”Commandments are covered promises; all promises are also covered commandments” (John Wesley)

Wesley understood the purpose of biblical interpretation to be the salvation of souls. God has revealed the way to heaven in Scripture, and that one book will enable us to get there.

“Commandments are covered promises.” Wesley understood the unity of law and gospel in both Testaments to be such that every time God gives a commandment, it is at the same time a hidden promise that God will enable the persons to do what God had commanded. In a similar way, all promises are also covered commandments. The power of grace is such that God would help anyone who accepted God’s grace by faith to accomplish God’s will. Thus Matthew 5:48 is best understood as both commandment and promise. Wesley translated it, “Therefore ye shall be perfect,” in place of the Authorized Version’s imperative form, “Be ye therefore perfect.” He thereby preserved the ambiguity between the imperative and future indicative that exists in the Greek text.

McKim, D. K. (1998). Historical handbook of major biblical interpreters (388). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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