Wednesday: The More Sure Word of Prophecy

Read 2 Peter 1:19-21. To what prophecies is Peter referring? What does he mean when he says that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation?

A Sure Word of Prophecy

Image © Michael Agliolo

In stressing that Christianity is not based on cunningly devised fables (2 Pet. 1:16), Peter offers up two lines of evidence: first, eyewitnesses (2 Pet. 1:16-18); second, the prophecies of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:19-21), an argument he used earlier (1 Pet. 1:10-12).

Peter also states that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Pet. 1:20, NKJV). In saying this, Peter is not forbidding us to study Scripture for ourselves. That would be very far from the thoughts of the one who said, in 1 Peter 1:13, “gird up the loins of your mind” (KJV) or “prepare your minds for action” (NRSV). Nor would it be said by one who commended the prophets of old for their diligent searching after the meaning of the prophecies that they had been given (1 Pet. 1:10).

Then what did Peter mean? The New Testament church progressed together and studied together. Christians were part of a larger body (1 Cor. 12:12-14). And Peter here was warning against the kind of study in which one rejects any insight from the community of believers. In interacting with others we can grow together as a community. The Spirit works with the community and the individuals in it. Insights can be shared, refined, and deepened. But the one who works alone, refusing input from others, is likely to come to wrong interpretations, especially with something like prophecy.

In the next verses we find a good reason for Peter to make this observation. He is writing to Christians who have among them false prophets and false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1). Peter is urging them to submit their interpretation of Scripture to the leading of the church as a whole. How many people have drifted off into fanaticism and error because they refused to heed the counsel of a Spirit-led community of believers? It was a danger back then, and it remains one today.

Why is it so important to be open to the counsel and advice of the church at large? At the same time, what are the limits on how far we should go in submitting to others?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons