Monday, 18 April 2016

Rightly Applying the Gospels

Someone once told me he didn't enjoy reading the Gospels so much. 
 Could it be because, like the Old Testament Scriptures (though to a lesser extent), the Gospels (especially the first three Gospels) recorded history (as it happened up until the ascension) - but didn't consist entirely of the writer's own interpretations or direct applications of that history to readers of today? (unlike the Epistles which were always intended to relate directly, unequivocally and entirely to the original recipients). 
 The Epistles were the writer applying the Gospel directly to the reader - the Synoptic Gospels were a record of history (without the writer necessarily including instructions about how every detail of the history from start to finish related or didn't relate to their readers). 
 The history the writers reported formed an important foundation towards enabling the early Church to correctly understand and apply God's plans for the Church post-Pentecost - but that didn't mean every line of everything ever said or done in the Gospels was intended by the writers to be taken as applying unchanged and forever in the Church. God's plan was an unfolding plot which didn't become entirely clear until the end, nevertheless the whole story was necessary to be told first in order to understand and give legitimacy to the plot as it would finally be understood in the end. 
 If that's not the case, then the reader could mistakenly think he must still be literally keeping Moses' Law today as the composite religious system that it was (as some today are saying, even though really the infrastructure required to keep the Law hasn't existed since around AD70). We would also be seemingly setting the Synoptic Gospels off against the fourth Gospel (especially some of the statements in Matthew). 
So, like the Old Testament, the Synoptic Gospels also need to be rightly "divided" (navigated, interpreted, applied): and how to do that becomes clearer once you reach the end of the Gospels. It's also the Epistles and Acts of the Apostles which guided the Church in that task, while the purpose of the Synoptic Gospels themselves was more just to provide the history required in order to do that, rather than to be making those applications in themselves all the way through from start to finish, although even the Gospels themselves of course make the application deducible once you get to the end. 
What do you reckon?

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