by Al Maxey

Issue #356 ------- July 17, 2008
Words ought to be a little wild for they are
the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.

John Maynard Keynes {1883-1946}

Figures of Speech & Thought
Creative Communicative Building Blocks

The biblical writers (in both OT and NT documents) made extensive use of a good many figures of speech (sometimes called figures of words) and figures of thought. The former is when the image or resemblance is confined primarily to a single word, whereas the latter might require for its expression a great many words, phrases and sentences. A metaphor, for example, would be a "figure of speech," whereas a parable would be a "figure of thought." To assist us all in our daily quest to correctly interpret Scripture (the art and science of biblical/sacred hermeneutics), we must be aware of the many figures of speech and thought utilized by the inspired writers. Failing to understand that a writer was speaking figuratively, and failing to understand what kind of figure he was employing, can lead the interpreter down the pathway of false understanding, and may eventually result in false teaching and practice.

Although "the literal is the most usual signification of a word, and therefore occurs much more frequently than the figurative," [Dr. Clinton Lockhart, Principles of Interpretation, p. 157], one should never overlook the obvious fact that there is indeed a significant portion of the inspired Scriptures that is expressed in figurative language, with each one of "these portions calling for special care in their interpretation" [Dr. Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, p. 243]. Yes, I could quite easily list a considerable number of the various principles and rules of interpretation for each of these many figures (and these can be found in the many books dealing with the topic of Hermeneutics), but in this present issue of my weekly Reflections I merely want to provide the reader with a fairly extensive list of these figures themselves, and comment briefly upon each, so that they will be recognizable to the devoted student of the Word as he/she daily examines the sacred writings of both the Old and New Testaments. The following list should not be considered exhaustive. In fact, "when we've exhausted the list of the figures found within all of our modern books on interpretation, we've not yet found all of the figures that are used within the Scriptures" [Dr. D. R. Dungan, Hermeneutics: The Science of Interpreting the Scriptures, p. 227].


This is the Greek word parabole, which literally means: "to cast alongside" -- i.e., to place one thing alongside another, usually for the purpose of making a rather memorable comparison. In the inspired Scriptures, a parable is a story from life or nature that is placed alongside some great spiritual Truth so that in comparing the two the latter might become much more understandable via the aid of the former. The word "parable" has been variously defined: "An earthly story with a heavenly meaning" ... "A story which walks the streets of life with large, spiritual eyes" ... "A connected narrative, whether of events in human life or of a process in nature, by which some great spiritual Truth is illustrated or enforced." John Milton (1608-1674), in his monumental work "Paradise Lost," wondered, "What if earth be but the shadow of heaven and things therein, each to the other like?!" Such is the thinking, to a considerable degree, behind the parable. The apostle Paul seems to allude to this very truth in Romans 1:20 -- "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- His eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made."

In the interpretation of parables the key question to consider is, "How much is significant?" Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that Jesus gave each parable essentially for the purpose of conveying one main Truth. Although it is true that other Truths may also be gleaned from a parable, nevertheless the key to truly understanding any given parable is to first perceive its central teaching. "In extended figures based on similitude (i.e., a parable), interpret first the major points, from which work out the minor points reservedly" [Lockhart, p. 169]. "The Lord Jesus never presented a figure that in order to be understood had to depend upon any renditional gymnastics! The Truth is much easier than that. When we learn that there may be many things in a parable that are merely incidental, and are no part of the lesson to be learned, we will be ready to search, first of all, for the purpose for which the figure was employed" [Dungan, p. 242].

Although one should not become too obsessed with finding some hidden meaning in every single word of a parable, yet quite often the details of a parable do have meaning which enhances the central theme, and thus to ignore these details is to do disservice to the beauty and harmony of the parable. Just as we can be guilty of over-interpreting a parable, so also can we be guilty of under-interpreting it. Jesus, in His interpretations of parables, certainly found meaning in many of the details of the story (see: Matt. 13:18-23, 36-43). Our Lord's own interpretive methodology, therefore, certainly encourages us to take note of the details of the story, but always keeping in mind that they are merely there to enhance the central Truth of the parable, not to constitute some separate truth or message.


Fables and parables are quite often confused, but there is a very definite distinction. A parable draws a lesson from out of nature and normal life, whereas a fable teaches a lesson by imposing upon nature or normal life that which is clearly beyond or outside the parameters of the norm (for example: trees or animals talking). Fables have sometimes been called "fanciful analogies." The fable uses actors (animals and inanimate objects) that are, in real life, unable to do the things they are found doing in the story. "It consists essentially in this, that individuals of the brute creation, and of animate and inanimate nature, are introduced into the imagery as if possessed with reason and speech, and are represented as acting and talking contrary to the laws of their being. There is a rather conspicuous element of unreality about the whole machinery of fables, and yet the moral intended to be set forth is usually so manifest that no difficulty is felt in understanding it" [Terry, p. 265-266]. There are two great examples of a fable recorded for us in the OT writings, and they may be found in Judges 9:8-15 and 2 Kings 14:9.


A riddle "is an analogy offered as a puzzle" [Lockhart, p. 169]. The purpose, in part, is to puzzle and perplex the hearer. "It is purposely obscure in order to test the sharpness and penetration of those who attempt to solve it" [Terry, p. 268]. The word "riddle" comes from a Hebrew word meaning "to twist; to tie in a knot." They are "dark sayings, enigmas, which conceal thought, and yet, at the same time, incite the inquiring mind to search for their hidden meanings" [ibid]. Several examples are: Samson's riddle (Judges 14:12-20) ... Ezekiel 17:1f is characterized as being both a riddle and a parable ... some view Rev. 13:18 as a riddle: "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." We are informed that the Queen of Sheba tested the wise King Solomon with difficult questions and riddles (1 Kings 10:1). "I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will express my riddle on the harp" (Psalm 49:4). "A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, so as to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles" (Prov. 1:5-6).


"A word or phrase by which anything is likened in one of its aspects to another; a poetical or imaginative comparison" [Webster's Dictionary]. The words "like" and "as" are generally used to introduce a simile. "And he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove" [Matt. 3:16]. "You are like whitewashed tombs" [Matt. 23:27]. "All of us like sheep have gone astray" [Isaiah 53:6]. "The simile always furnishes the means of a comparison by a statement, not a story" [Dungan, p. 248].


This is a drawn-out, or a prolonged, simile. The wise man who built his house upon a rock, and the foolish man who built on the sand [Matt. 7:24-27] is a similitude. "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier" [2 Tim. 2:3-4] is yet another. Psalm 102:1-7 is also a good example of a similitude. In fact, one will discover that many of the inspired psalms are in this form.


The metaphor is very similar to a simile, but is far more forceful. A simile states something is like (or similar to) something else ("that man is like a bear"), whereas a metaphor states that something is that other object ("that man is a bear"). The metaphor appears far more frequently within the Bible than does the simile. "Judah is a lion's whelp" [Gen. 49:9]. When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, He said of the bread and wine, "Take, eat; this is My body ... this is My blood" [Matt. 26:26-28]. The failure to properly identify and interpret this figure of speech has led, in part, to the confusion evidenced throughout history with regard to the nature of the elements of the Lord's Supper. Other examples of metaphors are: "You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world" [Matt. 5:13-14]. "I am the bread of life" [John 6:48].


"An allegory is usually defined as being an extended metaphor" [Terry, p. 302]. "An allegory is a fictitious narration to illustrate Truth. Its nature is similar to that of a metaphor; but its imagery is extended to a great many details and analogies, so that it's very often defined as an extended metaphor" [Lockhart, p. 162]. An allegory also contains its interpretation within itself. In many ways, an allegory is to a metaphor what a similitude is to a simile. Several examples are: The armor of God [Eph. 6:11-17]. The Jews and Gentiles referred to as natural and wild branches of an olive tree [Rom. 11:17-24]. In Gal. 4:21f Paul speaks of Sarah and Hagar and their sons, and uses them allegorically -- "This is allegorically speaking: for these women are two covenants" [vs. 24].


A proverb is similar to a parable, but is generally more of a wise statement than an extended story. In the Hebrew language there is just one word signifying both a proverb and a parable, however, which leads some scholars to define a proverb as "a condensed parable" [Terry, p. 328]. "A proverb may be regarded as a short, pithy sentence, containing a complete and valuable thought" [Dungan, p. 314]. Peter gives us a couple of memorable proverbs in 2 Peter 2:22 --- "It has happened to them according to the true proverb, 'A dog returns to its own vomit,' and, 'A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.'"


This is the application of the name of one object to another because of some relation. There are many different classes of metonymy, according to the nature of the relations that the objects whose names are exchanged may have with one another -- Metonymy of cause ... effect ... subject ... adjunct. And under each of these divisions there are many subdivisions. Some examples are: When Abraham told the rich man that his brothers back on earth "have Moses and the Prophets" [Luke 16:29], he was using a metonymy. Moses and the Prophets = their writings and their teachings [see: Luke 24:27]. In Num. 23:7 Balaam says, "Come curse Jacob for me." Jacob had been dead for many hundreds of years, but "Jacob" = his descendants, the Israelites. "The Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind" [1 Sam. 15:29]. "Glory" = God. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup..." [1 Cor. 11:26]. A man quite obviously does not literally drink a cup, but rather the contents of the cup. Thus, "the cup" = the contents of the cup. Again, failures of discernment in some of these areas have led to unnecessary theological wrangling and not a few bizarre sectarian practices, most notably with respect to the Lord's Supper.


This is "the use of a part for the whole, the whole for a part, a definite for an indefinite, a genus for a species, a species for a genus," a singular for a plural, a plural for a singular, "and/or other similar substitution because of the relative magnitude of the things concerned" [Lockhart, p. 183]. In Luke 2:1, "all the world" (or "all the inhabited earth") = only the Roman Empire (see also: Acts 24:5, where obviously the entire planet is not in view; also: Rom. 1:8; Acts 19:27; Col. 1:23; etc.). "Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in the cities of Gilead" (Judges 12:7) = he was buried in one of the cities. Gen. 21:7 speaks of Sarah nursing "children," when she only bore one child. In Jeremiah 8:7 several birds are mentioned in the singular, when they are meant to represent the whole class of birds to which each belongs.


This is to say one thing, but mean something else entirely. "The speaker or writer says the very opposite of what he/she intends" [Terry, p. 253]. "A kind of ridicule which exposes the errors or faults of others by seeming to adopt, approve, or defend them; apparent assent to a proposition given, with such a tone, or under such circumstances, that opposite opinions or feelings are implied" [Webster's Dictionary]. Examples are: 1 Kings 18:27; Judges 10:14; 1 Cor. 4:8, 10.


This is related to, and often confused with, irony. It basically differs with irony in that it is far more severe, tending even to be, at times, rather spiteful and hurtful. "It is a satirical remark uttered with some degree of scorn or contempt" [Webster's Dictionary]. Several examples are: Matt. 27:27-31; Mark 15:29-32; Acts 23:4-5. Dr. Terry defines sarcasm as "malignant mockery" [p. 254]. I would strongly urge the reader to carefully examine my study of this: Reflections #31 -- The Fine Art of Godly Mockery.


"Hyperbole is a rhetorical figure which consists in exaggeration, or magnifying an object beyond reality" [Terry, p. 253]. "A figure of speech in which the expression is an exaggeration of a meaning which is intended to be conveyed, or by which things are represented as being much greater or less, better or worse, than they really are" [Webster's Dictionary]. A few good examples of this figure of speech are: "I am weary with sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears" [Psalm 6:6]. Deut. 1:28 speaks of cities which have fences/walls reaching up to heaven. In Gen. 13:16 God told Abraham, "I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth" in number. Judges 7:12 speaks of "camels without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore." "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written" [John 21:25]. "To make these statements literal will find the Bible guilty of a great many falsehoods" [Dungan, p. 321]. "A hyperbole differs from a falsehood by having no actual intention to deceive" [Lockhart, p. 183].


This is a very frequently employed figure, especially within the Hebrew Scriptures. It is a figure in which animate attributes are ascribed to inanimate things. Several examples are: Num. 16:32, which speaks of the earth "opening its mouth and swallowing" a group of people. "The mountains saw Thee, and were afraid ... the deep uttered its voice, and lifted up its hands on high" [Habakkuk 3:10]. "The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands" [Isaiah 55:12]. In Rom. 8:19, 22 the apostle Paul speaks of the creation "groaning," "suffering the pains of childbirth," and feeling "anxious longing."


This is when the speaker turns away from the person who is listening to him and addresses an imaginary hearer. Sometimes the imaginary hearer will be an inanimate object, at which times this figure is very closely related to personification. Examples: In 1 Cor. 15:55, the apostle Paul turns away from speaking to the Corinthians (although in reality the message is for them specifically) and says, "O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?" David's statement to his dead son Absalom in 2 Sam. 18:13 is yet another example.


"Interrogatory forms of expression are often the strongest possible way of enunciating important truths" [Terry, p. 252]. Lockhart defines it as "a question asked to argue the contrary" [p. 185]. Dungan regards it as "a figure of speech employed for the purpose of affirming or denying with great force" [p. 326]. Questions are asked not because the questioner does not know the answer, but to establish a truth already known to the questioner. For example: Nicodemus establishes a point of Jewish law by asking, "Our law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?" [John 7:51]. "Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?" [1 Cor. 9:1 ... also notice the next several verses in which numerous examples of this figure appear]. See also: 1 Cor. 12:29-30; Heb. 1:14; Job 11:7 (notice the many examples in Job 38-41); Rom. 8:31-35.


"An anticipating; especially, the describing of an event as taking place before it could have done so, the treating of a future event as if it had already happened, or the anticipating and answering of an argument before one's opponent has a chance to advance it" [Webster's Dictionary]. Examples -- In Deut. 34:1, Moses was shown the land of Dan. However, it would be many years before the land he saw would be known by that name. But, at the time this passage was written, it had long been known by that name. Similarly, we might speak of President Abraham Lincoln performing some act while still a young child. Although he wasn't the President of the USA while still a mere boy, we might refer to him by that title. When the twelve apostles were called, Matt. 10:4 states, "and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him." At the time he was called, however (which is what the passage is addressing), he had not betrayed Christ. It was still a future event, but was spoken of as if it had already occurred. Revelation is filled with similar figures, especially with reference to the end of the present heavens and earth.


"A figure of speech in which something is expressed by a negation of the contrary; i.e., not a few (meaning 'many'), no rare occurrence (meaning 'a rather frequent occurrence')" [Webster's Dictionary]. An example is -- the apostle Paul said, "I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city" [Acts 21:39]. What he meant was: Tarsus was a city of very great importance.


This is a pretended suppression of what is really being said. "I won't bother to remind you that you owe me $1000." In Philemon 19, Paul tells Philemon that he will personally pay back whatever Onesimus might have taken from him. He then interjects, "not to mention (the KJV reads --- 'I do not say to thee') that you owe me your very self."


This is a play on words, or a pun. Probably one of the most famous examples, and also one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted, is Matt. 16:18, where Jesus says, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church." Both Peter and rock come from the same root word in Greek, which means "stone, rock." In the Greek, there is also a play on words in Philp. 3:2-3 between "circumcision" and "concision" (KJV) or "mutilators of the flesh" (NIV). Dr. Charles Ellicott, in his commentary, refers to this as a "studiously contemptuous paranomasia." In Isaiah 5:7 we find a couple of good examples: "Thus He looked for justice (Hebrew: Mishpat), but behold, bloodshed/oppression (Hebrew: Mispach); for righteousness (Hebrew: Tsedakah), but behold, a cry of distress (Hebrew: Tse'akah)."


This is the attributing of human passions to God. For example, Zech. 8:2 speaks of God being "exceedingly jealous."


This is the attributing of physical or human shapes and characteristics to God. Exodus 33:22-23 speaks of the hand, face and back of God, for example. Ruth 2:12 speaks of taking refuge under the wings of God.

These are just a few (a very small sampling) of the many figures of speech and thought that one finds within the pages of the inspired Scriptures. There are obviously a great many more (such as: paradox, oxymoron, ellipsis, antithesis, etc.), however I will allow these few to suffice. This brief listing should, however, impress upon the reader's mind that a proper understanding of the various figures of speech and thought is vital to a proper interpretation of God's Word. Clearly we could spend far more time looking at such things as visions, dreams, symbols, numbers, types, apocalyptic literature, and the like, but each of these would be complete studies in themselves. Therefore, I will leave it to the reader to pursue these various forms and figures on his/her own. Suffice it to say, the more one becomes familiar with the language of Scripture, the better equipped one is to fully comprehend the message of Scripture. May God bless each of you in your daily studies.

Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

A 200 page book by Al Maxey
Publisher: (301) 695-1707
Reflections on the Holy Spirit
A Published Tract by Al Maxey
Order From: J. Elbert Peters:
The Maxey-Broking Debate
on the Doctrine of Patternism

{This debate is now in progress}
Readers' Reflections

From an Evangelist in India:

Beloved Brother Maxey, I wish you all the best in your debate on Legalistic Patternism. I pray that you will bring out the Truth in this debate and that it will open many closed minds.

From a Reader in Missouri:

Bro. Al, Wow ... Great Job on your rebuttal to Broking's first affirmative in your debate!! This should be quite interesting. I pray it goes well and that many will give what you say prayerful thought. I'm really excited to see the progress of this debate, and maybe even some good results from it.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, I have just finished reading Darrell Broking's first affirmative and your first rebuttal. Excellent!! When I first read the terms of this debate, I was afraid that I would have to become a member of David Brown's Internet chat group in order to follow along. That group hosted by David Brown is difficult to get on; he requires you to tell something about yourself, and if you don't "fit the mold," then you are denied access. Please make it clear to your readers, Brother Al, that they don't have to be on his Internet group in order to read this debate, but that it is also available to anyone on your own web site --- The Maxey-Broking Debate on the Doctrine of Patternism. Brother, I appreciate so much your willingness to take part in this written debate!!

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Brother Al, This is great!! I will be following this debate until its completion! Thanks so much for your efforts!!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Bro. Al, I will be praying for both you and Darrell: that the Lord will guide you both, and especially that He will soften and transform the hearts of those who read this debate. I will also pray that the scales will fall from the eyes of many as they hear the Truth. I am so thankful for your teaching and encouragement, Al. May the Holy Spirit continue to lead you on the path that He has chosen for you! Special Request --- I would also like to ask your readers if they know of a good Bible correspondence course that can be used for inmates in jail or prison; one that does not use CENI and does not declare that using musical instruments is sinful and damnable. If they know of such a series of lessons, I would love to hear of them.

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I have to disagree, up to a point, with your objection to oral debates. I have had several oral debates in years gone by. I do not approve of, and have not participated in, any that are the old "down and dirty" kind with lots of mud slinging and name calling. Mine have all been conducted with order, and where both disputants acted gentlemanly. That kind of debate can be very effective. I had a debate in the mid-70's with a Baptist preacher, and at the end of the discussion he said, "I lost this debate!" In fact, he was much kinder and friendlier to me after the debate than he had been before. That's just an old preacher's opinion.

From a Minister in [Unknown]:

Dear Brother Al, I have only become aware of your Reflections and become a reader in the last couple of months, but I am enjoying them a great deal. I preached two recent sermons on the topic of patternism, and your web site provided useful material. One of my favorite anti-patternistic arguments is to provide them with a proof-text (since they tend to love proof-texts, although I do not). I refer them to the situation in Acts 15 where a determination was made to teach the Gentile converts to "abstain from eating food offered to idols," among other prohibitions. This doctrine was circulated through the churches by Paul (among others). Now, witness his teaching in Corinth as found in 1 Cor. 8. He did not follow the pattern of this decree. He found no cause for adherence to the pattern handed down in Jerusalem. "So, what about eating meat that has been offered to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God. There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords. But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for Him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life. However, not all believers know this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. It's true that we can't win God's approval by what we eat. We don't lose anything if we don't eat it, and we don't gain anything if we do" (NLT). Incidentally, I do find that there is a pattern for the church to follow --- it is to do what Jesus did and to be what Jesus was (1 John 4:17).

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, May the Lord give you strength and patience. I don't know where you find the time to do all that you are presently doing for the Lord (especially all the research, thinking and writing), but please keep up this good work!!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Maxey, I really enjoyed your first rebuttal in the debate! Thank you for presenting the proper understanding that is so greatly needed to take the edge off the legalistic view of "religion."

From a Minister in Mississippi:

Hello Bro. Al, I appreciate you putting your debates on paper/computer (rather than oral). It allows several, like myself, to examine and re-examine all points while searching for Truth. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the debate.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I have just read Darrell Broking's first affirmative in your present debate with him. While reading it, I prayed for you to be led by the Holy Spirit in your rebuttal. Of course, I knew that you had already written that first rebuttal, but I prayed for you for the entire debate. I also prayed for Darrell. It is so clear to see, from what he had written, that he is so shackled by legalism that there is a barrier he cannot see over. I was there once too. I know what a tool of Satan it is. I asked that the eyes and ears of his heart might be opened so that he may actually see and experience an explosion of Truth that would be so overwhelming that he would drop to his knees and praise God with his whole being. Then, when I went and read your first rebuttal, I was able to see that God's Holy Spirit is already at work in you, and was from the beginning. Praise God for His wonderful wisdom, and for His guidance of your writing. You are speaking Truth, and doing so in love and kindness. I am so glad. There are a lot of people I want to read this debate. Please keep up the good work, and may God bless you richly.

From a Reader in Arkansas:

Brother Al, I wish to thank you for your Reflections. I have been receiving them for a few years now. I eagerly read each and every one just as soon as I receive it, and I do so with complete confidence that each one will promote mental activity in me (and at my age I need to keep my brain cells active!!). Thanks again, brother, and best wishes to you and your family.

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Dear Bro. Al, It is going to be really interesting to see how this debate with Darrell Broking comes out. Hopefully, Darrell will be enlightened by this debate -- will see the LIGHT -- and will then become a true teacher of God's Word, changing the legalistic minds of those who are now following his teachings. If that becomes the case, then you will have hit yet another major home run (of which you already have many in your past record). We love you and Shelly, and we look forward to many more years of you both being here to change lives and attitudes, bringing us all much more together in the loving spirit of our God.

From the Author of Diary of a Believer:

Dear Brother Al, Words seem to be scattering in all directions, except onto the page, as I attempt to offer to you my heartfelt gratitude. In the most non-eloquent phraseology I can muster, I am simply blown away by your generous assessment of my book in your last Reflections. I consider it an honor just to know that you took the time to read it. But to read such a gleaming review absolutely took my breath away. Your readership number is a mystery to me, but I've heard your name mentioned many, many times throughout the past several years, so I know it must be large. Therefore, the exposure that you've given my book is most appreciated, as I simply wish to have the light shine into the dark corners of legalistic Christianity and reveal to its victims some of the differences between "religion" and "Jesus." You have my gratitude as well as my adoration for your words of kindness toward me, as well as your incredible ongoing work with your writings, of which I am a supporter. Keep on!!

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Bro. Al, You are in my thoughts and prayers through the course of this debate with Darrell Broking, that the Spirit may give you direction and words to glorify God and encourage others, and that you may show the freedom from legalism that comes from Christ Jesus.

From a New Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, Please add me to your mailing list for Reflections. A friend sent me word of your written debate now in progress concerning patternism. I read the first affirmative with some dismay, and then read your response with great delight (as well as Reflections #84 -- The Doctrine of Christ).

From a Minister in California:

Dear Brother Maxey, I have just finished reading (for the second time) the first exchange in the Maxey-Broking Debate on Patternism, and although I am just a poor old country-boy preacher I found the thoughts of Darrell Broking on the Synoptic Gospels rather amusing. Anyway, I think the end result of this debate, which is already becoming obvious, will be that you will have this opponent backed into a corner that he can NOT get out of. The day is coming when there will be a great exodus from out of the legalistic herd, with many of these brethren either burying their legalistic opinions and accepting a long-awaited truce or just fading away into the sunset as legalistic "has-beens." Bro. Maxey, continue to proceed just as you began, bear down on Truth, and in the end this generation will begin perceiving the Truth they have never seen before, and with tremendous results ... all positive. God bless you for your efforts toward this end.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, I just read the first two postings of your "Patternism" debate with Darrell Broking. When I read his statements about the "new covenant" being the 27 books of the New Testament canon, I had the same reaction you did. You would think that a person who takes on the responsibility of imparting God's Word to the world would have a better understanding of such things!! I get the impression that some of these patternists believe that just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He said to His disciples, "In a few days you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. When this happens, I want you to go out to Amir's farm. Go to his well and look under a rock beside the well. There you will find a book that will give you all of My new laws. I call it 'The New Testament.' After you read this book, go out and tell everyone about the new regulations that they must now obey." At one point, Mr. Broking indicated his belief that the "gospel of Christ" is the same thing as "the commandments of Christ." Doesn't he know that the "gospel" is simply the "good news" about Christ? -- the wonderful revealing of who Christ is and what He and our God have done for us? That isn't even close to being the same thing as the commandments of Christ. I learned what the gospel was in Sunday School when I was just a kid. How can this guy be so confused? I am really looking forward to reading the future installments of this debate. My prayers are with you, Al. You definitely have Truth and understanding on your side!!

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