The Holy Spirit Alone Interprets Scripture

Transfiguration Tuesday

2 Peter 1:20-21

“And this you should know first of all: No prophecy in Scripture happens based on one’s own interpretation. For never has a prophecy been produced from human will, but the holy people of God spoke driven by the Holy Spirit.”

Here Peter now attacks the false teachers: “Since you know this,” says he, “that we have God’s Word, abide by it and do not let yourselves be seduced by other, false teachers even though they come and claim to have the Holy Spirit as well.” For “this you should know first of all…that no prophecy in Scripture happens based on one’s own interpretation.” Keep this in mind and do not think that you will interpret Scripture by your own reason and intelligence. Now, this puts down and beats all the fathers’ own interpretation of Scripture. And it is prohibited to build on such interpretation. If Jerome or Augustine or any other father interpreted it himself, we do not want it. Peter has prohibited it: “You shall not interpret Scripture yourself.” The Holy Spirit himself is to do it–or it should remain uninterpreted. Now, if one of the holy fathers can prove that his interpretation is from Scripture that proves that it should be interpreted in this way, all is well. Otherwise, I should not believe him. This is how Peter attacks the boldest and best teachers. This is why we should be certain to believe no one–even if he quotes Scripture–if he interprets Scripture himself. For no proper understanding can be achieved by one’s own interpretation. It is here, then, that all teachers and fathers foundered, however many there are who interpreted the Scripture. E.g., when they apply Christ’s words in Matthew 16:18, “You are Peter, and on this
rock I will build my congregation,” to the pope. This is a human, self-imagined interpretation. For they cannot prove from Scripture that Peter is called the pope anywhere. But we can prove that the rock is Christ and faith, as Paul says, 1 Corinthians 10:4. This interpretation is correct. For we are certain that it is not made up by men but is drawn from God
’s Word. Now, what is written and proclaimed in the prophets, says Peter, was not invented or made up by men, but the
holy, good people spoke out of the Holy Spirit…The reason as to why it should be so is that we must preach such a Word that remains forever by which the souls may be preserved and life forever.

St. Louis ed., 9:1361-1363.

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