I can’t find my Bible. I’ve been searching through my house all day. I have found a number of Bibles that I keep on hand for reference, but I can’t find mine. Here on this shelf I have the New Kings James Version, and it’s called, “Possibility Thinkers-Special Hour of Power Edition.” It belonged to my mother, she really enjoyed Robert Schuller over there at the Crystal Cathedral.
Still searching for my own Bible. Here, here’s another one. This one is even thicker than the last. This one is called “Red Letters: Teachers Edition” It is also known as the “Holman-Self Pronouncing Red Letter Edition.” This Bible belonged to my grandmother, Mary. It’s so old, It doesn’t even have a date printed in it.
Hold on; no this one isn’t it either. This Bible is a newer printing of the Kings James Version. This one was published in 2010 by Hendrickson. I’m really getting discouraged. I just don’t know where I left my Bible. But, I’ve yet again found another. This Bible is a little different; it’s known as a Study Bible. I’m still not sure what a Study Bible is. For the most part, it looks like many other Bibles. I can this however, it’s the first hardcover Bible I’ve ever had. This one is called, “The New Inductive Study Bible.” (NASB), published by Harvest House.
Now, if I’m not careful, I could end up with many more. Okay, so I’m not saying that nobody doesn’t ever throw away a Bible, but seriously now, think for just a moment or two, when was the last time that you discarded a Bible into the trash?
Now wait. I’m not talking about a Bible that may have been damaged or destroyed somehow. Perhaps it was damaged by a flood, or maybe half of it was lost in a fire. But again, I’m not talking about Bibles that are damaged. I’m talking about a perfectly good, usable Bible.
Many decades ago, and no I won’t say specify how many, My best friend and I worked cleaning homes. Now I’m not talking about homes that people lived in. No, we actually had (what was back then) a specialty service. We only cleaned vacant homes. These were usually homes that were for sale and were already left vacant by the prior owners.
Essentially, our job was to get the home ready to be “showed” by a realtor or real estate broker. Anyway, let me cut to the core of my story. We were cleaning this one particular home, which was in a very nice neighborhood. The house was still filled with furniture and nearly all the prior owner’s belongings were still there in the home. The truth of the matter is that the owner of the home, we eventually discovered, had committed suicide there in the house, thus the reason for most everything being left in the house.
I particularly recall our second day there. Packing in all our cleaning supplies, we dropped a few boxes of large, lawn-sized, trash bags on the floor and began filling them. In one of the piles of junk on the floor was a Bible. My partner picked it up and handed it to me, asking me to set it aside somewhere.
We had spent a week on this project and were double-checking all our work before returning the house keys to the agent. We came into the kitchen, and there it was, sitting on the counter; the Bible we had earlier set aside. It was the only item remaining in the home.
We both looked at each other. I said to my friend, “I’m not going to throw it away,” and he replied that he wasn’t going to throw it away either. So after a brief moment, we agreed to leave it there on the counter for the next homeowner. One never knows how they might come into possession of a Bible.
Forgive me. I just thought I’d take a break from looking for my Bible. By now however, I’ve pretty much given up on finding “Clayton’s Bible.” It’s sad though, Clayton’s Bible was my favorite version. There’s nothing like having your own interpretation of the Bible; the Word of God.
By now, I’m sure I’ve upset a few people for my overly dramatic facetiousness. My story of cleaning that home however, was indeed true. I went so far because I thought it absurd that one would think that I was peddling my very own interpretation of the Bible.
However, after reflecting on it, I find that it’s really not so absurd for someone to think that. For well over two thousand years, there have been those who have boasted their very own version or interpretation of the Bible. There have even been those that have created their own bible, and then claiming that it was an addition to the Bible. So when I come across somebody that disagrees with what I am speaking of, and they tell me that it’s my own interpretation, perhaps I shouldn’t be so defensive.
It must be a difficult thing to be confronted by someone, challenging the very core of a religion one has grown up with; the only one they’re familiar with. It is easy to understand how so many theological arguments begin.
So who are some of these people who have worked hard to peddle their own version of the Bible, or perhaps, simply for their own personal use. Let’s take a superficial look at a few.
I am just going to cover several that I can think of off the top of my head. The first would have to be Joseph Smith. According to Wikipedia, Joseph Smith published his “Book of Mormon,” in March of 1830. The latter Day Saints hold this book as a sacred text. Now according to Joseph Smith, an angel revealed the location of this book, buried in a hill, back in 1827. In the 1980s, again according to Wikipedia, a new version of the Book of Mormon was published, claiming to be “another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
The next is Thomas Jefferson. Yes, that’s the same Thomas Jefferson that was our third President of the United States. I’m sure many have heard the story of the “Jefferson Bible.” There have even been several television documentaries about it. But, because it didn’t occur in our present time, and because Jefferson was one of our country’s founding-fathers, nobody wants to take any real serious note of it, other than from a historical point of view.
Not only did Jefferson cut and paste bible verses, he also completely discarded the ones he didn’t like. It is said that he had gone so far as to say that “Jesus did not mean to impose Himself on mankind as the Son of God.”
He went much further. He even called the time in which Jesus lived, “the mystical generation.” (which outside of Jesus’ teachings, I can agree with.)
Now let’s talk about a person’s interpretation of the bible. Obviously there have indeed been people who have held their own. Thomas Jefferson literally had his own interpretation. Now it’s a historical artifact. But what is an “interpretation” of the Bible? Generally speaking, it’s simply when somebody reads what they want to read, “into” the bible.
Some people really do believe that they know not only what the Bible says, but they know exactly what it means and anyone that doesn’t agree with them, is just too plain stubborn to see it. They speak with such a conviction, that they do all but say they where present, with God, as He inspired the authors to write. Seriously, I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just being honest about some people that I have personally encountered.
Let’s think about this for just a moment. Can anyone truly have their own interpretation of the bible? No, Not according to God and not according to the authors of which He inspired to write the Bible. So let’s just take a look and see what the Bible says about interpreting the Bible.
Peter tells us in his second epistle, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation…”** In the verse immediately following, Peter says, “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” *
So, is Peter telling us that no one can make their own interpretation of the bible? No. Peter is however, telling us that any private, personal interpretation of the Bible is wrong, unacceptable, not of God. Unfortunately that has never stopped people from trying.
The apostle Peter has yet still more to say on the matter. Again, from 2 Peter, the apostle says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”**
*/** All scriptures quoted on this page are from 2 Peter, chapters 1 &2 (NASB/esword)
2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Peter 2:1
But how can we trust here, what Peter says? How do we know if it is true or just somebody’s interpretation? Well, the verse I quoted previously is from the NASB version. Let’s look at these same verses in the Kings James Version.
So beginning with 2 Peter 1:20-21, Peter says, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
And let us now take a look at 2 Peter 2:1. Peter says, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”
Now, I’ll open what was once my mother’s Bible, and take a look at Robert Schuller’s version of the new King James Version.
Again, beginning with 2 Peter 1:20-21; the apostle tells us, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the holy Spirit.”
In this version, Peter says again in 2:1, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”
So we’ve looked at the three same verses in three different Bible versions. What would be the take-away here regarding interpretations? Can we agree that what Peter is telling us is exactly the same thing in all three versions, barring a few different choice of words? Now, if I approached you and recited these verses to you, would you say that they were my interpretation?
Let’s take a look now at what the apostle Paul has to say about prophecy. Turning to 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 (NASB), Paul says, “do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”
Now, you’re going to ask what utterances are good and which are evil. At this time, I must simply point you to the Bible itself. You don’t have to take anyone’s word for it. The Bible tells us all what is good and what is evil. But remember, Paul says to “examine everything carefully.”
So if someone comes along and starts reciting verses from the Bible to you, instead of challenging them and saying that it’s “their interpretation,” please, go examine them for yourself. Don’t rely on someone else telling you what the Bible says. The apostle Paul says, “examine everything carefully.” This includes ministers, priests, pastors, etc. Don’t rely on others to tell you what the Bible says.
Okay, you go to church every Sunday and listen to your pastor or priest give a sermon. Does that mean that you shouldn’t later take a look at your Bible and examine it for yourself? No, because you should.
I think it’s a great thing for people to listen to sermons in church. But perhaps we should keep in mind that your priest or pastor will never have as much time to explain, in detail, the root of what he’s speaking of. This is where Bible studies can be greatly helpful in pursuing Sunday’s sermon in more depth.
But again, the apostle Paul’s instructions in this matter can never be over-stressed, “examine everything carefully.”
©2016 Clayton Moore|