WHAT IS “WHOLE BIBLE”?
By “Whole Bible,” I mean that we believe that ALL of the Bible is for all people today, regardless of your race, nationality, sex, age, or background. We do not believe that any part of the Bible has been “done away with,” “annulled,” “set aside,” or that one part, the Tanakh (pron. “Tuh-knock“; aka, “Old Testament”), for example, is only for the Jews and another part, the “New Testament” is “for everyone else.” God gave His Word for all people for all time.
TANAKH – ITS THREE SECTIONS
The first part of the Bible is called the Tanakh (aka, “Old Testament”). The word Tanakh (pron. “Tuh-knock“) is an acronym for the three parts that comprise it:
T = Torah (trans. “law”)
N = Nevi’im (“Prophets”)
K = Ketuvim (“Writings”)
Yeshua (Jesus) comes very close to using this acronym in His own identification of the three parts of the Scriptures when He is speaking to His disciples after His resurrection:
These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the LAW OF MOSES, and THE PROPHETS and THE PSALMS must be fulfilled. (Luke 24:44; Emphasis Mine)
Here we can clearly see that Yeshua (Jesus) broke the Tanakh down into its three respective parts: Law, Prophets, and Psalms. A question we could ask here is why did He say “Psalms” rather than “the Writings”? I believe it’s because this third part of the Scriptures was still being argued as far as what books should be officially recognized within the canon, so He chose to use the one chief writing within that particularly section to represent that section. If He was here on earth today ministering, I am fully convinced that He would use the term Tanakh. But in either case, He broke down the Tanakh into THREE sections, just as Jews do to this day; whereas, in the church, we have the “Old Testament” broke down into the following FOUR sections: Law, history, poetry/wisdom, and prophets.
THE NEW COVENANT – A COMPANION TEXT?
The second part of the Bible, commonly called the “New Testament,” should really be called the “New Covenant” (Heb. B’rit Chadasha). The prophecy for the “New Covenant” is found in Jeremiah 31:31-34. The word “new” in the Hebrew and Greek speak of a qualitative change, rather than it being a totally different covenant than what God had in His word. In a real sense, we could say that it’s the “new and improved” version of His covenant.
The New Covenant contains four parts: the Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation. The Gospels tell us about Yeshua (Jesus), the book of Acts about the early history of the church, the Epistles are written to different congregations and the issues and problems they were facing, and the book of Revelation tells about the last days.
TANAKH – THE FOUNDATION, FRAMEWORK & CONTEXT
Therefore, when we look at God’s Word as a whole, the Tanakh (aka, “Old Testament”) functions as the foundation, framework and context for the rest of the Bible. This is why God gave it to us FIRST. Logically, then, if God gave it to us FIRST, then He meant for us to read and understand it as something we need to know in order for us to properly understand the New Covenant, which He gave to us SECOND. To remove the New Covenant from the Tanakh (“Old Testament”) and then study it in isolation is to remove it from its intended context.
And, of course, ANY TIME you remove ANYTHING from its original context, you open the door wide for misinterpretation, misunderstanding and error. And there are plenty of examples of misinterpretations, innuendoes, half-truths, and just plain errors going on in the dominant American church today. This is why it is so critical that we have a comprehensive understanding of the Whole Bible – not just parts!
In addition, the Tanakh presents all of the biblical covenants in it, including the new covenant and the coming Millennial covenant (yes, another covenant is coming!). Rather than the New Covenant taking the place of the Tanakh, it actually further defines, develops, elaborates, and even adds on to a couple of the covenants in the Tanakh, but it does NOT replace either of them, nor does it do “away with them,” “annul” them, or “set them aside,” as many Christians and denominations teach.
FOUR BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETATION
Some people may wonder, “How do you read the Bible as a ‘Whole Bible believer‘?”
- WE INTERPRET IT LITERALLY. We take the Bible literally for what it says, unless it’s obvious that it’s not meant to be taken literally. For example, when Jesus says that “I am the door,” obviously He does not mean He is a literal door, but He means that He is the way into God. But when He says that He is going to come back soon, then He literally means what He says.
- WE INTERPRET IT WITHIN CONTEXT. We have to understand things in their proper context. You can’t just pull things out of context and use it anyway you want. That is misusing and abusing the Scriptures. Instead, you have to look at what comes immediately before it and after it, just like we do anytime we read anything else. This is why Paul tells Timothy (and us): “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
- THE INTERPRETATION MUST AGREE IN SOME WAY WITH THE TORAH. This principle is based on a couple of passages. The first one is in Acts 17. Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) and Silas attends a service in the synagogue in Berea, and as Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) presents the gospel to them, we read,
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)
Notice that the people here, both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) who were attending here listened to what Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) had to say, but they didn’t just accept it because he said it. Instead, they “searched the Scriptures daily” to see “whether those things were so.” But what Scriptures did they search? The New Covenant had not been written yet, so obviously, it was the same Scriptures that Jews and non-Jews who attend synagogue services, even today, read and study: the Older Covenants (Heb. Tanakh / the “Old Testament”). And what was the result of them “searching the Scriptures”?
Therefore many of them believed: also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. (Acts 17:12)
What they found in studying the Scriptures was that what Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) told them was consistent with what they found in the Torah (“law”) and the prophets, so as a result, “many of them believed.” But this also suggests that if what they had heard had contradicted the Torah and the prophets, then they would have dismissed them from the synagogue, and they would not have believed. Consequently, then, this test to see if the teaching is consistent with the Torah and the prophets is a valid test, according to the New Covenant Scriptures.
The Second passage is found in Deuteronomy 13, where God says,
If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, “Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,” you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:1-4)
In this passage, “a prophet or a dreamer of dreams” is a religious leader or a prophet, but even if this person gives you a sign or a miracle, and it happens like it says, but then tells you to believe or do something that goes against God’s Torah, then we are not to believe it or do it. The statement, “Let us go after other gods…and let us serve them,” is just an example. This teaching does not just apply to idolatry, but any teaching that goes against what God teaches us here in the Torah.
I know some might ask, why would God allow someone to work miracles and deceive you? God says that He allows it in order to “[test] you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” But then after saying this, Moses again reiterates that we are to only follow after and obey the LORD our God, and Him alone. We also see this same idea taught by the prophet Isaiah. He writes,
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)
Again, God will not violate His own Word, nor will He contradict it. For example, the book of the Psalms does not violate or contradict the Torah; in fact, Psalms is broken up into five books just like the Torah: Book 1 (Psalms 1 – 41); Book 2 (Psalms 42 – 72); Book 3 (Psalms 73 – 89); Book 4 (Psalms 90 -106); and Book 5 (Psalm 107 – 150). Also, none of the writings of the Prophets violate the teachings of the Torah; in fact, they are calling people back to the Torah, and to living life in covenant with YHWH, the God of Israel.
So why is it that we believe that all of sudden God changed His way of doing things, and began to do the direct opposite of what He had taught throughout the Older Covenants, the Tanakh (or “Old Testament”)?
4. GOD REPEATS WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO HIM. Do you remember when you were in school? The teacher always repeated the important information that would be on the test. And God is a teacher, His Word is our textbook, life is our classroom, and just like in school, He also gives us tests to see if we are learning the material that’s in His textbook.
This means that what we see repeated from Genesis to Revelation is what is important to God, and we should pay attention to it. In Deuteronomy, we read,
One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins: at the mouth of TWO WITNESSES, or at the mouth of THREE WITNESSES, shall the matter be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15; Emphasis Mine)
So here we can see that truth is established when it is repeated by TWO or THREE WITNESSES. By the time of the New Covenant/Testament, this became a general principle for truth (e.g., Matthew 18:16, 19-20; 2 Corinthians 13:1; I Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28), and this general principle lies behind John’s statement in I John 5:8.
These are four very important principles that we follow when we are studying the Scriptures.
The problem for many Christians is that they study the New Testament apart from its intended foundation, framework and context (i.e., the Tanakh/”Old Testament”), and they also remove it from the appropriate contexts that should be applied during the first century, C.E. And it is because they violate these various contexts, that their interpretations and understandings of the New Testament is in direct contradiction in many ways from the Teachings of the Tanakh, and more specifically, the teachings of the Torah.
Therefore, as a Whole Bible believer, what I have found by studying the Bible in the order in which it was written, by following these four basic principles:
- Interpreting the Bible literally, unless otherwise indicated;
- Interpret within context;
- It must agree with the Torah; and
- If it is really important, God will repeat it.
the Bible is no longer two different, distinct revelations – but ONE continuous revelation, and every part of the Bible now has something to say in regard to our lives and how we live.
But as long as we continue to violate these four simple things, we will continue to see people abuse and misuse the Bible for their own purposes. Therefore, I’ve decided to get off the crazy denominational train by no longer identifying myself as “a New Testament believer,” but from this point on, I am, and will continue to be, a “Whole Bible believer.”