Summary: What Jesus really “Meant” by Building the Church
Gentle Saints of God,
This will be the last part of our brief series on What Jesus really meant. We want to consider if in fact Jesus came to start a new religion or did He build His church What did He mean when He said “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:1 8 )
I have researched this one verse for more than 5 years and for us to even make a dent in understanding this issue we must apply all of our talents, we will of course begin with the study and application of Hermeneutics. The term hermeneutics covers both the first order art and the second order theory of understanding and interpretation of linguistic and non-linguistic expressions.
As a theory of interpretation, the hermeneutic tradition stretches all the way back to ancient Greek philosophy. In the course of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, hermeneutics emerges as a crucial branch of Biblical studies. Later on, it comes to include the study of ancient and classic cultures.
We start with the simple word “church” which to many mean a building where people go to meet. But if one takes that track the word has little meaning beyond ones limited understanding . However gentle saints, let assume that you are serious in your wanting to really, really (two reallys -serious stuff) know what Jesus meant. And that you’re a reasoned individual that thinks not only outside the box but for himself/herself. So you go to a verse any verse and read it to yourself and then say to yourself ( When ever I want an intelligent conversation I talk to myself, I’m sure your much the same way) “That’s what this verse means” ! Or as my dear Baptist friends say “It means what it says and it says what it means”!
However Saints, That’s rather like some in Government who take a narrow view and never grasp the larger picture.
The first principal in order to understand any verse is to put it into context. For example little Sammy wants a ice cream ( pecan with sprinkles) and Mum (Irish expresion for mother) say no! Because she fixing dinner and ice cream will spoil Sammy’s appetite. You see Sammy is not looking at the big picture So in the Bible we need to look at the the verses preceding the verse in question and also look at the verses following to put your verse into context. Just like Sammy’s Mum knows that after dinner little Sammy will have his pecan ice cream.
Secondly we need to look at the words and their meaning (from the original, if at all possible, as the meanings do not change with a dead language as they do with a modern living language. Again an example , which will date me. When I was in undergraduate school we had an expression “Far out” which meant something entirely different to my Da (Irish expression for father) who thought it meant at a great distance. You see saints words change their meaning over time and with different generations. And in different languages and different cultures.
If one chooses to read the Scriptures without discernment, certainly they can gain “something” but is it actually true and accurate?. One last thing what your reading if your like most your reading a translation from another translation from a copy made from another copy in the English. While if you can manage Greek and Hebrew in the original languages you can get a fuller meaning and nuance. Rather like watching a color television in High definition as opposed to reading the English translations are like watching a Black and white T.V. Does that mean the English translations aren’t any good or you can’t gain anything from them. Absolutely Not! There is a lot to gain because Translators do their very best to give the exact meaning and intent behind the whole of Scripture. It’s when you study with teachers who have devoted their lives to this one objective, what is the exact meaning? What was the intent of the human author? What were the conditions, and culture at the time? And then the ultimate question what was God trying to impart to us in this section of Scripture?
We also need to consider textual criticism which is, simply stated, textual criticism is a method used to determine what the original manuscripts of the Bible said. The original manuscripts of the Bible are either lost, hidden, or no longer in existence. What we do have is tens of thousands of copies of the original manuscripts dating from the 1st to the 15th centuries A.D. (for the New Testament) and dating from the 4th century B.C. to the 15th century A.D. (for the Old Testament). In these manuscripts, there are many minor and a few somewhat major differences. Textual criticism is the study of these manuscripts in an attempt to determine what the original reading actually was.