The Study of Scripture
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Contents & Foreword
Chapter 1 Foundational Prerequisites
Chapter 2 The Septenary Arrangement of Scripture
Chapter 3 Beginning and Continuing
Chapter 4 Building on the Foundation
Chapter 5 Ages and Dispensations
Chapter 6 Jew, Gentile, Christian
Chapter 7 Heavenly and Earthly
Chapter 8 Types and Antitypes
Chapter 9 Parables, Figurative Language
Chapter 10 Studying, Proclaiming the Word
Chapter 11 The Goal
When studying the Scriptures — whether the Old Testament or the New Testament — one is studying about Jesus the Christ, whom God has “appointed Heir of all things” (Luke 24:25-27; Hebrews 1:2). There is nothing in the New Testament that is not seen after some fashion in the Old. The New Testament is simply a revealing, an unveiling, of God’s Son, as previously introduced in the Old Testament Scriptures.
“Jesus” is the Word made “flesh,” referring, in an inseparable sense, to both the Old Testament Scriptures and to God becoming “flesh” in the person of His Son. “Jesus” is not only God manifested in the flesh but the Old Testament Scriptures manifested in the flesh as well.
There is “the written Word,” inseparably identified with “God,” and there is this same Word manifested in the form of “flesh,” with life and inseparability seen throughout.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. . . .
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 2, 14)
Thus, “studying Scripture,” one is simply studying about God’s Son. And note that the Word became “flesh” after the whole of the Old Testament had been penned but before a single word of the New Testament had been penned. In that respect, one would have to conclude that there is nothing in the New that is not seen after some fashion in the Old, else God’s Son — the Word becoming “flesh” — would have been incomplete at the time of His incarnation.
Then, in John 1:14, the Word becoming “flesh” is seen in connection with two things:
1) Christ’s Glory.
2) Christ’s Sonship, God’s Firstborn (“sonship” implies rulership, and it is firstborn sons who rule in the human realm).
All of this can only take one back to the beginning of God’s revelation of His Son, back to the opening verses of Genesis. That which God desires man to know about His plans and purposes, which He will bring to pass through His Son, begin at this point.
And everything from this point forward is regal. Everything has to do with God’s Son, God’s Firstborn, who has been “appointed Heir of all things.” And everything moves toward that day when God’s Son will come forth in all His Glory and realize this inheritance.
The Old Testament opens this way, providing the complete story in the opening book. And the New Testament opens exactly the same way, providing commentary on the manner in which the Old Testament opens, providing the complete story, after another fashion, in one book as well.
Scripture begins in Genesis with, “In the beginning . . . [lit., ‘In beginning…’],”and the New Testament begins exactly the same way, though a problem exists because of the manner in which man has arranged the four gospels beginning the New Testament.
The Gospel of John is the only gospel that begins the same way Genesis begins, “In the beginning . . . [lit., ‘In beginning…’], along with the fact that both Genesis and John parallel one another completely, from beginning to end.
Thus, if the gospel of John occupied its proper place in the arrangement of books in the New Testament, both books, Genesis and John, would not only introduce each Testament exactly the same way but both of these books would relate the complete story of each Testament — the complete story of Scripture as a whole — at the beginning of each Testament.
(The gospel of John, over the years, has been the one gospel among the four that has provided problems for those arranging the order of the four gospels introducing the New Testament. New Testaments have been printed in the past with John occupying different places among the four, even placed at the beginning of the four gospels.
However, the gospel of John is presently in the wrong place in relation to the other three [placed after the other three rather than at the beginning]. And this, along with Christians not understanding the structure of both Genesis and John — paralleling one another, introducing each Testament, and relating the complete story of Scripture — can only be responsible, in no small part, for an existing biblical ignorance among Christians concerning the central message of Scripture.
And a purported late date for the writing of the gospel of John [usually seen as about 90 A.D.] has not helped matters in the preceding respect. The gospel of John, of necessity, by its own internal evidence, had to be written much earlier. Since the gospel was directed to the Jewish people during the reoffer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel [evident by the signs (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:22) in conjunction with that which is stated in John 20:30, 31 concerning the purpose for these signs], it could not possibly have been written after about 63 A.D. [when this reoffer closed] and may have been written as early as about 45 A.D. [an early date accepted by a number of scholars on the basis of late manuscript evidence]. In fact, because of the place that the gospel of John occupies in relation to the other three [paralleling the place that Genesis occupies in relation to the other four books of Moses], it is very likely that the gospel of John was written first, before the other three.
For additional information on the preceding, refer to the author’s book, Signs in John’s Gospel, particularly Chapters 1, 18, “Purpose for John’s Gospel” and “These Are Written, That . . . .”)
Genesis, in the opening two chapters, begins with:
1) A creation at a beginning point (1:1).
2) A subsequent ruin of the creation (1:2a).
3) A restoration of the ruined creation (material creation), through divine intervention, over six days’ time (1:2b-25).
4) Man created on the sixth day, following all of God’s restorative work, for a revealed purpose having to do with the seventh day (1:26-31).
5) God resting on the seventh day, following all of His work (2:1-3).
John, in the opening two chapters, begins with:
1) A creation at a beginning point (1:1-3).
2) A subsequent ruin of the creation (1:4, 5).
3) A restoration of the ruined creation (ruined man), through divine intervention, over six days’ time (1:6-2:1 [1:29, 35, 43; 2:1]).
4) Man seen as redeemed at the end of six days, following all of God’s restorative work, for a revealed purpose having to do with the seventh day (2:2-11).
5) God resting on the seventh day, following all of His work (2:2-11).
In Genesis, the restoration is that of the material creation, foreshadowing the restoration of man even before his creation and fall.
In John, the restoration is that of ruined man, foreshadowed in the Genesis account.
In both, the purpose is the same — placing restored man (redeemed man) on a restored earth (a redeemed earth), in a regal position, on the seventh day.
And this septenary, foundational overview, seen in the opening two chapters of each book, relates the complete story of Scripture. Each of the six days of God’s restorative work, foreshadowed in either account (Genesis or John), has to do with days of 1,000 years each (cf. 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:3-8). That is to say, God is presently working six days, 6,000 years, to bring about the restoration of both man and the material creation. Then, at the conclusion of His work, man will be in a position to realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning. Man will be in a position to rule a restored earth with the second Man, the last Adam, during the seventh day, during the seventh 1,000-year day.
The preceding is the parallel manner in which both books begin; and from this point in both books, the parallel continues.
Genesis is built around numerous types, and John is built around eight signs.
The types in Genesis have to do centrally with Abraham and his seed through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s progeny through his twelve sons — the nation of Israel. And all of these types provide different facets of God’s present restorative work, ending at the same place as His past restorative work, on the seventh day, the seventh 1,000-year period.
The signs in John have to do with and are directed to the seed of Abraham through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s progeny through his twelve sons — the nation of Israel. And all of these signs, exactly as in the types in Genesis, provide different facets of God’s present restorative work, ending at the same place as His past restorative work, on the seventh day, the seventh 1,000-year period.
(Scripture was established in this type of structure at the beginning of each Testament. And, within this structure, the relationship of John to Genesis is typical of the relationship of the whole of the New Testament to the whole of the Old Testament. The New Testament, by various means [signs, parables, metaphors, other means] simply provides commentary, opens up, that which is previously seen after some fashion in the Old Testament [types, metaphors, the Prophets, etc.].)
This book, The Study of Scripture, covers different facets of how to study and understand the Scriptures in the light of the central subject matter of Scripture and the manner in which Scripture is structured, as seen in the preceding summary data.
The whole of Scripture is about Jesus the Christ. And the whole of Scripture moves toward a seventh day, a seventh 1,000-year period, when God’s firstborn Son, God’s Christ, will come into possession of His inheritance, and, with Israel [presently God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22, 23)] and the Church [to be revealed as God’s firstborn son in that coming day, following the adoption (Romans 8:14-23; Hebrews 12:22, 23)] will realize that which is seen in the opening chapter of Genesis at the time of man’s creation — “. . . let them have dominion [Hebrew: radah, ‘rule’; ‘. . . let them rule’]” (Genesis 1:26, 28).