This is part of an ongoing republication of Vilas Deane’s Vi the Bible Guy series from the original Southview website. Three questions and three answers will get put up each Wednesday morning, so be sure to check back!
Q7: A friend believes that Adam and Eve were clothed, that Adam was condemned to Hell and was the Devil’s angel. Where do such beliefs come from?How should such a person be approached?
Condemned to Hell, the Devil’s angel – I don’t know where this comes from! We do believe that if one does not come to faith in God, that person will go to hell. But we do not know what Adam’s faith stance was like when he died. He lived for 930 years. I am not sure about the value of “arguing” with such a person, but we can let God’s Word in the Bible present some truths. In Gen 2:25, they were both naked. That is not clothed! In Gen 3:7, they were naked, and then they made coverings of fig leaves. Gen 3:10, 11 also mentioned that they had been naked. Then in Gen 3:21, God clothed them with animal skins. So, at this point, they were clothed.
Q8: Is the Bible language to be understood literally, or sometimes figuratively? How do we tell the difference?
It is true that there are many figures of speech in the Bible. (Ps 85:10; 23:1; Jn 10:11; Isa 66:1; Prov 8:1-3) A figure of speech is a comparison of two dissimilar things to show that they have something in common. For example, in John 6:48, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus was using a figure of speech to show how important He is to our lives. Bread is made from dough, baked, and is important to our lives. Now, Jesus was not saying that he was identical to a loaf of bread, but rather, that He and bread have something is common – the importance to life. So, one understands this “figuratively” rather than “literally.” But, I don’t like that last sentence! I still want to take a “literal interpretation” of the Bible. By that, I mean “take it as it was meant.” We consider the context, the history, the figures of speech, and the type of literature. When God penned His Word (through men), He meant for us to read it and understand it.God is communicating to man through His Word. Some resources might be helpful to us such as a study Bible, a concordance, a Bible dictionary, a Bible commentary, books by respected authors, and prayer. When a friend talks to us, we don’t have too much trouble understanding what they mean. We should use a “plain or normal” method of interpreting the Scriptures: The words are understood in their normal meaning just as we normally understand words in everyday conversation. So, even a “literal” interpretation recognizes that some figures of speech are to be taken “figuratively.”
Q9: Suppose that one is married, and then divorced, and then comes to know the Lord. Then he is remarried. Is this person qualified to be an elder? (1 Tim 3:2)
I think that the answer to this question revolves around the understanding that one has of the phrase, “the husband of but one wife.” There are several interpretations of this phrase. Some would say that it means: “the husband of but one wife at a time.” In this light, the above person might pass the test. Others would say that it means: “the husband of but one wife ever in his life.” With this interpretation, the above person is not qualified. So who is right? Theologians and churches differ on this subject.