Necessary Implications
by Ronny E. Hinds

All the Bible teaches or authorizes for us to be and do is said either explicitly or implicitly. Explicit means, “fully and clearly expressed; leaving nothing merely implied.” Implicit means, “implied, rather than expressly stated.” A related word to implicit is implication. It means, “something implied or suggested as naturally to be inferred or understood.”

In interpreting the Bible, people have always had difficulties with implications because they are not something spoken directly. They require some additional thinking on our part. Implications require us to consider the facts and understand the necessary conclusions/implications those facts require. The two words of major importance in that last sentence are “require” and “necessary.” I am not talking about any inference or thought we might generally or casually infer, but what God has specifically implied. There is a vast difference between those two ideas. God’s implications are bound upon us because God has placed them in His Word. We are not, I repeat, we are not dealing with human wisdom/reasoning/ideas, but with God’s implications.  

It is said by some brethren that implications are valid and binding on Christians no further than “they” perceive them to be so. To do otherwise, they say, is to cause faith to stand on human wisdom. I beg to differ! Actually, they have it backwards! Limiting Bible instructions to human perceptions is to allow human wisdom to rule!!

Consider this example of Jesus’ verbal interaction with the Sadducees. In reading Matthew 22:23-33, Jesus answers the Sadducees’ question about a future resurrection by telling them “Ye do err” (KJV); or, the NIV says, “You are in error.” Clearly, Jesus says their thinking was wrong. Why? Because they had failed to understand the implication of Exodus 3:6 as God speaks of Himself being the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the “present tense” — at that moment — although they had been dead for many years when Exodus 3:6 was spoken. So, Jesus argues, how could they reject the spirit’s immortality (as the Sadducees believed)? Clearly, Jesus held the Sadducees accountable for not recognizing (perceiving) the implication of Exodus 3:6.  Consider another verbal exchange Jesus has with some of John’s disciples (Matthew 11:2-6). Jesus is asked the question, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Note the question could be easily answered with a “yes” or “no”; but that is not how He answers it. Instead, Jesus says, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see….” Then He refers to the various miracles He was performing along with His preaching the gospel. The question is not answered explicitly, but implicitly with the miracles He performed and the words He spoke — all “necessarily implying” that He was indeed “the Coming One.” Obviously, Jesus expected both John and his disciples to understand this.  

Here is another example of necessary implication in which the Scripture itself draws the implication for us. Read Ephesians 4:8-10. Verse 8 quotes Psalm 68:18 which is a prophetic reference to Jesus’ ascension. Then verse 9 comments on it saying “Now this ‘He ascended’ — what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?”  Before Jesus could ascend He had to descend (from heaven to earth and death/burial), although that is not explicitly stated. Note the phrase “what does it mean” identifies the implication.  

Let me suggest three things that are important to keep in mind about necessary implications. (1) They must be necessary, inescapable, logical conclusions, drawn from the facts given. (2) The speaker or writer creates the necessary conclusion(s) by the facts given. Not just any inference “we” may conclude is right. (3) This reasoning (necessary implications) is not just some special kind of reasoning reserved for the Bible. It is something we do in everyday communication. If I told you to trim the trees in my backyard I “necessarily imply” you will need a saw, etc., to trim the trees. If I asked you to bake a cake my words “necessarily imply” you must have the ingredients and knowledge of how to do so. This is not rocket science; it is everyday communication.  Long ago it was said, “The language of the Bible is the language of men; therefore, the same rules we use to understand any other book should be used to understand the Bible.”

The point of all this is to scripturally affirm, implicit teaching is just as authoritative as explicit!!

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