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“That’s Just Your Interpretation!”

From Issue: R&R – Issue 44 #3

What do people mean by the statement, “That’s just your interpretation”? They mean: “You’ve got your view of what the Bible passage means and I’ve got mine—and who’s to say mine’s wrong and yours is right?” The matter is further muddled when one considers the fact that on any given religious question, there are knowledgeable, presumably sincere “authorities” on both sides of the issue. But let’s think through this notion.

God has given us a written revelation with the understanding that it can be correctly comprehended. This means that for every teaching, there is a meaning that God originally intended to convey. It is our task to ascertain the correct interpretation. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth” (John 8:32). Paul said to “speak the same thing… be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Peter said, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). And Paul insisted that we are to be involved in “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, ESV). When Peter wrote, “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20), he verified the fact that even God’s inspired spokesmen did not express their own views, opinions, or interpretations. Rather, they were merely conveying God’s views.

So there’s no such thing as “my interpretation” and “your interpretation.” There’s only God’s meaning, and with proper study and correct reasoning, we can arrive at the truth on any subject that is vital to our spiritual well-being.1 Rather than shrug off the conflicting views and positions on various subjects and dismiss religious differences as hopeless, unresolvable, or irreconcilable, we can and must be about the business of studying and searching God’s Book (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). We must cautiously refrain from misinterpreting and misusing Scripture (2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Peter 3:16). We must carefully consider all sides of every issue (1 John 4:1; Proverbs 14:15). We must “take heed how we hear” (Luke 8:18), i.e., make certain our hearts are genuinely receptive to the truth (Luke 8:15). We must realize that there are those who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Having given sufficient attention to these important keys to ascertaining God’s will, we can be certain of our ability to come to the knowledge of the truth that God wants us to know (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Endnote

1 There are many things that we cannot know since God has not chosen to reveal them to us. However, we can know those things that God intends for us to know.


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