The Apostles’ System of Interpretation

This post continues the theme I started in Messianic Psalm or Language of Theophany.  I came across a post awhile back whereby the author was asserting that the apostles had no consistent hermeneutic that we could consistently use today.  Further, if we tried to consistently apply the principles that the apostles did, then we would be trying to claim apostolic authority.  Read the following clip from the post.
 
In the past, more than once, I have argued against the idea that we as twenty-first century exegetes or interpreters of scripture have the authority or the ability to interpret the Old Testament the same way the New Testament authors did. In other words, there is an hermeneutic, or framework of interpretation, at work in the church today (and has been at work for centuries) that believes that the New Testament’s usage of the Old Testament offers an normative grid of interpretation that we are mandated to follow. Of course I am referring to the amillenial camp of interpretation; these folks believe that since Paul, for example, interprets the Rock of Exodus 17 as Christ in the New Testament (see I Corinthians 10:4), that we are justified in interpreting all of the Old Testament with an spiritualizing lens (there are many other passages in the New Testament that would be raised up by the amil interpreter in order to come to their respective hermeneutical conclusion). I have argued in the past, that we have no right to interpret Old Testament passages the way New Testament authors did, since they were operating from inspiration (cf. II Tim. 3:16); while we work under illumination.
 
So you can see that undermining Amillennialism is the goal of this post.  The blogger quotes Douglas Moo, then summarizes his thoughts with this statement.
 
The reductio ad absurdum or logical conclusion to this thinking is that the amil exegete must assume an “apostolic inspired mantle” in order to assert an “normative New Testament hermeneutic” that they do; since this is how many promise/fulfillment motifs are resolved by the New Testament authors (just like the Acts passage Moo offers).
 
So now if I see the pattern of the apostles’ system of interpretation, then I apply this system of interpretation, I am claiming apostolic authority.  Did you catch this?  But here’s my beef.  I’m a PreMillennialist through and through.  I see the system that the apostles used when quoting the Old Testament, and I apply it.  Does this mean that I am claiming apostolic authority?  No.  I am operating within the same framework that the apostles did, see my other post on Messianic Psalms.
 
Here’s where it gets interesting.  An Amillennialist posted comments on this blog showing the system that the apostles used and coming to many conclusions that I have come to.  The blogger posts back and cites an Old Testament passage which the Amillennialist did not respond to, but the Amillennialist still continued his basic theme.  I come on and post some of my thoughts from a PreMillennial perspective.  The blogger, who is Progressive Dispensationalist, responds back to my post.  Then I respond back again.  Finally the blogger concedes that the apostles had a hermeneutic that we can apply.  Here’s his comment to me which is a far cry from what he was originally asserting.
 
I’m not saying that we can’t follow the NT authors usage of the OT, and identify their method of interp., I’m saying we can’t make the links and fulfillments that they did. I see the NT as an objective authoritative scriptural (see II Pet. 3:15ff) witness to Jesus Christ. The NT authors had an normative herm., we can follow their interp. and usage of the OT as far as they went, and no further . . . that’s all I’m saying.
 
So this begs the question, how far did the apostles go?  And how far can we go before we are accused of claiming apostolic authority?  The following is an edited version of my first contribution to the discussion.
 
I’m Pre-Mill but XXXX is saying everything that I’ve been saying concerning NT interpretation of the OT. Peter is correct that David wrote concerning the Messiah, as in, that was his original intent because David knew that Messiah would come from David’s loins and sit on David’s throne, Acts 2:25, 30. Obviously David knew all of this without NT revelation.

One characteristic of Paul’s hermeneutic is laid out in Acts 17:3. Paul went to the Hebrew scriptures and taught that Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. How many average church goers could turn to the OT and prove that Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead? We don’t know which scriptures Paul used in this particular instance, but he demonstrated this truth time and again. Wouldn’t we say that was his hermeneutic?

Philip (one of the seven, not one of the twelve) hears the eunuch reading Isaiah 53. He asks if the eunuch knows what it’s about. The eunuch needs explanation. Philip takes that scripture and preaches Jesus to him. There is no record of exactly what Philip said, but Philip preached Jesus right out of Isaiah 53. Is this the only passage from the OT that we are allowed to preach Jesus out of? Where does the passage begin and where does it end? The eunuch was only reading verses 7 and 8. Does this mean that since Philip was operating under inspiration that verses 7 and 8 are allowed to apply to Messiah and none of the remaining passage? Or would we say that Philip had a hermeneutic of seeing the suffering servant of Isaiah as the same as Jesus of Nazareth, therefore when we come to passages such as Isaiah 42:1-7 (cf. Matthew 12:15-21), Isaiah 49:1-9 (cf. Acts 13:47, II Corinthians 6:2), Isaiah 50:4-10, Isaiah 52:13-53:12 we can apply this new covenant hermeneutic which the apostles used?

I am currently reviewing Progressive Dispensationalism by reading works by Saucy, Bock, and Blaising. I haven’t reached a definite conclusion, but the main problem with Progressive Dispensationalism is that it’s still Dispensationalism. Consider this quote by Saucy: "What seemed in the Old Testament to be one coming has by the New Testament revelation been separated into two appearances."

This is simply not the hermeneutic used by New Testament believers. When Stephen was giving his defense he pointed out the life of Moses as being the pattern for the prophet to come who would be like Moses. He demonstrates that just as Moses appeared to his people the first time only to be rejected by them, went into exile, then appeared the second time with wonders and signs, the same Jesus who was rejected will turn out to be ruler and deliverer just like Moses and [says Stephen] your current rejection of Him proves His identity as the Messiah. To say that the two comings were not understandable from OT perspective is simply not true.

I’m not done studying Progressive Dispensationalism, so there may be many good points, but it’s still got too much Classic Dispensationalism in it for me.

XXXX, I very much enjoyed your exposition.

Blogger XXXXXXX, I know you are a solid Progressive Dispensationalist, so no offence is meant at your convictions. It is a man made system of trying to understand the mystery and majesty of how God has, is, and will work through establishing His rule and reign. It will naturally fall short in some areas.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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