Focal Passage: 2 Peter 1:16-2:3
We are all translators/interpreters” was a comment made a
number of years ago by French philosopher Jacques Derrida. It expressed the
idea that we all interpret or translate experience, etc.
Another version of that concept is the statement heard in
many religious circles,
“Everyone interprets the Bible in their own way.”
In one way both statements are correct — each individual
interprets their world through personal lenses and in the context of biblical
study each reads the text through those same lenses. The end product will be an
interpretation unique to their particular worldview.
This can be understood as
one person’s guess is as good as another’s.
That said, this conclusion is not necessarily completely
Though we may see different truths or realities in a
particular text, there is still a correct or meaningful interpretation to any
given text. Scholars use a plethora of methods for discovering the meaning and
significance of a text for believers.
In the end, the scripture comes alive and the reader
encounters God’s Word.
Peter in his second letter is concerned about the apparent
delay of Christ’s Second Coming and the subsequent detractors and false
prophets who had arisen within the Church.
These false teachers dismissed the gospel by assigning it to
the level of “cleverly devised myths” (1:16).
Peter’s response is first to personal experience “we had
been eyewitnesses of his (Christ) majesty” here referring to his witnessing of
Jesus’ transfiguration — “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while
we were with him on the holy mountain”(1:18).
Peter in effect states, “I was a
privileged eyewitness of the experiences of God” (Wm. Barclay). Thus, “I know!”
Secondly, Peter appeals to the prophetic word, i.e. the
scriptures. In order to not force the scriptures into his own personal
“experiences” mold, Peter states, “no prophecy of scripture is a matter of
one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will” (1:21).
Here Peter is declaring that no writer or prophet spoke as
he wished or by personal opinion. They spoke as directed by God (Holy Spirit).
Thus, “no man can go to scripture and interpret it as it suits himself”
Though Peter validates his preaching and teaching with
legitimate experience and the divine inspiration of the scriptures (teachings),
the reality of false teachers continues to loom over the young church.
While he speaks from a full heart of love and faith, they
speak from hearts covetous and greedy. They exploit, Peter encourages and
“Their destruction is not asleep” or as the NEB translates it
“perdition waits for them with unsleeping eyes” as promised long ago (Deut.
13:1-5; Jude 4).
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