Sunday, February 27, 2011

How do you know exactly what Jesus meant?

Has a man committed adultery already with a woman in his heart if he looks on her to lust after her? Has a woman sinned just by desiring to be rich? Wouldn’t James be contradicting Jesus since he says something different? Several times people have asked me “How do you come to know exactly what Jesus meant?” There are several interpretations to many bible passages that even the simplest and most straight forward always brings out at least two different interpretations. In this lesson this morning, I will present a summation by comparing two passages spoken by Jesus and James on how to arrive at an interpretive conclusion. There are things to consider in hermeneutics. For written material like our case, we have semantics, syntax, and morphology. In morphology, we do word study, context and etymology while thinking horizontally. After this, we sum it up in exposition, application before illustration. This is the science behind interpretation. So let us walk together so you know I am not making it up.

Step one: The meaning of the word lust in Matthew is different from the general word lust . How do we know that? The word lust in Ps 81:12 means stubborn. In Matthew 5:28 because it is preceded immediately by the adverb of manner (this word is used as an adverb only in two ways: adverb of manner and adverb of time), the word changes its meaning to “have a desire for, long for, to desire”. The Greek word there is /Epithyme┼Ź/. Now compare the word lust in Romans1:27 which is really what Matthew means. The Greek word there is /Orexis/ meaning “desire, longing, craving for, eager desire, lust, appetite.” There is a difference between present simple tense and infinitive tense. In Matthew then the word is used in present indicative to make a factual declaration while in James it is used in infinitive. In the former, the action taking place while in the latter, the action bears a future fulfillment.

Step Two: Here is where the Horizontal Thinking comes into play. Scripture must be used to interpret itself. Consequently, we look at what the Bible says elsewhere about lust. The next section will be James 1:14-15. If we interpret that Matthew 5:28 means to consume sin then we mean that the Bible in contradictory; thus fallible and errant. James says that lust must conceive and give birth to sin. That means the strong desire acted upon by imagination (lust after) is already sin.

The case of adultery evoked by Jesus could be taken out of context that could produce a wrong inference or poor semantics. Let us go back to Horizontal thinking.

What does the Bible say about adultery? True the Bible says if you marry a divorced woman you have committed adultery already. But that is if the fault is on the woman. Let us read Matthew 5:32

But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

If you divorce your wife for any other cause other than the fact that she was unfaithful, you force her to commit adultery because she will be breaking the covenant. The person who marries the woman who was wrongfully divorced is committing adultery too because he should not be in that relationship. Same thing in Matt 19:9. Mark 10:12 the responsibility is reversed for men to women. So if a woman wrongfully divorced her husband, she is committing adultery and also forcing the man to commit adultery. Yet, the bible authorizes digamy if there is abandonment (I Cor 7:15). If your spouse runs away, though there is no infidelity involved, you are free to remarry and there will not be any adultery because when they run away from the marriage, they abandon the marital bond which is a bond in blood sexually administered.

Therefore, to know exactly what Jesus meant, the reader must be ready to read, interpret the passage hermeneutically and think horizontally by looking at other passages of the Bible to see what the Bible says about the same topic. It will take time, but it is very efficient in putting the reader nearer or to the exact intent of God.

Until then God bless his word.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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