The context of that statement is this: “On this one thing, however, there must surely be agreement. A text cannot mean what it never meant. Or to put that in a positive way, the true meaning of the biblical text for us is what God originally intended it to mean when it was first spoken. This is the starting point.”

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart (2nd edition, p. 26)

They go on to state “Someone will surely ask, “But is it not possible for a text to have an additional [or fuller or deeper] meaning beyond its original intent? After all, this happens in the New Testament itself in the way it sometimes uses the Old Testament.” In the case of prophecy, we would not close the door to such a possibility, and we would argue that, with careful controls, a second, or fuller, meaning is possible. But how does one justify it at other points? Our problem is a simple one: Who speaks for God? Roman Catholicism has less of a problem here; the magisterium, the authority vested in the official teaching of the church, determines for all the fuller sense of the text. Protestants, however, have no magisterium, and we should be properly concerned whenever anyone says he or she has God’s deeper meaning to a text – especially if the text never meant what it is now made to mean. Of such things are all the cults born, and innumerable lesser heresies.”

For me this is the key and one that drove me in all directions looking for answers, including almost joining the Eastern Orthodox Church. The very uncertainty (no matter how small) causes me to ask, “How can I know I have the right interpretation?” How can I know, before we ever get to secondary or “hidden” meanings, what the original intent was or that we actually have the right word here and that it wasn’t corrupted along the way? Most honest Christians battle with this question, even if they don’t verbalize it. Others take safer routes like King James Onlyism, which, while being historically untenable (since history and textual criticism tells us a much different and far messier story), ties up all those loose ends.

but to answer the question at hand. I agree. By faith I accept that God meant what He meant. The apostles divinely inspired, interpreted the OT according to it’s spiritual interpretation. That means that there may be other OT (and possibly NT) passages that can be interpreted in non-historical ways. But I believe that the “secret” meanings were always there, hidden in the text.

This does leave the text open to abuse, but abuse will come whether the Bible is taken at the bare historical level or not. What we must learn and teach is fear of the Lord, spiritual wisdom, and sound exegetical and hermeneutical principles. All of which will guide us along the right path. Life is messy, so is Bible interpretation. We will never achieve perfect knowledge here on earth, because we are not perfect. but when we see Him, then we will know him, even as we are fully known.

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