An important man in a Limo was driving by with the window open. Another person on the street heard that he was reading a Bible very loudly. The person on the street asked the man in the Limo, “do you understand what you’re reading?” The man in the Limo responded, “”How can I, unless someone explains it to me?”
It didn’t quite happen that way, But here’s what really took place…
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” Acts 8:26-31
This passage has been used by many to imply that you are not capable of interpreting or understanding scripture (The Bible) on your own. You need the help of another to get it. This sentiment has been used throughout church history to divide those “in the know” from those “not-yet knowing.” The more of the Bible they know, the higher up they are on the ecclesiastical ladder they climb. Entire hierarchical structures are based on mastery of the scriptures instead of serving the One whom the scriptures point to.
Another passage that’s been abused and misused is this:
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” 2 Peter 1:20
I’ve actually heard this spoken, and surely insinuated in this way – “No scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” Catch the subtle nuance? It’s the prophecy of scripture and not the scripture itself that this passage refers to. Considering the previous, how would you answer these few questions:
1. Are you perfectly capable of interpreting the scriptures (The Bible) on your own?
2. If scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16) doesn’t that suggest that it can be understood or interpreted by the average person? Why or Why Not?
3. Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Again, wouldn’t that suggest that people (those in Christ) are perfectly capable of interpreting the scriptures and understanding them all on their own?
* These questions are designed to provoke and stimulate conversation and do not necessarily convey the author’s opinion.