Someone once said the Bible is a double-edged sword. With series of Bible translations available today, it is somewhat easy to quote the scripture out of context. This happens either ignorantly or deliberately to sometimes suit what we want. Today we have a lot of misinterpreted Bible verses.
Understanding the scripture demands the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Remember, it is God’s word… God Himself, “the word” made man. That is why it is important not to assume you know it all. Some scriptures we think we understand, but somehow we go back to it again and realize we missed something the first… or the fourteenth time of reading it.
Here are five top commonly misinterpreted Bible verses:
1. Psalm 37: 4
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart”.
Of course we serve a loving father. A God who wants the best for us. What we NEED in this life HE will surely provide. However, God is not in the habit of granting every single thing we WANT or DESIRE. There is a condition attached to granting our heart desires. It must ultimately be in alignment to the will of God for our lives.
When the Bible says “delight in the lord”, it means exactly what Jesus himself told us. If you love me, keep my commandment”; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and all your strength”. The minute you do this, HIS spirit takes over your heart and all that concerns you. As such, your desires begin to conform to the desires of God. You begin to value what God values and love what God loves.
This is the only way, this Bible verse will make literal sense.
2. Matthew 7:1
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged”.
So perhaps we should shut down all judicial structures and let everyone be. Don’t judge literally means “mind your business”.
We serve a God of justice and that is why it is blatantly evil to keep shut in the face of injustice or matters that warrant you to speak up as a Christian. No matter the offence no one made by God is useless, hence should not be condemned. But then just because we can’t judge the “who” does not mean we should not criticize the “whys” and the “whats” done to harm the society.
In the subsequent verses after Matthew 7:1, it says, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
We all have faults. However what makes us humane is to know when we are becoming a problem for ourselves and those around us. The Bible verses clearly urges us not to be judgmental and self-righteous that we believe that anyone is worthless or irredeemable.
Just like God loves the sinner but detests our sins, such should be our attitude to the wrong doing of our neighbors. It is not charitable to professionally turn a blind eye in a world where so many oddities are rationalized for superficial benefits.
British statesman Edmund Burke is popularly known for his quote that says, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
“But how can you stand these treacherous, evil men? Your eyes are too holy to look at evil, and you cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong. So why are you silent while they destroy people who are more righteous than they are?” –Habakkuk 1:13.
The Matthew 7:1 verse I strongly believe talks about fairness while clearly pointing the wrongs of our neighbors.
See More: Hard Truths God Want You To Know
3. Matthew 11:12
“And from the time of John Baptist hitherto, the kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force”.
This is probably one of the most misinterpreted Bible verses. I remember seeing a Nollywood movie some years ago. The female leader of a robbery gang quoted the Bible verse as a justification for what they do. Of course this is inappropriate… totally inappropriate. One would argue that Jesus himself had said he has come not to bring peace but division.
When the scripture says the Kingdom suffereth violence and the violent taketh it by force, it is affirming to us as Jesus did, that the life of the Christian is a life of the CROSS.
It is not going to be a smooth and fantastical ride…it will get bumpy, to the point where your faith is tested but what will earn you the victory is to be radical in your belief. “Radical” here means “unwavering” in the face of persecutions and challenges that WILL DEFINITELY arise because of your belief in God. There are seen and unseen battles to fight as a child of God- physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. It is that “forceful”, “dogged” resilience to stand your ground that the scripture refers to in Matthew 11:12.
4. Matthew 22:21
“Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.”
In a more popular translation this verse is known as the “Give to Caesar What Belongs to Caesar” verse. This verse initially for me sounded like “oh God knows how to mind his business”. But that is not the case. Jesus knew the question was a test to nail him on matters of state. So HE responded that way in ultimate divine wisdom.
With His response God clearly let us know that you can hardly be a good Christian if you are not a good citizen of your country. If you are a horrible follower, you are clearly part of the problem.
We have a duty to our nation. Good followers make good leaders someday. God does not want our spiritual excellence any more than he expects excellence in our civic duties. HE is a God of order.
We can recall the scenario in the Bible, where Jesus instructed HIS apostles to take the money in the mouth of a fish to pay their tax. This implies that if you understand the need to pay your tithe, then you must also understand it is equally Christian to pay your tax. It is true that these taxes in some countries are grossly misappropriated as in the days of Jesus but HE encourages us to do what is right regardless. Two wrongs will never make a right.
5. John 14: 2
“There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so.”
King James version says, ” In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
So when Jesus says this, did HE really mean exotic structures? The last part of the verse assures us, these rooms/mansions are for real. God is truth HIMSELF and can never lie.
I believe in my heart that God has a place for all of HIS children who do not give up on the heavenly race. However, what I do not know is if these rooms will be as what we see in luxury catalogues. Remember when Jesus said HE would rebuild the temple in three days. The Jews laughed at HIM because they understood it literally. Jesus was referring to the spiritual, not the structure.
No one has ever gone to heaven to know what these rooms/mansions look like. No near-death experience has ever vividly succeeded in describing what heaven looks like. HIS word in 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him.” So, I personally do not expect to see a worldly kind of mansion.
Also best believe that God has double and in fact, an overflow of whatever it is you lack in this life for HIS sake. When the work is all done, HE will reward you in a way you never could have imagined.
For many other misinterpreted bible verses you come across, it is advisable that we seek the Holy Spirit for proper interpretation.