The Church had the authority to interpret the Scripture, since she was the only authentic depository of Apostolic kerygma. This kerygma was unfailingly kept alive in the Church, as she was endowed with the Spirit.
The Church was still teaching viva voce, commending and furthering the Word of God. And viva vox Evangelii [the living voice of the Gospel] was indeed not just a recitation of the words of the Scripture. It was a proclamation of the Word of God, as it was heard and preserved in the Church, by the ever abiding power of the quickening Spirit.
Apart from the Church and her regular Ministry, “in succession” to the Apostles, there was no true proclamation of the Gospel, no sound preaching, no real understanding of the Word of God. And therefore it would be in vain to look for truth elsewhere, outside of the Church, Catholic and Apostolic.
This was the common assumption of the Ancient Church, from St. Irenaeus down to Chalcedon, and further. St. Irenaeus was quite formal at this point. In the Church the fullness of truth has been gathered by the Apostles: plenissime in eam contulerint omnia quae sunt veritatis [lodged in her hands most copiously are all things pertaining to truth (Adv. Haeres., III.4.1)].
Indeed, Scripture itself was the major part of this Apostolic “deposit.” So was also the Church. Scripture and Church could not be separated, or opposed to each other. Scripture, that is— its true understanding, was only in the Church, as she was guided by the Spirit.
Origen was stressing this unity between Scripture and Church persistently. The task of the interpreter was to disclose the word of the Spirit: hoc observare debemus ut non nostras, cum docemus, led Sancti Spiritus sententias proferamus [we must be careful when we teach to present not our own interpretation but that of the Holy Spirit (in Rom. 1.3.1)]. And this is simply impossible apart from the Apostolic Tradition, kept in the Church.
Origen insisted on catholic interpretation of Scripture, as it is offered in the Church: audiens in Ecclesia verbum Dei catholice tractari [hearing in the Church the Word of God presented in the catholic manner (in Lev. hom., 4.5)].
Heretics, in their exegesis, ignore precisely the true “intention” or the voluntas of the Scripture: qui enim neque juxta voluntatem Scripturarum neque juxta fidei veritatem profert eloquia Dei, seminat triticum et metit spinas [those who present the words of God, not in conjunction with the intention of the Scriptures, nor in conjunction ‘with the truth of faith, have sown wheat and reaped thorns (in Jerem. hom., 7.3)].
The “intention” of the Holy Writ and the “Rule of faith” are intimately correlated and correspond to each other. This was the position of the Fathers in the Fourth century and later, in full agreement with the teaching of the Ancients. With his usual sharpness and vehemence of expression, St. Jerome, this great man of Scripture, has voiced the same view:
Marcion and Basilides and other heretics… do not possess the Gospel of God, since they have no Holy Spirit, without which the Gospel so preached becomes human. We do not think that Gospel consists of the words of Scripture but in its meaning; not on the surface but in the marrow, not in the leaves of sermons but in the root of meaning. In this case Scripture is really useful for the hearers when it is not spoken without Christ, nor is presented without the Fathers, and those who are preaching do not introduce it without the Spirit… It is a great danger to speak in the Church, lest by a perverse interpretation of the Gospel of Christ, a gospel of man is made (in Galat., I, 1. II; M. L. XXVI, c. 386).
There is the same preoccupation with the true understanding of the Word of God as in the days of St. Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen. St. Jerome probably was simply paraphrasing Origen.