Private Interpretations

Neil Girrard

Peter wrote, “…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation…”

This Scripture is often used to take aim at “lone Ranger,” “misguided,” “crackpot” students of the Bible (who are often mistakenly perceived or portrayed as acting totally alone) who arrive at conclusions that differ substantially from the accepted “norm” “theology” that enables the carnal worldly institution men most commonly call “church” to pacify its best paying consumers and to control or exclude its dissidents. This verse is used as if it said, “No Scripture is of private interpretation” – meaning, “if you didn’t get your understanding of a particular Bible concept from our accepted teacher, you couldn’t possibly understand it correctly.” Those who deny this is how this verse is used and applied have never dissented against official “church” teachings!

But the real meaning of this verse is found in its real context. Peter goes on to say, “…for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” As we look back in the words Peter wrote just before these two verses (the real context – not some imagined connection to some obscure verse by some other author), we find that Peter is defending his passing on of his eyewitness accounts of the majesty of Christ Jesus against accusations that they were merely cunningly devised fables.

Theologians have concocted several categories by which they try to explain the divine inspiration process – most of which only explains away the divinity of God! The natural theory says that the Scriptures were inspired in much the same way Shakespeare’s plays or Mark Twain’s novels were inspired. But this gives far too much value to human genius and virtually excludes the transcendency and otherliness of God. The content theory says that God stirs up the soul and spirit of men in a certain direction and then the men speak and write as they think best. There is certain validity in this idea but only when one understands that God is able to influence and direct not only His initial stirring but also the secondary thinking and communicating of the men involved! That is not to say the men become mere robots or automatons or even always and only mere relayers of messages from God (which prophets certainly were and are at times) but rather that the internal workings of God in the human soul and spirit reaches further and deeper than most “theologies” account for.

In contrast to these views, Jesus and the writers of the New Testament attributed every word (and every letter and even the punctuation!) to God. Thus the original text is the closest we can arrive at to gain the best communication from God Himself – and this must be accomplished through a vital relationship with the Spirit of truth who reveals the deep things of God to us. The work of the genuine student of the Bible is to unravel the twisted applications and interpretations of men away from the pure and undefiled words of God. No man can ever hope to unravel these strands and rightly divide the word of truth apart from a personal relationship with the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit of God Himself.

This is the real meaning in what Peter is saying in these two verses – no one is able to rightly speak the words of God nor rightly understand the Scriptures by private interpretation – that is, without the direct assistance of the Holy Spirit. No modern translation – no matter how good it is – is completely free of the translators’ private interpretations. No denomination (not even the so-called non-denominational denominations) – no matter how much they claim to (or even actually do) practice and conform to the New Testament (which most do not) – is free of the private interpretations of its founders and leaders. This interwoven carnality is the source of leaven that prevents the followers of Christ from attaining to the maturity and fullness of their calling in Christ – and it is built in to nearly every “church” hierarchical and structural system.

These verses are not aimed at the man who hears God telling him something that stands in stark contrast to the accepted, status-quo norms of the institutionalized traditions of men. These verses are more rightly aimed at the men who take their private interpretations of the Scriptures and use them to create an institutional or authoritative hierarchy that systematically excludes the life and personal leading of the Lord from the lives of the people who follow after them!

The “private interpretations” here does not refer to the lone man who alone sees the will of God clearly – that is the perfect description of Jesus! No, “private interpretations” here means any understanding gleaned apart from the Spirit of truth. As such, we can only conclude that most of modern “churchianity” is nothing but the kingdoms of men built on various and conflicting private interpretations that have little or nothing to do with the rightly divided word of God.

Let he who has ears hear.

2 Peter 1:20-21
Bible Bullets

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