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I Can Do All Things Through a Verse Taken Out of Context

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We’re all guilty of it, including preachers standing at the pulpit.

All of us have been known to take the Word of God and use it to inspire and encourage. We share verses as a means to offer support and comfort during difficult times. And sometimes we use passages to teach or as a means to correct behavior.

Even with the very best of intentions, when we do this, it is often that these snapshots of Scripture are taken out of context, as we apply different meanings or purposes than the author originally intended.

I Can Do All Things Through a Verse Taken Out of Context

It seems harmless. If a verse can inspire a change of heart or mind, how can it be bad?

Back to that in a minute.

If you’ve spent any time on social media, you are well aware that humans are notorious for assigning their own understanding, spin, and point of view to another’s words.

Keyboard warriors have been known to twist words around to make one look bad or as if they are uneducated on a topic. It’s cruel and has even been known to damage the reputation of the original post’s author.

Isn’t that similar to what we do by taking the words of the authors of the books of the Bible out of context? Maybe not with the malicious intent of those on social media, but we still assign our own understanding, spin, and point of view to their ancient words!

I know many people who have had these ancient words used against them, which caused them not to trust the reputation of the author of those words. Unfortunately, this hurt and lack of trust in the author of the written Word also caused damage to the reputation of the Author of creation as well.

The lesson to be learned here is the principle of allowing the Bible to say what it wants to say and not impose our imperialistic agendas onto it, squeezing it into our molds.”

Clark H. Pinnok

Lessons from Philippians

This month, Intentional Filling’s online community has been studying the book of Philippians in depth. Each week we’ve taken a deep dive into a single chapter of the book, looking at the context – the historical, geographical, cultural, political, and religious influence – to gain a better understanding of Paul’s intent in writing to the church in Philippi.

It’s been such fun to discuss (often late into the evening) our different theories and to learn from a number of resources on the topic. But it has also been eye-opening to read verses that we’ve come to know by heart and that have been used in a number of capacities out of context with a fresh perspective.

Philippians 4:8, NIV

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

I have seen these words used on wall plaques, painted on a Christian therapist’s wall, and on youth group t-shirts. They’re lovely words and a fine reminder from Paul, but it is not a general command to Christians of the only things we should be thinking about, as it is often interpreted.

In context: This verse is a reminder to two women and their church body (Philippians 4:2-3) of how to adapt their way of thinking in times of disagreement, to be unified through Christ.

Philippians 4:13, NKJV

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Often used as encouragement during times of struggle, for those who are seeking to overcome trials, and as personal mantras, this verse has been widely taken out of context. It sounds great to give God praise for the way that He works in our lives during these challenging seasons, but Paul’s promise is based on the context of the surrounding text.

In context: In verses 11-12, Paul stressed that he was content regardless of his circumstances because he had learned to depend on the Lord to meet his needs, therefore finding strength in all things.

Philippians 4:19, NIV

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s God (and mine) is not a genie in a bottle. Nor is he a vending machine, yet people have twisted it to make this verse seem as though He should be.

In context: Paul was encouraging the Philippian church to seek spiritual maturity, in the knowledge that God would never let them down despite persecution and suffering, referring back to verse 14.

Faith-Based Bookmarks

The perfect excuse to pause!

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These are just a handful of verses that have been used out of context, which all happen to reside within a single chapter of Scripture! Can you imagine how many more are used in this way throughout the entirety of the Bible?

So my friend, remember, the intention is key when using Scripture to encourage and support others, but Biblical Context Matters!

Are you surprised by what these verses truly mean? What other verses have you seen taken out of context?

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