What do we mean by “key interpretive paradigm”? Let’s look at a couple definitions of a paradigm to answer this question:
- “A worldview underlying the theories and methodology of a particular scientific subject”.
- “A framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community”.
So, a paradigm is a “body of accepted theories/assumptions” or a “framework of a way of thinking”.
Therefore, a “key interpretive paradigm” is a “body of accepted theories/assumptions” or a “framework of a way of thinking” which is necessary for proper biblical interpretation and serves as an “opener” or a “un-locker” of the word of God. Of course, there are other “key paradigms” which help to unlock the scriptures, however, the one below has been the most powerful and enlightening in my studies up to this point.
Here are three basic “theories/assumptions” which broadly speaking, form the framework or “body” of our key interpretive paradigm.
Assumption #1: The entire “Old Covenant world” – temple, priesthood, sacrificial system etc., and even the land of Israel and the ethnic seed of Abraham – were but types and shadows of the better and spiritual realities of the “New Covenant world” in Jesus Christ.
Assumption #2: The entire body of New Testament literature was written as “transitional documents”. This means that all New Testament books were written in a forty year covenant-transition period in history, when one age was closing, and another dawning, when one covenant was vanishing away and another being established.
Assumption #3: The “last days” in the scriptures refer to the last days of the Old Covenant age, and the final redemptive period (30-70AD) when all of God’s promises (blessings) were being fulfilled to the faithful remnant of Old Covenant Israel in the body of Christ. At the same time, all of God’s judgment-wrath (curses) were being filled up to be poured out upon the unfaithful of Old Covenant Israel in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70.
Based on this framework, we define our key interpretive paradigm as follows:
Between 30-70AD (one generation) there was a covenantal transition taking place known as the “last days”, in which the entire Old Covenant “shadow-world” of national Israel was coming to its end and the New Covenant “kingdom-world” was being fully established. In these age-ending last days, the faithful of Old Covenant Israel were being restored in Christ, and the unfaithful majority were sealing their judgment and expulsion as a covenant people through their rejection of the gospel of the kingdom.
Based on this definition, we rightly refer to this paradigm as “The Transitional Paradigm”, which as we shall see, has the power to “accurately handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)
In part 2 of “A Key Interpretive Paradigm” will look at several texts which validate each of the three assumptions listed above. If the above assumptions prove true, then the “transitional paradigm” also holds true as a sound interpretive paradigm which does in fact unlock truth in the sacred writings.
(See Part 2 to continue)