Does the Iglesia Ni Cristo interpret the Bible?

Ministers and members of the "Iglesia Ni Cristo" often say that they do not interpret the Bible.[1] When questioned about this, they often point to their method of Bible study and claim that they are just letting the Bible interpret itself. Is it really true that the INC does not interpret the Bible?

When we look at the definition of the word "interpret", the INC's actual practices, and what the Bible says about interpreting scripture, we see that the INC does indeed interpret scripture.

The INC interprets the Bible according to basic definitions of the word "interpret".

Merriam-Webster lists two definitions of the word interpret.[2][3]

1. to explain the meaning of (something)

Obviously, the INC explains the meaning of the Bible. Do they really mean to say that ministers do not explain the Bible to their Bible students? It seems unreasonable to accuse them of such a silly statement.

2. to understand (something) in a specified way

Obviously, the INC has a specified understanding of the Bible. Do they really mean to say that they do not understand the Bible? Once again, it would be unreasonable to accuse them of saying this.

According to the dictionary, the INC does interpret the Bible. It is confusing that they would say otherwise.

The INC's method of reading the Bible does not remove the need for interpretation.

When INC members and ministers say that they do not "interpret" the Bible, they must have an intended meaning outside of the dictionary definition of this word. It seems that the INC means to say that their understanding of the text does not come from their personal feelings, but from scripture. Often the INC would point to 1 Corinthians 2:13 to justify this statement.

1 Corinthians 2:13 (ESV) - 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

Though this passage and its context is clearly speaking of the illumination provided by the Holy Spirit to all believers, the INC uses it to say that their method of reading the Bible (which typically involves chaining prooftexts) removes personal interpretation from the equation. Of course, it is ridiculous to think that putting two Bible verses side by side removes the need for human perception and reception of the intended meaning of the text.

2 Peter 1:20 does not teach that we shouldn't interpret scripture.

The INC seems to be opposed to the word "interpretation" based on a misunderstanding of 2 Peter 1:20. The INC understands 2 Peter 1:20 to teach that we should not personally interpret the Bible.

2 Peter 1:20 (ESV) - 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.

This is not at all what 2 Peter 1:20 is teaching. It teaches that the truth of prophecy is not relative.

2 Peter 1:20 does not teach that we shouldn't interpret scripture. If it did, that mean we shouldn't even understand scripture given the definition of the word "interpret". It teaches that the truth of scripture is rooted in the Holy Spirit who wrote it as opposed to the man who reads it.


The INC does interpret the Bible, despite their absurd claims to the contrary. When they deny that they interpret the Bible, it reveals their lack of understanding what scripture actually teaches, and also reveals a lack of understanding the English language. It's an unfortunate vocabulary trick that gives them an appearance of authority. It is attractive to say that you can hold the truth of scripture without interpreting scripture, but this simply isn't a true or biblical position on which to stand.

[1] This is common rhetoric that is rarely used in official expositions, only in informal exchanges between the INC and other parties where one party speaks of the INC's "interpretation". Here is a typical example of this rhetoric.

[2] Merriam-Webster entry

[3] There is a third definition which is irrelevant: "to perform (something, such as a song or a role) in a way that shows your own thoughts and feelings about it"