“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.” (2 Peter 1:20–21, AV)
A few people know the size of my library. Those that do call us book people. When I pastored in New Hampshire, I cataloged all my books. I looked into my office one day and thought, this really looks messy. Nearly every wall had a tall bookshelf stuffed with books. You could not see some of the walls. So, I boxed up some of the books, labeled the boxes and put them in my garage. You might ask the question, “Why all the books?” The reason is that books contain knowledge.
However, one of the problems with all those books is that they were authored by men. In my collection I had a couple books that were clearly written by leaders of various heretical cults. These men wrote their man derived theology and published these books, calling them authoritative. I only kept them as an aid when I taught on cults. Well, we would expect those things written by cult leaders to be off the mark. Yet, as I have read the other books written by Christian authors, I often discovered places where they inserted their own opinions and frankly ones in which I had some disagreement.
The problem here is that while men may be inspired when they write, their writing was not done under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As such, man’s writings, even those written by men much more intelligent than me are not infallible. Only the Bible can claim inerrancy in the original manuscripts, full sufficiency, and authority over believers and the church.
When I taught theology at an extension seminary, on the first day of class I would ask a question. “What is our only infallible source of theology?” The correct answer was, “The Bible.” I showed them the textbook for the course and stated that it was a good book. Yet, I went on to state that the book was written by a man and thus could contain much opinion, while the Bible was the only infallible source. The reason is that only the Bible is God-breathed.
Peter wrote of this issue here. The early church was inundated with men teaching godless myths of their own crafting. To counter this thought and to affirm the Bible, he made this statement. “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” No prophetic writing came by a man’s own interpretation. On the contrary, men spoke from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit. As such the Scriptures as written in the original manuscripts are the very word of God given to us.
However, we need to be careful with many translations today. Some translations from the original languages move away from direct literal translation. The further they move away from the original languages, the more prone they are to the insertion of man’s opinions. At the extreme they can weave in running commentary. To me it seems best to study in the original languages if possible. Yet, if not, the student should view a variety of translations that are considered on the literal end of the spectrum so they will not run the risk of being swayed by the translator’s opinions.