Top 5 Most Misused Verses in the Bible

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Biblical misquotes, misunderstanding and flat-out misuse: Are you guilty of any of these?

The Bible is a sharp, double-edged sword — able to piece the heart. However, when portions of the Bible are used in the wrong context, it’s like trying to fight with the butt of the weapon instead of the blade. It’s just not effective.

Over my years in ministry and as an ongoing student of the Bible, I’ve come across many biblical misquotes, misunderstandings and flat-out misuses.

However, if I’m honest, many of these have come from my own lips. I confess: I’ve been guilty of abusing passages, ignoring context and, even at times, stretching the meaning for my own teaching needs, but I’m seeking to reform my loose ways in favor of something much more beneficial — the original interpretation.

Here are the top five Scriptures, in my opinion, that get misused in the church today — with a brief description of the original context.

I invite you to comment on each one or to provide additional passages you think should appear in the top five. Also, just to be clear, I don’t think referencing these passages in a slighlty different context is a biblical felony — if it was, I’d probably be doing hard time — but it’s always good to know the heart of the original meaning.  

1. I Can Do All Things.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

This short verse is often quoted by sports teams, bumper stickers and taglines as a rally cry to accomplish great things like running a marathon, climbing a mountain, winning the championship, finishing the remodel on the kitchen, etc.

However, this short — and powerful — passage gets its meaning amidst the context of contentment. Paul is writing this letter to the church in Philippi to let them know that God has taught him to be content in times of plenty and in times of desperation (he’s writing this letter in prison).

So, in its proper meaning, this verse is a tribute to a man who learned to follow God in any circumstance. Whatever came Paul’s way, he handled with faith. It could be stoning, prison, shipwreck, beatings, etc. This passage is not a clarion call to go out and accomplish great feats of strength, but a beautiful reminder to pursue faith and trust God in the midst of the ups and downs of a life given fully to the cause of Christ.

So, if you get put in prison for preaching Christ, beaten, and learn to live with little food or possessions, and you find yourself content because you have Christ, well, this verse should definitely be quoted.

Brian Orme Brian is the founding editor of ChurchLeaders.com and Faithit.com. He works with creative and innovative people to discover the top stories, resources and trends to equip and inspire the Church.

More from Brian Orme or visit Brian at http://www.brianorme.com

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  • Ernest Wamboye

    Amazing! Thank you Brian! I have learnt a lot from these 5 and will be sure to read contexts of scripture before I pull out verses to use.

  • Phillip Cohen

    God is love.
    the truth will set you free.

  • Mike

    Great to see this.

  • KB

    Malachi 3:8-10

  • jasoncrosslive

    “No eye has seen or ear heard”…in the context of “heaven”, when it is really describing the obedient, Spirit-filled life here on earth.

  • Joshua G Mufunde

    1 Chr 16v22 is being abused in defending openly philandering brothers in ministry.

  • KE Stanley

    Pro 22:6 KJV – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” Many parents use this verse as a promise that if they raise their child for God, they will return as the prodigal should they stray. A nice thought, but there is no such promise that our children will turn out to be strong Christian. This verse reveals that if we are to find our children’s talents at a young age and train them to find how to use them, when they get older they can say with all honesty “I love what I do” and do it for the glory of God!

  • Lisa Branom Wallace

    Isaiah 53:5 …Refers To Spiritual Healing!

  • Joe McKeever

    Brian, I agree on all except the “two or three.” Think you’re cutting that line mighty close there. (All in all, a great reminder. Thank you.)

    • hotbite

      All respect and love, Joe. Brian’s explanation of “two or three” is accurate. Think about how that verse is so commonly (mis)used…that Christ is present when two or three are gathered…then does that mean that Christ is NOT with me when I’m alone? Of course not! A simple reading of the preceding and following verses give its proper context: Church discipine.

    • Twinsfan1

      I’ve seen this verse used to define what a church is, or what a worship service is, or what real fellowship is supposed to look like. But as Brian mentions, the context is church discipline. Jesus is with us no matter the number.

  • Josh

    Well this is just a Bible Verse Debbie-Downer article. Why wouldn’t “I can do all things through Christ…” apply to my context as it applied to Paul’s? This isn’t just a story Paul is telling, it’s also God revealing His grace and power through Paul to us.

    While I completely agree that scripture should not be taken out of context, or abused for personal gain…I also know that God has a way of using His Word at different times, to bring hope and healing “out of context” quite often.

    • batangpaslit

      Yes, of course!

  • Todd Clark

    It seems when you misquote the Bible, you use the Bible to back up your preference, opinion, or interpretation. Isn’t this the same as using God’s name in vain? Or is this a misquote as well?

  • Kevin B

    You are “rightly divide the word” (2Tim 2:15) not “base your understanding of the word on your subjective experiences.” If I apply “My context” to Scripture the result is subjective Eisogesis based on my own limited experience and knowledge. Then you’re right where the devil wants you. You are not to add anything to the Word. Proper Exegesis is the result of determining the context of the passage (not “my context) and then applying THE truth (not “my truth.)

  • Eti

    Being used in context is important. Also its by revelation, God can use any scripture to speak to us, we can’t put Him in a box. Allow the Spirit of Truth to be your guide. The infinite wisdom of God cannot be contained by our finite minds.

    • batangpaslit

      I fully concur.

  • Rich Jones

    #4 – I think it is not only “those who love Him” that is overlooked, but especially “called according to His purpose”. If we are obediently responding, then I truly believe that He will work everything to our good.

  • Rick

    Great job of identifying common misuse and proper use of those passages. Good teaching on several levels!

  • Granny

    God will never give you more than you can bear (handle) add that one in, on the list, what a fallacy!

    • DanandHolly Dehner

      Often misused, but not scripture! (probably why it’s misused!)

    • amos8

      Good one, especially in the light of 2 Cor 1:8-9. “…far beyond our ability to endure…”

  • Christoph Koebel

    thank you including Romans 8:28……………Psalm 23:1 could be another one and many more

  • http://www.mattmorrison.org/ Matt Morrison

    Thanks for this! I didnt think about the “where two or three are gathered” context but you’re right. My hope is that proper biblical interpretation will get more attention by church leaders in the coming years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1031481427 Earl Click

    “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NASB95)
    Just what you need to hear when the dog gets run over the day after you got fired for taking a day off to go to your Mother’s funeral. But that’s how some people constantly use it. There is no tragedy in their world worth mourning about when one has scripture to quote. A season for everything as in Ecclesiastes is evidently wisdom from a by gone age…

  • Dave

    Great article. We hear the Bible used so much to back up someone’s point of view or their own theology. That’s how cults are started. The biggest revelation I had was when reading Luke 6:38 – Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” This is often used by Churches everywhere, especially prosperity preachers but in context it has nothing to do with money but actually with judgement! With the measure we judge others, we will be judged in greater measure.

  • hotbite

    I would add number 6…”Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”…it’s not about tattoos, alcohol use or cigarerettes!

  • Armel Villareal

    Revelations 3:20 -“If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” – Was this passage commonly used and taken out of context as a plan of salvation for non-Christians? Were in the context you will see that the book of Revelation was written for the Christian audience that is becoming lukewarm for Jesus. This passage explains how a person can repent after becoming lukewarm before Jesus.”

    • Frank

      Rev 3:20 would be #1 on my list. I hear this verse almost ever time I go out with other Christians to share God’s Word with non-Christians.

  • joverway

    As one who did not come to the Lord until I had 60 years in the rear view mirror I can only imagine how many people see so much in the Word that is “unbelievable” because so much is issued out of context.

    • batangpaslit

      I read you…

  • Russell Godsgrace Parker

    Great article! It is very important to allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word of God in the right perspective!

  • amos8

    I agree with that those particular verses are misused, but they all fall far short of the number one misused verse: “Do not judge…”

    Very few Christians, it seems, are able to adequately understand and explain Jesus’ teaching here (and yes, I made a judgment about something … and it’s okay to do so).

  • DanandHolly Dehner

    Very good article! Wish I had a nickle for every time I have heard these verses (and many others) used out of context! This will be the basis for a new Bible study for Sunday evenings at church! Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/hvnbndwarriorprincess Helen Nelson

      Don’t worry about it!

      • DanandHolly Dehner

        ?? I’m not “worried” about anything. What makes you think I am?? Not sure I get the context of your comment.

  • Old n’ Rich

    Biblically, and in a number of subsequent ways, those who currently gather around, as well as those who currently lead what is called “church” are in some pretty deep goo.

  • batangpaslit

    I may differ with the author’s view.
    Is the Holy Spirit shackled that the “context” is confined on those bygone days?
    What about the “context” of today?
    I do not contest that passages in the Scriptures must be viewed in its broader context.
    But I do not discount the fact that the Author of the inspired written Word of GOD could use a verse or two independently to “speak” to the reader.
    I have personal experience the verses before and after was blackened, and I can only read the portions that the Holy Spirit wanted me to read.
    Sometimes, passages in the Scriptures appear in my dream or vision when I was seeking an answer to perplexing situations I find myself into.
    Hermeneutics ought subordinate what the Holy Spirit says.

    • http://www.facebook.com/hvnbndwarriorprincess Helen Nelson

      Amen

    • Pastor K

      What about the context of today?…. Brother I would tell you that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, His word never changes (or its meaning). Do not try to over think things and firmly remember God is NOT the only one that is capable of speaking into your life so be very careful what you attribute to Him! Many horrific things have been done in the name of God! – Just Saying, KWM

      • batangpaslit

        Pastor K….read again my riposte.
        Did I state something that negated the Omnipresence of GOD?
        GOD has no sense of time; hence, I debunked the theological teachings that I received when I was a new believer that the signs and wonders that Moses demonstrated, the spiritual gifts that St Paul wrote and exercised by Peter and the other Apostles are no longer operational today.
        If indeed you are a “Pastor”, I do not want to argue with you. For the Scriptures say, the LORD, will deal with you and your kind if indeed you are a Minister of GOD.
        Nonetheless, let me share my salvation testimony:
        I did not come from the so called “Christian” family. My ancestors were pagans. My great grandfather is a powerful sorcerer—-he could bend the palm three by merely whistling; he walks under the rain without getting wet; when he is provoke to anger, his body levitates from the ground.
        The long and short of it, is: even before I was enrolled in primary grades, I am already acquainted about the realm in the spirit.
        I was four month old foetus when my Mom attempted to abort her pregnancy for five months. But, the attempt to terminate her pregnancy did not succeed because she delivered me on 28 FEBRUARY. I learned about my foetal history when my Mom confessed it three years before she died. How my late Mom was led to disclose my foetal history is another story.
        I was already married and have two young boys when I contracted Leukemia. I was given six months to live. Providentially, the LORD extended my life, just like King Hezekiah, the LORD, extended his life.
        Curiously, it was my lead physician who passed away.
        I entered university at age 17 on scholarship. Since, I witnessed magical powers from my kin’s at so young an age, I desired to be “powerful” too. I immersed in Yoga—-I almost turned Yogi. Mohandas Gandhi is my hero. I am fascinated how Gandhi was able to drive out the foreign colonizers from their land without firing a shot.
        My ancestors were revolutionary leaders too. Three of them were generals in the revolutionary army. My great grandaunt even earned the moniker as “Joan of Arc” in my old homeland, because of her war exploits. Studying in contrast the strategy of Gandhi and that of my ancestors in their fight for liberty and freedom, I deem, Gandhi’s approach is superior than what my ancestors employed since the former never used arms to defend his cause.
        Curiously, one summer, I met an American Peace Corp who is teaching history in my birth town. When he learned that Gandhi is my “idol”, he gave me a copy of the autobiography of Gandhi. I devoured
        Gandhi’s book.
        To my amazement I learned that Gandhi’s model of his non-violence philosophy is the life of Jesus Christ, particularly the Sermon of the Mount. And Gandhi is non-Christian, yet, his model is Jesus.
        That discovery, led me to devour the content of the Bible. In a span of three months, I read the Bible three times. Three times in the sense that I read three translations simultaneously, i.e., KJV, NIV, and NASB.
        I was reduced to tears when I finished off the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery.
        I was fascinated when I read the encounter between the prophets of GOD and the minions of Lucifer how the clash end up despite that the men of GOD are outnumbered. The Father encountered me in those pages.
        I find the Book of James to be forthright and for several cases I felt ashamed of myself. The Begotten Son of GOD, encountered me as I meditated on the Book of Mark. Is Christ, GOD? Yes, He is Divine.
        But it was the Book of Romans that rendered me to lie in prostrate that I cannot fully described in this post what overwhelmed me. When the Holy Spirit encountered me, my theoretical belief about GOD were all gone. Indeed, I can attest, personal relationship with GOD is experiential.
        In my continual pursuit of the face of GOD, I rediscovered the manifestation spiritual gifts that St Paul described in his letter to the church in Corinth.
        On recent occasion, I exercised the gifts of healing. Three people I prayed for healing who were diagnosed to die, survived that even the medical doctors are in quandary how it was so.
        When I was away from my wife, thousands of miles away, to comfort me, the LORD, gave me visions or He let me dream of my wife.
        Upon waking up in the wee hours in the morning, every time I called my wife describing the dress she wears, who her company was, the location where I saw her in my dream or vision—my wife would simply confirm that, yes, she’s wearing a blue dress, she’s in company with friends, and they are standing on hilltop viewing the sea.
        I left my old homeland some few years ago. But before migrating to a foreign land, I and my fellow youth leader (she later became my spouse), was instrumental in planting the first two daughter churches where we attend.
        Twenty-five years later, the two daughter churches produced 25 other daughter churches.
        And the amusing thing about it, is: in our evangelistic Bible Study, I erred several times in using the cited verses “out of the context”. But, curiously, the LORD honored it by convicting those who heard that they need the Saviour.
        I was asked to pray for the a brother who is undergoing heart operation. The time that I was asked to pray for healing, was also the time that the patient died.
        The following day, the lady who asked me to pray for the healing of her brother-in-law received a telegraphic wire to prepare for the burial of Mike (the name of the heart patient).
        But in the following hour, another wire was received. Mike was resurrected back to life.
        Mike eventually was buried 40 days after he “resurrected” back to life.
        When I learned about this, I simply whispered a prayer expressed my gratitude how gracious GOD is that even a “wrong” prayer, said not in the context; yet, the LORD, could read my heart and my mind what I meant despite of the wrong choice of terms used.
        The long and short of it Pastor K, is:
        GOD reveals afresh all the time, when earnestly we pursue His face.
        But if we are so hang up with our pet religious doctrines, or denominational theology; or, because we studied Hermeneutics, or Apologetics, or Homiletics and we are deluded that we will never go wrong in our “interpretation”; but, giving no room for the Holy Spirit to operate—such solemnly held belief or view is not only erroneous; but, idolatrous.
        Sin!
        Preach Christ and his message—-and never worry of the “context”. For if we preach Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, GOD the Father will provide the context in proclaiming His Word.

  • Akinola Gbolahan

    for example, i got completely delivered from the bondage of sickness just by the revelation i got while studying
    Isaiah 53:1-5, the understanding i got here was all i needed for my
    healing and deliverance from persistent sicknesses. If i had stayed on
    the thought the healing refereed to in that passage is spiritual, i wouldn’t have been able to get the understanding God gave, that broke many years of afflictions in my life. i suggest that being open to the scripture is more rewarding that being rigid with the context of the writer. That is why the Bible is forever relevant to our lives and days. The Author is the ANCIENT OF DAYS…

    • http://www.facebook.com/hvnbndwarriorprincess Helen Nelson

      That is so good. God goes above and beyond what we learn by the letter. You would not have got healed. That’s why the Bible is alive and doesn’t get old because the spirit of God keeps using it by revelation and in “Rama” word.

      • Akinola Gbolahan

        Helen thanks. May the Lord renew our understanding of His Word daily Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone from MTN Ghana

      • Antonio

        May I add Mat 22:14 and Jer 33:3?

  • Darrell MacLearn

    Let’s add one of my favorites to the list…. “Don’t add to or take away from the Word of God”… Based on the passage in Revelation 22. ” 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

    What “book” or “scroll” is the author of Revelation referring to? The book of Revelation. But because that book is a part of our bigger book we find it automatically applied to the whole. What if other letters from Paul to churches were discovered today, could they be added to the Bible? What Bible was present at the time Revelation was written?

  • mbdiazsa

    what about MALACI 3:10 Pastor????

  • http://www.facebook.com/hvnbndwarriorprincess Helen Nelson

    At times you can get a “Ramah” word. Which is what happens when God highlights a specific scripture during a time/circumstance and what happens is the scripture becomes alive to the individual who He is giving it to. It may seem out of context, but. . .the one experiencing it knows it is God, and the experience is such a Holy Spirit moment. So, I believe using and reading scriptures in context, but, also do not want to quench the Holy Spirit by saying this is the only meaning here.

    • batangpaslit

      Precisely!

      The inspired written Word of GOD is very rich. It reaches deep, wide and far.

      What kind of GOD do we have if He is confined on the discipline of Hermeneutics?

      Properly dividing the Word do not mean the passage could not take another meaning to another reader, or in another “context”.

      Helen, I fully experienced what you described here about “highlights”. That is why, I cannot subscribed to the argument that only in the “context” of the passage the Holy Spirit could “speak”.
      GOD can deal in any earthly context—-He is the Context!

    • amos8

      How would you guard against “subjectivity” (“*I* think God is telling me _____”) and, more concerning, being mislead by our sinful hearts–which are deceitful above all things? I think I understand what you are saying, but are you not opening a Pandora’s box? Isn’t this where so many are deceived? Isn’t this precisely how cults get started? (For the record, I’m not saying anyone who does this is in, or will be in a cult)

  • http://www.facebook.com/hvnbndwarriorprincess Helen Nelson

    A true scripture is: The letter without the spirit killeth. Do you truly have the spirit of God. . .or do you just think you do? Of, course this includes me!!! So you get to dislike how others use the Bible. Thank God they are reading and quoting it, rather than you thinking this isn’t correct. Sounds like pride. . . hmmmmm!

  • Lenchito

    Romans 8:28

    And we know – This verse introduces another source of consolation and support, drawn from the fact that all flyings are under the direction of an infinitely wise Being, who has purposed the salvation of the Christian, and who has so appointed all things that they shall contribute to it.

    All things – All our afflictions and trials; all the persecutions and calamities to which we are exposed. Though they are numerous and long-continued yet they are among the means that are appointed for our welfare.

    Work together for good – They shall cooperate; they shall mutually contribute to our good. They take off our affections from this world; they teach us the truth about our frail, transitory, and lying condition; they lead us to look to God for support, and to heaven for a final home; and they produce a subdued spirit. a humble temper, a patient, tender, and kind disposition. This has been the experience of all saints; and at the end of life they have been able to say it was good for them to be afflicted; Psa_119:67, Psa_119:71; Jer_31:18-19; Heb_12:11.

    For good – For our real welfare; for the promotion of true piety, peace, and happiness in our hearts.

    To them that love God – This is a characteristic of true piety. To them, afflictions are a blessing. To others, they often prove otherwise. On others they are sent as chastisements; and they produce complaining, instead of peace; rebellion, instead of submission; and anger, impatience, and hatred, instead of calmness, patience, and love. The Christian is made a better man by receiving afflictions as they should be received, and by desiring that they should accomplish the purpose for which they are sent; the sinner is made more hardened by resisting them, and refusing to submit to their obvious intention and design.

    To them who are the called – Christians are often represented as called of God. The word κλητός klētos is sometimes used to denote an external invitation, offer, or calling; Mat_20:16; Mat_22:14. But excepting in these places, it is used in the New Testament to denote those who had accepted the call, and were true Christians; Rom_1:6-7; 1Co_1:2, 1Co_1:24; Rev_17:14. It is evidently used in this sense here – to denote those who were true Christians. The connection as well as the usual meaning of the word, requires us thus to understand it. Christians are said to be called because God has invited them to be saved, and has sent into their heart such an influence as to make the call effectual to their salvation. In this way their salvation is to be traced entirely to God.

    According to his purpose – The word here rendered “purpose” πρόθεσις prothesis means properly a proposition, or a laying down anything in view of others; and is thus applied to the bread that was laid on the table of show-bread; Mat_12:4; Mar_2:26; Luk_6:4. Hence, it means, when applied to the mind, a plan or purpose of mind. It implies that God had a plan, purpose, or intention, in regard to all who became Christians. They are not saved by chance or hap-hazard. God does not convert people without design; and his designs are not new, but are eternal. What he does. he always meant to do. What it is right for him to do, it was right always to intend to do. What God always meant to do, is his purpose or plan. That he has such a purpose in regard to the salvation of his people, is often affirmed; Rom_9:11; Eph_1:11; Eph_3:11; 2Ti_1:9; Jer_51:29. This purpose of saving his people is,

    (1) One over which a creature can have no control; it is according to the counsel of his own will; Eph_1:11.

    (2) it is without any merit on the part of the sinner – a purpose to save him by grace; 2Ti_1:9.

    (3) it is eternal; Eph_3:11.

    (4) it is such as should excite lively gratitude in all who have been inclined by the grace of God to accept the offers of eternal life. They owe it to the mere mercy of God, and they should acknowledge him as the fountain and source of all their hopes of heaven.

  • Akinola Gbolahan

    The scripture (word of God) is applicable to every issue of life, there is nothing the scripture doesn’t speak to, but it takes an open and meek heart to draw life (message) out of it. I believe in terms of application context of scriptures belongs to God. Though it’s important to read the bible and understand the context in which a verse of passage is written, but we must be open enough to allow the Lord speak the way He chooses for us to hear Him beyond the letters.

    • batangpaslit

      Right on. It is exactly my point.
      Besides, not all “interpreters” are anointed by the Holy Spirit to interpret the text for others.
      Their interpretation must be merely their theological bias. Even translations have many deficiencies.
      When I study the Scriptures, I use as many translations that I can use and I let the Holy Spirit point out, which one is the “right” translation.
      The letters per se is not the inspired written Word of GOD. Unless, the Author of the Scriptures “breath in” to the texts that is being read, then, it becomes an “inspired” written Word.
      Agnostics and Atheists and Buddhist can read the same words or letters. But, what they read have no impact to them; unless, of course, when the Holy Spirit “breath in” to what the unbelievers read then it takes on a different turn to the reader.

      • Akinola Gbolahan

        True! It takes the help of the Holy Spirit to understand God’s thoughts. Thank U. Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone from MTN Ghana

  • Denise Runge

    1 Cor 14:34 has been thrown in my face repeatedly over the last 20+ years as well as Ephesians 5:22. (To which I remind the man who tells me I need to submit because I am a woman that I am not his wife!).

  • Mar Komus

    Gotta love the “avoid the appearance of evil” verses, too.

  • singuar

    What about “judge not.” which has to be number #1 on any such list? No other verse can even compare to this one.

    • amos8

      Great minds think a like, I commented on this exact verse below.

    • Cheryl Petersen

      Nailed it here…Judge not, is repeated ad nausea without the end of the sentence, “but judge with righteous judgment.” Thoughtful article though, thanks.

    • Brett Maragni

      Agreed. The way people misuse Matt. 7:1 is in direct contradiction to the command in Matt. 7:5.

  • Vincent Aja

    What I want to add here is that the Lord Jesus was teaching a very
    important subject which has led Him to show His Disciples how His Church must
    be like. It was here that He has used the opportunity to spell out the nature
    of the two kinds of His Church. Number one is the “Universal Church” (Mathew 18:20), and the second one is the “Local Church” (Mathew 18:17), and this shows that all the fight about denominations and their doctrines were just for time wasting because none of them is biblical. Now let`s begin to see what was important to Him first, He
    has begun to speak about “Humility” or the kind of spirit every believer must possess
    if he or she wants to spend the eternal life with Him in the Kingdom (Mathew18:4)
    . It`s very unfortunate that today many people have chosen to throw away the words of the Lord Jesus in preference of the words of the Apostle Paul. Moreover in wherever they have failed to understand what the Apostle Paul was teaching.
    And even when the Apostle Paul had warned the Church in Corinth that I cannot offer
    any of you salvation because I Paul was not crucify for you on the Cross
    (1Corinthians 1:13). So likewise before his death, he took the time to counsel
    the young Timothy that anybody who consent not to the WHOLESOME WORDS, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrines which is according to
    godliness. The person is only being proud and knows nothing (1Timothy 6:3-4). It’s
    very unfortunate today that the “social gospel” which we preach in the name of
    grace is offering everybody salvation without accepting any single responsibility.

    Back again to the issue of the Church I would still say that we are even
    forgetting the judgment that awaits anyone who is misleading the congregation
    through false preaching and teaching (Mathew 18:6).

    I do not want to discuss about God`s desire to see everybody being saved, and
    the needs to forgive one another because of the space. So let me pick it up again by saying that it was here that He had started to show what His Church should be like. And let`s begin with the local Church as it was shown in V.17. Then move on to talk about the “Universal Church” which is the main issue. From this teaching we are to
    learn that two or three people can form the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ
    is never the building as we are seeing it today. The early Church has begun in
    the people`s homes (Philemon 1:2), so it was after the conversion of the Roman
    Emperor in A.D. 300 when he has begun to donate buildings to the Church that
    this ambition got started. So the point is that what make up the Church of Jesus
    Christ were the human beings regardless of the numbers. And the core truth is that
    all the buildings which we are presuming to be the Churches have never meant to
    carry that name, rather it would have been better to be called the “Assembly
    Grounds.” The Church of Jesus Christ is the people and not the building, this is the reason why He has this to say: Again I say unto, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven (Mathew 18:19). And because it`s only the people that make up the Church, so what makes the Church so strong is LOVE. When nobody is in the building the presence of the Living God is not there.

  • William

    I would like to add Matthew 7:21-23; Most famous “I never know you; depart from me.” This often has been taken out of context and make emphasize about having relationship with Jesus. If you are already Christian and don’t have relationship with Jesus, then Jesus never know you. What about context of 2,800 word sermon that Jesus gave at the mount? What about having log in your eye? What about do not judge? What about praying without hypocrite? What about looking at woman lustfully? What about being divorced and re-married? What about treating others like you want to be treated? What about do not look sad while fasting? What about loving others as enemies? Do we realize that Jesus did say people who don’t know God are doing better than people who knows God? Are we making peace with anyone?

    If I were to interpret the Matthew 7:21-23 absolutely then everyone would already failed because that is what that means because Jesus did say about obeying his words, and we don’t then Jesus would tell everyone, including Christians, he don’t know you.

    That is why I think we have to be careful with how to use Matthew 7:21-23 out of context, too.

  • dr.keithcox

    Romans 8:28 clearly is referring to the elect. Paul writes “for those who are called according to his purpose”; the next two verses are pointed to by Calvinists as scriptural support for the doctrine of election. Then too, what God sees as good doesn’t always conform to our own ideas. We know that Jesus loved God and that he was called according to God’s purpose. Yet I doubt if many of us would consider being destined for brutal execution necessarily “good,” at least not outside our theology. Yet it was good. Better than good. And in verse 29 Paul writes that Jesus was the firstborn among many, the model to which the elect were predestined to conform. That must mean that all of the elect are predestined for the cross (and it does – (Gal. 2:20)). So obviously, whatever God sees as “good,” it doesn’t exclude suffering.

  • Mark and Faith Siebert

    I am slightly disturbed by the number of comments discouraging receiving the primary meaning of a passage from the context. The immediate textual meaning, culture, author’s purpose, and so much more, including the whole of Scripture as a reference, bring a fullness of meaning and understanding that defines and enhances the truth proclaimed more completely, more accurately, more wonderfully. Yes, we may receive a simple yet personal and profoundly meaningful word directed to us in a moment of revelation that the Holy Spirit has wrought through a verse out of context. But to dwell there, excluding the context, and use it to direct your life is to ignore what God has so lovingly, creatively, and directly stated for our benefit through that same verse or passage is to our own peril. We cannot ignore the truth in front of us.

    Even that first verse you used, Brian, refers to so much more than we realize and is deepened by the context, not restrained by it. Hebrews 4:12 says, For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. NET

    The author of the letter to the Hebrews is continually pointing the people to Jesus Christ over and over. In the whole context of Scripture (Genesis 1, John 1, Hebrews 1, 1 John 1) Jesus is referred to as the Word. God desires for us to believe in and receive His Son and become people of His promise – people who listen in obedience and faith, not people hardened by sin’s deception and our own rebellious ideas that lead to disobedience, or worse, unbelief. We are an open book to God, who speaks into every part of who we are. He knows we are human and fallible and in need of mercy, grace, help and a Saviour who intimately knows us. What a great truth!

    I encourage you all not to settle for less than the whole truth. And that is not to deny or downplay the amazing work of the Holy Spirit through His revelation to you.

  • Francisco Negron

    Another misinterpreted verse is Mathew 5:29 which doesn’t mean mutilation, but be streamly serius about the temptation you deal with and make yoube sucessfull in your christian life.

  • Rob

    Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

    Not a salvation verse but rather Jesus begging the church at Laodicea to get things right and do it quickly.

  • Randy Jay Rance

    I really appreciate this Pastors insight. I feel though that he is pushing the boundaries of biblical exegisess except for the last entry which was sound. Yes, there are points wecan biblically stress; but that doesn’t mean the verses connotbe used in an encouraging way

  • jeffrey

    You know, these are not just the text in the bible that were misused and not in the context. Look at also the text in Matt. 15:11; Acts 10:12; ect. many preachers actually use this verses and say, everything is clean and allowed to be eaten. But, if we are going to study the context, the food is bread and the unclean is the hands of the disciples.God doesn’t allow anyone to eat the unclean. Preachers will say everything were cleansed by Jesus Christ when He was crucified on the cross. But the question is, what is the purpose why did Christ came? to cleansed the unclean animals or to cleans us from sin? Please read the ff. verses; Lev. 11:46-47; Isa. 66:15-17; I Cor. 3:16-17; II Cor. 6:17-18; Isa. 65:4; Rev. 21:8.

  • jeffrey

    in the last verse used by the preacher Prov. 29:18, the word used are “vision and law” not, the “word of God” as He used in his explanation. Let’s have more accurate when we interpret the bible. now, what is the relationship of this two. If a person has a vision, but, that person will continually disobey God’s law look at Prov. 28:9. Because, if a preacher or a pastor will say we should have “faith” and yet disobey God’s law, that’s nonsense. Read James 2:19-24. David, the king of Israel had many visions, but look at what David said in Ps. 40:8. And I delight to do your will, my God, for your law is written upon my heart.

  • Vern

    You list and explanations are very good. However to leave John 14:1 off the list is egregious. A verse that is talking nothing about heaven is used to promise believers a “mansion” when they die. A real faulty interpretation of the archaic word mansion using the modern understanding of the word.

  • audie

    Pretty good article, and good selections for verses commonly taken out-of-context.

    One I might add is the one about “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sins, and heal their lands”. I think it’s in I Chronicles, not sure of it’s exact address.

  • jenniebugs

    Is smoking a cigarette a sin? Some have said its a demonic infiltration. I know its not good for one’s physical body, but does it also contaminate the soul? If smoking is a sin, how much wine can you drink before that also becomes a sin? Are we just sinning against ourselves, or God (or both?).

    • Dr. Joe

      Think of your ody as the Temple of the Holy Spirit … Do you think God would be pleased if you feed your body stuff that has the potential to destroy your body?

  • Tabor

    “For where two or three are gather in my name, there I am with them” – Is DEFINITELY applicable in other cases that have nothing to do with discipline. Yup, discipline was being talked about but he moved on, and even if it WAS said in the context of discipline, its stating a fact that stands alone. So “I am with them” only applies when its a discipline issue?

    If a policeman gives you his card and says, “You can reach me by this phone number” the implication is that if there is trouble, you can call him on that number. Does this mean that if there ISN’T any trouble, that he can’t be reached by that number?

    Jesus said “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” That’s a stated fact regardless of the context. The scripture is below.

    15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

    18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.

    19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

  • steve ascension

    “The Spirit and the
    Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions
    also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.”


    George Mueller,

    Answers To Prayer

  • OwenW

    Being someone who has considered purusing a PhD in Biblical Studies, I appreciate much of what has been said here. I do agree with much of what is said and think this is a good article.

    However, I have one broad exegetical point I would like to respond back with (and I hope my response here isn’t out of place or presumptuous). For instance, while Philippians 4:13 is misused in many ways because people assume Christ is endorsing their endeavors (such as sporting events), it is a mistake to assume that Paul’s language is referring ONLY to the context for which he is writing. If Paul is quoting some early idea of the church, it is possible that Paul is applying a general idea to a specific circumstance (in logical circles, deductive reasoning).

    In a similar fashion, Matthew 18:20 probably has the same formula: a general notion used to validate and support the specifics of what has just been said. Matter of fact, the synagogue would have the authority to form based upon meeting a specific number (10 Jewish males). Jesus’ saying fits within that, but saying that only 2 or 3 is necessary to have the authority to act as God’s ‘ekklesia’/church, including the authority to discipline (metaphorically ‘bound’) and forgive (metaphorical ‘release’). As such, the gathering of two or three people does represent the foundation of authority to act as an ‘ekklesia’ and not simply institute discipline. Granted, the minimum requirement of 2 or 3 pulls from the Jewish law of witnesses, but Jesus is most likely giving a blending of authority to be a syngagoge/’ekklesia’ and the law of witnesses. But that does not mean Matthew 18:20 is an idea that is *exclusively* about discipline.

    The broad point is this: not every saying in Scripture is meant to be limited ONLY to the context it is used. There is such a think as ‘over-contextualization.’ Some words, phrases, and ideas have a life beyond the specific circumstance, including when they were first being used. That said, not every saying has a meaning broader than the context it is used either.

  • RCN

    One of my interpretation pet peeves is Isaiah 53:5: “…and by His stripes we are healed.” The entire context of this chapter of Isaiah is the suffering servant, Jesus Christ, being the sacrifice to “heal” the rift between God and man. There is not a word in the whole of Isaiah 53 to imply this as a basis for physical healing, though it is often used to proof-text it. The healing that’s accomplished by His stripes, by His having laid on Him the iniquity of us all, is the healing of relationship of man and God.
    So context IS important for a simple reason: it IS what God spoke, to whom He spoke, through whom He spoke, when He spoke THEN; and what He intended in meaning THEN hasn’t changed for NOW. God doesn’t contradict Himself – what the Spirit intended by what God showed the prophet (or whoever) to speak then, in the context of history, wouldn’t be changed by God for a different interpretation now. Why anyway would God have to give different meaning to His Word now than then, for someone’s personal application? God’s Word reveals His truths and principles for living in right relationship with Him and others, and those principles haven’t changed. We don’t need to have some freedom to interpret Scripture differently than God’s original intent; that really lays us open to our own personalization of Scriptural truth and breaks down the authority of His Word. Better to understand what the Spirit meant when He moved the prophet, or whoever, to speak then, so the Spirit can then help us rightly apply that same truth or principle to our present situations. It is this thinking of private interpretation that gave rise to “denominations”, even cults, who all think their right in their distinctive interpretations, even when those interpretations are contradictory to each other, let alone Scriptures taken as a whole. Who’s right? Just God.

    • David Chapman

      You should try looking up the meaning of the word “saved” (sozo) in your Strong’s.

      • RCN

        As below:

        to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction

        one (from injury or peril)

        to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health

        to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue

        to save in the technical biblical sense

        negatively 1b

        to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment 1b

        to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.

        David, here’s the possible meanings; what did you have in mind in mentioning this?

  • anonymous

    The question is how do you allow the word of God to take effect on your current situation or circumstances if you do not stand upon the written word from of old.

  • Denny

    Right on! We love to pull passages out of context. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Aaron

    Scripture is not supposed to be interpreted by us at all.There is so much quoting of scripture without Him that can correctly interpret it for us. We are not qualified to say whats not in or whats out of context. The wisdom of men will always mislead us.

    • Pat68

      Aaron, I would submit that all reading involves interpretation. Just the act of reading and translating the words in your brain to the attached meaning of each word is an act of interpretation. We definitely should be Spirit-led in our interpretations, but I believe any reading of scripture will always involve interpretation. That’s why Brian’s points are important to help us discern that we are doing it correctly.

      • Aaron

        Makes sense..What does private interpretation mean as mentioned in scripture?

        • Pat68

          Which verse(s) are you referring to?

          • Aaron

            1 Co 2:14

            John 6:63

            2 Peter 1:20

            2 Peter 3:15,16

          • Pat

            I absolutely agree with you, Aaron, that we should rely on the Holy Spirit. However, because we are not God, we are still given to our faulty human natures. Striving for perfection? Yes. 100% arrived and incapable of messing things up? No. Even with the Spirit’s help, I believe we understand through a human filter that will sometimes get things wrong due to our own selfish agendas and limitations. This is not the Spirit’s fault and should be all the more reason that we strive to be in tune with the Spirit. With that said, at the end of the day, only God will have the final say. I believe that we each interpret in ways that allow us to live this life successfully. So, I may interpret the scripture differently from someone on a different continent based on our culture. Just as what worked in the first century Middle East is not necessarily going to be applicable in 21st century America. Some things will be as they represent universal truths, while some things were definitely representative of the culture of that day and time.

            Pat68

          • Aaron

            True.

    • Vern

      So I suppose I would see lots of one-eyed members in your congregation since they follow the word without interpretation ie plucking their eye out when it offends them.

      • Aaron

        I think the truth is absolute. Why do we have different versions of the truth? Is it not due to individual interpretations which lead to error? I do not mean that we must have only one person interpreting .. in a way I do .. the Holy Ghost gives the meaning of scripture. We do our part of course , humbly and prayerfully.

  • Peter

    A helpful insight into what we all know is a problem. We love to use out of context verses to cover up the depth of truth contained within and the lack of understanding within the teachers heart. There are so many that we would fill up swathes of cyberspace if we were to honestly record them. There is another way in which interpretation is mis-handled greatly, it is more conceptual than the examples cited. That is the application to the individual rather than the corporate. The Old Tetsament is recorded primarily for the benefit of the people of God corporately. It is Jewish in form and so is the New Testament. It is for the corporate benefit of the church but we mis-interpret it to fit in with our Hellenistic understanding. It makes so much more sense and is far more logical to read through Semitic eyes and see the glory of God revealed for the church to which the individual is a beneficiarry of blessing. This I believe to be the foundation for many of the mis-interpretations that you highlight. For example the disciplinary theme of where 2 or 3 are gathered. We want it to be for personal blessing and so it often serves us well to forget the ground-rule of scripture. The context reveals the purpose and the purpose benefits the church.

    Brian perhaps a blog exploring this would be helpful.

    Every blessing

    Peter

  • Name

    am not so sure about your interpretation of the context of mathew 18v20. if u read v17 about agreeing on what u ask for and it is given, it kind of expands it beyond the church discipline issue. i believe as we move from v15 onwards, the context keeps widening

    • Jon E.

      This verse has been one of my pet peeves for years. It is absolutely about the authority of the leadership in the church to exercise discipline on its members; as the OP noted, Christ is with us whether we pray alone or in small groups, or in large groups. Otherwise, why have devotional time alone where we pray for ourselves and others, and be still and know that God is God?

      Also, note the pattern for trying to make it right, and bring the person back to Christ. The person receiving discipline is very obviously unrepentant and recalcitrant in their sin — whatever it is. People today don’t like authority in general — especially in the church — and don’t like the idea of the church disciplining anyone. “How dare they judge me!” Yet we are called as believers to not just encourage one another but to hold one another accountable, and if necessary exercise discipline in the hopes of bringing that person back into a walk that glorifies Christ. Ruling Elders (I am Presbyterian) are ordained to be spiritual leaders, not glorified building caretakers. That includes care of the congregation, and like the shepherds they are named as in Scripture, may include a judicious, and careful use of the spiritual “rod” of discipline if careful (and confidential) examination proves it necessary.

  • david carlson

    When people hear or read:
    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

    They often think that applies to them here and now and don’t 1) understand what Jeremiah is referring to and 2) quite honestly would run screaming from the room if they thought what Jeremiah was saying actually did apply to them?

    First, it was written to Israel as a nation. So no, it was not written to me here in 2013, nor to any other individual. So if the pastor is going to connect that scripture written to a nation to us, as individuals, he has a whole bunch of work to do, not just rip the passage out of context.

    Second, it was a rebuke to Israel – 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place….12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart

    This is not a feel good passage and Jeremiah is not a prosperity gospel feel good book. Those that heard it must of weeped. It is a book about the faithfulness of God to a faithless people. God is faithful. Even if generations have to live and die, he is faithful. It is not some promise to an individual here and now. So feel free to claim that promise – You will die in captivity, your children will die in captivity, but God will remain faithful and redeem the third generation. You? Well your life will suck.

    I think before preaching 29:12 a preacher owes it to his audience the context of the verse, as well as the actual implications of it. Otherwise it becomes a prosperity gospel – and that destroys lives. When it is not put it in context, it destroys peoples faith. Because when life is not milk and cookies, they wonder why not. Why is God not caring for me? Is there a God? Have I sinned? Should I have done something differently? God has promised good to me here and now, why is it not happening?

  • Daniel Clingenpeel

    Jeremiah 29:11 has always irked me. I believe God works for our good but people don’t ever look at surrounding texts to look for the climate in which it is set.

  • Shirley Wood

    able to piece the heart.?? Shouldn’t that pierce the heart?

  • Randy Davenport

    One of my favorites is Matt 7:1, People do not want to confront sin, as they see it as judging others. ” I know he is committing adultery but who am I to judge? is one example.”

    • Cross

      Are we instructed to convict our brothers of guilt, weigh their transgressions, and mete out a punishment? No? Then leave all that to God, plain and simple. If something seems harmful, you can advise of the harm, but politely. Otherwise, you’re coming off as someone who says “My judgments are superior to those you’ve made, causing me to be more valuable and pleasing to God.”

      WE DON’T KNOW who pleases God best, or who offends Him worst! STOP ACTING LIKE WE DO!

  • DoorMan Dave

    I agree that God is always with you especially when it is just yourself and He.

  • DoorMan Dave

    I believe that everything happens for a reason and yes, most things in life we will never truly know the real reason and yes I believe the verse is geared towards those who believe in him but I know like is like a roller coaster. It starts, it has its ups and downs and loop-dee-loops but it eventually ends. It’s just common sense. Once you are at your highest in life you have to come down and once you are at your lowest you eventually have to come up. And also, is not our ultimate conformity to Christ not for our comfort? I do not see how it cannot be.

  • ALEX N. OMUKA
    • ALEX N. OMUKA

      Thanks Akimila Gbolahan. That is very good comment. God bless you big.We have to take advantage and preach nothing but the truth, JESUS CHRIST. aMEN

  • ALEX N. OMUKA

    Bro. Brian, with due respect, you are walking on dangerous ground here. All scripture is inspired of God for training, correction and building the church, the body of Christ. Its like saying that some scriptures are meant for Israel, and other scriptures for the rest of the of us. We must get the context of the scriptures, but here there is danger. Jeremiah is no more. I’m the Jeremiah of the hour. Daniel is no more, i’m the Daniel of the moment. The holy Spirit helps us to understand the scriptures. The Bible is not a newspaper, its inspired of God. The Holy Ghost inspires and interpretes the scriptures and applies them to our lifes. Whatever the situation one passes through, there is a scripture for that circumstance. The Holy Spirit works in our lifes differently. While a scripture will apply to me in my particular siruation, the same scripture will apply to somebody else who is in a completely different situation. Same word, different stuations to different people in different regions and countries. Amen!

    If every scripture does not apply to me then even salvation, Jesus Christ, the Bible, miracles, the Holy Spirit, and the promises of God are not mine, after all i’m not a Jew. The word of God is revealed and inspired in us by the Spirit of God. That makes the Bible universal and addressed to all generations. The Bible is Jesus Christ in the Scritures, the Holy Spirit in the scritures, God in the scriptures, life in the scritures. The Bible is the breath of God in the Scriptures.One time a pastor told me that i should not compare my suffering with that of Job becauseJob was very holy than me. That is a lie. I’m better than Job because i have the really substance, Jesus Christ, while job had the immage of the substance. I have the Spirit of God in me, i’m a child of God, born of God’s will and spirit. Every scriture and promise in the in the Bilble is mine. Let me discuss your five scriptures:
    1. ‘Where there is no vision people perish——“. This does not mean a vision statement, and its not wrong to have a vision statement for a firm, church, etc. It means being focused onto Jesus Christ, Holding on our Salvation and faith, Avoiding the evil in the world so we dont perish. Our divine vision keeps a child of God on the way of Holiness, the narrow way of enternity, avoiding to be entangled by sin in the world. Divine vision keeps us obedient to Cgrist, and the mission of saving sauls. Amen! If a child of God does not keep to the vision of Christ, and the way of God, he/she will be swayed very easily from the way of righteousness. We must keep and hold firmly to the heavenly call. Amen!
    2. “For where two or three gather in my name, there shall i be in their midist” . This means that when two or three children of God gather and praise and worhip Him, then His presence shall come down in their midist, to heal, deliver, save, set free form every curse, and fill with His Holy Spirit. Amen! When Paul and Sylus were in prison, they praised God, and His presence came down and the prison gates opened, Amen!
    3. “I know the plans i have for you ——–“. God has very good good plans for every child of God, no matter the situation one is in. That scripture and promise is mine and for every child of God born of the spirit of God. Jeremiah is no more, i’m the Jeremiah of the hour, Isaiah, Ezehkiel, Daniel etc, are no more . I’m the Daniel of the moment. Amen! That promise is mine and for every believing child of God. Amen!
    4.”I can do all things through christ who strenthens me”. Oh yes. I do all things because Jesus Christ Enables me. Strenthens me at work, at home, when playing soccer, when praying, when reading the word of God, he strenthens me in my career, and everything i do. Without christ strenthening me, i would do nothing on my own. He is my all in all. His mercies, His grace, his mighty hand, and his word strenthens me in all i do. Amen! One time my supervisor manager became sick without knowing it. He went to the Dr for check-up. He was surprised that the doctor said he was in danger of colapsing. He was hospitalised, and a few hours later, he could not raise his hand, nor smile. Things he took for granted. He called upon the name of the Lord and a month later he was healed. This manager praises God for every single day and the gift of life. When God gives you a Vision and and an assignment, he will strenthen you for his Glory. If God withdraws his grace, and support for you, you can accomplish nothing.
    5. “All things work together for good to them that love God and have been called according to Hisdivine purpose”. Oh yes. There are no accidents for a child of God, for God orders the steps of the righteous. If Christ never died, we would never be saved. Through the death of Christ, God worked out our salvation. Amen! Job never knew what was happening to him but God was at work, working out a good plan. Through suffering, God draws us closer to him and we develop adeeper relationship with Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Amen! Daniel, Meshack, Abednego, Shradrack, were thrown into the fire and through the fire, God revealed his salvation to thousands and the king of Babylon. Amen! I lost my wife twelve years a go. It was painful. I did not understand then, but now i do that God worked together all things for my good, and for his Glory. Amen! God is a God of plan, purpose, design and objectivity. He is not the author of confusion. Amen!
    Brian, all scripture belongs to a child of God. If Jeremiah’s scripture does not belong to me, then the Bible does not belong to me, salvation does not belong to me, Jesus Christ does not belong to me, after all i’m not a Jew. Then it means, that the Bible was addressed to people who lived when the Bible was written. Some people say that Heaven if full, because book of Revelation was addressed to the Jews. This is a Dangerous doctrine. I’m the spiritual Jew, and the whole Bible is mine, because i’m a child of God, filled by the spirit of the living God, walking with Christ Jesus by faith, headed to heaven. Amen! Amen! and Amen! God Bless you all as you read the scriptures prayerfully.

    • Aaron

      Good stuff Alex

      • ALEX N. OMUKA

        Thanks Aaron. God Bless you.

    • Stephen

      The bible testifies of Jesus. Salvation is ONLY found in Jesus Christ. The bible testfies against you and your theology. Jesus never said a book would guide us into all Truth. Most of you don’t seem to realise that Jesus IS alive and gives His Spirit to thoses who seek Him, instead, you base your faith on a dead book. The Word of God IS Jesus Christ and he is very much ALIVE. Put the book down and seek The One it speaks of. Don’t educate yourselves into ignorance.
      May Jesus bless you all.

      • SP_Batman

        so… without the book that, i don’t know, details Jesus’s life, how do you expect people to follow his example if they, i don’t know, DON’T READ ABOUT IT?

    • SP_Batman

      Alex, that line of thinking is exactly why false doctrines appear. You are NOT Daniel. You are NOT Jeremiah. But you CAN learn from their expereinces and see how God accomplished all his prophecies and miracles. Understanding the context of such things can help you see how God is REALLY working in your life instead of these contrived prosperity gospels that this line of thinking leads to.

  • Aaron

    Sorry Brian, I think you missed it on this one. It seems that, in responding to the extremes some people take with the scriptures, you have gone to the opposite extreme.

  • Adam

    Wow, this one’s a toughie. Looks like you set out to rattle a few cages, and you’ve obviously succeeded. For the most part, I’d have to agree with you – some of these verses are taken completely out of context and applied to mean something that they’re not. Sometimes it doesn’t cause a problem (despite how people understand “When two or three or gathered…”, it doesn’t really foster bad theology), but I can see that, in some cases, it’s used to support un-biblical doctrines.

    Context can change a passage’s meaning considerably. Take a passage out of the greater context that it’s in, and you can “legitimise” all manner of bad theology.

  • mark

    Alex, to believe that the vision passage refers to Jesus is poor biblical exegesis…we can’t make the scriptures say whatever we want them to say…that makes us sovereign over the text. How can the two or three passage have anything to do with worship with the context clearly points in a different direction. Also, in reference to the “all things good” passage, there are plenty accidents for the child of God…he’ll take those accidents and use them for our good if we’ll let him…but to say there are no accidents means that God is the author of evil. Please think thru your reasoning here and see the consequences of your teaching. Please think thru what it means to say that your are the Jeremiah or Daniel of today.

  • David Chapman

    In many passages, such as Jer. 29:11, there is a literal meaning related to Israel, but there can also be a spiritual application applied to the believer. I think many preachers and students get smug along these lines, holding to only the one literal interpretation.

    • jschlue2

      Amen to that brother! “The word of God is living and active…” It was not only written for those back when it was written but also for those in the millennia following. Context is useful only so far, and we must be careful to not force a context upon a verse in order to make it say what we want it to say.

      • SP_Batman

        Isn’t THAT the problem? We’re talking about Exegesis and eisegesis. If you ignore the context, then you are just hearing what your itching ears want to hear. The context IS one of the most important parts of the scriptures. If you ignore that then you can just believe whatever you want. that’s how we have so many stupid false doctrines out there and denominations. FOR THIS EXACT REASON you just stated.

        • jschlue2

          No one said to ignore the context, but context is one of the most often misused methods of interpreting scripture. I have seen many false interpretations arise because the interpreter imposed context upon the passage. You can even impose a context upon the verse, “You must be born again,” to argue that it doesn’t apply today. If you want to impose context, you can negate the whole bible just by saying – “Oh, that was written thousands of years ago – it’s out of context today.” Understanding scripture is far more than just a scholarly, academic exercise.

          • SP_Batman

            The person I responded to DID basically say to take things out of context. Reread what he posted! Jeremiah 29:11 isn’t meant for us but that doesn’t take away from the beauty and awe of it’s ORIGINAL and only meaning. Forcing it to mean whatever you want it to mean is EXTREMELY dangerous and an arrogant way to approach the scriptures (and one of the main reasons for so many denominations today).

            I don’t think you understand at all what I’m saying. If the context is wrong, then it’s not being taken in context. Finding out first who the scripture was written to makes a HUGE difference. Asking whether or not a scripture – Jeremiah 29:11 as stated above was meant for Christians doesn’t take away from the knowledge that God’s plan of salvation for us is as solid as his promise to the Jews in Jeremiah’s day.

            I never mentioned any scripture about “You must be born again”. Obviously a Christian has to be born again to become a Christian. I’m highlighting the importance of correct Exegesis versus incorrect Eisegesis, which is blatantly wrong and can cost people their salvations. If you tell someone who is depressed Jeremiah 29:11 then they get hit by a bus the next day, that would pretty much mean the exact opposite of what you just told them. Would you question YOUR faith after that? Jeremiah 29:11 is not meant for individuals, but for God’s people, specifically the Jews of Jeremiah’s day.

            You can’t know the future or what God has planned for each of us individually. You can know however, that any trials and tribulations one might be going through that persevering to the end will reward eternal salvation, based on the new testament scriptures. The ones written to us.

          • jschlue2

            I understand completely what you are saying. Did you really read what I posted? By saying that the context shows the original and only meaning of the passage, it is YOU who are forcing it to mean whatever you want it to mean. Like I said, context can be important, but to rigidly impose it upon the scriptures to confer meaning to the passages is also extremely dangerous and is purely a man-made exercise.

            The word of God is not some static thing, it is “living and active”. 2 Tim 3:16 says that ALL scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. I’ve seen many people try to use context to negate or apply certain scriptures improperly to further their ungodly agendas (“gay Christians” for one).

            By imposing context as you see fit, you reduce the scriptures to just a book and effectively distill it down to the letter of the law. Imposing context improperly shackles the interpreter and those who hear him. Even with the passage in
            Jer 29:11, by deciding to impose context to make it apply only to the Jews, you have robbed it of it’s power for anyone else. And like I said before, you can impose context to pretty much all of the Bible to negate passages or even the entire book (atheists do it all the time).

          • SP_Batman

            I think you’re going to find it is YOU who is reducing the scriptures to something that isn’t true by carelessly throwing around Jer 29:11, robbing God of his true power and putting him in a magic lamp that you can just rub on bad situations to get better results, like a miracle vending machine.

            Bad things happen to all of us, good and bad. Sometimes the lasting effects of bad decisions by others can really keep us down or take us out completely – school shootings or terrorist attacks for example. Jer 29:11 WAS written to Jews and ignoring Jeremiah 29:10 you are just Eisegesis-ing and telling people what their itching ears want to hear.

            Jeremiah 29:11 was NOT written to Christians and while God wants us to live righteously, he does NOT have a plan for each of us, not in the terms you are ‘prosperity gospel’ing this scripture. Otherwise, Christians would be the luckiest, wealthiest, least suffering group in history and we both know that ain’t true.

          • jschlue2

            Geez, you sure jumped to a whole bunch of wrong conclusions about me didn’t you. This was never really about Jer 29:11, but about the concept of imposing context upon the scriptures. Jer 29:11 was just an example. Prosperity Gospel? Seriously? I am almost beyond words right now!

            Your final statement above is nothing short of ridiculous. If what you said were true, then the Jews would have been the “luckiest, wealthiest, least suffering group in history” and we both know that ain’t true either. A people can be blessed and prosper ad still suffer sometimes.

            If you seriously believe God does not have a plan for each of us, then you are sorely mistaken and I pity you. I can also understand why, then, you would apply “context” to remove Jer 29:11 from the picture for Christians. And, for the record, I do NOT believe that being a Christian and serving God is a ticket to easy street. I know that we will suffer trials of many kinds, but only as discipline to develop our faith and perseverance. They do not last forever.

  • Mike Z

    I’ve actually heard people quote 1 Corinthians 6:12a to me as if it were a fortune cookie and not a quote from the Corinthians which Paul goes on to explain and refute.
    “All things are lawful…” Yes? Keep going.

  • kdbrich

    Outstanding article. Context people. If its out of context youre tie aching it wrong.

  • Dejene Abdisa

    Very good compass.Please add me such lessons!

  • veekee2013

    I believe the most misused is the the “when two or three are gathered…” We studied these in a seminary class and I’ve since misplaced my notes and deleted the lecture. Thanks so much!

  • Ram

    This is I think very important, JOHN 8:32 as the most misquoted verse in the world today including UNBELIEVERS. I’ve heard it everywhere, it is even a motto of our university (Veritas liberabit vos). The common translation if applied to self is “KNOW YOURSELF, AND ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE”.

  • Noah F.

    Re: Math 18:20
    Every believer has the presence of Christ with him; but the promise here refers to the meetings where two or three are gathered in his name, not only for discipline, but for religious worship, or any act of Christian communion. Assemblies of Christians for holy purposes are hereby appointed, directed, and encouraged (Matthew Henry).

  • Kay

    Ever since I learned to take things in their context, I came to know God better and have begun to see things in a different light…context increases clarity, reduces doubt, and actually makes the Bible even more applicable to my life…instead of grabbing a verse and shaping it to fit my life, I can use the verse in its context to learn how to live a better life and use the principles of the verse to know God more. Someone I know said once “The Bible is FOR everyone, but it is not TO everyone”. Yes, the Bible is the Word of God, and yes, we use it to learn who God is and what He has done, as well as gaining wisdom for our lives. But every word isn’t TO us…it is to the unique situation that was being addressed at the time it was written. If we believe the Bible is God’s only way of speaking TO us, we are greatly limiting what God has for us, as everything we face isn’t always like what was faced 2000 years ago.

    For example, the Jeremiah verse…instead of taking it out of context and simply saying “yup, God has good plans for us and will make us thrive”, thus setting myself up for disappointment when I don’t win the lottery, I can use that verse in a different context for myself by saying “just as God had plans for Israel when they were in punishment, God has plans for us nowadays when we do things wrong…”
    And I am SO glad and thankful that the Matthew verse is not the only verse on prayer…otherwise God would not be with me when I cry out to Him when I’m feeling alone…I’d need another person before God would come.

  • Shekinah

    Love thy neighbor as thyself. Does proverbs 6:23-33 apply to men in the place of the woman in the scriptures or are they exempt if they do the same as the woman mentioned in the scriptures? Colossians 3:22-41. Malachi 2:14-16. Ephesians 6:1-3. Do these scriptures apply to those who illegally marry children without their parents permission before they are old enough to be married and then adopt them to cover up the marriage and overrule the spiritual authority of the real parents? John 3:3 if God sent his only begotten son Jesus to give us new birth, why are people trying to rebirth themselves?

  • For The Love of God

    I agree whole heartily with Alex N. Omuka response. It is based on the word of God.

  • Daftformer

    Matthew 7:1 Do not judge others…

  • Sam O’Donnell

    I think Eugene Peterson has said it best:

    “Exegesis is the farthest thing from pedantry; exegesis is an act of love. It is loving the one enough who speaks the words to get the words right. It is respecting the words enough to use every means we have to get the words right. Exegesis is loving God enough to stop and listen carefully to what he says. God has provided us with these scriptures that present us with his Word. Loving God means loving both what God speaks to us and the way God speaks to us. … Lovers savour the words, relishing every nuance of what is said and written.”

    (Eugene Peterson, “Living the Message”, San Francisco: Harper, 1996).

    If I get a letter from someone and only read a portion of it I am missing the meaning of the whole letter. We do a similar disservice to Scripture when we only consider a verse with considering its larger contexts. This exercise requires us to consider the people, culture, time period, in which the sacred text was written. Languages changes as the surrounding culture changes. We must consider these changes if we are to fully understand what the passage has to teach us. This does not take away from the Holy Spirit’s role but rather enhances it tremendously. Be blessed as you study the riches in scripture and what the Holy Spirit will teach you as earnestly seek to understand God’s Word.

    • Justin Pritchard

      Thank you Sam… this reply is insightful and meaningful, love the Peterson quote especially.

  • Mike Miller

    “In other words, a more accurate interpretation could be: Where there is no revealed Word of God the people perish, but happy is he who obeys God’s Word.”

    How in the world did the Hebrew word for law, “Torah,” morph into “word” in the commentary? Is there that much fear among Christians of the idea of “law”?

    • Pete McCarry

      Torah means “Instructions”.

  • Blake

    Not sure if it’s been mentioned in all the comments so far, but one of the most taken outta context verses is Ephesians 5:18 “And be not drunk w/ wine,…” People say “it’s ok to drink as long as I don’t get drunk” That’s taking WAY, WAY to much liberty w/ the Scripture…knowing the context is critical for growth and right Christian living

  • gerbrand

    Personally i think the worse misused verses are “Seek and you will find, ask and you will receive, knock and the door will be opened”. People use these to ask for money, cars and anything you can imagine.
    You will find rhis in both Math and Luke. please note that the comon theme for most of Math 6 is SEEK THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and dont wory / serve money. Math 7 and this teaching just follows the same. Seek the Kingdom of God. Ask for Jesus and the Holt Spirit. Knock on heavens door and you will enter. we must be centered on God, not worldly stuff.
    thank you for very good article

  • disqus_SM9M9txOZq

    Jeremiah 1:5. God is talking specifically to Jeremiah here, not all Christians. But that’s not to say that God doesn’t know us before we are born.

  • Todd1966

    I disagree to a point with Mr. Orme. A passage will speak to people with different meaning at different times in their life. Why could one not think of or use this quote in a “sports” setting? What if someone is going through a “slump” in their sport and they pray with this biblical quote in mind. I believe it could be used in this time in this thought/prayer. Peace.

  • MichaelKeithM

    This is much needed but unfortunately most people (as you can tell from the other comments) are not interested. Try telling a person they are mishandling Scripture and you have a fight on your hands! Try using Scripture to demonstrate their mishandling and you’ll have a group of “believers” ready to stone you, just like they were ready to stone Jesus in John 8:59. Go back to John 8:31 to put this passage in context and those people who were going to stone Jesus are described believers. Yes, the stones were picked up because in their minds he had committed blasphemy (v 58) but that was merely their legal excuse to carry out what they desired in their hearts; rather than repent, they were insulted by Jesus when called them slaves to sin in verse 34.

  • Moses

    Thank you so much for this article!

    Psalm 46:10 is one of the most misinterpreted passages I know.

    “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

    Most people quote it as a calm, gentle whisper of peace to a group of anxious people. In context, this is a bold, militant, sovereign declaration of God’s rightful Lordship over all the peoples of the earth as the commander-in-chief of the heavenly armies. He is saying, “Stop your futile struggling against me! Throw down your weapons of rebellion, stop oppressing my people. Abandon your mutiny! And acknowledge that I alone am God.”

  • Ben

    Good morning saints of God, this is the reason Jesus is a personal Saviour. when He talks to me He is talking to me, not you. Psalm 46-10 when trouble comes our way and it seems so big we get our eyes of God and look to the big problem that is when we should turn to God our Father. as to mishandling scriptures it is according to your intelligent that Jesus talks to. seek and you shall find what are you looking for and is this the will of God for you? i like to drink wine my family made wine, there are a few fundamentalist who think if you drink wine you are a sinner that should tell you where and how they believe all works no mercy and no grace. if i should drink to much wine i would be forgiving by Jesus the intercessor. the word wine in this case means power. this is what i mean a sheep mentality people are afraid to think for them selves. Ben a son of God through the blood of Jesus.

  • JNPL

    What Brian trying to point out here is that we need first to read and know the stories behind every passages. We need to know how the passages is used on that certain book or story, and not just use it the way understand it.

  • Justin Pritchard

    Well written. We must hold to a biblical context to better understand the heart of God, what is amazing is that when we take this step of “faith” and trust God’s word in it’s context we get a greater understanding of how amazing His grace, mercy, forgiveness and love for us actually is. Thanks for writing.

  • cassbergh

    I would add to the list Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” I’ve recently re-learned what this and similar verses mean and its such a far cry from what they are usually used for.

  • liltampa71

    This is a great article. Jer 29:11 is one of my favorite verses. And I am so glad that God convicted me very early on about the meaning of “pros-pure”. I have always linked that in my heart to my purpose. He has given me a purpose, and he will make that purpose complete in me. for His glory. The next verse says “seek Him, and He will be found by you when you seek him with your whole heart’. That spoke to even more. What a promise!

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheChristianRestorationMinistry Minister Speed

    There’s Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Refers To..

    Food
    Shelter
    Clothing

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheChristianRestorationMinistry Minister Speed

    And this one. James 4:7, Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Totally forgot about the first part about Submitting to God first.

  • Love Spanish

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    kindly forward such to my box if you have anything to help me within these contest – adebayo_oseni@yahoo.com.

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  • Liz

    Revelation 3:20 – this isn’t an appeal from Jesus to unbelievers to invite Him into their heart. This is an exhortation for the lukewarm body of “believers” that has locked Jesus out and is doing their religious life apart from Him.

    • Mark

      i completely agree. people use this to convert people to Christianity. Not that it isn’t true to invite Jesus into our lives…but in context it is talking to Christians who already believe and have thrown Jesus out of their lives.

  • hollywd

    I don’t know if Job 22:28 has been added, but that is another one, as they do not understand context by going 20 chapters later to Job 42, Eliphaz did not speak of God the things that were right. Many word of faith pastors and followers use that to “declare or decree” things.

  • Mark

    “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11 KJV

    This was used to ban all complaining even when it was legitimate.

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ForrestS/ Forrest S

      In what case do you find complaining to be ‘legitimate’ according to scripture?

      • Mark

        Legitimate complaints include:
        There has been nothing in the past 26 sermons that the youth can use in their lives.
        Why are people not allowed to use their talents in the church?
        Could we reconsider having the real minister teach the youth before they leave for college?
        Could we have a dinner with the minister and ask him questions that he won’t ever answer?
        I don’t want to be ratted out and punished for having doubt but I want to ask some questions and might express some doubt.

        These are some that I don’t view as being complaints for the sake of complaining.

        • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ForrestS/ Forrest S

          Amen, brother. I agree, those are legitimate concerns. I would say that as long as one handles himself in a godly way in addressing them that it is not complaining at all. Thanks for clarifying.

  • Stephen

    In your opening line you completely lose credibility. The Word of God is NOT the bible. I suggest you pray on this matter. Those who fail to realize that Jesus is The Word of God as stated in John and numerous other places will be in for heart breaking response when they stand before Jesus. You obviously have no idea what Hebrews 4: 12-14. It’s not talking about the bible.

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ForrestS/ Forrest S

      But you use the bible to prove your point…? I agree that Christ it the Living Word of God, but the bible is the inspired (or “God-breathed”), written word of God.

  • America DaLost

    Ephesians 5:18 – Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit This passage gets taken out of context and gets preached that unless you live a completely sober life, you are a sinner. This passage warns about excessive drinking and the destruction that came come through debauchery. I wonder how many have walked away from the church because they were made to feel guilty over having a beer or a glass of wine.