Doesn’t the Bible interpret itself? My preacher pointed out 2 Peter 1:20. Isn’t interpretation how we ended up with so many dissensions and denominations?

2 Peter 1:20 does not forbid correct interpretation. The point is that the prophets did not play fast-and-loose with the word of God. It isn’t just their opinions that we read in scripture, but the word of God mediated through them. This means that interpretation is not a dirty word. Yet, our natural tendency is to take the path of least resistance. In our fleshliness, we would like to believe that the Bible “interprets itself” without our having to do any work at all! This is wrong and will lead to much frustration.

Bible study is more than simply “reading and obeying” without the middle step of  interpretation. Anyone who says, “You don’t need to interpret the Bible; just obey it,” is misleading you. While it is true that the basic truths of the Bible are plain for all to see, everything else—most of the Scriptures, in fact—requires disciplined study in order to be understood. Interpretation is merely coming to understand the meaning of a passage, first in its original context and then for today.

We claim, “There’s no need to interpret the Bible.” As mentioned above, this is wrong. The Bible never claims that every part is easy to understand (2 Peter 3:14-16), although it urges us to meditate diligently on the Word (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:1-176) and apply ourselves (2 Timothy 2:15), in hopes that the Lord will give insight (2 Timothy 2:7).