Luke 24:44-48 and Right Interpretation of Scripture

wycliffeThe Bible needs to be interpreted. This is a given. The stories that were told 2000 years ago are not the same context that we have today, so there needs to be a bit of interpreting them for our day so they can be appropriately applied to our lives. How the Bible is to be interpreted is a matter of much controversy.

There are denominations and movements that have differences of interpretation on some issues. There are individuals that have differences of interpretation on some issues. This scene from Luke’s Gospel right before Jesus ascends to heaven is enlightening for the idea of biblical interpretation:

44 Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

The key is verse 45, Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. All true interpretation of the Bible is from Jesus. It is his Holy Spirit that enables us to understand what the Bible says–what it said thousands of years ago to the original audience, and therefore what it says to us today.

This means, plain and simply, without the Holy Spirit one cannot understand the Bible. Sure, they could understand the words on the page, but that is different from understanding the meaning of the Scriptures. If right interpretation comes from the Holy Spirit, and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then any new interpretation of Scripture should be considered suspect and not readily embraced. The same Spirit speaks today that has spoken and guided the Church for the last 2000 years. Some people, in the name of compassion or liberation or justice, want to have a new interpretation of Scripture. This is not consistent with what the Bible says about itself, the nature of God, and how we understand Scripture. Interpretations that are radical departures from what the Holy Spirit has guided the Church to understand over twenty centuries most likely are not true.

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