Noted biblical writers on dispensational lines - mostly of the persuasion known to the world as "Plymouth Brethren"


Or, The "Word," and "The Words," How to Study Them
E. W. Bullinger, D.D. 1907

Ethelbert William Bullinger (15 December 1837–6 June 1913) was a Vicar of the Church of England and Biblical scholar. Born in Canterbury, England, his family traced its lineage back to the noted Swiss reformer Johann Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1557), a theologian who succeeded Zwingli in Zurich in December of 1531. He was educated at King’s College, London, and gained recognition in the field of Biblical languages.
Bullinger was noted broadly for three works: A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament (1877; for his ground-breaking and exhaustive work on Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (1898); and as the primary editor of The Companion Bible (published in 6 parts, beginning in 1909; the entire annotated Bible was published posthumously in 1922. The 198 appendices include: explanations of words and their use, charts, parallel passages, maps, lists of proper names, calendars, and time lines.) All three of these works, along with numerous of his books and pamphlets, remain in print. His other books include: Commentary on Revelation; Number in Scripture; The Witness of the Stars; Word Studies on the Holy Spirit; Great Cloud of Witnesses in Hebrews; The Church Epistles; Divine Names and Titles; etc. In 1881, four years after the publication of the Lexicon and Concordance, Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury conferred upon Bullinger a Doctor of Divinity degree, citing Bullinger’s "eminent service in the Church in the department of Biblical criticism".

Preface 1
Introduction 5
The Word 7
Introductory 7

I. The One Great Object of the Word 11
A. Similar Predicates of "Christ" and "The Scriptures" 12
B. Similar Effects Attributed to "Christ" and "The Scriptures" 13

II. The One Great Subject of the Word 15
1. Christ in the Word as a Whole 15
2. The one Subject of the Word as a Whole 15
3. Christ in the Separate Books of the Word 16

III. The One Great Requirement of the Word: "Rightly Dividing" It 17
1. Rightly Dividing the Word as to its Literary Form 19
a. The Two Testaments 19
b. The Separate Books of the Bible 19
c. The Divisions of the Hebrew Text 20
d. The Divisions of the Greek Text 21
e. The Divisions of the Versions 21
1. Changes in punctuation where the Edition of 1611 is certainly to be preferred to the later Editions 24
2. Changes in punctuation where the later editions of the AV are improvements 25
3. Changes of punctuation which are now proposed as being most desirable 25
The Structure of Hebrews 9:25–10:18 31
The Structure of Romans 8:19–21 33
2. Rightly Dividing the Word as to its Subject-Matter 37
A. The Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church of God 37
B. The Gentiles 38
C. The Epistles to the Dispersion 40
The Epistle of James is addressed 40
The Epistle to the Hebrews 41
3. Rightly Dividing the Word as to its Times and Dispensations 43
A. The Word "Dispensation." 43
B. The Seven Times or Dispensations 45
The Edenic Dispensation 45
The Patriarchal Dispensation 46
The Israelite Dispensation "under Law." 49
The Ecclesia: the Dispensation of Grace 50
The Dispensation of Judgment 51
The Millennial or Theocratic Dispensation 51
The Eternal State 52
C. The Special Characteristics of the Dispensations 52
D. "The Times of the Gentiles" 52
E. The Parenthesis of the Present Dispensation 53
4. Rightly Dividing the Word as to its Dispensational Truth and Teaching 55
A. We must not take Truth belonging to ONE PART of a PAST Dispensation and read it into ANOTHER PART of the PAST 55
B. We must not take Truth belonging to a PAST Dispensation and interpret it of the PRESENT 56
C. The PRESENT not to be read into the PAST 71
D. The FUTURE not to be read into the PRESENT 75
E. One Part of THE FUTURE not necessarily to be read into another part of the Future 79
2 Corinthians 5:10 82
Matthew 25:31–46 83
Revelation 20:11–15 83
F. The Truth and Teaching of the CANONICAL Order is to be distinguished from the CHRONOLOGICAL and Historical Order 84
The Pauline Epistles 87

Part II
The Words 89
Introductory 89
Part II—The Words 91
Canon I 91
The Meaning of Words is to be Gathered from the Scope of the Passage; and not the Scope from the Words 91
A. "Private Interpretation" 91
B. "The Spirits in Prison" 92
C. Testament and Covenant 95
D. The Context Provides the Meaning 96
E. "The Lord’s Day"(Revelation 1:10) 96

Part II—The Words 97
Canon II 97
The Scope of a Passage may best be Discovered by its Structure 97
A. Introductory: The History and Importance of the Subject 97
B. The Principles Governing the Structure of Scripture 99
1. Alternation 100
2. Introversion 100
C. Examples of Each Principle 101
Simple Alternation 101
Repeated Alternation 101
Introversion and Extended Alternation Combined 101
D. The Advantages and Importance of the Structures will be Seen 102
E. Illustrations of these Advantages 103

Part II—The Words 111
Canon III 111
The Biblical Usage of Words is Essential to their Correct Interpretation 111
1. Where English Words have Gone out of Use Altogether 112
2. Where the Use of English Words has Become Changed 112
3. Where the Usage of Greek Words had become Changed 114
A. Changes of usage made by God, the Holy Spirit 115
B. Changes of usage, made by man 115
4. Where Different but Concurrent Usages of Words Should be Observed in the English 119
"Parousia"—parousi/a (parousia) 119
Pneuma, spirit 120
Church 121
"Elements"or "Rudiments" 121
Saints 122
5. Where a Uniform Usage of Greek Words should not be Departed from in the English 123 Temptation 124
Poor,(penes) 124
Paradise, para/deisoj 125
"Sheol" and "Hades" 125
"Mystery," (musterion) 125
"At hand,"(enistemi) 126
"Depart," (analuo) 126
"Leaven," (zume) 127

Part II—The Words 129
Canon IV 129
The Context is Always Essential to the Interpretation of Words 129
1. The Importance of the Context Shown 129
2. Examples of Error Arising from a Disregard of the Context 129
3. Examples of Truth and Teaching Resulting from a Due Regard to the Context 135
A. The Nearer Context 136
B. The Remoter Context 138
The Prophecy of Joel, as a whole 144
Expansion of B (Joel 2:18–3:21) 144
The expansion of b3 (3:1–16) is just as perfect and beautiful 144

Part II—The Words 147
Canon V 147
The First Occurrence of Words, Expressions, and Utterances are Generally Essential to their Interpretation 147
1. Words 147
Prophet 147
"Hallelujah" 148
"Selah" 148
"Jerusalem" 150
Numbers 150
The Divine Names and Titles 151
2. Expressions 151
"The Son of Man" 151
"The Man of God" 152
"The Day of the Lord" 152
3. Utterances 152
The first Utterance of the Old Serpent 152
The First Ministerial Utterance of the Lord Jesus 153
The first utterance of the Lord as the Son of Man 153
The First Questions in the Old and New Testaments 154
The Holy Spirit’s first Interpretation of Prophecy 154
Part II—The Words 155
Canon VI 155
The Place Where the Passage Occurs is Often Essential to its Full Interpretation
Part II—The Words 159
Canon VII 159
No One Passage to be Interpreted in a Sense Repugnant to Others 159

Part II—The Words 163
Canon VIII 163
The Importance of Accuracy in the Study of the Words of Scripture 163
1. Illustration of Accuracy Applied to the Removal of Difficulties 164
2. Illustrations of Accuracy Applied to the Revelation of Truth 169
Words and Expressions 169
The negative of what is said 172
Marks of Time 173
Marks of Reasoning 176
Numeration 176
Names of Persons and Places 177
A. As to Persons 178
B. Of places 180
Chronology 181
Synonymous Greek Words 183
Synonymous Hebrew Words 184
The Genitive Case 185
Part II—The Words 191
Canon IX 191
Figures of Speech 191
Part II—The Words 193
Canon X 193
Interpretation and Application 193
Part II—The Words 199
Canon XI 199
The Limits of Inspiration 199
Part II—The Words 201
Canon XII 201
The Place of Various Readings 201
The Hebrew MSS (The Old Testament) 201
The New Testament 202
The Ancient Versions 203
The Printed Text of the Greek Testament 203
Conclusion 207

It will add greatly to the interest of this work if I briefly describe the circumstances to which, under God, it owes its origin. Nothing will so clearly show its aim and object, or so well explain its one great design as embodied in its title: How to Enjoy the Bible.

In the autumn of 1905 I found myself in one of the most important of the European Capitals. I had preached in the morning in the Embassy Chapel, and at the close of the service, my friend, His Britannic Majesty’s Chaplain, expressed his deep regret at the absence of two members of his congregation, whose disappointment, he said, would be very great when they discovered they were away on the very Sunday that I was there. As it was a matter which I could not possibly alter I was compelled, perforce, to dismiss it from my mind with much regret, and returned to my hotel.

In the afternoon a visiting card was brought to my room, announcing a gentleman holding a high Government position. In explaining the object of his visit he began by saying that he had been brought up as a Roman Catholic; and that, a few years ago, there came into the office of his department a copy of The Illustrated London News. As he was learning English at the time, he was naturally interested in reading it. The number contained an account of the funeral of the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the illustrations of which attracted his attention. The letterpress made some reference to Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons and the world-wide fame which they had obtained. This led him to procure some copies of the sermons, and these, by God’s grace and blessing, were used for his conversion. He was at the time thinking of marriage, and felt the importance now of finding a Christian lady for his wife. At the same time he began to attend my friend’s English Services, and before long he found an English lady, residing at that time in _____, and in due course the engagement ended in marriage. The lady, however, was, she told him, an "Anglican"; and saw no necessity for her future husband to make any formal recantation, but for private and public reasons advised him to make no change in his religion. But grace had changed him so completely, that it was not a case, merely, of his holding the truth, but of the truth holding him: consequently he could not rest until he had renounced not only his former Roman Catholic religion, but all religion that had anything to do with the flesh; for he had found his all in Christ, and was satisfied with the completeness which God had given to him in HIM. After their marriage they began to read together the sermons which had proved, under God, so great a blessing to himself; and, before long, the same happy result took place in his wife’s case, and they rejoiced together in the Lord.

They soon however began to find that they had much to learn. Reading the sermons and the Word of God they felt that there were many subjects in the Bible which they found little of in the sermons. True, they found the same sound doctrines and useful teaching, and spiritual food; but, they found also the absence of other truths which they longed to know. They spoke to my friend their minister, and told him of their trouble. He lent them my book on The Church Epistles. This book they began to study together, and as the husband told me, "we went over it, three times, word by word." This they did to their great edification. "But," he said, "we soon discovered that you did not tell us everything, and there were many things which you assumed that we knew; and these we naturally wished to learn more about. So, a few weeks ago, we resolved to take our holiday in London; find you out; and talk over with you the things which filled our hearts." "In due course we went to London; ascertained your address on enquiry at the office of The Christian, and made our call. We found, to our disappointment, that you were here, in the very place from which we had set out to seek you.
"So we returned here at once, and arrived only last night, but were too tired to get from our suburb to the service this morning." Not till that moment did I discover that these were the same two persons to whom my friend the chaplain had referred when he spoke of his regret at their absence from the service that morning, and of the disappointment which he was sure they would experience. "I have lost no time in searching you out (he said), and am delighted to find you. You must come out to us and see us in our home to-morrow." "To-morrow (I replied) I am going to P_____." "Oh, you cannot go," he said; and in such a tone of voice and manner as made me really feel I could not. I said, "I am not travelling alone, but my friend is standing near in conversation; I will go and speak to him on the subject."
We soon concluded that as our proposed journey was only for pleasure, it was clearly my duty to remain for a day, so we postponed our projected journey to another season. I returned to my new friend, and said we would gladly go out to him on the morrow. At this he was very pleased; and spoke, now, freely, of the great desire of himself and his wife to know more of God’s Word.
"We want (he said) to study it together, and to be as independent as possible of the teachings and traditions of men. In fact, "We Want To Enjoy The Bible. "We want to read it, and study it, and understand it and enjoy it for ourselves!" This, of course, sounded very sweetly in my ears; and it was arranged that he should come into the city, the next morning early, and fetch us out to his home in the suburbs. He arrived soon after 8 o’clock, and by 9 o’clock we were sitting down together over the Word of God. There we sat till noon! In our preliminary conversation reference had been made to some work the lady had undertaken in the village. So we opened our Bibles at Matthew 10:5, 6, where I read the following words:— "Go not into the way of the Gentiles...but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
I did not know until a year afterwards that my friend naturally held the usual anti-Semite views of the governing party, or this would probably have been the last Scripture I should have quoted. But though, at the time, I little thought of what I was doing, God was over-ruling all to the accomplishment of His own purposes. The lady, at once, very honestly exclaimed, "Oh, but I do go to the Gentiles." I replied, "But you see what this Scripture says." She said, "Is there not another passage which tells us to go into all the world?" "Yes" (I replied); and, finding that passage, I asked, "What are we to do with the other?" She confessed her perplexity and asked me to answer my own question. I replied, "Both are the words of God, and both must be absolutely true. We cannot cut one passage out of the Bible and leave the other in. Both are equally true, and we may not use one truth to upset another truth."
I proceeded to explain, alluding to the universally acknowledged fact—that "circumstances alter cases." The circumstances connected with the former passage showed that the Lord was sending forth the twelve to proclaim the King, and the Kingdom at hand: while those of the latter showed that the Proclamation had been unheeded; the Kingdom rejected, and the King crucified. And I asked "Were not the circumstances so different in character and time as to fully account for the fact that the former command was no longer appropriate to the changed conditions?"
I pointed out that there was a precept which specially set forth our responsibility to the Bible as being "the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15), and that was that it must be rightly divided. this command to rightly divide, being given us in connection with this special title "the Word of truth," spoke to us, if we had ears to hear, and told us that unless we rightly divided the Word of Truth we should not only not get the truth; but, as God’s workmen we should indeed have need to be "ashamed." I showed that, if we would indeed enjoy the Bible it was absolutely necessary that we should rightly divide all that it contained, in connection with its subject-matter, as well as in connection with its times and dispensations.
In illustration of this important duty I pointed to such passages as Luke 9:2, 3, compared with chapter 22:36, where the words "BUT NOW" gave the Lord’s own example; showing how He distinguished the difference between the two occasions.
I also referred to Romans 11 and showed how, by "rightly dividing" the subject-matter, the great difficulty was avoided of supposing that those who were assured in Romans 8:39 as to the impossibility of their separation from the love of God, could ever be addressed in chapter 11:21, 22 in words of threatening and warning lest they "be cut off." The key to the solution of the difficulty was in chapter 11:13, where the Apostle distinctly states that he was addressing "Gentiles," as such, and of course as distinct from the Jews, and, the Church of God: "I Speak to You Gentiles." I also illustrated the subject by a reference to Hebrews 6:4–6; and 10:26–30. But, as these and other passages are all dealt with at length in the following pages I need not do more now than refer my readers to The "Word," and "The Words," How to Study them.
Our conversation continued (as I have said) till noon; and, as it proceeded, my friends could hardly contain themselves for joy. As for myself I began to see in what form I should respond to my friends’ desire to "enjoy the Bible."
On my journey home to England I thought much, and long, and often, of my pleasant intercourse with my new friends: and I was impressed by the thought that what they needed, thousands needed; and that the vast majority of Bible readers who were filled with the same deep desire to "enjoy the Bible" were beset by the same difficulties in attaining that desire. Shortly after my return to England my thoughts began to take shape, and finally resolved themselves into what now appears in the "Table of Contents," and which in the following September I had the great joy of going over with my new friends. I visited them again in their home this September (1907), and had the pleasure of reading over with them the proof of this "Preface," so that it might faithfully record all that had so happily taken place.
This explanation of the origin of this work will show that no better title could be chosen, or would so well describe its object, and explain its end. My prayer is that, the same Spirit who inspired the words in the Scriptures of Truth, may also inspire them in the hearts of my readers and may cause each to say (with David), "I rejoice in Thy words as one that findeth great spoils" (Psa 119:162): and to exclaim (with Jeremiah), "Thy words were found and I did eat them, and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart" (Jer 15:16).
It was this combination of the "WORD" and the "WORDS," both here and in John 17:8, 17, that sug-gested the sub-title: "The Word and the words; how to study them." Part I deals with the "Word" as a whole. Part II deals with the "words"; and, under twelve Canons, gives the important methods which must be observed and followed if we would understand, and enjoy them. A varying number of illustrations is given under each division; these are by no means exhaustive; and are intended only as a guide to further study.
This work should be gone carefully through, with Bible in hand, in order to verify the statements put forward, and to enter on the margins of the Bible notes for future use. This may be done individually; but, better still, in small classes meeting for the purpose, when each point could be made clearer and more profitable by mutual study and conversation. With the hope that this course will be adopted by its many readers in many countries and climes, this work is at length sent forth.
My thanks are due to all those who, on hearing of its projection, volunteered their financial help to ensure its publication: and, above all, to "the God of all grace," and "the spirit of wisdom and understanding" for bringing it to a happy issue.
LONDON, September, 1907
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