Hello everyone, I would like to start a new series called “Misinterpreted Bible verses”. The reasons why I decided to write on this topic is twofold: Firstly, we as Christians have an obligation to rightly divide God’s word as stated in 2 Timothy 2:15 “Do you best to present yourself to God, as a worker who has no need to be ashamed rightly handling the word of truth.” This is especially true for pastors who want to enter into pastoral ministry as they must have already been to Bible College or seminary in order to learn how to do proper Bible interpretation and teach it to their congregations, this therefore concludes that they must have done hermeneutics – this is the study and science of doing proper Bible interpretation as well as learning and understanding the original languages the Bible was written in i.e. Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.
Secondly, I’ve come across trinkets being sold in “Christian bookshops” with Bible verses attached on them, this could be mugs, wall hangings, calendars e.t.c . I would like to make something clear that I’m not against memorizing bible verses, provided that you understand the context of that verse within the passage where it is quoted from. Saints, this is where the problem arises as many people pick a verse from the Bible in the aim of having a “life verse” which appeals to them in a subjective manner in the term “what does this verse mean to me? “. Also to fan the flames, there are false teachers who make the same error by engaging in bible twisting in their sermons by quoting bible verse out of their original context in order to base their entire theology on that particular verse, this, therefore leads to people with a false understanding on what the Bible says than what it actually says thus leading them to be more ignorant of the Bible.
Friends, we need to understand what the Bible verses actually says and what the authors inspired by God intended to say in scripture. If you ignore the context, you can make the Bible say what you want it say rather than what is actually say. The aim of this series is to help you understand the most popular Bible verses in their proper context in order to find what the authors inspired by the Holy Spirit originally intended to say and how their original audience received the scriptures.
PROVERBS 23: 7
Let us begin with this verse from the Bible from the Book of proverbs (pictured on the left). I have heard this verse misquoted many times mainly from the Word – Faith preachers. This is because is supports the word faith doctrine of positive confession where they teach that if you think and speak positive things into your life, you will get what you heart desires be it material blessings e.t.c. On the surface, it looks like Proverbs 23:7 seems to support this doctrine, but we notice two things wrong: First, these preachers quote this verse from the King James Version of the Bible, this is a common tactic whenever a false teacher quotes (misquotes) a verse, they would either use a modern paraphrase (Amplified and the Message Paraphrases) of the Bible or an old translation like the King James to make the verse say what they want it to say . Secondly, they quote half a sentence of the verse as they intentionally leave out the rest of the verse which says “eat and drink saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee”.
With that in mind, lets us look at what the verse actually says. As Pastor Chris Rosebrough always says in his radio show Fighting for The Faith, “The three rules for Bible interpretation are 1. Context,2. Context and 3. Context”. So let’s do that, here is what the context of Proverbs 23: 7 says in the English Standard Version Bible: a modern word – for – word translation
Notice that in verse 7 the sentence which is underlined is what in the King James says “As a man thinketh in his heart”. So let’s ask ourselves this question, is Proverbs 23:7 telling us that if we think and speak positive things, we will get what we want? The answer is of course NOT!!. We can see that by reading the verse in context, it is telling us that we should not desire to acquire the wealth of the rich host and be weary of the food that he is offering you as the host has no desire to share his meal and is using it to ensnare you. I find it rather ironic that the preachers who twist this verse to make it say that we need to think right to be rich all the while if you put the verse back in its context, it is telling us not to desire to be weathly.
We are warned in scripture not to be desirous of wealth and riches. With that thought in mind, let us employ the Hermeneutical principle of “scripture interprets scripture”. Here are few examples of verses dealing with dangers of the pursuit of wealth:
- Matt 6:19-21
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Our Lord Jesus, during the sermon on the mount from chapters Five to seven begins to teach his disciples and the large crowd that followed them beginning with the beatitudes as they served as the description of the Christian life. In chapter six, his audience remained the same and here, he teaches us that we should not store up treasures on earth but store up treasures in heaven. We are not to seek what is temporary and perishing but that which is eternal i.e what is to come, this same truth is also echoed by the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor 4:16 – 18
” So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (emphasis added)
2. 1 Timothy 6:6-10
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment for we brought nothing into this world and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into may sensless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pieced themselves with many pangs.
Speaking of the Apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy , a young pastor in the Church of Ephesus and his spiritual son in the faith, warns him of the danger of the desire to be rich fall into temptation. The apostle here states that people who are truly godly are content and happy the world to come. You’ve probably heard the phrase “Money is the root of all evil” which has its origins in verse 10 of the passage. I would like to clarify that it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil which therefore leads us that being covetous which leads to other sins. It is in this passage that Paul warns timothy to guard himself and his flock against the desire for wealth.
3. Hebrews 13:5-6
Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have, for he has said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me? ”.(Emphasis added)
Lastly, Hebrews 13:5 read in its context tells us that we should show hospitality to strangers, remember those in prison and keeping ourselves free from the love of money where we are to be content with what we have as we trust God to provide for our needs.
The Bible is a doubled edged sword, it can cut the human heart in pieces but when not used properly i.e being stripped out of its original context and twisted to apply to a particular person, it therefore becomes dull and ineffective
It’s my prayer that we all learn to read God’s word correctly. In the coming blogs, I shall address other popular verses that have also been misinterpreted and misapplied today
- Reformed Memes Daily Facebook page
- Screen capture of the WWUTT video of Proverbs 23:7. here is the you tube channel