20]

Appendix C: Excerpts on the Concept of Corporate Solidarity

Arthur H. Lewis, “Resurgent Semitisms In The Testament Theology,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 17:1 (Winter 1974), pp. 3-10.

Pg. 7 -

"In all of these sources from early Judaism certain broad themes may be pointed out. I would like to mention three of them, the first being the Jewish deep-seated feeling for corporate personality. The subject first came to mean something to me during an overland trip into Greece and the Near East. My three companions were professors who had completed their doctoral studies in Europe: Earle Ellis, Russell Shedd, and John Stam. Earl’s Book on Pauls Understanding of the Old Testament and Russell Shedd’s Man in Community had already been published and were well received, particularly by the European scholars. I listened to long discussions on the solidarity principle as it emerges in the salvation doctrines of the New Testament. Today, ten years after that trip, the evidence is stronger than ever that key theological themes in the New Testament are best understood in their relationship to the old semitic, patriarchal sense of family and national unity.

To the Hebrew mind it would not seem strange to say, "As in Adam all die," or "Christ is the vine," or "Jacob is Israel and Esau is Edom." Dr. Shedd writes, "We need not repeat what is self-evident, namely, that the foundational background of these concepts is the Hebrew view of man as more then [sic] an individual." Could anything sound more un-american than this?"

Pg. 8 -

One corollary of corporate personality is the essential oneness of the Body of Christ and the continuity of the true people of God throughout the ages, before and after Christ. Our honored guest, F. F. Bruce will permit me, I trust, to quote from his recently published book, New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes on this same subject.

"When Jesus chose the twelve, their number implied that they represented the faithful remnent [sic] of the old Israel who would be also the foundation of the new. Hence, the New Testament people of God, while preserving its continuity with the Old Testament people of God, is at the same time a new creation."

This oneness is supported by the carryover of the old, Hebrew term for the ‘congregation’ of Israel, qahal, as ecclesia in the Septuagint and books of the New Testament. Paul and the early Christians saw themselves as the extension of the true people of God, not as a novel community, unique and separate from the saints of the Old Testament.

If we take this principle of corporate personality as Paul applied it to the church, we will not fragmentize redemptive history so as to separate Old Testament sinners from the grace of God or Jewish saints from Gentile citizens in the Kingdom of God."


Kenneth D. Litwak, “The Use Of Quotations From Isaiah 52:13-53:12 In The New Testament,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 26:4 (December 1983), pp. 385-394.

pg. 385 -

“The key to understanding the concept of the Servant, I believe, is corporate personality, first developed fully by H. W. Robinson. The whole community can stand for an individual and vice versa. (Note 4) This of course is something of an oversimplification. C. R. North follows Robinson in seeing a fluid concept of the Servant in the Servant songs. The concept moves from collective Israel in Isaiah 42 to an individual in chap. 53. (Note 5) Rowley identifies the Servant similarly to North. Unlike North, Rowley sees not only linear development in the concept but oscillation as

pg. 386 -

well. (Note 6) Franz Delitzsch likened the Servant conception in the Songs to a pyramid with Israel at its base and Christ at its apex. North extends the lines of the first pyramid into a second with Christ at the zenith and the Church at the base. (Note 7) The conception of the Servant in this paper is a modified form of this taken from W. C. Williams.” (Notes 8 and 9)

“4. Hooker, Jesus 42; cf. J. Pedersen, Israel, and R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, on solidarity.
[Note: from footnote 2 the first reference is to M. D. Hooker, Jesus and the Servant (London: SPCK, 1959)]

5. C. R. North, The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah (London: Oxford University Press, 1948) 216.

6. H. H. Rowley, The Servant of the Lord and Other Essays on the Old Testament (London: Lutterworth, 1957) 52-53. Rowley says that the Servant as an individual can be none other than a future figure but, while the fourth song deals with an individual, Israel as a collective body enters into his mission (p. 54).

7. C. R. North, Isaiah 40–55 (London: SCM, 1952) 36.

8. Taken from unpublished lecture notes (Costa Mesa, 1976).

9. The identity of the Servant as an individual is much disputed. F. F. Bruce understands the significance of the Servant in Isa 52:13–53:12 to point to a king. Comparing this to 55:3 he sees the Servant as the messianic Davidic King (This Is That [London: Paternoster, 1968] 88-89). Rejecting a kingly figure per se, Zimmerli identifies him simply as an individual, prophetic figure (J. Jeremias and W. Zimmerli, The Servant of God [Naperville: Alienson, 1957] 28).”


Douglas A. Oss, “The Interpretation Of The "Stone" Passages By Peter And Paul: A Comparative Study,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 32:2 (June 1989), pp. 181-200.

Pg. 193 -

“The Petrine exegesis, furthermore, gives clear expression to the common Jewish understanding of the OT stone imagery as being descriptive of the community. [35] This unique understanding of the stone imagery is founded on Peter’s Jewish-Christian presupposition of corporate solidarity. [36] Identification of Christ with the Church is a common motif in Paul as well, being expressed in numerous passages with a wide variety of imagery. One quite similar idea from the Pauline corpus is found in Galatians where Christ is the "seed" of Abraham (Gal 3:16), and because of the believers’ position in him they too are "Abraham’s seed" (3:29; the seed motif occurs in our immediate context as well, cf. I Pet 1:23). So if Christ is the living stone, then we are living stones also (2:4-5).”

Note 35. 1QS viii 7-8; 1QH vi 26; cited in Longenecker, Exegesis 203.

Note 36. Bruce, “Stone” 235; Longenecker, Exegesis 121.

Appendix D: Basic Bible Study Materials — A Suggested Bibliography (with links to Amazon)

This is the book that I recommend as collateral reading for the "Scripture Study Seminar":

Sinclair Ferguson, From the Mouth of God (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2014); paperback (no Kindle available at this time) for $10.59 on Amazon at [accessed 18 JAN 2015].

1. In addition to Sinclair Ferguson's work that I am recommending as collateral reading the following five recent works on the subject may be the most helpful:

J. Scott Duvall, and J. Daniel Hays, Journey into God's Word: Your Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008);

Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible, 4th ed. (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1982, 1993, 2003, 2014); 

Peter Krol, Knowable Word: Helping Ordinary People Learn to Study the Bible (Minneapolis: Cruciform Press, 2014);

Grant Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991, 2006);

R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977, 2009);

2. Here are five recommended older works whose value does not fade!

James M. Gray, How to Master the English Bible: An Experience, a Method, a Result, an Illustration (London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1907);
in public domain, available online or as a free downloadable digital file (PDF or ePub) on Google Books at [accessed 18 FEB 2012].

J. Edwin Hartill, Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1947);
available online or as a free PDF file download (60 mb) on Seminario LAMB at [accessed 9 MAR 2014];
print editions available on Amazon at 
[accessed 18 JAN 2015].

Arthur T. Pierson, The Bible and Spiritual Criticism: Being the Second Series of Exeter Hall Lectures on the Bible Delivered in London, England in the Months of February, March and April, 1904 (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc., n.d.; 1970 reprint of 1905 original by The Baker and Taylor Co., New York);

Robert A. Traina, Methodical Bible Study: A New Approach to Hermeneutics (Wilmore, KY: self-published, 1952; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980); 

Oletta Wald, The New Joy of Discovery in Bible Study, rev. ed. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2002);
Note: This newly revised edition is also available in Kindle.

Compiled by:

John T. “Jack” Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
Greentown, PA

End notes:

[1] “The Fallacy of the Interpretive Center” (Robert L. Thomas). See Appendix A: Recommended Sources on “canons within the Canon.”

[2] Neil R. Lightfoot, “The Canon of the Scriptures,” from How We Got The Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970); on The Bible Study at [accessed 25 MAR 2015].

[3] Jeff Fenske, “D. A. Carson: The Problem of the Canon Within the Canon — A subset of scriptures taught in exclusion of those that would result in true doctrine. “We badly need to listen to one another, especially when we least like what we hear.”” (21 JAN 2011), on One can happen at [accessed 25 MAR 2015].

[4] Other ways of expressing this concept: “representative or corporate christology” and “corporate personality” (Schreiner), “incarnational solidarity” (Torrance), “corporate solidarity and representation” (Beale). A related term is “corporate personality,” which Beale and others have objected to. These sources are listed below in Appendix B: Resources on the Concept of Corporate Solidarity. See also Appendix C: Excerpts on the Concept of Corporate Solidarity.

[5] "In session 11, Gregory Beale showed that Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 (in Matthew 2:15) is not a haphazard misquoting of the Old Testament. Rather, Matthew is carefully considering Hosea’s argument based on Numbers 23-24." Nathan Busenitz, “Summit on Inerrancy - Recap” (9 MAR 2015), on Preachers & Preaching at [accessed 26 MAR 2015].
G. K. Beale, “Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15” (5 MAR 2015), General Session 11, 2015 Shepherds Conference: The Inerrancy Summit  (Sun Valley, CA); full summary posted by Nathan Busenitz, “Summit Liveblog: Session 11 (Beale),” posted 5 MAR 2015 on Preachers & Preaching at [accessed 26 MAR 2015]; video on Vimeo at [accessed 26 MAR 2015]; on YouTube at [accessed 26 MAR 2015]; and linked from The Master's Seminary at [accessed 26 MAR 2015], see “Gregory Beale — Hosea 11:1, Matthew 2:15, Inerrancy Summit - General Session 11.”

[6] S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., “Paul and ‘The Israel of God’: An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study.” in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, eds. Stanley D. Toussaint and Charles H. Dyer (Chicago: Moody Press,1986), pp. 181-196; reprinted in The Master's Seminary Journal 20:1 (Spring 2009), pp. 41-55; on The Master's Seminary at [accessed 26 MAR 2015].
Albertus Pieters, The Seed of Abraham: A Biblical Study of Israel, the Church, and the Jew (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1950).
John G. Reisinger, Abraham's Four Seeds (Frederick, MD: New Covenant Media, 1998).
Michael Riccardi, “The Seed of Abraham: A Theological Analysis of Galatians 3 and its Implications for Israel,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 25:1 (Spring 2014, pp. 51-64; on The Master’s Seminary at [accessed 26 MAR 2015].

[7] Barry Horner, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged, New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology, series ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007). Note: 2006 ed. on Bunyan Ministries at [accessed 26 MAY 2015].
Renald E. Showers, The Coming Apocalypse: A Study of Replacement Theology vs. God’s Faithfulness in the End-Times (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel, Inc., 2009).
Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010). See also Michael J. Vlach's Resource Library on "Supersessionism" on Theological Studies at [accessed 26 MAR 2015].

[8] Darrell L. Bock, “The Kingdom of God in New Testament Theology,” in Looking into the Future: Evangelical Studies in Eschatology, ed. David W. Baker, series: Evangelical Theological Society Studies (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), pp. 28-60.
Charles L. Feinberg, Millennialism: The Two Major Views, The Premillennial and Amillennial Systems of Interpretation Analyzed & Compared, 3rd ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1936, 1954, 1961, 1980).
Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom: An Inductive Study of the Kingdom of God (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959).

[9] Andy Woods, “An Introduction to the Open Theism Controversy” (2004), pp. 5-6; paper presented at a workshop of the Grace Evangelical Society conference held on February 23, 2004; available on Spirit and Truth at [accessed 25 MAR 2015]. Caveat: I certainly do not endorse everything in this source, the Grace Evangelical Society, or Jeff Fenske's opinions in the source cited previously! On the errors of open theism see especially Robert L. Thomas, “The Hermeneutics Of “Open Theism”,” The  Master’s Seminary Journal 12:2 (Fall 2001), pp. 179-203; on The Master’s Seminary at [accessed 24 MAR 2015].

[10] Beale refers to “the biblical concept of “the one and the many” or of “corporate representation.”” Op. cit., pg. 179. “The concept of corporate personality rightly has been qualified by later critics; it is better to speak of corporate solidarity and representation.” Ibid., footnote 56.  See also pg. 395, footnote 24.

[11] Available from the Theological Research Exchange Network (TREN) at [accessed 25 MAR 2015]. Reference TREN Product #ETS-161.

[12] Noted by Beale, op. cit., pg. 179, footnote 56, and pg. 395, footnote 24.

[13] The seminal works by Henry Wheeler Robinson (1872-1945), and this one in particular, may shed light on his origin and development of this concept. Beale refers the reader to the bibliography attached to the 1980 ed. of this work by Robinson for “discussion of this concept”. Op. cit., pg. 179, footnote 56. See Beale’s caution concerning Robinson and others who followed him in referring to this as “corporate personality” in footnote 9 above.

[14] Schreiner uses the phrases “representative or corporate christology” and “corporate personality”. Op. cit., pg. 158.

[15] Cited in Robert L. Plummer, 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible, in 40 Questions Series, series ed. Benjamin L. Merkle (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic & Professional, 2010), pg. 206-207.

[16] Torrance uses the phrase, “incarnational solidarity”. Op. cit., pg. 137.

[17] Cited in E. Earle Ellis, "Perspectives On Biblical Interpretation: A Review Article", Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45:3 (SEP 2002), pp. 489, note 134.

[18] Noted by Beale, op. cit., pg. 395, footnote 24.

[19] Also noted by Schreiner, op. cit., pp. 158, footnote 11.

[20] See note 14.

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