The opening paragraph to most of my blogs is an attempt to get the reader’s attention. Most have nothing to do with the actual subject I am going to write about. Today, I spent over 30 minutes trying to come up with an original opening paragraph. As you can see, I did not come up with anything I liked. However, I am still able to end my opening with, “what does this have to do with 6 verses taken out of context and I am glad you ask!”

There are many arguments on how to read the Bible. One would think it to be like any other book, simply pick it up and start from the beginning. Yet, the first sentence of the Bible causes controversy. Plus, there are many translations and who knows which one should be read. Anyway, those are just a couple of examples when it comes to reading the Bible. I simply want to address 6 common verses that are often taken out of context. But first…

I would suggest, one can very well read the Bible to the point of understanding salvation. Beyond that, a background in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, a Lexicon and Concordance, and the understanding of what type of translation is being read. Second, one should be familiar with a few terms concerning Biblical interpretation. Terms such as exegesis, meaning a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture and hermeneutics, to help one know how to properly understand and apply what is being read. Knowing the time, place, setting, who is writing and to whom, the genre of each book are all important, if not vital, as well.

You see, a verse, or scripture, can have only one meaning. This is obviously a major problem within and outside of the church. Yet, it is logic. Scripture cannot mean different things to different people. Oh, it does. But we cannot all be right. In fact, we all may be wrong!

Anyway, the 6 verses taken out of context:

Matthew 7:1 - “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Possibly the most famous verse both inside and outside of the church. People, the church should know better. We are indeed to judge, other believers. Jesus is telling us how to judge. Do not expect the non-believers to understand. And, if someone tells you to “judge not”, tell them they are making a judgement of you by stating such.

Matthew 18:20 – “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” I have heard this one used since I was a child. Normally when there is a small crowd. If one would start at Matthew 18:15 the context should be clear. The topic is church discipline, you know, one on one, two on one, and then before the church. Jesus knows church discipline is hard and assures us, if done correctly, “two or more are gathered” He will be with us.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” I hear people state, “God will not give you more than you can handle” often. When ask about the Christians dying daily those same people scream this verse. God will indeed give you more than you can handle. This verse is speaking of temptation. It should be one of the few that is not taken out of context. Clearly, temptation, and “more than you can handle” are not the same.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This is one of my favorites! It is one of the prosperity gospels favorites too. Boys and girls, unless you were part of the Babylonian exile, this does not apply to you! Stop using it out of context! God very well does know the plans for you, but those plans contain trails and tribulation according to Jesus.

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Please do not try jumping off a building, flying, or being a football player, (football player meaning 5 feet tall and 120 pounds). Paul is discussing everything he has been through. He is speaking of finding contentment in God. Christianity is hard. Paul is assuring us that we can make it if we are content with the plans God has made for us. Not super-human powers. And He probably does not care how many touch downs we score either.

The last one is John 20:26-29. People always use this verse against apologetics. The following is an excerpt from J. Warner Wallace’s blog on the subject:

“After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been [f]shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:26-29)

Therefore, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:25-31)

John makes an important statement right after the line that is typically offered to “demonstrate” Jesus’ alleged affirmation of a non-evidential faith: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples…” What? Blessed are those who did not see and yet believed, therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples? Do you see the contradiction here? Why would Jesus continue to provide evidence if those who believe without evidence are supposed to be blessed?”1

Church, we must have a foundation for what we believe before we can understand why we believe! Stop taking scripture out of context! One must understand the context. The Bible is not to be taken lightly. It is the Word of God! Will you take the time to study? Will you stop believing a verse means one thing when it does not? If you do not agree with what I have written, will you take the time to prove me wrong?

1http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/did-jesus-commend-faith-that-is-blind/ last accessed 25 January 2018

John Mays is the RC Chapter Director at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. If you are interested in this chapter - when and where it meets or how to contact the team - Click Here.