2 Peter 1:20
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Knowing this first.—The participle belongs to “take heed” in 2Peter 1:19. “First” means “first of all” (1Timothy 2:1), not “before I tell you.” In studying prophecy this is the first thing to be borne in mind.

Is of any private interpretation.—Better, comes to be, or becomes of private interpretation. The word rendered “interpretation” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; but the cognate verb occurs in Mark 4:34, where it is translated “expound.” (See Note there.) There can be little doubt that “interpretation,” or “solution,” is the right rendering here, although others have been suggested. The main question however, is the meaning of the word rendered “private,” which may also mean “its own.” Hence three explanations are possible. The term may refer (1) to the recipients of the prophecies—that we may not expound prophecy according to our own fancy; or (2) to the utterers of the prophecies—that the prophets had not the power of expounding their own prophecies; or (3) to the prophecies themselves—that no prophecy comes to be of its own interpretation, i.e., no prophecy explains itself. The guide to the right explanation is 2Peter 1:21, which gives the reason why “no prophecy of the scripture,” &c. This consideration excludes (3); for 2Peter 1:21 yields no sense as showing why prophecy does not interpret itself. Either of the other two explanations may be right. (1) If prophecy came “by the will of man,” then it might be interpreted according to man’s fancy. But it did not so come; consequently the interpretation must be sought elsewhere—viz., at the same source from which the prophecy itself proceeded. (2) If the prophets spoke just as they pleased, they would be the best exponents of what they meant. But they spoke under divine influence, and therefore need not know the import of their own words. Prophecy must be explained by prophecy and by history, not by the individual prophet. The whole body of prophecy, “the prophetic word” (2Peter 1:19), is our lamp in the wilderness, not the private dicta of any one seer. In modern phraseology, interpretation must be comparative and scientific. This view is strengthened by comparing 1Peter 1:10-12, where it is stated that the prophets did not know how or when their own predictions would be fulfilled. Possibly this passage is meant to refer to 1Peter 1:10-12, and if so, we have a mark of genuineness; a forger would have made the reference more clear. If the coincidence is accidental, this also points in the same direction; in any case, the coincidence is worth noting.

2 Peter 1:20-21. Knowing this first — That you may not rashly or ignorantly put a sense upon any part of the prophetic writings, not intended by the Divine Spirit which dictated them; that no prophecy of the Scripture — No prediction contained therein; is of any private interpretation — Greek, ιδιας επιλυσεως, an expression of which various interpretations have been given, but only two of them shall be here noticed; namely, Doddridge’s, who renders it, of private impulse, or original; and Macknight’s, who reads, of private invention. But certainly no such sense can, with propriety, be forced upon the words: and why should it? Why should not the literal signification of them be acquiesced in? namely, that given in our translation. For surely no prophecy of Scripture, and hardly any doctrine, precept, or promise thereof, will or can be properly or fully understood by any man, let his natural abilities be what they may, without supernatural light from God, without the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, Ephesians 1:17. For, as the apostle argues, 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 2:14, (where see the notes,) as a man could not understand the things that belong to human nature, if he had not a human spirit in him, so the things of God, divine things, knoweth no man, clearly and fully, but by the illumination of the Spirit of God, which must be sought by sincere, fervent, importunate, persevering prayer. In other words, No man’s private natural reason will enable him to understand the Scriptures, and the truths which they contain, properly and fully, and especially to relish, love, and delight in them, without the guidance of that Spirit which dictated them. And if this be true respecting the Scriptures in general, it is particularly so with regard to the prophetic writings; for prophecy especially came not of old by the will of man — Of any man’s own will or pleasure. No true prophet either prophesied when he pleased or what he pleased. But holy men of God — The penmen of the sacred Scriptures; spake — Uttered their predictions or recorded them; as they were moved by the Holy Ghost — By an extraordinary impulse of the Divine Spirit, whose organs only they were in declaring what he was pleased to suggest to them; and what he moved, and enabled them to communicate, he must enable us to understand and profit by.

1:16-21 The gospel is no weak thing, but comes in power, Ro 1:16. The law sets before us our wretched state by sin, but there it leaves us. It discovers our disease, but does not make known the cure. It is the sight of Jesus crucified, in the gospel, that heals the soul. Try to dissuade the covetous worlding from his greediness, one ounce of gold weighs down all reasons. Offer to stay a furious man from anger by arguments, he has not patience to hear them. Try to detain the licentious, one smile is stronger with him than all reason. But come with the gospel, and urge them with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, shed to save their souls from hell, and to satisfy for their sins, and this is that powerful pleading which makes good men confess that their hearts burn within them, and bad men, even an Agrippa, to say they are almost persuaded to be Christians, Ac 26:28. God is well pleased with Christ, and with us in him. This is the Messiah who was promised, through whom all who believe in him shall be accepted and saved. The truth and reality of the gospel also are foretold by the prophets and penmenof the Old Testament, who spake and wrote under influence, and according to the direction of the Spirit of God. How firm and sure should our faith be, who have such a firm and sure word to rest upon! When the light of the Scripture is darted into the blind mind and dark understanding, by the Holy Spirit of God, it is like the day-break that advances, and diffuses itself through the whole soul, till it makes perfect day. As the Scripture is the revelation of the mind and will of God, every man ought to search it, to understand the sense and meaning. The Christian knows that book to be the word of God, in which he tastes a sweetness, and feels a power, and sees a glory, truly divine. And the prophecies already fulfilled in the person and salvation of Christ, and in the great concerns of the church and the world, form an unanswerable proof of the truth of Christianity. The Holy Ghost inspired holy men to speak and write. He so assisted and directed them in delivering what they had received from him, that they clearly expressed what they made known. So that the Scriptures are to be accounted the words of the Holy Ghost, and all the plainness and simplicity, all the power and all the propriety of the words and expressions, come from God. Mix faith with what you find in the Scriptures, and esteem and reverence the Bible as a book written by holy men, taught by the Holy Ghost.Knowing this first - Bearing this steadily in mind as a primary and most important truth.

That no prophecy of the Scripture - No prophecy contained in the inspired records. The word "scripture" here shows that the apostle referred particularly to the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament. The remark which he makes about prophecy is general, though it is designed to bear on a particular class of the prophecies.

Is of any private interpretation - The expression here used (ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως idias epiluseōs) has given rise to as great a diversity of interpretation, and to as much discussion, as perhaps any phrase in the New Testament; and to the present time there is no general agreement among expositors as to its meaning. It would be foreign to the design of these notes, and would be of little utility, to enumerate the different interpretations which have been given of the passage, or to examine them in detail. It will be sufficient to remark, preparatory to endeavoring to ascertain the true sense of the passage, that some have held that it teaches that no prophecy can be interpreted of itself, but can be understood only by comparing it with the event; others, that it teaches that the prophets did not themselves understand what they wrote, but were mere passive organs under the dictation of the Holy Spirit to communicate to future times what they could not themselves explain; others, that it teaches that "no prophecy is of self-interpretation," (Horsley;) others, that it teaches that the prophecies, besides having a literal signification, have also a hidden and mystical sense which cannot be learned from the prophecies themselves, but is to be perceived by a special power of insight imparted by the Holy Spirit, enabling men to understand their recondite mysteries.

It would be easy to show that some of these opinions are absurd, and that none of them are sustained by the fair interpretation of the language used, and by the drift of the passage. The more correct interpretation, as it seems to me, is that which supposes that the apostle teaches that the truths which the prophets communicated were not originated by themselves; were not of their own suggestion or invention; were not their own opinions, but were of higher origin, and were imparted by God; and according to this the passage may be explained, "knowing this as a point of first importance when you approach the prophecies, or always bearing this in mind, that it is a great principle in regard to the prophets, that what they communicated "was not of their own disclosure;" that is, was not revealed or originated by them." That this is the correct interpretation will be apparent from the following considerations:

(1) It accords with the design of the apostle, which is to produce an impressive sense of the importance and value of the prophecies, and to lead those to whom he wrote to study them with diligence. This could be secured in no way so well as by assuring them that the writings which he wished them to study did not contain truths originated by the human mind, but that they were of higher origin.

(2) this interpretation accords with what is said in the following verse, and is the only one of all those proposed that is consistent with that, or in connection with which that verse will have any force. In that verse 2 Peter 1:21, a reason is given for what is said here: "For (γὰρ gar) the prophecy came not in old time "by the will of man,"" etc. But this can be a good reason for what is said here only on the supposition that the apostle meant to say that what they communicated was not originated by themselves; that it was of a higher than human origin; that the prophets spake "as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." This fact was a good reason why they should show profound respect for the prophecies, and study them with attention. But how could the fact that "they were moved by the Holy Ghost" be a reason for studying them, if the meaning here is that the prophets could not understand their own language, or that the prophecy could be understood only by the event, or that the prophecy had a double meaning, etc.? If the prophecies were of Divine origin, then "that" was a good reason why they should be approached with reverence, and should be profoundly studied.

(3) this interpretation accords as well, to say the least, with the fair meaning of the language employed, as either of the other opinions proposed. The word rendered "interpretation" (ἐπίλυσις epilusis) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means "solution" (Robinson's Lexicon), "disclosure," (Prof. Stuart on the Old Testament, p. 328,) "making free (Passow,)" with the notion that what is thus released or loosed was before bound, entangled obscure. The verb from which this word is derived (ἐπιλύω epiluō) means, "to let loose upon," as dogs upon a hare, (Xen. Mem. 7, 8; ib 9, 10;) to loose or open letters; to loosen a band; to loose or disclose a riddle or a dark saying, and then to enlighten, illustrate, etc. - Passow. It is twice used in the New Testament. Mark 4:34, "he expounded all things to his disciples"; Acts 19:39, "It shall be determined in a lawful assembly."

The verb would be applicable to loosing anything which is bound or confined, and thence to the explanation of a mysterious doctrine or a parable, or to a disclosure of what was before unknown. The word, according to this, in the place before us, would mean the disclosure of what was before bound, or retained, or unknown; either what had never been communicated at all, or what had been communicated obscurely; and the idea is, "no prophecy recorded in the Scripture is of, or comes from, any exposition or disclosure of the will and purposes of God by the prophets themselves." It is not a thing of their own, or a private matter originating with themselves, but it is to be traced to a higher source. If this be the true interpretation, then it follows that the prophecies are to be regarded as of higher than any human origin; and then, also, it follows that this passage should not be used to prove that the prophets did not understand the nature of their own communications, or that they were mere unconscious and passive instruments in the hand of God to make known his will. Whatever may be the truth on those points, this passage proves nothing in regard to them, any mare than the fact that a minister of religion now declares truth which he did not originate, but which is to be traced to God as its author, proves that he does not understand what he himself says. It follows, also, that this passage cannot be adduced by the Papists to prove that the people at large should not have free access to the word of God, and should not be allowed to interpret it for themselves. It makes no affirmation on that point, and does not even contain any "principle" of which such a use can be made; for:

(1) Whatever it means, it is confined to "prophecy;" it does not embrace the whole Bible.

(2) whatever it means, it merely states a fact; it does not enjoin a duty. It states, as a fact, that there was something about the prophecies which was not of private solution, but it does not state that it is the duty of the church to prevent any private explanation or opinion even of the prophecies.

(3) it says nothing about "the church" as empowered to give a public or authorized interpretation of the prophecies. There is not a hint, or an intimation of any kind, that the church is intrusted with any such power whatever. There never was any greater perversion of a passage of Scripture than to suppose that this teaches that any class of people is not to have free access to the Bible. The effect of the passage, properly interpreted, should be to lead us to study the Bible with profound reverence, as having a higher than any human origin, not to turn away from it as if it were unintelligible, nor to lead us to suppose that it can be interpreted only by one class of men. The fact that it discloses truths which the human mind could not of itself have originated, is a good reason for studying it with diligence and with prayer - not for supposing that it is unlawful for us to attempt to understand it; a good reason for reverence and veneration for it - not for sanctified neglect.

20. "Forasmuch as ye know this" (1Pe 1:18).

first—the foremost consideration in studying the word of prophecy. Laying it down as a first principle never to be lost sight of.

is—Greek, not the simple verb, to be, but to begin to be, "proves to be," "becometh." No prophecy is found to be the result of "private (the mere individual writer's uninspired) interpretation" (solution), and so origination. The Greek noun epilusis, does not mean in itself origination; but that which the sacred writer could not always fully interpret, though being the speaker or writer (as 1Pe 1:10-12 implies), was plainly not of his own, but of God's disclosure, origination, and inspiration, as Peter proceeds to add, "But holy men … spake (and afterwards wrote) … moved by the Holy Ghost": a reason why ye should "give" all "heed" to it. The parallelism to 2Pe 1:16 shows that "private interpretation," contrasted with "moved by the Holy Ghost," here answers to "fables devised by (human) wisdom," contrasted with "we were eye-witnesses of His majesty," as attested by the "voice from God." The words of the prophetical (and so of all) Scripture writers were not mere words of the individuals, and therefore to be interpreted by them, but of "the Holy Ghost" by whom they were "moved." "Private" is explained, 2Pe 1:21, "by the will of man" (namely, the individual writer). In a secondary sense the text teaches also, as the word is the Holy Spirit's, it cannot be interpreted by its readers (any more than by its writers) by their mere private human powers, but by the teaching of the Holy Ghost (Joh 16:14). "He who is the author of Scripture is its supreme interpreter" [Gerhard]. Alford translates, "springs not out of human interpretation," that is, is not a prognostication made by a man knowing what he means when he utters it, but," &c. (Joh 11:49-52). Rightly: except that the verb is rather, doth become, or prove to be. It not being of private interpretation, you must "give heed" to it, looking for the Spirit's illumination "in your hearts" (compare Note, see on [2628]2Pe 1:19).

Knowing this first; either, principally and above other things, as being most worthy to be known; or, knowing this as the first principle of faith, or the first thing to be believed.

That no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation: the Greek word here used may be rendered, either:

1. As our translators do, interpretation, or explication; and then the meaning is, not that private men are not to interpret the Scripture, only refer all to the church; but that no man nor company of men, no church nor public officers, are to interpret the Scripture of their own heads, according to their own minds, so as to make their private sense be the sense of the Scripture, but to seek the understanding of it from God, who shows them the meaning of the word in the word itself, (the more obscure places being expounded by the more clear), and by his Spirit leads believers, in their searching the Scripture, into the understanding of his mind in it: God himself being the author of the word, as 2 Peter 1:21, is the best interpreter of it. Or:

2. Mission or dismission; a metaphor taken from races, where they that ran were let loose from the stage where the race began, that they might run their course. The prophets in the Old Testament are said to run, as being God’s messengers, Jeremiah 23:21, and God is said to send them, Ezekiel 13:6,7. And then this doth not immediately concern the interpretation of the Scripture, but the first revelation of it, spoken of in the next verse; and the question is not: Who hath authority to interpret the Scripture now written? But: What authority the penmen had to write it? And consequently, what respect is due to it? And why believers are so carefully to take heed to it? And then the meaning is, that it is the first principle of our faith, that the Scripture is not of human invention, but Divine inspiration; that the prophets wrote not their own private sense in it, but the mind of God; and at his command, not their own pleasure.

Knowing this first,.... Especially, and in the first place, this is to be known, observed, and considered;

that no prophecy of the Scripture, that is contained in Scripture, be it what it will,

is of any private interpretation: not that this is levelled against the right of private judgment of Scripture; or to be understood as if a private believer had not a right of reading, searching, examining, and judging, and interpreting the Scriptures himself, by virtue of the unction which teacheth all things; and who, as a spiritual man, judgeth all things; otherwise, why are such commended as doing well, by taking heed to prophecy, in the preceding verse, and this given as a reason to encourage them to it? the words may be rendered, "of one's own interpretation"; that is, such as a natural man forms of himself, by the mere force of natural parts and wisdom, without the assistance of the Spirit of God; and which is done without comparing spiritual things with spiritual; and which is not agreeably to the Scripture, to the analogy of faith, and mind of Christ; though rather this phrase should be rendered, "no prophecy of the Scripture is of a man's own impulse", invention, or composition; is not human, but purely divine: and this sense carries in it a reason why the sure word of prophecy, concerning the second coming of Christ, should be taken heed to, and made use of as a light, till he does come; because as no Scripture prophecy, so not that, is a contrivance of man's, his own project and device, and what his own spirit prompts and impels him to, but what is made by the dictates and impulse of the Spirit of God; for whatever may be said of human predictions, or the false prophecies of lying men, who deliver them out how and when they please, nothing of this kind can be said of any Scripture prophecy, nor of this concerning the second coming of Christ; and this sense the following words require.

{13} Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the {n} scripture is of any {o} private interpretation.

(13) The prophets are to be read, but so that we ask of God the gift of interpretation, for he who is the author of the writings of the prophets, is also the interpreter of them.

(n) He joins the Scripture and prophecy together, to distinguish true prophecies from false.

(o) For all interpretation comes from God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Peter 1:20. τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες] τοῦτο refers not to anything said before, but to the clause following: ὅτι κ.τ.λ.; cf. chap. 2 Peter 3:3.

πρῶτον, i. q. πρῶτον πάντων, 1 Timothy 2:1; erroneously Bengel: prius quam ego dico, anglicé: “before that.”

γινώσκοντες: “whilst ye recognise, bring yourselves to the conscious knowledge that” (de Wette); cf. Jam 1:3; Hebrews 10:34. Without any warrant Pott supplies δέ, and takes the participle as equivalent to “δεῖ γινώσκειν ὑμᾶς;” the participle, as such, is rather to be joined closely to καλ. ποιεῖτε προσέχ. By τοῦτο πρ. γιν. the author directs the attention of his readers to the point to which they in their προσέχειν (2 Peter 1:19) should pay special attention; what that is the words following say: ὅτι πᾶσα προφητείαγίνεται; πᾶσαοὐ is a Hebraism for οὐδεμία, cf. Romans 3:20; 1 Corinthians 1:29, etc. προφητεία γραφῆς is undoubtedly to be understood of the prediction of the Old Testament, either the prophecy contained in Scripture, or that to which the Scripture gives expression. For the construction of γίνεται c. gen., cf. Winer, p. 184 [E. T. 244]; Buttm. p. 142; according to Buttmann, the genitive definition of the thing with εἶναι or γίνεσθαι frequently denotes a permanent attribute; thus here: prophecy is of such a kind that it, etc.; the more precise definition depends on the meaning of the words: ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως. Instead of ἐπιλύσεως, Grotius would read: ἐπηλύσεως, and Heinsius: ἐπελεύσεως, so that the sense would be: the προφητεία non est res proprii impetus s. instinctus; but these changes have been justly rejected by Wolf already as arbitrary. Not less unwarranted is it to understand, with Hammond, ἐπίλυσις originally de emissione cursorum e carceribus, deducing therefrom the thought: that the prophets non a se, sed a Deo missi currerent; or, with Clericus: de solutione oris; or, with Lakemacher, to derive ἐπίλυσις from ἐπιλεύθω (ἐπέρχομαι), instead of from ἐπιλύειν, thus obtaining the idea: that prophecy is not accessus proprie aut talis, quae virtute quadam mentis humanae propria et naturali proveniat et ad hominem quasi accedat (cf. Wolf in loc.). The notion that ἐπίλυσις is equal to dissolutio (Hardt: omnis promissio non est dissolutionis sed indissolubilis, immutabilis, etc.; similarly Storr, Opp. II. 391 ff.) has been refuted already by Wolf.

ἐπίλυσις means: solution, explanation, interpretation; thus Mark 4:34 : ἐπιλύειν; Genesis 40:8, Aquila: ἐπιλυόμενος (כֹּתֵר), ἐπίλυσις (פִּתְתוֹן); Genesis 41:12, LXX., according to some codd.: τὰ ἐνύπνια ἡμῶν, ἀνδρὶ κατὰ τὸ ἐνύπνιον αὐτοῦ ἐπέλυσεν, Phil. de vita contempl. p. 901 A.

Almost all expositors understand ἐπίλυσις as the interpretation of the προφητεία made aforetime; but ἰδίας, however, has been variously applied—(1) It has been taken to refer to the προφητεία itself; Werenfels (cf. Wolf): προφητεία οὐκ ἔχει τὴν ἑαυτῆς ἐπίλυσιν, that is, οὐκ ἐπιλύει ἑαυτήν; thus also Wahl, Dietlein, Brückner. The positive idea here to be supplied is: but “the interpretation is to be looked for only from God” (Brückner; Dietlein arbitrarily finds the further idea contained here, that prophecy must not be treated as allegory). (2) To the prophets themselves; Oecumenius: ᾔδεσαν (οἱ προφῆται) μὲν καὶ συνίεσαν τὸν καταπεμπόμενον αὐτοῖς προφητικὸν λόγον, οὐ μέντοι καὶ τὴν ἐπίλυσιν αὐτοῦ ἐποιοῦντο (similarly Knapp, de Wette); and the thought to be supplied here is: the interpretation is then not an easy, but a difficult matter (de Wette: “the author makes this remark in order to excuse the difficulty of the interpretation, and to take away the pretext for unbelief or scoffing”). (3) To the readers or to man generally. This is the view most generally adopted; it is that of Beda, Erasmus, Luther, Aretius, Gerhard, Pott, Steiger, Schmid, Besser, Wiesinger, Schott, Hofmann, etc.; and the positive thought to be supplied is: only the Holy Spirit can expound the prediction (Luther: “act accordingly, and do not think that you can interpret Scripture according to your own reason or cunning; Peter has forbidden it, you are not to interpret, the Holy Spirit must interpret, or it must remain uninterpreted”). But opposed to all these interpretations is—(1) The necessity of supplying the positive thought which really contains the point of the remark, but to which the apostle does not give expression; (2) The connection of thought, according to which 2 Peter 1:20 is subjoined as a confirmation of the ᾧ καλῶς ποιεῖτε προσέχοντες. If the thought here expressed were intended to give a caution with respect to the προσέχειν, or to form, as Wiesinger says, a condition preliminary and necessary to it, this must in some way have been referred to. Besides, it must be noted that εἶναι or γίνεσθαι, c. gen., implies a relation of dependence, and in such a way that the genitive denotes that on which something else depends.[55] Now it may, indeed, be said that the “understanding” of prophecy, but not that prophecy itself, depends on the interpretation of it. The rendering: “prophecy is not a matter of private interpretation” (or even: “it does not permit of private interpretation,” Hofmann), takes too little account of the force of the genitive.[56] For these reasons ἘΠΊΛΥΣΙς must necessarily be understood rather of an “interpretation” on which the ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕΊΑ is based, on which it depends. But this is the explanation of the problematic future itself, or of the figure under which it presented itself to the prophets (thus, too, Gerlach and Fronmüller).[57] The passage above cited makes the matter clear. Genesis 40:8 : the words, in which Joseph predicted to the prisoners what lay before them, form the προφητεία; this presupposes an ἐπίλυσις, interpretation, of the dream by Joseph, and of this Joseph says that it belongs to God. Thus, too, he speaks to Pharaoh: the interpretation is not in me, Genesis 41:15-16; cf. Dan. chap. 2

The thought accordingly is this: no prophecy of Scripture arises out of, or depends on, private (of him who utters the prophecy) interpretation of the future. Taken thus, the verse stands in close and correct connection both with what precedes, for it states why the λόγ. προφ. is βέβαιος whereunto it is right to take heed, as unto a light in a dark place (namely, because it is based on no human interpretation); and at the same time with what follows, which serves to explain and confirm the thought (inasmuch as it more precisely defines the idea, and by the positive statement confirms the negation).[58] Brückner incorrectly, therefore, objects to this interpretation, that although it may be in harmony with 2 Peter 1:21, it cannot with propriety be connected with 2 Peter 1:19; and if Brückner and Wiesinger further urge against it that it arbitrarily supplies the object of ἐπίλυσις, it must be replied, that object is rather supplied of itself out of the connection with προφητεία. The present γίνεται alone seems to be inappropriate, but this may be explained by supposing that the thought is conceived in the form of a general statement; this Brückner has recognised, whilst Wiesinger leaves it unnoticed.[59]

[55] Certainly, also, the above construction can merely express the relation of belonging to, as in Hebrews 12:11; but in that passage the ideas παιδεία and χαρᾶς (λύπης) stand in an altogether different relation to each other, from that in which προφητεία here stands to ἐπίλυσις.

[56] Hofmann’s remark is indeed very apodictic, that “the first of these counter reasons is null, and that accordingly the second is so too, because τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες means a perception, which must be combined with the attending to the word of prophecy … but a perception, the substance of which could only be expressed negatively, because meant only to guard the prophecy against an interpretation brought about by the conclusions of the individual intellect;” but the objection to this is the same as that to the second counter reason above. If the author wished the τοῦτογινώσκοντες to be understood in the sense of guarding against, he would at least have added a δέ.—It is not easy to understand why the author, if he had wished to express the thought which his words are supposed to contain, did not write: ὅτι ἐπίλυσις προφητείας οὐ γίνεται ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, or something similar.

[57] Bengel’s interpretation is similar: ἐπίλυσις dicitur interpretation, qua ipsi prophetae res antea plane clausas aperuere mortalibus, only that here no definite distinction is drawn between προφ. and ἐπίλυσις.

[58] On the other hand, in the usual way of understanding this passage, ver. 21 is most inappropriately connected with ver. 20, since no explanation is given of the idea that the interpretation of the prophecy, because it is not the work of man, can only be expected from the Holy Spirit.

[59] Steinfass thinks that the author refers to Daniel, chap. 12., and that ἐπίλυσις means the answer given in ver. 12 to Daniel’s question in ver. 8, by which the indefinite statement of time is definitely fixed. This singular opinion is, however, contradicted by the single expression πᾶσα.

2 Peter 1:20. τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες. “Recognising this truth above all else” (in your reading of Scripture). The False Teachers appealed to the O.T. scriptures in support of their doctrine. ὅτι πᾶσαοὐ γίνεται. πᾶσαοὐ need not be regarded as a Hebraism. It is as normal as in 1 John 2:21, John 3:16. ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως. This passage is a noted crux. (1) Hardt, followed by Lange, Spitta and others interpret ἐπιλυς. = dissolutio. “No prophecy of S. is of such a kind that it can be annulled”. But no satisfactory instance of ἐπιλυς. in this sense can be adduced. (2) Accepting the sense of ἰδ. ἐπιλ. = “private,” or “human interpretation,” Von Soden sees a reference to the methods of the false teachers in their attitude to Scripture (cf. 2 Peter 1:16, 2 Peter 2:1). ἰδίας “is opposed to the φωνὴ ἐνεχθεῖσα of 2 Peter 1:17”. (3) It seems most satisfactory to understand ἰδ. ἐπιλ. as the meaning of the prophet himself, or what was in the prophet’s mind when he wrote; the fulfilment in any particular generation or epoch. “The special work of the prophet is to interpret the working of God to his own generation. But in doing this, he is laying down the principles of God’s action generally. Hence there may be many fulfilments of one prophecy, or to speak more exactly, many historical illustrations of some one principle of Providential Government” (Mayor, p. 196). The genitive ἐπιλύσεως is gen. of definition and not of origin. “No prophecy is of such a nature as to be capable of a particular interpretation.”

20. knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation] The true meaning of the passage turns partly on the actual significance of the last word, partly on the sequence of thought as connected with the foregoing. The noun itself does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament nor in the LXX., but in Aquila’s version of Genesis 40:8 it is given as the equivalent of “interpretation.” The corresponding verb meets us, however, in Mark 4:34 (“he explained all things to his disciples”) and in Acts 19:39 (“it shall be determined”), and this leaves no doubt that “interpretation” or “solution” is the right rendering. Nor again is there much room for doubt as to the meaning of “prophecy of scripture.” The words can only point to a “prophetic word” embodied in a writing and recognised as Scripture. We have seen, however (see note on 1 Peter 1:10-12), that the gift of prophecy was thought of as belonging to the present as fully as to the past, and chap. 2 Peter 3:16, 1 Timothy 5:18, and possibly Romans 16:26 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, shew that the word Scripture had come to have a wider range of meaning than that which limited its use to the Old Testament writings, and may therefore be taken here in its most comprehensive sense. Stress must also be laid on the Greek verb rendered “is,” which might better be translated cometh, or cometh into being. With these data the true explanation of the passage is not far to seek. The Apostle calls on men to give heed to the prophetic word on the ground that no prophecy, authenticated as such by being recognised as part of Scripture, whether that Scripture belongs to the Old, or the New Covenant, comes by the prophet’s own interpretation of the facts with which he has to deal, whether those facts concern the outer history of the world, or the unfolding of the eternal truths of God’s Kingdom. It is borne to him, as he proceeds to shew in the next verse, from a higher source, from that which is, in the truest sense of the word, an inspiration. The views held by some commentators, (1) that St Peter is protesting against the application of private judgment to the interpretation of prophecy, and (2) that he is contending that no single prophecy can be interpreted apart from the whole body of prophetic teaching contained in Scripture, are, it is believed, less satisfactory explanations of the Apostle’s meaning.

2 Peter 1:20. Τοῦτο, this) The reason of the phrase, ye do well, inasmuch as ye know this.—πρῶτον) before I speak: German, vorhin, before. Thus ch. 2 Peter 3:3. In these Epistles, Peter does not teach, but reminds.—προφητεία γραφῆς) prophecy, which is contained in the body of Scripture.—ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως οὐ γίνεται, does not become of private interpretation) ἐπίλυσις from ἐπιλύω, to explain; Mark 4:34; Acts 19:39. פתר some Greek versions render ἐπέλυσε, Genesis 41:12. As the sight of the apostles is opposed to cunningly devised fables, so φορὰ, the motion or inspiration of the prophets, is opposed to private interpretation. Therefore that is called ἐπίλυσις, or interpretation, by which the prophets themselves opened to mortals things which were before altogether shut up. Prophecy is not at first of man, nor does it ever so far depart from itself as to begin to be the word of private, that is, of human interpretation (ἐπιλύσεως), but it is altogether of Divine unfolding or revelation, and is known to be so in its results and issue; and it even becomes more firm. So for, 2 Peter 1:21, agrees with this.—οὐ γίνεται, does not become) That which has once been truly spoken by the prophets, remains truth even to the present day. A lamp is not the day; but still it prevails over the darkness.

Verse 20. - Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. By "knowing this first" (γινώσκοντες) is meant that we must recognize this truth as of primary importance, or, before we commence the study of prophecy; the phrase occurs again in chapter 2 Peter 3:3. The literal translation of the following clause is, "that all prophecy of Scripture [there is no article] is not; all... not" (πᾶσα... οὐ) being a common Hebraism for none, οὑδεμία; but the verb is not ἔστι, "is," but γίνεται, "becomes, arises, comes into being." The word for "private" is ἰδίας, "special," or commonly, "one's own" (see 1 Peter 3:1, 5; chapter 2 Peter 2:16, 22; 3:3, 16, 17). The word rendered "interpretation" is ἐπιλύσεως, which is found nowhere else in the New Testament; the corresponding verb occurs in Mark 4:34, "He expounded all things;" and Acts 19:39, "It shall be determined or settled." These considerations, strengthened by the context, seem to guide us to the following explanation: No prophecy of Scripture arises from the prophet's own interpretation of the vision presented to his mind; for it was from God that the prophecy was brought, and men spoke as they were borne on by the Holy Spirit. This view of the passage is also supported by the remarkable parallel in the First Epistle (1 Peter 1:10-12). The prophets searched diligently into the meaning of the revelation vouchsafed to them; they did not always comprehend it in all its details; they could not interpret it to themselves; the written prophecy arose out of the interpretation of the revelation supplied by the same Spirit from whom the revelation itself proceeded. Therefore the prophetic books of Holy Scripture are sacred and precious, and we do well in giving heed to them; though the day-star of the Lord's own presence, shining in the illuminated heart, is holier still. Other views of this difficult passage are: Prophecy is not its own interpreter; the guidance of the Spirit is necessary. Or, prophecy is not a matter for the private interpretation of the readers; only the Holy Spirit can explain it. But the explanation adopted seems most accordant with the Greek words and with the general sense of the context (compare St. Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:10). The gifts of the Spirit are divided as he will; to one man are given "divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues." Not every one, it seems, who had the first gift, had also the latter. Tongues and the interpretation of tongues were two distinct gifts. It may be so with prophecy and the interpretation of prophecy. 2 Peter 1:20Is (γίνεται)

More literally, arises or originates.

Private (ἰδίας)

See on 2 Peter 1:3. His own. Rev., special, in margin.

Interpretation (ἐπιλύσεως)

Only here in New Testament. Compare the cognate verb expounded (Mark 4:34 :) and determined (Acts 19:39). The usual word is ἑρμηνεία (1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:26). Literally, it means loosening, untying, as of hard knots of scripture.

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