Interpreting the Bible | The Institute for Creation Research

Interpreting the Bible

“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 God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

One basic reason why so many people seem to have trouble understanding the Bible is that they try to “interpret” it to fit their private opinions. The Greek word for “private” (idios) is related to such English words as “idiom” and “idiosyncrasy,” and this key passage warns us against any exposition of Scripture which is based on the teacher’s pet doctrinal or behavioral prejudices. A reader or hearer of the Word of God whose “heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing” will be unable to “understand” (Matthew 13:15) because he comes with his mind and heart already bound to his own opinions.

The Bible does not need to be “interpreted” at all. In every other New Testament reference to “interpretation,” except the one in our text (which means “explanation” or “exposition”), the meaning is simply “translation.” The Bible does, of course, need to be correctly translated from Greek and Hebrew into English and other national languages, but that is all. God is able to say what He means, and He wants to communicate His authoritative Word to men and women of obedient hearts, who are willing to devote diligent study to all the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:12-14), to obey them (James 1:22), and then teach them to others (2 Timothy 2:2, 24-26) carefully, and clearly, and graciously.

To such students of the Word, the promise is: “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:3-5). HMM

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