Private Interpretation

Sometimes, as the Christian shares the Biblical evidence for what to believe and what not to believe, some opponents will counter with “Scripture is not of private interpretation.” Some Catholics and even a few Jehovah’s Witnesses have used that on me over the years. So where do they get that?

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Pet 1:20, KJV)

look what's in the bible
The NIV reads this way:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. (2 Pet 1:20)

Is It Wrong For A Person To Read The Bible

The way the private interpretation objection is thrown out, one might wrongly conclude it is wrong to even read the Bible. How the devil would like that! That would keep us in darkness and make us all easy victims. The private interpretation of 2 Pet 1:20 can’t be as the Watchtower, the Pope or other cultic groups would say because:

  • The New Testament epistles were read out loud to all the Christians in the congregation. Hence, they must have been able to understand the message therein contained as it was read or they would have never practiced this (Col. 4:16; etc.). Each person privately gave an interpretation to what they heard, yet certainly didn’t violate 2 Pet 1:20! See 1 Jn. 2:26,27. The Holy Spirit is resident within a Christian to teach him.
  • The Bereans individually studied Scripture and found God’s truth after close examination by themselves individually! They were commended for doing so (Acts 17:11,12), yet they were unsaved when they were first verifying the points of Scripture Paul cited! Hence, the unsaved can even understand certain Scriptures, if they sincerely seek for themselves. The Bereans also must not have violated the private interpretation clause by what they did.

2 Peter 1:20,21

The immediate context helps us to understand:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet 1:20,21)

The meaning of private interpretation in 2 Pet. 1:20 refers back to the false teachers Peter was opposing, who cleverly invented stories (1:16) and were apparently guilty of private interpretation. Peter is saying that real prophecy of Scripture didn’t come about by the prophet’s own interpretation. The origin of the prophecy was not the will of man, but God (1:21), unlike what the false teachers were presenting.

Finally, never forget that it is SURELY the devil, who doesn’t want you to read the Bible, especially the New Testament to learn the truth about the forgiveness of sins and salvation. Don’t allow ANYTHING or ANYONE keep you from the Bible, even by the misapplied private interpretation argument. God bless you.

About Dan Corner

Evangelical brother Dan Corner is a Bible holiness preacher, teacher and soul winner. Most importantly he is a Christian and former Roman Catholic.
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