Authority or Interpretation?

by Adam B. Cozort
holybible2.jpgIt is interesting to note the differing reactions of individuals when confronted with what the Bible teaches on a particular issue. Inevitably, the first response to the putting forth of such information is, “that is your interpretation.” Hence, when it comes to worship, salvation, lifestyle, or anything in between, what the Bible teaches concerning a subject is simply our “interpretation” of the facts.
If such a philosophy is true, then there is no way for mankind to be able to come to a clear, distinct knowledge of the truth. For any decision which man makes, any belief he holds, is simply his interpretation of the statements in Scripture. That being stated, I can believe whatever I wish simply because all answers are man’s opinions.
Such a view of Bible authority and the Scriptures cannot be upheld or accepted. Peter wrote, “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” (II Peter 1:20-21 KJV).
Peter emphatically denies the ideology of multiple correct interpretations. He states that every prophecy found within Scripture was put there for a specific reason and with a specific interpretation attached. Hence, there is no room left for man’s personal inclinations on the matter.
Paul would confirm the intent of God in these matters by writing to the Corinthians:

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10).

If all that is laid before man today is his interpretations and opinions on matters of faith, then it would be impossible for us to “speak the same thing.” God, however, has never expected something from man which he knew would be impossible for man to achieve. Therefore, there must be a way in which man can understand the Bible to the degree of being “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
The Scriptures have been given to us for a number of reasons. They have been given for our learning (Romans 15:4), for their profitable nature in our lives (II Timothy 3:16-17), and that we might have all things pertaining to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). Understanding the Bible is not a matter of interpreting the Scriptures for ourselves, it is a matter of letting God interpret things for us.
Within the pages of Scripture, God has defined every concept as he intended, and laid forth every commandment as he would have it carried out. Therefore, God has left no room for man’s interpretations of the Scripture. The question is, will we agree with God?
It is of absolutely no value to give my interpretation of any passage of Scripture. If what I believe is not in accord with the overall writing of the Scriptures, it is erroneous. If it agrees completely with the entirety of Scripture, it is not my interpretation, but God has already given it. I have simply repeated the message. May we always remember the words of the prophet Amos when considering our approach to God and Scripture, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).

2 Replies to “Authority or Interpretation?”

  1. I understand what you are saying, yet at the sametime every one of us will bring our own interpretations to the scriptures. Our background, out culture, our personallity, our upbringing (Christian or otherwise). While I totally agree there is only one correct interpretation of scripture, I don’t agree that any one person has it. Issues like predestination, eternal security, tongues, etc are all examples where I hear people on both side say ‘I just believe what the Bible says’ as if the other side doesn’t!

  2. Bob,
    The problem with what you have said is that you consider it a foregone conclusion that everyone will bring his own interpretations into the picture. Yet the very premise of the article is that those things cannot be brought in and come to an adequate conclusion. When we insert our, background, culture, previous beliefs, etc. into God’s Word instead of pulling out what God says, we are not rightly dividing the word (II Tim. 2:15).
    I agree that no individual has “the correct” interpretation of Scripture. God has it, and he gave it. Until we stop pre-supposing we know what the Bible says and stop and see what it says, we will not understand God’s word.
    Every one of the issues you mentioned are readily cleared up when God’s word is allowed to speak for itself, but until that happens unity of belief cannot occur.
    To say that it is a foregone conclusion that man’s interpretations will rule the day is to state that God did not know what he was talking about, and that Paul was, by inspiration, being unreasonable in I Corinthians 1:10.

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