(Article for publication week of 11-18-2009 AD)
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:20-21).
Since (as we wrote last week) the Bible is clear concerning such things as creation, the law, and the way of salvation, it is possible to come to a correct interpretation of the scriptures. All believers have a liberty and responsibility to read and interpret the scriptures. However, none of us have a right to any private interpretation of the scriptures. As the scriptures came not by the will of man, even so they may not be interpreted by the will of man. All believers have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14), and so all believers may read and interpret the scriptures inspired by the Holy Spirit.
That all believers may read and interpret the Bible is seen by the example of the noble Bereans who "received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily" (Acts 15:11). It is evident from the way this is worded that the Lord approved of the Bereans searching the scriptures for themselves. Notice also in Acts 8:26-40 in the account of the conversion of the Ethiopian, that Phillip found this man reading the book of Isaiah. Phillip did not condemn the man for reading a book that can only be interpreted by "experts", but rather took his text from the place the man was reading and preached Christ unto him. These two examples show us very clearly that all men may read the word for themselves. The reading and interpretation of scripture is not reserved for clerics or "priests".
The infallible rule of scripture interpretation is the scripture itself. Let us note for example in Matthew 19:3-9, how the Lord uses scripture to interpret scripture. In this passage the Pharisees asked the Lord a question regarding divorce that they hoped would discredit Him, regardless of how He answered. The text they referred to was Deuteronomy 24:1-4 where the Lord allowed a divorce for "uncleanness." Our Lord used Genesis 2:24 to interpret this passage and showed that divorce may not be sought except for fornication. (Those of you who have gone and obtained a divorce without scriptural cause have sinned greatly and I urge you to repent before it is everlastingly too late.) So we see our Lord teaches that we are to interpret scripture by scripture.
The interpretation of scripture must not be attempted lightly. We must approach the scriptures with reverence and with prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit Who is the Teacher and Guide of the Lord's people (John 16:13). My dear readers, I urge you to be Bereans and search the scriptures daily. May the Lord bless you all, my dear friends.