The Apostle Peter had a heart for the church, especially for those suffering. You can see this in his first letter. His concern for the church led him to shift gears a bit in 2 Peter to focus on false teachers and dangerous theology.
Peter isn’t some angry heresy hunter, but a lover of God and his truth. This led him to not only call out false teachers, but to equip the church to defend itself against these false teachers and their false beliefs through knowledge of true doctrine. As a matter of fact, he brings up “knowledge” 16 times in this short letter.
The passage we are focusing on today reflects Peter’s concern, but it is also a famously difficult passage in the Bible. Biblical scholars have wrestled with the meaning of this passage for centuries, and I’m not able to get into all of that here. Instead, I would like to focus on the phrase, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.”
Truth is precious. It must be protected because only the truth reveals to us what is real; who we are, who God is, and it is the truth that saves us. The truth frees us, brings life to us, and and changes our hearts. Truth is precious because Jesus himself is Truth (1 Peter 2:7) . So when it comes to what is true we must submit ourselves to what God has revealed. Truth cannot be invented by us, nor can we determine what is true based on how we feel.
When Peter says, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation,” he means that the truth of Scripture is not found in the subjective meaning we attach to it. We should not make up or invent new meanings of Scripture, and we shouldn’t let our emotions dictate the meaning of any passage in the Bible. Instead we must let Scripture itself speak, and our job is to rightly understand it as it was intended to be received.
Praise God, we have been given a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who illuminates, or sheds light, on God’s truth for us. Through prayer, study, and godly counsel, God helps us understand his truth and apply it to our lives.
We must let the word of God be our only authority in faith and practice. This is what the Reformers called “sola scriptura” (scripture alone).
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other forms of authority in the church. We have church elders and wise men who have written very helpful books, but the Bible is the only infallible authority in the church.
We believe, teach, and confess that the only rule and guiding principle according to which all teachings and teachers are to be evaluated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments alone… Other writings of ancient or contemporary teachers, whatever their names may be, shall not be regarded as equal to Holy Scripture, but all of them together shall be subjected to it…
– Jacob Andreae (1570)
This relates to how we view preaching and teaching today. We need to make sure that we measure everything by God’s revealed Word.
In our humanity it is easy to sometimes get bored with the stories and truths that we read in the Bible. Sometimes we crave something new and exciting for our spiritual walk. Other times we prefer easy, feel good words to hard truths. But we must be very leery of any teacher who says they have “new truth.” We serve an ancient God (Daniel 7:13; Ps. 90:2) who has given us ancient truth (1Peter 1:25).
We must trust that not only is God good but so are his words, even when they are hard and make us feel uncomfortable.
“Would you prefer a comfortable lie or an uncomfortable truth?”
– Joe Thorn
Let’s be careful to listen to those who preach and teach the pure word of God, and not their own ideas or issues.
Looking to Jesus,