In Part 1 of this series, we introduced the idea that doctrine may be established not only by the express meaning of Scripture but also by good and necessary consequence arguments.
Today, I intend to show that good and necessary consequences derived from Scripture are necessary because of the following:
- Jesus used these arguments to establish the truth of the resurrection.
- These arguments are necessary for establishing a Christ-centered hermeneutic (meaning, method of interpretation of Scripture).
Jesus proved the resurrection by a good and necessary consequence when he was questioned by the Sadducees:
“But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.” (Matthew 22:31-33, KJV)
Ok. If we must establish truths from scripture by the express meaning of a passage, then what is Jesus saying here? What does him being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have to do with resurrection?
Jesus establishes two truths by good (meaning, it does not result in a wicked interpretation) and necessary (it must be true given the subject) consequence.
- Jesus is relating this passage back to Exodus 3:6. God remembers His covenant He established before. The promise of this covenant is eternal life. God will undo the curse which brought death into the world (Gen 3:15). He promised to Abraham resurrection from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19).
- Jesus says that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…not was. This suggests that these men are – in some sense – alive. We see this further proven by Christ saying “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
Both of the above conclusions are not expressly stated in the text. Nonetheless, Jesus uses a Scripture and derives consequential truth from it. If Christ uses the Scripture in this way, then why wouldn’t we? Shall we say Christ used Scripture wrongly?
The second point is shorter than the first but must be stated. Christ demonstrated that he was the Messiah by good and necessary consequence.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27, KJV)
Nothing in the OT expressly states that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. However, arguing who the Messiah would be, and pointing that his own work, Jesus was able to demonstrate by good and necessary consequence that it was he who is the Christ.
Now, to deal with an objection. It could be objected that these arguments were only valid when Jesus used them because he is an infallible authority. The answer to that is this: in his discussion with the Sadducees, Jesus’s infallible authority was not recognized by the Sadducees nor the Pharisees. However, it says that they were “put to silence” by his teaching. It follows that the reason why his argument was valid was not because of the authority he had as the speaker (since this was not acknowledge by them) but rather by the nature of what He said. The authority of his interpretation stood apart from his authority as the one giving it, otherwise the Sadducees and Pharisees would have quickly dismissed it; instead, they were silenced by it. And the multitude were “astonished at his doctrine” (v.33).
In preparing this article, I was greatly helped by the relevant sections of Francis Turretin’s Institutes, vol.1, which may be purchased here.