Apostle's Interpretation of the Old Testament

APOSTLES’ INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT (Hermaneutics) is Lesson 3 of my Apostles Theological Seminary course, AM350-Prophetic Models For An Apostolic Reformation. This is a strategic study of the great reformations of the Kingdom of God and Old Covenant Israel under Joshua, King David, Ezra and Nehemiah and the fulfillment of the typology of these reformations by Jesus and His Apostles in the first century.

Special emphasis is given to what needs to be restored today in order to genuinely reform Messiah’s Kingdom and New Covenant Israel. The practical goal of the course is to stimulate dialog and discover valid apostolic strategies for a true reformation of the Church and the nations in the 21st century.

Principles of Interpretation Followed By The Apostles

Although this is not a course in hermaneutics or principles of interpretation of the Scriptures per se, it is necessary to discuss the principles of interpretation followed by the Apostles of the Lamb and the first Ascension-gift Apostles. Principles that I will attempt to faithfully follow in this course.

1. It is important to remember that the Apostles of the Lamb and almost all of the ascension gift apostles mentioned by name in the New Testament Canon were of Jewish descent.

2. To them the scriptures consisted of the Old Testament writings. During the forty days after his resurrection Luke tells us that Jesus appeared to the disciples (the apostles) and opened the Scriptures and explained the mysteries of Christ and His Kingdom from these Old Testament writings. The original apostles understood the Holy Scriptures to be the Old Testament Canon comprised of Moses, the Psalms and the Prophets. (See Luke 24:27, 44, 45 and Acts 1: 3.)

(Before the first century the Holy Scriptures had been translated into the Greek language by Jewish translators and circulated throughout the Greco-Roman world in a Greek version that came to be known as the Septuagint. The Septuagint was in fact the Bible of the early Church and the Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek New Testament are from the Greek Septuagint.)

3. Among these Old Testament Scriptures were the covenant promises made to the fathers of Israel, Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. The Apostles believed the promises made to the fathers culminated in the promise made to David, and that they were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus (in His resurrection, ascension, enthronement, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit) and in His Church, the true Israel of promise. (See Acts 2:22-36 and 13:32-34.)

4. The ancient prophets of Israel and especially David, had amplified and clarified these covenant promises, even foretelling the time of their fulfillment in Christ and His Church during the days of the Roman Empire in the first century. (See Daniel 2, 7, 9.) The prophets called the fulfillment of the covenant promises, Messiah’s Day, the day of Messiah’s administration of the Kingdom of God. The first apostles understood that Messiah’s Day began with Christ’s Resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit, and fully dawned with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD as the Kingdom was taken from natural Israel and given to the saints, the Israel born of the Spirit. (See Deuteronomy 32, Daniel 7 and 9, Matthew 21, 22, and 24, Romans 9-11, Hebrews 10: 9 and 12: 28, The Revelation of John Chapter 18 and 19.)

5. Christ’s Kingdom, the New Covenant, and the New Israel (the Lord’s Church) were all pictured, foreshadowed or typified in the Law of Moses (the Tabernacle, the Levitical Priesthood and Sacrifices, the Feasts of Israel, as well as Israel’s history. ( See Hebrews 8:5 and 9:8-10, 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 11.)

6. In summary, the Apostles of the Lamb and the first ascension gift apostles, like Paul and Barnabas, understood that the Old Testament Scriptures (i.e. the promises to the fathers, the message of the prophets concerning the inauguration of Messiah’s Day, and the typical message of the shadows and types concerning the reality or substance of God’s Kingdom purpose which is Christ and His Church) to have all been fulfilled by the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. The Apostles understood this fulfillment or Messiah’s Day to be the the time of the Lord’s reformation of the Old Covenant, Old Covenant Israel (Hebrews 9:8-10) and of the Kingdom of God. They understood Messiah’s Day to be the time for the restoration of all things to begin under Messiah’s administration and through His Church! This restoration would continue until all things had been restored and the perfected Kingdom handed back to God the Father.

7. The failure to understand the New Testament realities outlined above and the Apostles’ interpretation of the Old Testament has ultimately resulted in the departure from the faith that the Lord Jesus Himself entrusted to the first Apostles (Acts 1:1-3) and through them to the saints. The failure to understand and follow the approach of the Apostles has lead to many distortions in the interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures and to the widespread confusion and division that has marked the sad history of the Church even up to the present. From Irenaeus in the 2nd century, to Origen with his the allegorical approach to the Old Testament (as well as many others among the early church fathers), to cessationist theories and conjectures (apostles have ceased, miracles have ceased, the gifts of the Spirit have ceased), to postponement distortions of the 19th century, all the way to the “manifest sons” or “manchild” errors of today, the tragic failure to understand and follow the apostles’ interpretation of the Old Testament has created havoc in Christian doctrine, theology, and in the functional or structural unity of the Lord’s Church. Hence the need for restoration of the foundations laid by the original apostles and a reformation of the Church.

8. This restoration and the resulting reformation of the Church must be based upon a valid and complete recovery of the Apostles’ understanding and approach to the Old Testament Scriptures. Sadly, too many today have come to believe in multiple fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies, causing them to not only misinterpret the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, but also to distort or even undermine the faith of the saints. Others, mistakenly find a shadow or type in almost every part of the Old Testament, and therefore do not understand that Messiah’s day has fully dawned and the reformation foretold by the prophets and foreshadowed in the Old Testament pictures and types fulfilled.

9. In this course we will follow the interpretation of the Apostles of the New Testament Canon, that the promises, the prophets, and the shadows and types have been all been fulfilled in Christ and His Church. We are not looking for something new, but the revival, restoration or recovery, and the reformation of what has already been established by the Lord in the first century. We are not looking for a “manchild company,” as the manifest sons prophets mistakenly declare, but rather for the full grown man, the saints, to grow up and fill all things as the Apostle Paul declared in Ephesians 4:8-16. We are not looking for a new kind of apostolic movement or a Christianity that has never existed before, but for a return to the original, the restoration of the foundations laid by the original apostles, so that we can go forward upon the basis of that foundation to possess the Kingdom, cities and nations, and fill the earth with God’s glory!

10. Thus we will look at the great reformations of Old Covenant Israel, first under Joshua, then David and finally under Ezra and Nehemiah, understanding fully that the reality typified has already been fulfilled in the substantial reformation of the Old Covenant and the Nation of Israel, by the establishment of the New Covenant and the New Covenant Israel, by the Lord Jesus and His apostles of the first century. But we further understand that through the succeeding centuries there has been apostasy and distortion, and the foundations of that reformation have been lost. Thus we will look at these great reformations from an apostolic and prophetic standpoint to rediscover the essential principles and apply them to the revival, restoration, and reformation of the Lord’s Church and Kingdom today!

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