- Published: 08 February 2011
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2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
2 Peter 1:21 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.
Here the Holy Spirit has given us the answer to our question by telling us that no part of Scripture is of any "private interpretation" and that the Scripture came not by mans will but as men were moved by The Holy Spirit. Some will say "But the verse say "prophecy" not Scriptures but what one comes to realise by reading God's Perfect Word is that all SCripture given by revelation is prophecy and is either foretelling (as in future events) or forthtelling (as in current events or truths).
To really study The Word we must study the words of The Words. Here when studying the words we desire to know what these two words "private," and "interpretation" mean. As to the word rendered "private" we find that it is (idios) and that it occurs 114 times. Out of these 114 times we find that it is nearly always rendered one's own; "his own sheep," "his own servants," "his own house," "his own country," etc.; but not once is it rendered "private," except in this passage. This shows us that the rendering "private" is sufficiently abnormal to be suspected; and that it would be more consistent to render it one's own .
As to the word rendered "interpretation" we shall find that it occurs nowhere else; neither in the New Testament, nor in the Septuagint. It is (epilusis). We have no guide to its meaning as we had with the word "private." As this noun occurs nowhere else we must go to the verb (epiluo), which is made up of the preposition (epi), upon, and (luo), to loosen. We find Xenophon using it of letting dogs loose upon the ground to chase a hare. Another Greek writer uses it of breaking open a letter bearing upon a certain subject. So that its usage is perfectly clear so far. In the New Testament this verb occurs only twice (Mark 4:34 and Acts 19:39). From Mark 4:34 it is evident that it will bear the AV rendering expound* but it will also bear a larger meaning. He spake publicly "with many such parables," but "when they were alone," He broke open the casket which hid His real meaning; He unfolded the treasures that were therein; He let them loose as it were and displayed them before the eyes of His disciples.
* Just as private will bear the meaning of one's own: inasmuch as what is one's own is private; and what is private is one's own.In Acts 19:39 the Town Clerk said "If ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be made known (or shown) in a lawful assembly."
Any of these meanings will do here in 2 Peter 1:20-21, and it will be seen how they harmonise with the one matter which is the subject, or scope, of the whole passage.
"Getting to know, this, first:—that not any prophecy of Scripture springs from ones own unfolding,
For, not by the will of man was prophecy at any time brought forth—
[How then did it come?]
But being borne along by Holy Spirit, men spake from God."
* (ginomai), to begin, come into being, begin to be, become, arise, happen.
** (pneuma hagion), Divine power from on high.
Thus, the words are brought into harmony with the scope, or subject of the whole passage; and we see how they refer to the origin and source of the prophetic Word, and not to its meaning or interpretation.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.The one great requirement of the Word is grounded on the fact that it is "the Word of truth." And this fact is so stated as to imply that, unless the Word is thus rightly divided we shall not get "truth"; and that we shall get its truth only in proportion to the measure in which we divide it rightly.
The Requirement is thus stated in 2 Timothy 2:15: "Give diligence to present thyself approved to God, a workman having no cause to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth."
The word in question here is (orthotomounta).*
* From (orthos), right, and (temno), to cut.As this word occurs in no Greek writer, or even elsewhere in the New Testament, we can get little or no help from outside, and are confined to Biblical usage.
It is used twice in the Septuagint for the Hebrew (yashar), to be right, or straight. In Proverbs 3:6, 11:5, the Hebrew is (or causative), to make right (as in 2 Chron 32:30; Prov 15:21; Isa 40:3, 45:2,13).
But it is the Greek word that we have to do with here, in 2 Timothy 2:15; and we cannot get away from the fact that (temno) means to cut; or, from the fact that we cannot cut without dividing. To divide belongs to the very nature of the act of cutting. Even as applied to directing one's way, it implies that we divide off one way from others— because we desire to follow the right way and avoid the wrong.
The only Biblical guide we have to the usage of the word is in Proverbs 3:6:
"In all thy ways acknowledge him
And he shall direct thy paths."
In the margin the RV gives, "make straight or plain" as an alternative rendering for "direct." But our ways can only be made straight or plain by God's causing us to proceed on our way aright—i.e., by avoiding all the ways that are wrong, and going in the one way that is right; in other words, the right way is divided off from all the wrong ways.
What else can the word mean in 2 Timothy 2:15?
It matters little what others have thought or said. We could fill a page with their names and their views, but we should learn but little and only become confused. The duties of Priests, Furriers, and Ploughmen have been referred to as indicating the correct meaning. But we need not leave the Biblical usage, which associates the word with guidance in the right way.
The scope of the verse plainly teaches that:
- Our one great study is to seek GOD'S approval, and not man's.
- We are to show all diligence in pursuing this study.
- As workmen, our aim is to have no cause to be ashamed of our work.
- In order to gain God's approval and avert our own shame we must rightly divide the word of truth.
- To do this we must direct our studies in the right way.
- This great requirement is associated with the Word in its special character as being the Word of truth; i.e., "the TRUE Word."
Other titles of the Word have their own special requirements. As "the engrafted Word" it must be received with meekness (James 1:21). As "the Faithful Word" we must hold it fast (Titus 1:9). As "the Word of life" we must hold it forth (Phil 2:16).
But, because this is "the Word of truth," its paths must be well noted, the sign-posts must be observed, the directions and guides which are in the Word itself must be followed.
We are to "give diligence" to this great Requirement of the Word just because it is "the Word of truth."
It is true that there are many who altogether ignore this precept; and have no thought as to obeying this command in their study of the Word.
There are many who make light of our insistence on obedience to this precept.
On what ground, we ask, are we to treat such an important command as though it had never been given?
Why is not this command as binding on Bible students as any other command in the Word of God?
What motive can such have to blunt the point and dull the edge of this "Sword of the Spirit" in this matter?
Strange to say, those who would be-little our efforts in rendering due obedience to this command, are themselves obliged not only to accept its division into chapters, and verses, and punctuated sentences; but they go further, and adopt the division of its subject-matter which is made by the insertion of chapter-headings and running page-headings according to man's own ideas.
The only question is, Do they divide it rightly, or wrongly?
For example, in the KJV English Bibles which our readers use, over Isaiah 29 we notice the running page-heading "Judgment upon Jerusalem"; and on the opposite page, over chapter 30 we notice the page-heading "God's mercies to His church."
Again, over Isaiah 59 we note the chapter-heading "The sins of the Jews"; in the chapter-heading of chapter 60 we note "The glory of the church." And this in spite of the declared fact that this book contains "the Vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem" (ch 1:1).*
* If these headings are not found in some of the current editions of our English Bibles, it is only a proof that still greater liberties are taken in changes of these headings.Surely, this is dividing the Word. But the only question for us to ask is, whether it is divided "rightly" or wrongly.
In the consideration of this great and important requirement there are four principal spheres in which we are to give diligence so that we may follow the right ways which are so clearly cut and marked out for our studies.
We must rightly divide the Word of Truth:
- As to its Literary Form.
- As to its Subject-matter.
- As to its Times and Dispensations.
- As to its Dispensational Truth and Teaching.
We hope this short overview will begin to answer the question "How Did We Get The Word?" and begins to show the student of The Word must "Rightly Divide". For additional information on "Right Division" see the Study Section under the same name.