What does the verse mean that says,
"scripture is of no private interpretation"?


Thank you for your question.  The verse you are partially referencing is from II Peter 1:20 where it says “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”  Frequently people misunderstand this verse and leave out the word “prophecy”.  The common thought is that one verse of scripture can be easily taken out of context when not considered with the chapter in which it is found.  That is a true statement, but it is not a proper exegesis of the verse.  The key word is “prophecy”.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 says “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.”  

 Deuteronomy 18:22 says “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”  

Clearly, a person who claimed to be a prophet of God did so with extreme caution and had to be convinced they were speaking exactly what God intended.  You were literally taking your life into your own hands to speak anything falsely.  The verse in II Peter properly says “…that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”  “Private” refers to a prophecy being made alone as in without God or with personal motivation.  This exegesis is solidified in verse 21 that says “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.” 

In conclusion, although it is true we need to consider any scripture in its proper context, II Peter 1:20 is a verse that supports the Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.  We truly have God’s Word and can firmly say that it is not “just a bunch of words written by men”.  Praise the Lord!!

Talking Terminology
Exegesis: Critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, esp. of the Bible.    





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