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  • Writer's pictureEric Cline

Sensus Plenior

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Sensus plenior is misinterpreted if meant to “refer to a meaning that was known only to God, but not to the human author of Scripture.” A valid question along this thought might be, “Is Allegory a Valid Category for Paul’s Use of Deuteronomy 25:4 in 1 Corinthians 9:7–10?” Walter Kaiser rejects the notion of sensus plenior, “It was not that Scripture has a hidden meaning that was only known by God until Paul happened to get a hold of this text.”[1] Sensus plenior is fuller meaning shared by the author, who penned the superintended word of God, with the meaning provided by God Himself, and understood (at the human level) by the author. Otherwise, meaning is taken out of the hands of the author, a position taken by Roman Catholic scholar Raymond Brown, leaving us with dual authorship. Kaiser goes down the road of multiple messages. Properly interpreted meaning that comes from reading Scripture must never be disconnected from the original meaning.

Are There Hidden Messages In The Bible?

Some say, “In a sense, sensus plenior “demystifies” the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament.” I firmly believe in the mystery of faith, but one errors towards the Midrashic method or midrashim in pursuit of hidden meanings and mystical messages. God did not somehow quietly incorporate into the text, in some mysterious way, meanings hidden from the author. The bringing together of prophecy and interpretation is not the only means of getting the full sense of Scripture.

[1] Jonathan Lunde and Kenneth Berding, “Three Views on the New Testament use of the Old Testament” part of Counterpoints: Bible and Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2008), 87, and 234.

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