”First, our reading of Scripture is obedient. Second, it is ecclesial, in union with the Church. Third, it is Christ-centered. Fourth, it is personal”
Coming upon the Ethiopian as he read the Old Testament in his chariot, Philip the Deacon asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
“How can I,” answered the Ethiopian, “unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:30, 31).
His difficulty is also ours. The words of Scripture are not always self-explanatory. The Bible has a marvelous underlying simplicity, but when studied in detail it can prove a difficult book. God does indeed speak directly to the heart of each one of us during our Scripture reading—as Saint Tikhon says, our reading is a personal dialogue between each one and Christ Himself—but we also need guidance. And our guide is the Church. We make full use of our private understanding; illuminated by the Spirit. We make full use of biblical commentaries and of the findings of modern research. But we submit individual opinions, whether our own or those of the scholars, to the judgment of the Church.
We read the Bible personally, but not as isolated individuals. We say not “I” but “we.” We read as the members of a family, the family of the Orthodox Catholic Church.