Private Interpretation

2 Peter 1:20  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 13
2 Peter 1:2020Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20).-Permit me briefly to show why I consider the common view to be erroneous. In the first place it gives no reason for taking προφητεία as equivalent to an inspired declaration, predictive or not. Indeed, I am not aware that the word in the New Testament ever has this loose meaning, and I am quite clear that the verb from which it is derived countenances nothing of the sort in 1 Cor. 14:33But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. (1 Corinthians 14:3), but simply contrasts prophesying with speaking in a tongue. In other words, that verse in no way defines prophesying, but compares its character with the gift of tongues. But, even if it were ever so used beyond a doubt in the New Testament, I am of opinion that the context here decidedly restricts προφητεία to the revelation of future events.
It is agreed that ἐπἱλυσις means interpretation, or the act of interpreting, though some, as Calvin and Grotius, have been rash enough to venture on the conjecture ἐπηλύσεως, and many more have given the force of " movement " to ἐπίλυσις, while it would really require ἐπήλυσις (= approach), or some such word.
The main question remains as to the force and reference of ἴδιος. One critic reasons from its frequent opposition to χοινός. But this is too narrow a foundation, because each of these words possesses significations not thus opposed. The fact is that, beside the elliptical χατ’ἰδἰαν, ἴδιος occurs near a hundred times in the New Testament, and always means " own" (his, her, its, etc., according to the case). I have little doubt, both from general usage and from the verses before and after the passage under debate, that,ιδίας here refers to the subject of the sentence, προφητεία, and that the meaning is, "No prophecy of Scripture is (or is made) of its own interpretation." Taken by itself, it is not its own interpreter, but must be viewed as part of a grand whole, whereof Christ's glory is the center. I must be excused, therefore, if I believe the idea of some to be as thorough a perversion of the text as the Romish one. One contends for the general right of man, they for the exclusive prerogative of the church so-called-both, in my judgment, dangerous errors, however concealed or explained. The Holy Ghost leads us to connect facts with God's purposes in Christ, and thus to understand and expound prophecy, which taken by itself is never rightly known. Even Rosenmuller, Wahl, etc., seem to agree with the view here contended for.