Nine Literary Styles in Scripture

The Fascinating, Life-Altering Word of God - Part 9

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The Bible was created in several literary types of writing. So even while taking scripture literally, believers should understand the modes through which God is communicated his will and commands. In this episode, Gary Wilkerson and Joshua West discuss which literary types are included in scripture and how readers should approach them in order to best understand what God is saying.

Key Points from the Podcast

• The Bible has several different writing styles and genres included in it. People who want to discard these boundaries and rules are often those who want to be able to interpret the Bible in ways that it doesn’t support.

• Hermeneutics affects humanity. Humanity goes the way that Christian pastors and teachers lead; so if they rightly divide the Word of God, that will change the nations in ways that honor God.

• The main categories of the Bible are the law, gospel, narrative, poetry, wisdom, apocalyptic, prophesy, history and epistle. Entire books of the Bible rarely fall entirely within one category; often they contain elements of several categories.

• The law represents both the perfect nature and requirements of God as well as his commands to his people so they might show honor and love to him.

• The gospel revolves around the good news of God taking on flesh as Christ, dying on the cross for our sins, overcoming the curse of the grave and giving Christians the hope of eternity in God’s presence.

• Many of the historical accounts in the Bible are also narrative passages, detailing the lives of God’s people or overviews of the nation of Israel as it wandered from God then repented. Narrative passages are slightly different from history in that they’re more instructive. Prophetic books sometimes are intertwined with historical books as prophets address the issues of their day.

• Psalms and Proverbs are considered books of wisdom and poetry. Poetic language is used through other books in the Bible, though, like Lamentations, Song of Solomon and some of the prophetic books.

• Apocalyptic literature uses word pictures to explain the culmination of things that are on the outer edge of our ability to fully comprehend. Epistles were simply letters from the apostles to the early church, giving instructions and correction.

• Prophesy means speaking to the past, present and future; in effect, it means speaking on behalf of God who declares himself to be the great “I AM” beyond and through all time. Prophetic literature all culminates in Jesus who is the ultimate prophet, priest and king for all eternity.

Bible Verses Referenced in the Podcast

2 Timothy 4:1-5, Matthew 22:36-40, 2 Timothy 2:15

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

• A Heart after God: A Study through the Book of Psalms
• Hard Sayings: Reconciling the Cost of Discipleship and the American Dream

About Joshua West

Joshua West serves as the Church Leadership Network Director at World Challenge helping equip and empower pastors all over the world. Joshua’s desire is to raise up ministers who will correctly and boldly preach the word with passion and integrity. The point of all his work and writings is to preach the gospel, glorify God and to teach sound doctrine.

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About Gary Wilkerson

Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

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