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Bible verses about Private Interpretation
(From Forerunner Commentary)

John 7:25-27

This is a clear example of a "private interpretation" (II Peter 1:19-21). Nowhere in the Old Testament does it say that no one would know where the Messiah was from. In fact, it says just the opposite! Matthew shows that Micah 5:2 names Bethlehem in Judah as the town in which He would be born, and that Isaiah 9:1-2 identifies Galilee as where He would launch His ministry.

Where did the Jews get such an outrageous, unbiblical idea? It was someone's private opinion that over time had become tradition, an accepted "fact." It became a proverb that is just as true as, "If you touch a toad, you'll get warts."

Is it any wonder that the people argued about Him so much? Earlier in John 7, we see some of this:

And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people." (verse 12)

They had no idea what to expect because they were burdened by their traditional yet wrong understanding about the Messiah.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
No Private Interpretation


 

1 Corinthians 7:35

One way that some are distracted is by misapplying the concept of watching. In Luke 21:36, Jesus says, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” There are those who believe that this verse instructs us to watch world events and prophecy. Because of that, they spend much time on those subjects, believing that they are properly preparing for the return of our Savior to this earth.

However, when Christ talks about watching, it is all about spiritual preparation, not physical preparation. Why would He change the meaning of “watch” in this one place? The answer is that He does not. Rather, people have added their own private interpretation (II Peter 1:20) that distracts from the imperative of our Lord's warning.

In Luke 21:36, the word “watch” is the Greek word agrupneo, which appears only four times in the New Testament, twice from Christ and twice from Paul. Here are the other three occurrences of agrupneo (it is in bold in the verses that follow):

Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. (Mark 13:33)

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—(Ephesians 6:18)

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

The subject in these three verses is spiritual. Luke 21:36 is no different. Those who misapply Luke 21:36 can become distracted, spending time on the less important and neglecting what is required. It is much like the principle of misplaced priorities that Jesus illustrates in Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”

Yes, we should be aware of world events and prophecy, but our greatest energies should be devoted to the far weightier matter of spiritual preparation. What if we died tonight? What value would it be if, after countless hours spent in intensive study year after year, we were right about world events and prophecy but because of inattention we were wrong about the true state of our character (Revelation 3:17)?

If a person were a sentry posted to watch for the enemy from the south, and all his preparations were for an attack from the south, an attack from the north would catch him just as unprepared as those who prepared not at all. For watching to have its benefit, we have to be watching the right thing.

That is the problem with being overly attentive to prophecy: There are many different interpretations from which to choose. At best, all are wrong but one. If we believe one of the many wrong ones, we will be looking in the wrong direction and be blindsided. All the time and effort spent would be for naught, or even worse, if it caused an individual to neglect watching his spiritual condition. It is vital to focus on the latter rather than the former.

Pat Higgins
Watch What?


 

1 Thessalonians 5:21

Jude calls for returning to "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). We have a chance to do that now, and once we have submitted to the Bible's authority, we can teach it to others (Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 5:12-14). But in our zeal to contend for the truth, we cannot forget a few basic principles of Bible study.

1) Here a little, there a little (Isaiah 28:9-13): God did not organize the Bible so that all information on a given subject falls in one chapter or book. The whole Bible must concur before we can truly call a theological concept "truth."

2) A positive approach (Acts 17:11-12): God left us a wonderful example of a people who sought to prove the truths of God rather than disprove them. He can work with those who have submissive minds, receptive to His revelation.

3) A desire to please God (II Timothy 2:15): Our study should be intended to merit God's approval of our lives. He is not impressed with scholarship or intelligence, but He does respect godly living and spiritual growth (Psalm 111:10; II Peter 3:18; I John 3:22).

4) No private interpretation (II Peter 1:20-21): The Word of God and the understanding of it are revealed by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:6-16). Any personal understanding or interpretation must agree in all points with the Bible, or spring without violence from its principles (cf. II Peter 3:16) - otherwise an idea is nothing more than an opinion and maybe a dangerous one.

5) Humility (I Corinthians 8:1-3): It is a good idea to remember that many others, probably wiser, have faced the same questions before us. The history of the true church of God through the centuries should be considered and the decisions of its leaders taken seriously.

6) Seek counsel (Proverbs 24:6): Not only should one bring vexing questions to the ministry, but one should also seek wise advice from brethren, both inside and outside one's normal circle of friends. After mentioning it to others, give them time to study the subject thoroughly themselves and reply before drawing any conclusions.

7) Prayer and meditation (Psalm 119:33-40, 97-99): Seeking God's will and considering the ramifications of our ideas are absolutely vital to proper Bible study. Others, weaker in the faith, may not be able to survive our "spirituality" (I Corinthians 8:9, 11-13).

If we apply these principles to our Bible study, we will go a long way toward diminishing the confusion over doctrine both within and out of the Body of Christ. And, importantly, we will be heeding the advice of our Elder Brother, "Take heed that no one deceives you" (Matthew 24:4).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Religious Confusion and You


 

 




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