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  • Virginia Brown

What The Text Does Not Say

One principle of Bible interpretation I’ve mentioned several times from the pulpit is to look for what the text does not say. The Bible makes tons of assertions. To further understand these assertions, we need to understand what ideas these assertions oppose. This principle of interpretation results from the law of noncontradiction, which maintains: if an assertion is true, it’s opposite is false.

So, for example, when I saw, “God is good,” I am at the same time saying, “God is not evil, vindictive, manipulative, wicked, dishonest, or untrustworthy.” Assertions result in denials. It’s these denials that the “look at what the text does not say” principle brings out.

Let’s look at a portion of a passage I will explore in this morning’s sermon—Acts 1:8b. Jesus says to the disciples, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” What’s the opposite of what Jesus says here? One opposite idea is this: Jesus tells the apostles to not remain in Jerusalem. Rather, they will go to “the ends of the earth.” This contrary idea means that the gospel is not just for Jews, but for Gentiles as well. It means that the gospel will one day come to Pierre, SD. It means that God’s purposes in the NT are different than the OT. Lots of theological meat is packed into what Jesus does not say.

As you read Scripture, ask yourself, “What does this passage not say and what further truth can I see in light of the law of noncontradiction?” I imagine you will find Scripture come more to life with this interpretive principle.

Pastor Chance

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