the golden rule of biblical interpretation

Paradise Lost

“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense. Therefore take every word at its usual, ordinary, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise.” — Dr. David L. Cooper

In preparation for a series of blogs on The Sermon on the Mount, I though that I should first give my hermeneutical position. I use the above rule of interpretation for my exposition of any biblical text. It’s how I can be both a fundamentalist, and a radical.

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most read passages of the Bible, but I think it may very well be the least understood. Nearly everyone, believer or not, at least familiar with the Beatitudes and the story of the men who built their homes on rock, or sand, respectively.

The Sermon on the Mount is obviously much better known than it is understood, or practiced. Often people either minimize the radical nature of Christ’s demands, or explain away these demands as being figurative, or only applying to some ideal time in the future.

After proclaiming in the previous chapter of Matthew that,

“the kingdom of God is at hand…”

Jesus, the King, proceeds in the Sermon on the Mount, to lay out the principles of the coming kingdom…


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