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How Precise the Bible Is

It’s fairly common within discussions among Christians, to find individuals who confound and blur the meaning of basic words and meanings in the Bible.  How many debates continue because some refuse to accept that “day” really does mean a normal day.  Some will confound the term Israel, and carelessly mix and match different terms and passages in the Bible, to blur the distinctions between “Church” and “Israel,” between “Jew” and “Gentile,” or quote familiar passages that deal with one topic and apply some other meaning to it.

What is really amazing about the Bible, though, is its precision, its very precise language revealed with even more detailed study of passages.  For instance, in the gospel accounts Jesus is careful to say that He was sent (eternal), not born.  Only one time does He say “I was born” and that was to Pilate; even there Christ quickly followed up with “and for this purpose I have come.”  Isaiah 9:6 also uses careful wording in the familiar prophecy about the Christ:  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.  The child born refers to His humanity, when He took on human flesh and was born.  The “son is given” refers to Christ’s Eternality, the Eternal Sonship.  The way we as sinful people carelessly handle God’s word, it could just as easily have been said “a child is given, and a son is born.”  But that misses the mark and does not convey the importance of Christ’s incarnation alongside His eternal existence as the Son of God.

Another Old Testament prophecy also takes pains to make itself very clear, to leave no room for misunderstanding.  Micah 5:2 tells us that He would be born in “Bethlehem Ephrathah” — not just Bethlehem, for Israel had another “Bethlehem” (in the north).  The text does not leave room for any ambiguity, any uncertainty as to whether our Lord fulfilled that prophecy.

We also see this precision of thought in the New Testament, as in Paul’s writings.  In 1 Corinthians 15:45-47, we have “the last Adam” and “the second man.”  Those terms can be easily confused, as where, for instance, Dr. Ironside found a book that misquoted it as “the second Adam” and “the last man” — and in his notes, for emphasis, wrote “No.  He is the last Adam and the second Man.”  As S. Lewis Johnson summed it up:  He’s the second Man because there are other men who will, of course, be related to the Lord God.  He’s the last Adam, however, because if he had failed, there was no other representative man who stood over against Adam the first.  So “last Adam” not “second Adam.”

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