Torah Scroll

2 Peter 1:20-21

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
 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.

The Holy Spirit has provided the answer to our question by instructing us with the knowledge that no part of The Scriptures is of any "private interpretation," and the Scriptures came not by a man's will but as "holy men of God" were moved by The Holy Spirit. Some will say, "But the verse says prophecy, not Scriptures," but they fail to realize that this verse affirms that all Scripture is given to mankind by the revelation of prophecy. The "holy men" were Prophets, and The Word they spoke was, "Thus saith The Lord" or prophetic revelations. Most people have never been taught that most prophecy is forth-telling (as in current events or truths), not foretelling (as in future events). All Scripture is Prophecy from God.

To really study God's Word, we must study the words of His Word. When studying the words of 2 Peter 1:20, we should want to know what "private" and "interpretation" means. As to the word rendered "private," we find it is the Greek word idios and occurs 114 times in The New Testament. 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 Greek word epilusis rendered "interpretation," we shall find that it occurs nowhere else, neither in the New Testament nor the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament known as the LXX). As this Greek noun occurs nowhere else, we have no simple guide to its meaning as we had with the word "private." For guidance, we must refer to the verb epiluo, which comprises epitranslated as "upon," and luo, "to loosen." Xenophon, the ancient Greek historian, uses this word to describe letting dogs "loose" upon the ground to chase a hare. Another Greek writer uses it to "break open" a letter bearing upon a certain subject. So, its usage seems 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" (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"), but it will also bear a larger meaning. He spoke 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. 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 harmonize 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 one 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 writings or nowhere else 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 yasharmeaning "to be right" or "straight." In Proverbs 3:6 and Prov. 11:5, the Hebrew is (or causative) "to make right" (as in 2 Chron. 32:30; Prov. 15:21; Isa. 40:3, Isa. 45:2, Isa. 45:13.

But it is the Greek word that we have to deal 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 wrong ways 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, for we could fill a page with their names and views, but we should learn 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:

 1. Our one great study is to seek God's approval, not man's. 

 2. We are to show all diligence in pursuing this study. 

 3. As workmen, our aim is to have no cause to be ashamed of our work. 

 4. To gain God's approval and avert our shame, we must Rightly Divide The Word of Truth. 

 5. To do this, we must direct our studies in the right way

 6. This great requirement is associated with The Word in its special character as The Word of Truth, i.e., "The TRUE Word."

All this tells us that we shall not get The Truth if we do not thus Rightly Divide it and that we shall get The Truth only in proportion to our "Rightly Dividing" it.

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 signposts must be observed, and the directions and guides in The Word itself must be followed.

We are to "give diligence" to this great Requirement of The Word 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 this command not 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, 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 many of 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." This is despite the fact that this book contains "the Vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem." If these headings are not found in some of the current editions of our KJV English Bibles, it is only 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 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: 

1. As to its Literary Form.

2. As to its Subject Matter.

3. As to its Times and Dispensations.

4. 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 that it begins to show the student that The Word must be "Rightly Divided."  For additional information on "Right Division," see the Study Section under the same name.

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