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The Early Church Fathers on the private interpretation of the Scriptures.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458)
    Pope St. Celestine I, (unknown - A.D. 432)
    Capreolus of Carthage, (c. A.D. late 4th century - A.D. 437)
    St. Vincent of Lérins, (A.D. c.400-445)
    Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460)
    Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496)
St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

"The Holy Scriptures themselves, which exhort to believe great truths before understanding them, cannot profit you unless you understand them. For all heretics who acknowledge their authority, seem to themselves to follow after them, whereas they do rather follow after their own errors, and are heretics through this, not because they despise them, but because they understand them not rightly."

T. ii. Ep. cxx. Consent, n. 13, p. 524.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 376

"So great is the depth of the Christian writings, that I might daily advance in them, if, from earliest youth, even to decrepit old age, I were to endeavor, in the midst of leisure, with the most intense application, and with greater talents, to learn them alone: not that, with so great difficulty, may one attain to those things in them which are necessary to salvation; but when one has therein acquired that faith without which he cannot live piously and uprightly, so many things, and those veiled by so many folds of mystery, remain for those who advance further; and so great a depth of wisdom lies hidden, not merely in the words whereby those things are expressed, but also in the things to be understood; that to the oldest, the most acute, the most ardent in thirst after knowledge, there happens what that same Scripture has somewhere, "When man hath done, then shall he begin." (Ecclesiastes 18:6).

T. ii. Ep. cxxxvii. Volusiano, n. 3, col. 601.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 376

"For, neither have heresies, and certain perverse doctrines, which ensnare souls and cast them headlong into Hell, sprung up, but by the good Scriptures being ill understood, and what is therein badly understood is rashly and boldly asserted. Wherefore, my beloved, things which we are but as little children in comprehending, let us hearken to with very great caution, and with a pious heart, and, as the Scripture says, with trembling, adhere to this sound rule, to rejoice over whatsoever we are able to understand in accordance with the faith wherewith we have been imbued, as over our food; but as to whatsoever we may not, as yet, be able to understand in accordance with the sound rule of faith, to put aside all doubt, and to defer to some other time the understanding of it; that is, even though we know not what it means, to have no doubt whatever but that it is good and true. . . . Far be also from me (your pastor) all vain presumption, if I would have my conversation as a sound (teacher) in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

T. iii. Tract, xviii. in Joan. Evang. n. 1, col. 1883-4.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 376-377

"All these most silly heretics, who wish to be called Christians, try to give a colorable appearance to their wild figments, which the sense of mankind uttertly abhors, under cover of that gospel sentence, where Christ says, "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot hear them now." (John 16:12); as if these were the very things which the Apostles could not then bear. . . . These men the Apostle foreseeing in the Holy Spirit, says: "For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, they will, [gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.]" (2 Timothy 4:3,4)

T. iii. Tract, xcvii. in Joan. Evang. n. 3, 4, col. 2343.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 377

"No one can, in any way, justly attribute to the holy authorities of the divine books, the errors, so numerous and various, of heretics, though they all try to defend their own false and fallacious opinions out of the same Scriptures."

T. viii. l. 1, De Trinit. n. 6 (al. 3), col. 1159.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 377

"If the Church was, at that time, no more, because sacrilegious heretics were received (by her) without baptism, and this was followed as the universal custom, whence did Donatus make his appearance? from what land did he spring forth? out of what sea did he emerge? from what sky did he fall? We, therefore, as I had begun to remark, are safe in the communion of that Church, throughout the whole of which that is now done which, both before Agrippinus, and between Agrippinus and Cyprian, was similarly done throughout the whole of it."

T. ix. l. iii. Contr. Donatist. de Baptis. n. 3 (al. 2), col. 199.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 377-378

St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

"He (John of Antioch) grieves all the bishops, both in the east and in the west, (saying) that the word concerning Christ is not orthodox, but perverted. But it suffices for a demonstration and refutation of these things, that they have never been said by anyone in the churches, as they are set down in the expositions of this man." (*)

Ad Clerum C.P. col. 333, t. iii. Labb. Concil
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 378

(*) Authors note: St. Cyril of Alexandria speaks frequently of the difficulty and obscurity of Scripture:

"How profound is the word, and obscure the sentence of the law! Because it is enigmatical, and a scarcely visible shadowing-forth, as it were, of subtile and fine-drawn (thin) thoughts."

T i. De Ador. in Sp. et Ver. p. 616
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 378

Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458), Greek; an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (A.D. 423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. His friendship for Nestorius embroiled him, for a time, with his great contemporary, St. Cyril of Alexandria.

Having named three different opinions of writers hostile to the inspiration of the Canticle of Canticles, he asserts its inspiration as follows:

"It behooved these men to be conscious how very much wiser, and more spiritual than they, are the blessed fathers, who ranked this book amongst the divine writings, and who placed it in the canon as a spiritual work, and pronounced it worthy of the Church."

[He then gives the story, or legend, of Esdras, and returns to his first argument, referring to Eusebius, Origen, Cyprian, Basil, and others of the fathers, as having commented on or quoted from this book, as sacred Scripture, and adds:]

"Wherefore let us consider whether it be just, that rejecting so many and so great men, and contemning the most Holy Spirit Himself, we follow our private opinions, not attending to that excellent saying, "The thoughts of mortal men are fearful, and their counsels uncertain." (Wisdom 9:14) (*)

T. ii. Proleg. in Cant. Cant pp. 3-5.
He refers also to Romans 1:21; Acts 5:29
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 378-379

(*) Some critics have doubted of the genuineness of this work, but its authenticity is vindicated in the (Proleg. t. i. De Vita et Script. Theod. p. 34-7). Theodoret notices at p. 19 of the same treatise, that amongst the Jews the Canticle of Canticles was forbidden to be read but by persons of mature age.

"Were it an easy thing for all men to explain the oracles of the divine prophets, and, passing beyond the letter that is seen, to penetrate into its depths, and to attain to (catch) the hidden pearl of the sense, it might perhaps be justly thought a superfluous task to consign to writing an interpretation of them; all men being able, by the mere perusal, to attain without difficulty to the prophetic meaning (mind). But as, though we all have the same nature, yet have we not all received equal knowledge; for, "To each one", he says, "is given the manifestation of the Spirit unto profit; and to one, indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom, etc." (1 Corinthians 12:7-9).

T. ii. Proaem. in Interpr. Daniel, pp. 1053-4.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 379

Pope St. Celestine I, (unknown - A.D. 432), deacon and pope, a Roman in the region of Campania; pope from A.D. 422 to 432, he lived for a while at Milan while actively condemning the Nestorians and Pelagians. He was a zealous defender of orthodoxy.

"Justly does the blame touch us, if by silence we foster error; therefore let such men be corrected; let them not have liberty to speak at their pleasure. Let novelty cease, if the matter be so, to molest antiquity; let restlessness cease to trouble the peacefulness of the churches."

Ad Episc. Gall. col. 1612, t. ii. Labb. Concil.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 379

Capreolus of Carthage; (c. A.D. late 4th century - A.D. 437), succeeded Aurelius as bishop of Carthage who is known principally as the author of three letters: an Epistula ad Ephesinam synodum addressed to the Council of Ephesus in 431, an Epistula ad Vitalem et Constantium, and an Epistula ad Theodosium Augustum, which reports the death of St. Augustine of Hippo to the emperor Theodosius.

"I, therefore, beseech your holiness (though I have the firmest confidence) that, by the help of God, the Catholic faith will be in all respects firmly established by means of so great a synod (Ephesus) of venerable priests, that, the Holy Spirit working within you, which Spirit, I am confident, will be present in your hearts in all that you do, you shake from you with the force of former authority these novel doctrines, unheard, until now, by ecclesiastical ears, and thus withstand new errors of whatsoever kind they may be; lest the same (errors) which the Church vanquished long ago, and which have sprung up again in these days, and which the authority of the apostolic chair, and the concordant judgment of the priesthood repressed, may, under the pretext of a second examination, seem to recover that voice which was long since quelled. For, should anything happen to be started recently, there needs examination, that it may either be approved as rightly spoken, or repudiated as deserving of condemnation; but matters concerning which judgment has already been passed, if a man suffer such to be called again into question, he will simply seem himself to doubt about the faith which he has hitherto held. Again, as an example to posterity:— that what is now defined relative to Catholic faith may be for ever firmly received, those matters which have already been defined by the Fathers, must be preserved inviolate. Since whoso would fain that what he has defined concerning the right ordering of faith should continue forever, must needs confirm his sentiments, not by his private authority, but also by the judgment of the more ancient (Fathers); so that, in this manner, proving that what he asserts is, both by the decisions of the ancients and of the moderns, the alone truth of the Catholic Church, a truth descending from the past ages even to the present, or our days, in simple purity and invincible authority, and that such truth he both utters, and teaches, and holds. . . . Cyril of Alexandria said, "Let the epistle that has been read from . . . Capreolus of Carthage, be inserted amongst the memorials of faith, containing, as it does, a clear opinion; for he wishes the ancient doctrines to be confirmed, but novel and absurd inventions to be condemned and cast aside." All the bishops exclaimed, "Such are the declarations of us all. This we all proclaim: this is the prayer of all."

Ep. ad Condi. Eph.jjp. 490, 491, t. ix. Gallandii.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 99-100

Author's note: Capeeolus of Carthage succeeded Aurelius in the see of Carthage, and in 431 sent his deputies to the council of Ephesus, with a letter, part of which is given in the text. It is in Gallandius, t. ix.

St. Vincent of Lérins (A.D. c.400-445), in Latin, Vincentius, a monastic presbyter and ecclesiastical writer in the island of Lérins, he was a man learned in the Holy Scriptures, and well instructed in the knowledge of the doctrines of the Church, with a view to overthrow the sects of the heretics. He composed in elegant and clear language a very powerful dissertation, which, concealing his own name, he entitled Peregrinus against Heretics.

"But some one will say, why then does Providence very often permit certain persons, distinguished in the Church, to broach novelties to Catholics? A befitting question, and such as deserves to be treated more carefully and fully; to which however I must reply, not by any fancy of my own, but by the authority of the divine law, and the evidence of a master in the Church. Let us, therefore, hear holy Moses, and let him teach us why learned men, and such as by reason of their grace of knowledge are called even prophets by the Apostle, be sometimes permitted to broach new dogmas, which the Old Testament is wont, in allegorical language, to denominate strange Gods, for this reason, to wit, that the opinions of these men are so observed by the heretics, as their Gods by the Gentiles. Blessed Moses, then, writes in Deuteronomy, "If there shalt arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or one who saith he hath seen a dream" (13), that is, a teacher placed in the Church, whose disciples, or hearers, fancy him to teach from some revelation. What then? "And he shall foretell a sign and wonder, and that shall come to pass which he spoke." It is plain that some great teacher or other is meant, and one of so great knowledge, who may seem capable of knowing not only things human, but also of foreseeing things above man's reach, such as, for the most part, their disciples vaunt Valentinus to have been, and Donatus, Photinus, Apollinaris, and others of this class. What follows? "And shall say to thee, let us go and follow strange Gods, which thou knowest not, and let us serve them." What are "strange Gods", but extraneous errors, which thou knewest not, that is, new and unheard of? "And let us serve them", that is, believe them, follow them. What is the conclusion? "Thou shalt not hearken, he saith, to the words of that prophet or dreamer." And why, I pray you, is not that forbidden by God to be taught, which is by God forbidden to be hearkened to? "Because", saith he, "the Lord your God trieth you, that it may be made manifest whether you love Him or not, in all your heart, and in all your soul." The reason is more clear than day, why Divine Providence sometimes suffers certain masters of the churches to preach certain new dogmas. "That the Lord your God", he saith, "may try you." And assuredly a great temptation it is, when he whom you reckon a prophet, a disciple of the prophets, a doctor and maintainer of the truth, whom you clung to with the highest veneration and love, suddenly introduces by stealth noxious errors, which you can neither quickly detect, whilst you are led by prejudice in favor of your old teacher, nor easily bring yourself to think it lawful to condemn, whilst hindered by affection for your old master.

[He illustrates the above by the examples of Nestorius, Photinus, and Apollinaris, and adds:]

Here it may be asked of me that I expound the errors of the men named above, that is, Nestorius, Apollinaris, and Photinus. But this does not pertain to the matter whereof we now treat; for it is our purpose, not to assail the errors of individual men, but to bring forward the examples of a few, whence that may be clearly and evidently demonstrated which Moses saith, namely, that if at any time any ecclesiastical teacher, yea and a prophet for interpreting the mysteries of the prophets, shall attempt to introduce any thing new into the Church, that Divine Providence suffers to happen for our trial."

Adv. Hæres. n. xi. xii.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 379-381

The same subject as continued at n. xvii.

"We said then in what is gone before, that the error of a master was a people's trial, and the greater the trial, the greater the learning of him that erred, which we established, first by the authority of Scripture, afterwards by examples ecclesiastical; by commemorating, that is, those men who at one time were accounted as of sound faith, yet at last fell into some alien sect, or themselves established a heresy of their own. A subject assuredly of great moment, and profitable to be learned, and needful to be remembered, and which we must again and again illustrate and inculcate by weighty instances: that all true Catholics may know that they ought with the Church to receive doctors, not with doctors to forsake the faith of the Church. But I am of this opinion, that although we are able to bring forward many as examples of this kind of temptation, yet there is almost none that can be compared with this temptation of Origen, in whom there was so much that was so excellent, so singular, so wonderful, that in the beginning any would at once have decided that faith might be given to any assertion of his. For if life procures authority, etc.

[Having drawn a glowing picture of Origen, he adds:]

And yet this very Origen, great and eminent as he was, too presumptuously abusing the grace of God, indulging too much his own wit, trusting himself as sufficient, slighting the ancient simplicity of the Christian religion, presuming that he was wiser than all others, contemning the traditions of the Church and the teachings of the ancients, interpreting certain chapters of the Scriptures in a new fashion, deserved that of him also the Church of God should say, "If there shall arise in the midst of thee a prophet;" and, a little after, "Thou shalt not hearken to the words of that prophet;" and again, "Because the Lord your God trieth you, whether you love Him or not."

[He then cites Tertullian as another example, and adds:]

Such being the case, he is a true and genuine Catholic who loves the truth of God, and the Church, and the body of Christ; who prefers not anything before the religion of God, nothing before the Catholic faith, not any man's authority, not love, not wit, not eloquence, not philosophy, but despising all these, and in faith abiding fixed and stable, whatsoever he knoweth that the Catholic Church held universally of old, that alone he decideth is to be held and believed by him; but whatsoever he shall perceive to be introduced later, new and not before heard of, by some one man, besides all, or contrary to all the saints, let him know that it pertains not to religion, but rather to temptation."

Ib. n. xx.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 381-382

"Here perhaps some one may ask, whether heretics also use the testimonies of divine Scripture? Assuredly they use them, and vehemently indeed; for you may see them fluttering through each several volume of the holy law, through the books of Moses, through those of Kings, through the Psalms, through the Apostles, through the Gospels, through the prophets. For whether amongst their own, or amongst strangers, whether in private or in public, whether in their discourses or in their books, whether in convivial meetings or in the streets, nothing ever scarcely do they bring forward of their own, which they do not also try to shadow with words of Scripture. Head the tracts of Paul of Samosata, of Priscillian, Eunomius, Jovinian, and of the rest of such pests; and you will behold a vast heap of examples, hardly a page omitted which is not painted and colored with sentences from the Old or New Testament. But the more covertly they lurk under the shadows of the divine law, the more are they to be avoided and dreaded. For they know that their foul savors would not soon be pleasing to any scarcely, if they were exhaled barely and without admixture, and they therefore sprinkle them with the perfume, as it were, of God's word, that so he who would readily despise a human error, may not readily contemn the divine oracles. They therefore do, as they are wont who are preparing bitter draughts for little children, anointing the brims first with honey, that unwary youth, first tasting the sweetness, may not fear the bitterness. . . . Hence, in fine, the Saviour also cried out, "Take heed to yourself of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7) What is "the clothing of sheep", but the sayings of the prophets and Apostles, which these men, with sheep-like sincerity, wove as fleeces, for that immaculate "Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world?" Who are "ravening wolves", but the wild and rabid senses (interpretations) of heretics, who ever infest the folds of the Church, and tear in pieces the flock of Christ, in whatever way they can. But that they may more craftily creep in upon the unsuspecting sheep, retaining the ferocity of wolves, they put off the appearance of wolves, and shroud themselves with sentences from the divine law, as with certain fleeces, that when one first feels the softness of the wool, he may not dread the sharpness of their teeth. But what says the Saviour? "By their fruits shall ye know them." That is, when they shall begin, not now only to bring forward these divine words, but also to expound— no longer to shoot them forth, but also to interpret them— then that bitterness, then that sharpness, then that rage, will be perceived; then that new poison will be exhaled; then will the profane novelties be laid open; then may you first see "the hedge broken", then "the bounds of the fathers transferred;" then the Catholic faith slaughtered; then the ecclesiastical dogma torn in pieces. Such were they whom the Apostle Paul smites in his second epistle to the Corinthians, "For such false apostles", he saith, "are deceitful workmen, transfiguring themselves into the Apostles of Christ?" (2 Corinthians 9:13) What is "transfiguring themselves into Apostles of Christ?" The Apostles alleged examples from the divine law— they likewise alleged them; the Apostles alleged the authorities of the Psalms— they likewise alleged them; the Apostles alleged sentences of the prophets, and still they also alleged them. But when those things which were alleged alike, began not to be interpreted alike, then were the simple discerned from the crafty, then the sincere from the counterfeit, then the upright from the perverse— then, in fine, the true apostles from the false. "And no wonder," he says, "for Satan himself transfigureth himself into an angel of light: therefore it is no great thing, if his ministers be transfigured as the ministers of justice." (2 Corinthians 11:14,15) Therefore, according to the teaching of the Apostle Paul, as often as either false apostles or false prophets, or false doctors, allege sentences from the divine law by which, ill-interpreted, they may endeavor to establish their own errors, there is no doubt but that they follow the crafty devices of their author; which he assuredly never would have invented, but that he knew full well that there is no readier way to deceive, than where the fraudulency of nefarious error is covertly introduced, that there the authority of the words of God be pretended (or, held out). But some one may say, whence is it proved that the devil useth to allege examples out of the divine law? Let him read the Gospels, wherein it is written, "Then the devil took him up, etc." (St. Matthew 4:5,6) What will he not do to poor weak men, he who assailed the Lord of majesty Himself with testimonies of the Scriptures? "If", says he, "Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down." Why so? "For it is written", quoth he. The doctrine of this place is to be by us diligently attended to and borne in mind, that, by so notable an example of Gospel authority, we may in nowise doubt, when we see any allege the apostolic or prophetic words against the Catholic faith, that the devil speaks by these men. . . . But what, finally, saith he? "If", he says, "Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down." That is, Thou wishest to be the Son of God, and to receive the inheritance of the kingdom of Heaven, cast Thyself down, that is, cast Thyself down from the doctrine and tradition of this lofty Church, which also is reputed to be the temple of God. And if any interrogate any one of the heretics who is persuading him to these things, whence doest thou prove, whence doest thou teach, that I ought to cast aside the universal and ancient faith of the Catholic Church? Straightway he (answers), "For it is written." And forthwith he sets forth a thousand testimonies, a thousand examples, a thousand authorities, from the law, from the psalms, from the Apostles, from the prophets, by which, interpreted in a new and evil manner, the unhappy soul may be cast headlong from the Catholic citadel into the deep abyss of heresy. . . . But some one may say, if both the devil and his disciples, whereof some are false apostles and false prophets and false teachers, and all utterly heretics, do use the divine sayings, sentences, and promises, what shall Catholic men, and sons of our mother the Church, do? In what way shall they in the holy Scriptures discern truth from falsehood ?"

Adv. Hæres. n. xxv. xxvi.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 382-386

Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460), also known as Arnobius the Younger, Christian priest or bishop in Gaul, author of a mystical and allegorical commentary on the Psalms, first published by Erasmus in 1522, and by him attributed to the elder Arnobius.

"He that shall be found without a ship in this great sea, "shall meet with the dragon which has been formed to make sport of them." (Psalms 130) . . . with those, that is, who repudiate the ships, and deliver themselves up, like animals, to the waves and depths of the law, without a master who is a Catholic, and who derives the tradition of the law from the Apostles. Wherefore, because they are without the Church.

Comm. in Ps. ciii. p. 295 ; t. viii. Bill. Maxim. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 386

Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496) was pope from A.D. 492 until his death in A.D. 496; prolific writer whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. His reign was characterized by a call for strict orthodoxy.

"Is there anything which it is lawful for us to quash of those things which have been condemned by the venerable fathers? Why is it that we are so exceedingly on our guard, that the ruinous doctrine of any heresy that has once been cast aside, may not again strive to be brought under a second examination? If we attempt to restore the things which by our forefathers have been taken cognizance of, discussed, and refuted, do not we ourselves set an example— which God forefend, and which the Catholic Church will never permit— to all the enemies of truth to rise up against us? Where is that which is written, "Thou shalt not go beyond the bounds of thy fathers;" and, "Ask thy fathers, and they will declare to thee and thy elders, and they will tell thee. (Deuteronomy 32) Why, therefore, do we go beyond the things defined by our forefathers; or why suffice they not for us? If, being ignorant on any point, we wish for instruction, as to each of the points which, by the orthodox fathers and elders, have been enjoined, either as to be avoided, or as to be connected with Catholic truth, why are they not proved to have been decreed by these men? Are we wiser than they, or shall we be able, with stable firmness, to come to a clearer determination?

Ad. Honor. Dalm. Epis. col. 1172-3, t. iv. Labb. Concil.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 386-387



As Catholics, when we hear the term "the Word of God", we don't automatically think solely of the Scriptures. We think of both the Oral Tradition that has been passed down to us by the Apostles to our current bishops along with the written Scriptures that the Church canonized in A.D. 382 at the Council of Rome.

There are relatively few passages compared to all the passages in the Bible, that the Church requires a correct interpretation for. If you read the Scriptures at any Bible Study, you are more than welcome to draw from the Scriptures whatever you wish as far as your understanding or interpretation does not contradict any doctrinal teachings of the Church.



The Church's Scriptures on the private interpretation of the Scriptures:


If there is a problem with someone, we should first try to resolve it with their privately, but if they don't listen, ultimately we should bring it to the Church

15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Matthew 18:15-17

Peter tells us that some can interpret in Paul's writings incorrectly unto their own destruction.

15 As also our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you: 16 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. 17 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.


2 Peter 3:15-17

Paul tells us in Corinthians that not all have the same calling but we have different vocations

28 And God indeed hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors. 29 Are all Apostles? are all prophets? are all doctors?"

1 Corinthians 12:28, 29

We are all called to proclaim the Gospel to the world

15 And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."


Romans 10:15-18

Paul calls us to a mature faith — one that is not persuaded by the cunning of wicked men, who create their own gospel and replace theirs, with Jesus'

11 And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.


Ephesians 5:11-14

Pharisees challenged whether new Christians should be circumcised according to the Old Testament Law of Moses, but after Peter's decision, the assembly kept silence.

1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, reporting the conversion of the Gentiles, and they gave great joy to all the brethren. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up, and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." 12 And all the assembly kept silence,

Acts 15:1-12

The author of Hebrews encourages the faithful to obey their leaders who spoke of the Word

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith. . . . 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.


Hebrews 13:7, 17

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