"Bible interprets itself."

I’ve heard a lot of people saying that the Bible interprets itself. I personally don’t agree with this. What do you think?

I think it’s amusing. The Bible itself says that the Bible is hard to understand.

But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwelleth. Wherefore, dearly beloved, waiting for these things, be diligent that you may be found before him unspotted and blameless in peace. And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation; as also our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed, lest being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and unto the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:13-18 (Douay-Rheims).

Hi, WesleyF.,

Actually, I think it is the direct product of delusional thinking.

On the face of it, such a statement simply does not hold up to any scrutiny. This can be confirmed by the following:

1.) The ‘regular’ Bible is devoid of a Glossary, maps, and footnotes to explain social/legal customs at the time.

2.) For the most part, this is not an example of ‘Western’ literature, but, rather ‘Eastern’ literature - and people really do things differently. So, how is someone in one culture to understand what is really going on in another - unless another person explains it.

3.) The on-going splintering of Protestantism into an almost infinite number of denominatins, sub-denominations, cults, groups, assemblies, etc. is abundant proof that the Bible DOES NOT interpret itself. Sadly, all of these individual interpretation just leads to more chaos. Now, as I understand it, the Devil is quite at home in Chaos! :smiley:

God bless

The text you refer to only says “certain things” are hard to understand. It does not say that about “the whole Bible.”

The Bible actually does explain itself very well; it has nothing to do with Protestants or Catholics!! It is God’s Word, and He would not, by inspiration of The Holy Spirit, write something for us that we could not understand or obey.

Wesley, that’s a great question. Unfortunately, you will find that most people miss the meaning.

Scripture is consistent from Genesis to Revelation in its teachings and guidelines on how we are to live in regard to one another and in relationship with God. The idea of Scripture being its own interpreter is not, as earlier suggested, that it provides its own glossary or maps, but rather that you can find the core values and moral standards to be easily interpreted by a study of the Word. Prophesies remain for clear evidence of fulfillment, but can often be confirmed by other similar prophetic utterances.

I guess the bottom line is that Christianity is a lot simpler than religion has made it. Jesus said that we can see it as just this simple, paraphrased, “Love God with your whole being, and love your neighbor the way you would want to be loved. In this you will fulfill all the Law and the prophets.”

A living personal relationship gives amazing meaning to the Word, after all, you are in love with the Author.

catholics weekly( or daily, etc…) intake of the very presence of Jesus. I can think of nothing more personal than this. And it is definitely living. Catholics make a Immense difference in the world, spiritually and physically. This is not a comparative statement rather a descriptive one.

If God could not create something that is hard to understand or obey, why can man not follow the 10 Commandments? Or, even better, follow the Law perfectly? The Bible points that out clearly.

The preceding statement is false.

The entire Hebrew Scripture was written in Hebrew or Aramaic (which I have also seen called Chaldee) and it was written without punctuation, vowels, verse numbers, chapter numbers, and the spacing between letters was primitive. It took a verbal tradition to interpret it.

That was essentially the distinction in Jesus’ time between the Pharisees and the Saducees. The latter believed in strict reading and interpretation of the scripture and the former believed in a more liberal understanding, When the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, the Saducees disappeared.

There is a commandment in the Hebrew Scripture to do something called molakah, and nobody today understands what molakah is.

In the New Testament, Jesus issues commands like “love thy neighbor” and that is very general and requires an infinite amount of understanding and interpretation.

There are controversies all over this website about things like the millenial reign of Christ on earth, and basic things like whether, as Catholics believe, Christ is the bread and wine --His body and blood – that we consecrate at Mass.

If the Bible explains itself, then everyone should be Catholic.

Hi, P101,

Nice to hear from you again… :smiley:

OK… if the bible actually does explain itself very well… and Catholics believe that:

**1.) Christ founded His Church on Peter (Matt 16:18),

2.) Christ required His Followers be Baptized (not as a ‘nice idea’ or gesture, but as a requirement) to be part of Him (John 3:5, Matt 28:19, Gal 3:25-27),

3.) Christ (Body, Blood, Human Soul and Divinity) is really present under the appearance of bread and wine (John 6, Matt 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:15-20, 1Cor10:16),

4.) Christ gave the Apostles the power to forgive or retain sin (John 20:21, Matt 18:18, James 5:16 ) and

5.) Christ promised the Holy Spirit to guide the Church He founded [and, that would be the Catholic Chruch] for all time (John 14:26) **

WHY don’t Protestants believe the clearly written words of Scripture?

And, while pondering your response, think about this:

Christ’s Church was established about the year 33 AD, not 1517 AD. The Bible came into being about the year 300 AD, not 1530. Who do you think was preaching and interpreting the Word of God for almost 270 years before there even was a Bible? (Ans: The Catholic Church).

God bless

It is quit obvious that the Church, with all power in heaven and on earth, came into being before the Bible (New Testament) was written. The New Testament wasn’t completed until the late 90’s by St. John. The early Catholics had only the Old Testament as scripture to begin with. The New Testament is an early history of the Catholic Church. There is One God, One Faith, One Lord Jesus and One Church. The Bible is infallible only in the hands of the Church which Christ founded on St. Rock(Peter). The Church had to be infallible to define what is Sacred Scripture. Without that infallibility, there would be no way of determining what is Sacred and what is mundane.

Hi, PWM15537,

I think you are right on both counts! :smiley:

From what I read of your post, I think we have a different meaning of what is actually going on.

There are numerous references in the OT where God instructed His People to utterly destory (men, women, children, animals and anything of any value) those they fought with. For example, 1Sam 15:3 “Go now and put Amalek to the sword, putting to the curse all they have, without mercy: put to death every man and woman, every child and baby at the breast…” is significantly different from Matt 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who insult you and persecute you.”

it is not so much consistency (and the above references demonstrate a difference in approach) but that the Bible does not contradict itself. We are under the authority of the New Testament - sealed in the Blood of the Lamb.

Please list the, “…core values and moral standards…” that can be “…easily interpreted…”. In a previous post I listed a number of clearly identified beliefs of the Catholic Chruch (Church founded on Peter, necessity of Baptism, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, men having the delegated power from God to forgive sin, and the Holy Spirit guiding the Christ’s Chruch (and, that is the Catholic Church) toward Him and away from teaching error) all with scriptural basis - that are disputed by Protestants.

If the Bible is so readily accessible to clear understanding, it seems like these issues would have never come up. The fact that they did may be dismissed as just a historical curiosity - but, the fact that with the over 20,000 Protestant denominations, sub-denominations, assemblies, groups, gatherings, etc. - all with private interpretation and all with different beliefs - and, “all coming from the Bible” - one is forced to wonder. :blush:

I am not really sure just what kind of a distinction you are making here between: “Christianity” and “religion”. If you are confused about the multiplicity of Protestant belief systems - join the club! :thumbsup: If it is something else, then, please explain. From my understanding of what you said, to simply dismiss Christ’s Life with His response with the Two Greatest Commandments (Mark 12:30) - and, miss all of the other statements He made (go up 3 paragraphs for a quick list) is to miss the Boat.

Simply stated, the Bible is neither easily understond or followed - just look around you if you need further evidence.

God bless

If the Bible were to interpret itself, there would be no need of pastors or long years of training in Bible institutes. A newly baptized Christian reading and interpreting the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit would be on par with a 60 year old experienced pastor doing the same. :shrug:

The Prophecies in the Tanakh can all be found declared by God within the Tanakh for those who care to diligently seek (Prov. 2:1-7). He said His counsel will stand and in Jer 17:5 He says that those who put their trust in men are cursed. I can surely see why.

When Philip the Deacon saw the Ethiopian eunuch reading Isaiah, he asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

The Eunuch (traditionally known as Djan Djarabba by the Ethiopians) replied, “How can I, unless someone explain it to me?”

And it took a clergyman in major orders–a deacon–to interpret the Scriptures with the authority of the Church.

Have things chanaged that much in 2000 years?

Daniel 12:4; Habakkuk 2:14 <---- it seems as though there certainly is a time that knowledge will be increased. Perhaps Proverbs 2:1-7 and Zechariah 11:11 have something to do with understanding that knowledge?

That is true, but if part of a whole is hard to understand, then you cannot be sure that you understand the whole since that bit that you do not understand probably has a major impact on how you understand the rest.

And the reason why it became an issue of Catholics and Protestants is becuase protestants read the Bible in a vacuum with complete disregard for the traditions of the Church from birth to the 1500s.

The Bible actually does explain itself very well; it has nothing to do with Protestants or Catholics!!

In some cases it does, and is quite explicit as in John 6.
But the reason the Bible cannot interpret itself is because it was written in another language and the translation itself may be wrong.
If the Bible is the best interpreter of itself then we would not have all these different interpretations and yet we do. That alone proves that you cannot go to the Bible to settle disputes on interpretation.

It is God’s Word, and He would not, by inspiration of The Holy Spirit, write something for us that we could not understand or obey.

That is true. But the way he caused it to be written was in the context of a Church. That is why He built a Church first, then caused the book to be written by members of the Church. The Bible or at least the NT is actually meant to be a Catechesis and if you go to the background of how it was written and why and for whom, each book has a slant because it is a catechesis.

The Bible is better understood by the Church by whom and for whom it is written.

Exactly. Also, the Ethiopian Eunuch would not have needed Phillip.

Christ entrusted authentic Christian revelation to His Church through the process of Sacred Tradition. This does not mean “human tradtion” which nullifies the Word of God (Mt 15:6-9)

1 Tim 3:15 states that the Church is “the pillar and foundation” of the truth.

John tells us that not everything concerning Christ’s work is in Scripture (Jn21:25). Paul writes in 2 Tim 2:2 “What you have HEARD from me before many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to TEACH others also.” Nowhere is there any mention of writing the truths down for posterity.

Very few people could read at the time so the written Word, The Bible, would not have been much use to believers.

The Church through the Apostles was given the authority by Christ to teach (Mt 28:19) This was done by preaching (Oral Tradition) "See how faith comes from hearing through Christ’s Word (written and oral) (Rom19:17) You cannot limit Christ’s Word to the Written Word only, All the teachings were not reduced to writing, God, through Isaiah, promised a living voice in the Church (Is59:21) “And this Word is none other than the gospel which has been preached to you” (1 Peter1:25). Note the word “preached”

The New Testament is a “reflection” of what the Catholic Church had been teaching for the first four centuries before the Canon of the Bible was discerned.

Cinette

If the Bible interpreted itself there wouldn’t be thousands of differing interpretations. Obviously, in a system where the Bible (instead of the Church) is the Rule of Faith, there must be some authority to correctly interpret the Bible because not all interpretations can be correct. What is that Rule of Faith? How do we know who’s right?

In the Protestant system there is no final authority. This is one of the main reasons I’m no longer Protestant.

The Answer: The Church is older than the New Testament, the Church alone is able to interpret Her own Bible.

May God be with you

Hi, Centos,

Nicely stated… and, let me offer you a belated welcome to Christ’s Church! :slight_smile:

OK, now, what ever happed to Protestant 101 and PWM 15537…? :whistle: Hmmmm… maybe they misplaced the items I had asked them to address? Here is a cut 'n paste of the items that just fly in the face of the Bible interpreting itself:

**OK… if the bible actually does explain itself very well… and Catholics believe that:

1.) Christ founded His Church on Peter (Matt 16:18),

2.) Christ required His Followers be Baptized (not as a ‘nice idea’ or gesture, but as a requirement) to be part of Him (John 3:5, Matt 28:19, Gal 3:25-27),

3.) Christ (Body, Blood, Human Soul and Divinity) is really present under the appearance of bread and wine (John 6, Matt 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:15-20, 1Cor10:16),

4.) Christ gave the Apostles the power to forgive or retain sin (John 20:21, Matt 18:18, James 5:16 ) and

5.) Christ promised the Holy Spirit to guide the Church He founded [and, that would be the Catholic Chruch] for all time (John 14:26)

WHY don’t Protestants believe the clearly written words of Scripture?**

By the way, Benedictus2, I liked that statement you made about Protestants interpreting the Bible in a vacuum - just like nothing happed for the first 1500 years until Luther, et al came on the scene. Apostoliic Traditions (not the traditions of men as the phrase seems to be twisted) show the movement of the Holy Spirit within the Church of Christ. St. Paul reinforces this concept by saying (1Cor 11: 2) “I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.”

What is fundamentally lacking, in my opinion, is a sense of history - those first 1500 years - and the message of the Holy Spirit - are discarded only at one’s own spiritual peril.

God bless

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