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FIGURES OF SPEECH IN THE BIBLE
Victor M. Eskew
A. Some figures of speech fall under the broad category of comparisons.
B. Another figure of speech that involves a comparison is an allegory.
C. The Bible uses the word one time in its pages (Gal. 4:21-24, esp. v. 24)
Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondwoman, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory…
D. In this lesson, we want to look at the figure of speech called an allegory.
A. Since the word is found one time in the Bible let’s look at the definition applied there (Gal. 4:24).
1. The Greek word is allegoreo. It comes from two Greek words:
a. Allos: other
b. Agoreuo: to speak in the place of the assembly
2. Vine: “…came to signify ‘to speak,’ not according to the primary sense of the word, but so the facts stated are applied to illustrate principles.”
1. “The term allegory, being derived from allo agoreuein, signifying to say something different from what the word themselves imply” (www.biblehub.com, ISBE).
2. “The distinction in scripture between a parable and an allegory is said to be that a parable is a supposed history, and an allegory, a figurative description of real facts” (au1611.com, “KJV Dictionary Definition: allegory”).
3. Some refer to an allegory as an extended metaphor.
a. A metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words “like” or “as.” (Jesus refers to Herod as a fox, Luke 13:32).
b. An allegory makes a comparison, but it is longer than just a simple world or two that sets forth the comparison.
II. POINTS TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT ALLEGORIES
A. Some individuals would like to allegorize the entire Bible.
1. Each story of the Bible can have its historical significance, but it also has an allegorical meaning. This leaves the Scriptures open to multiple interpretations.
2. What many teach about the Scripture being allegorize is that the Bible is a fictitious narrative which has another deeper meaning than that which is expected.
3. “No figure requires more careful discrimination than Allegory. And it would be safer to say that there are no allegories in Scripture than to follow one’s own judgment as to what is allegory, and what is not” (Figures of Speech, Bullinger, 749).
B. Allegories always spring from real people, actions, and historical events.
C. An allegory is seen by viewing what is present and making application to past events.
1. Thus, allegories are not prophetic. They do NOT predict the future.
2. When an allegory is presented in the Bible, a person does not know it is an allegory when the people, actions, and events first take place.
3. When the future event transpires, then one looks back and can see the allegory.
4. Example: The story of Rebekah and Hagar does not appear to anticipate any future events when it happens. Moses merely records the historical narrative. We only know that it is an allegory when Paul looks back upon the event in Galatians 4.
III. PAUL’S ALLEGORY IN GALATIANS 4:21-31
Hagar (v. 24) Mt. Sinai – OT (v. 24)
Bondmaid (v. 22) Bondage to Old Law (v. 25)
Ishmael Jews – OT
Born after the flesh (v. 23) Fleshly children of Abraham
Some children (v. 27) Became a nation of people
Not heirs (v. 30) Not spiritual heirs (v. 30)
Rachel Spiritual Jerusalem – NT (v. 26)
Isaac Christians - NT
Freewoman (v. 22) Free in Christ (v. 26)
Child of promise (v. 23) Children of promise (v. 28)
Born of the Spirit (v. 29) Born of the Spirit
Many more children Converts throughout the world
Heir (v. 27) Heirs (v. 30)
Ishmael persecuted Isaac (v. 29) Jews persecuted Christians (v. 29)
Hagar and Ishmael cast out (v. 30) OT done away (v. 30)
IV. ANOTHER POSSIBLE ALLEGORY
A. Remember, an allegory is seen as one looks at present day events and can cast them back upon past events.
DAVID/SOLOMON & JOHN THE BAPTIST/JEUS
David John the Baptist
Prepared stones for temple (I Chron. 22:1-5) Prepared disciples (Luke 1:13, 17)
Solomon built temple (II Sam. 7:12-13) Jesus built temple, church (Matt. 16:18)
Temple (I Kings 6) Church (I Cor. 3:16-17)
A. The allegory is the most difficult figure of speech and the least used in the Bible.
B. The best way to interpret the Bible is literally unless the context demands otherwise.
1. We should not put something in the text that is not there.
2. We do not need to be seeking “hidden meanings” in the Scripture.