Some time ago while visiting with friends, my wife was having a conversation with someone about a private family matter. Mid conversation, another person walked by and heard one small portion of something my wife said. Without hearing the context in which the statements were made, the person assumed something entirely different than what my wife intended to convey. The person then took the fabricated information and shared it with our superior. The assumptions and accusations that were shared caused great grief and a chain of troubling events for my wife and me.
As painful as this situation was to us, it was a great life lesson of how easily we can wrongfully assume and judge another’s intentions. It is easy to misinterpret other’s words when we do not consider the entirety of what was said. To fully understand the intent of one’s words, we must look at the context in which they were spoken rather than picking out one line or word.
Unfortunately, we often do this very thing to God and His word. Through the years, I have memorized many individual scriptures from the Bible and have stood on what I firmly believed was God’s message through these scriptures. I have even boldly preached from my perspective of the words which I had read and studied. However, just as one who only hears and considers one line from a conversation, too often, I had not “heard” or read the context in which that particular line or scripture was given.
The written word of God or the Bible has been categorized by numbered chapters and verses. This numbering system was added by the interpreters of the Bible for convenience of reference and memorization many years after the original writers penned these words. As useful as this system may be, it has permitted us to separate one verse from the other, whereby making it easy to pick one line from God’s conversation with His people and possibly take those words out of context. When God spoke His word to the writers of the Bible, He did not do so in numbered chapters and scriptures; nor did these writers categorize them in such a manner.
Tragically, many theologies are based from picking and choosing particular lines from God’s word and putting them into the context of what man would prefer. If we are not careful, we will be guiltier than the one in my story, for we will be misquoting God Himself.
In Revelation chapter 22 verses 18 and 19, a serious warning is given to any who would add to or take away from God’s holy word:
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." - Revelations 22:18 & 19
To add to or take away from God’s word is to misinterpret God’s intended meaning or message for His people. It is to take His word out of context.
May we study, handle, and distribute God’s precious word with great reverential fear. And may we heed the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy:
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." - II Timothy 2:15
Second Timothy, chapter 3, verses 16 and 17 state:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." - II Timothy 3:16
Let us consider ALL scriptures so that we may be made perfect and complete by God’s perfect and complete word.