Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lesson 3 of Bible Interpretaion

This lesson is borrowed from the booklet “Seven rules for Bible Interpretation”, written by REV. M. L. LOWE, D.D. with supplemental material by David W. Holden.

(My text in red)

 Rule 3: No Prophecy of Scripture is of Any Private Interpretation

          We have pictured the seven rules as seven links in a chain, the first of which is anchored firmly to the Word.  Then we came to the two sides of the second rule, and found them interlinked in value, coupling the first and third links.  But now, as we come to the third link, we have a serious problem.  Who is to say what is “private interpretation” or what is not?  We quote directly from Dr. Lowe’s classroom notes.

          This rule is of vital importance, no matter what passage is being considered.  The right of private interpretation is to be distinguished from the rule of private interpretation.

     2 Peter 1:20 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”

     What is, theologically considered, PRIVATE INTERPRETATION?

When Peter wrote these words he had a different thought from what the theologians of this era have in mind.  Nevertheless, both ideas have there place.  Consider:
     Dr. W. E. Vine gives the explanation in his highly respected EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS:

     (Interpretation) 2. EPILUSIS, from epiluō, to loose, solve, explain, denotes a solution, explanation, literally a release (epi, up; luō, to loose),  II Peter 1:20, “(of private)interpretation;” i.e., the writers of Scripture did not put their own construction upon the ‘God-breathed’ words they wrote. 
Now the important point here is the summary:  “the writers of Scripture did not put their own construction upon the ‘God-breathed’ words they wrote.”  The forty or more writers of the Bible books did not inject their own ideas into the writing given to them by the Holy Spirit.  But, at this end, the concern is not about the writings (that is already settled—we have the books as the Holy Spirit dictated, and without inflections of the “stenographers,” for they wrote exactly as they were dictated to.)  Our problem is with our ideas infiltrating into what God has already clearly given.
How can we simply identify this trend, and make it clear in our own minds?  Consider:

The Bible is one complete unity of thought, plan, purpose, and teaching.  It is not a conglomerate of ideas about God or religion!  The Bible does not contradict itself!

Moreover, it is to be remembered that our Lord will never reveal anything which is contrary to His Word!  In the First Epistle of John we have the key:

1 John 2:27 “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”

The Holy Spirit Himself teaches the believer (the truly born-again child of God, not the mere professing church member) and the same Holy Spirit will never teach anything contrary to the mind and will of God!  What this MIND and WILL of God is, is clearly given in the Word.  Now some sincere people, claiming this anointing, have a tendency to put their own, “The Lord told me” against the facts revealed within the Bible.  The believer can identify that which is of the Holy Spirit and that which is of the will of man  (even the man may claim this anointing and stand on the phrase “and ye need not that any man teach you”) by a simple comparison of what the Word says. 


An earnest Christian woman fell in love with a man who very obviously was not saved.  She insisted on marrying him, declaring that the Lord had told her to do so.  Those who were concerned had to stand sorrowfully on the sidelines and witness this tragic union, powerless to convince her of the “unequal yoke” of 2 Corinthians 6:14.  She had determined that the Lord had given her a special revelation which was contrary to, but not superceded His Written Word!  Such tragedy is repeated again and again. 
      It is one thing for a person who is married—both of them unsaved at the time of marriage—to be saved, and eventually lead the mate to the Lord (and, just as often, to not lead that mate to the Lord) and it is another matter to deliberately step out of the Lord’s direct will by making such an unwarranted alliance!  Oh, that Christian young people would heed the admonitions to avoid even casually dating unsaved persons!  Why can’t they see tragedies that are already within the church assembly?  Every reader of this page knows of the binding circumstances which follow casual affiliations with unsaved persons.  2 Corinthians 6:14 applies to business agreements…to social contacts…to dating…and to mating!  For every case where an unsaved mate was finally won to the Lord, there are a hundred which didn’t end that way---and you know it!
But, back to our main question: How can we protect ourselves from the vanity of giving some passage of the Scripture our own private interpretation?  Is there a danger that we shall “jump to a conclusion” about some interpretation of a passage?  Probably in no other sphere of Christian teaching is this temptation more rampant than in the matter of Bible prophecy.  The following illustration has had it duplicates on many prophecies:                    


During World War II, the writer was pastor of a small country church, and in the congregation was a man who assumed that he himself was quite a student of prophecy.  On reading the book of the REVELATION (he always insisted that the name was in the plural) he read about the three unclean spirits like frogs…and immediately propounded that this unholy trio was Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin!  However, time has proven him to be somewhat erroneous in his deductions and his “private interpretations”  (made public to anyone who would stand still and listen) came to naught!

In John 17 our Lord Jesus Christ prayed for us—even for us, who live at this far end of the Age of Grace!  In verse 17, He prayed that we might be sanctified by His Word—that we might be set apart to his glory through His Word!  Our Lord was concerned that the Word might “have free course, and be glorified within each of us.  The Lord Jesus prayed for us in the matter of “private interpretation.”  (He is even now also interceding for us at the right hand of the Father!)
Paul had a concern for those whom he had the privilege of leading to the Lord in the church established through his ministry.  We have a clear example of this in his letter to the Ephesian believers.  Concerning this, Dr. Lowe continued his dictation:
In Ephesians 1:17 and 19, and in chapter 3: 16-19, we find Paul’s prayer that the saints might have a knowledge of God’s Word.  The Apostle John speaks of the anointing of the Holy Spirit (I John 2:27), by which Spirit we are taught.

Eph. 1:17-19  “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,”

Eph. 3:16 “That he would grant you…to be strengthened with might by His Spirit…”
17 “That Christ ma dwell in your hearts by faith: that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,”
18 “May be able to comprehend…”
19 “And to know…”

Paul prayed that the believers at Ephesus (and by extension, we who are believers at this end of the Age of Grace) might have three vital gifts from the Lord:  (1) WISDOM; (2) REVELATION; and (3)  KNOWLEDGE OF HIM!  With this comes, “the exceeding greatness of His power to us,”  and from chapter three, “strengthened with might by His Spirit” that “Christ might dwell in our hearts by faith,” that we might be “rooted and grounded…and able to comprehend!”

When it comes to the matter of discernment, perhaps we should make this our prayer also.

This lesson will be continued in my next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment