reads: “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20, emp. added)—not the reader’s interpretation.
Furthermore, according to Mounce’s Analytical Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (1993), the Greek word epilusis (translated “interpretation” in 2 Peter 1:20) means primarily “a loosing” or “liberation.” The stem (or “root” as we say in English class) of epilusis is luo, and means literally “to loosen, unbind, or unfasten.” Therefore, “no prophecy of Scripture” ever was released, loosed, or given out by the prophets’ own inventions. They did not put their own construction upon God’s message; instead, the Holy Spirit guided them. Obviously, then, this passage has no reference to present-day interpreters of the text, but rather to those who wrote it—i.e., the prophets or apostles (cf. Ephesians 3:5).
Some religious groups maintain the position that “you can’t understand the Bible on your own” in an attempt to deprive the average person from enjoying the blessings of privately reading, studying, and learning God’s will. For several hundred years, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church kept the Bible out of the “laity’s” hands, because those who composed that hierarchy were concerned that the average person might read and study the Bible on their own and learn that the Catholic Church practices many things that the Bible does not teach. Even as late as 1816, Pope Pius VII (in De Versionibus S. Scriptura, September 3) said:
I declare that the associations formed in the major part of Europe to translate and diffuse the law of God into the common tongues, provoke horror within me and they tend to undercut the Christian faith down to its foundations. It is necessary to destroy this pest and reveal the evil designs of these manipulators.
Such comments reveal that the leaders of the Catholic Church were fearful that the “laity” would “come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4) and throw off the corrupt teachings of the Catholic Church.
Although some will continue to use 2 Peter 1:20-21 to teach that we must have a “priest” or “pastor” to interpret the Scriptures for us, an in-depth and logical examination of these verses reveals otherwise. The fact remains, God has given us a book that we can understand and obey (cf. Ephesians 3:4).
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