Scriptures, Without Context

In my years of enjoying sermons, songs, and theology I have encountered many uses of scripture that have been taken out of context and twisted to mean something else. When something is take out of context the surrounding scriptures are ignored, surrounding stories are not mentioned, history is overlooked, and cross references are conveniently not used.
It’s like renting a movie you’ve never seen and only watching 5 minutes of it in the middle of the movie. You then claim to know the entire plot from just seeing 5 minutes of the movie! This is the leading cause of error in the Church.

“Calls those things which do not exist as though they did” – Romans 4:17

This scripture is used often by followers of the “Word of faith movement” when they instruct believers to speak things in to existence, declare and it will be done for you.

Rom 4:17- (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations” ) in the presence of Him whom he believed God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

With this scripture you don’t even have to read contextual scriptures to figure it out: it’s speaking about God, not the believer. We as God’s creations have no creative power, only He does. When we are in right relationship with God we can ask things of Him and He may do them but that is not what most Word of Faith or “Name it Claim it” teachings propose. We don’t convince God to follow our will, we follow His will. He originally gave man dominion and stewardship over the Earth but this does not mean that believers can speak money, cars, or health in to being. We put our faith in the Father, not in our faith.

“New Wine in New Wine Skins” – Matthew 9:16-17

This scripture has been used to back “new moves of God” or some new revolutionary thing that God is supposedly doing.

Mat 9:16 – “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.
Mat 9:17 – “Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

However, the message of new wine in old wineskins and new cloth on an old garment signifies the complete newness of the New Covenant. The context reveals Jesus’s reason for why His followers did not need to fast while He was present. Fasting was connected to the law heavily and the pharisees expected Jesus and His followers to follow the Law if He was truly from God. The New Covenant isn’t the Old Covenant plus Jesus and the cross it’s a whole new deal. The Old Testament was completely finished by Christ’s life death and resurrection, not partially finished as some thought who mixed Jesus’s teachings with their Judaism.
So the “new wine” (or the New Covenant) was poured in to the “new wine skin” once and for all time back at the crucifixion, not every time a local church thinks they have something new and fresh from God.

“When you have shut your door, pray to the Father” – Matthew 6:5-6

I actually had this one used against me after sharing the Gospel with a student outside of U.T. in Austin. He said “Jesus said when you pray to go in your closet and close the door and pray to God, your religion is between you and God. It’s not a public thing”.

Mat 6:5 – “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
Mat 6:6 – “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

This is a good example of a scripture taken out of context because if you only read verse 6 it may seem like a doctrine to only pray in secret, however reading the earlier verses and grasping the entire chapter explains this scripture. Pharisees would apparently pray in public, out loud, for the purpose of being seen by men which Jesus hated because it was religious pride. This is more about human status than praying to God and thus Jesus instructs that it is better to pray in secret. He teaches the concept of how God not only looks at your intentions but it’s what matters the most!
So here we do not see Jesus telling all believers to keep their faith private to themselves, we see a correction to a common problem of the time. My quick response to the man I witnessed to was “Well Jesus also says to go and preach the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, so that’s what I’m doing here today.” I didn’t feel like explaining the context would have been as productive as reminding him of what else Jesus said.
It is clear that to keep the good news of Christ a secret from the world is to do an injustice and is to directly disobey many scriptures. If you are living your life for Christ how can the world not see? It’s who you are thus your faith is a very public thing.

“Judge Not Lest You be Judged” – Matthew 7:1

Mat 7:1 – “Judge not, that you be not judged.
Mat 7:2 – “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

Ever spoken to someone about their sin and they say something along the lines of “Don’t judge me! Jesus said you can’t judge people, only God can judge”? Jesus goes on to say  “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Therefore if you are living in sin you should not call out your brother or sister in Christ for committing the same sin so as to make yourself better than them (Rom 2:1-3). First of all you are not better than them and secondly you are on the same level so how can you lead them when you yourself need to be led to freedom? We need to lovingly correct out fellow believers and even discipline if necessary and if you are a leader. If we were to never correct, discipline, or call a fellow believer out for a sin of theirs how would we ever get anywhere? This is not the model that the Apostles or Jesus laid for a believers conduct. Instead the Apostles and Jesus called people out for their sin when it was necessary. We are instructed in the epistles to do everything in love, not out of pride.

  • Telling a friend they need to stop a particular sin is not judging
  • Telling religious folk they need to get serious about their relationship with Christ is not judging
  • Telling someone they will go to hell because they don’t know Christ is not judging
  • Asking someone to discuss a scripture because they are misusing it is not judging
  • Saying someone is sinful and needs Christs forgiveness is not judging

Considering these things there are still right and wrong times as well as right and wrong ways to bring these things up. Love for the person and The Spirit of God should guide you in the approach of this issue. If you don’t know whot o bring a tough subject up, pray about it. Noticing someones sin and helping them out of it is different than condemning them (which is commonly referred to simple as “judging”).

“That which is in part is done away with” – 1 Corinthians 13:10

This one is used most often by cessationists or those who believe in cessation which is that the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased sometime during the 1st century.

1Cor 13:8 – Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
1Cor 13:9 – For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
1Cor 13:10 – But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

Some believe that the word “perfect” in verse 10 refers to the Bible, so that when it came we no longer needed the supernatural ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The problem with this is that the Canon we have today was not yet compiled at the time of Paul’s authorship of 1 Corinthians which was about 54 A.D. However, other books were not written until after that date such as Revelation, the Epistles, Romans, Luke, the John’s, and many more.
The greatest problem with saying this scripture says that prophecy and tounges have ceased is that they have not ceased, they still happen in verifiable ways – prophecies still happen and are fulfilled, tongues are still interpreted in ways that man could not infringe or fake, God still heals people and all 9 gifts are still operating now.
Others say since the church was established God saw fit that we didn’t need the gifts of the Spirit anymore, this however has no reasoning or explanation, we still need them and they still are a sign to the unbeliever as well as a tool for the believer.
A large problem with believing that this scripture says that the gifts of the Spirit would be withdrawn from man at some time early in the Church age is that no other scripture says anything close to this.
First Corinthians 13 is speaking of love which will never end but the gifts of the spirit will end someday when something perfect comes. What is this perfect thing? It’s Jesus Christ in His second coming. After Jesus comes back we will no longer need the gifts of the Spirit to minister to people as we do in this age.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13

Again, a scripture often used by those of the Word of Faith or “Prosperity Gospel” group. Notice a trend in Western sermons? This scripture is not a blank check from heaven, or a “wishes come true in Jesus” scripture. In the previous verse Paul is says:
Phl 4:11 – Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:
Phl 4:12 – I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

So we see the context which is often ignored is actually teaching that stuff is not what’s important, although Paul did appreciate the help that his audience was perhaps helping him with money offerings (verse 10).

Phl 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Phl 4:14 – Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.

Paul is the author of this famous scripture that is used to support personal dreams of success and material victory yet he is a failure in the eyes of those same people when considering his amount of suffering, abuse, and hardship.
Despite his struggles and suffering in his ministry He has been strengthened by Christ to do all things no matter his comfort level or quality of living. To bad the West has not had this revelation.

“My God shall supply all my need according to His riches…” – Philippians 4:19

“All my needs” does not include the new Lamborghini, iToy, or Louis Vuitton purse. It may not even include your rent or car payment if you aren’t supporting God’s ministry.

Phl 4:19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Paul makes this beautiful statement to the Philippians and he actually says “all YOUR needs” though people change it to “my” for personal use which is understandable. However, this scripture taken in it’s original meaning was written to those who were funding Paul’s ministry. Paul says it’s not about the offering:
Phl 4:17 – Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

Verse 19 was a response to the Philippians for their giving which helped Paul’s ministry.
So God provides when you sow into His work. Where your money is reveals where your heart is.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20

I hear this scripture thrown out there so many times during group prayer or when a pastor is trying to convince the congregation that a certain prayer will be answered because everyone is praying together. It always seemed strange to me that if 2 or 3 (or more) gather Christ will surely be there but if 1 person prays… mmm not so much. So if we have 300 people will Christ be there more so than 2 or 3? No, this is silliness and is what happens when a scripture is taken out of context. Read the verses before and after it and you will be shocked to find out that this scripture is not about prayer, faith, or God’s presence. It’s about Church discipline! Yep, I know.. shocked.

Mat 18:15 – “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
Mat 18:16 – “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Mat 18:17 – “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
Mat 18:18 – “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Mat 18:19 – “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

So what’s being bound? The agreement between the “two or three” that witnessed the person not repenting of their sin. The person is kicked out of the church because of their decision to not change (which would effect the church body negatively). And so the leaders are given authority to kick people out of Church (not God’s kingdom as Catholics believe). If the two who are witnessing the correction of the individual agree with what the main person asks who is disciplining the person, it is done in heaven.

Mat 18:20 – “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
And this event should be witnessed by multiple people, when they do this Christ is surely there and in agreement with this decision on behalf of the Church authorities.

Mat 18:21 – Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

This passage is further proved to be about forgiveness and Church discipline because Peter goes on asking about forgiveness perhaps thinking “what if this person then repents and comes back, but sins again, how many times should he be allowed to do this?”

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11 thoughts on “Scriptures, Without Context

    • I concur, though I have stuff to contribute on these matters.

      Re: Rom 4:17, what do you think of translating it thus?:

      “as it is written, “I have made you a father of many gentiles”…

      Also, I agree with the cessationists that the 1 Cor gifts are passe. In fact, I think that all of the gifts of Eph 4:11 are likewise finis.

      Regarding “new wine skins”… I think it is not proper to limit its application to the covenants.

      “Judging” is a complicated issue in the scriptures. There are many verses to sort out, and linguistic issues. Different authors seem to use the word to refer to different things. Are we talking about “evaluating?” “Passing sentence?” “Not minding your own business?”

      Lots to think about. Thanks for posting this.

  1. Thank you for this post. Much of what you have written is exactly what my daughter and I have been recently been discussing, esp. the part about judging others. I too have pondered the scripture about 2-3 people or more praying together and there fore God being in their midst, was not sure about the understanding, you have helped enlighten me. thanks and keep up the good writing Please. My God continue to bless you !

  2. WoundedEgo – Which translation are you quoting from? None of the main ones I found on blueletterbible say “many gentiles” but “many nations”. Either way there seems to be two themes running – law (Jewish descent and obedience to the law) and faith (anyone who believes).
    So perhaps it means Abraham is a kind of father for the gentiles because the promise the started with him is on faith not law or genetics (being Jewish). But I am not really sure, it is quoting from Genesis 17:5

    Also I would like to know what your scriptural foundation is for believing that the 9 Gifts of the Spirit and the 5 offices of the Church are gone.

    I agree the wineskin has many uses, but it’s original use is for the Covenants. I wrote a new blog about another use of the parable.

    The judgment area does get really confusing and linguistic, those terms “evaluating””passing sentence” “Not minding your own business” are good phrases to use, I find that people just get offended or defensive and use the word “judge” without clarification. One thing is for sure – it’s not comfortable being corrected or taking corrective action.

  3. “Gentiles” is used over and over to translate the underlying Hebrew and Greek words. It refers to “the tribes other than the Jews” or is sometimes other than “the nations”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentile

    >>>…Also I would like to know what your scriptural foundation is for believing that the 9 Gifts of the Spirit and the 5 offices of the Church are gone…

    Paul tells us that they are temporary:

    Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    Like the Corinthian “gifts” (actually, “breath-works” or something like that), they are completely utilitarian and destined to be obviated.

    Eph 4:24 says that the “offices” would last until the founding the new humanity, which Paul has completed. Now the believers are to enfold themselves into the new humanity, and preserve the unity.

    Also, God promised to do away with all pastors except Jesus:

    Eze 34:23 I will set one shepherd over them, and he will feed them — namely, my servant David.8 He will feed them and will be their shepherd.

    Jesus claimed to be that one shepherd:

    Joh 10:11 “I am the good25 shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life26 for the sheep.

    People, though, continue to prefer the pedophiles, though, as Israel preferred many kings.

  4. So what of the continued use of the Gifts to further the Kingdom, edify and equip the saints?
    Isn’t it possible for those scriptures to refer to the 2nd coming of Christ which will do away with the gifts?

    I personally have experienced healing, tongues, and discernment of spirits and personally know of others who have experienced most of the other 6 gifts.
    What of when someone is prayed for and healed, when someone is given an interpretation of tongues and it edifies the Body, when a foreigner hears their language delivering the message of Christ when the speaker is simply speaking in tongues, when a prophecy comes true, when a word of knowledge is true and there’s no way the speaker could of known, when discernment of a spirit leads to deliverance or is confirmed later as accurate, when miracles happen and wisdom is delivered from God through the mouth of a willing vessel?
    I can’t dismiss the gifts or offices when I have seen them work today and not only is it un-fabricat-able, but it does God’s work.

  5. >>>So what of the continued use of the Gifts to further the Kingdom, edify and equip the saints?

    So I take it that you attend a “very spiritual” denomination/sect where they babble?

    >>>Isn’t it possible for those scriptures to refer to the 2nd coming of Christ which will do away with the gifts?

    Which of these “gifts”/”offices” would you recognize (and submit to):

    Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

    Do you recognize any apostles? Who are they?

    Prophets? Name the name, por fa poop?

    >>>I personally have experienced healing, tongues, and discernment of spirits and personally know of others who have experienced most of the other 6 gifts….

    Yes, and millions have gone to Medjigorge and have experience the “Blessed Virgin Mary” healing their bodies and careers. People are ***easily*** deceived, are they not?

    • I attend a Church that does not quench the Holy Spirit in saying that He is not welcome to do His work. We accept praying in tongues and do it orderly.

      You didn’t answer my question about the high possibility of Christs coming being mentioned in the scriptures you referred to, and that His finishing of this age will be the end of the Gifts since they won’t be needed anymore in a perfect world (the Millennial Kingdom). But I recognize all 5 church gifts or offices. I submit to my Pastors, I would accept a prophecy from a Prophet if the prophecy first lines up with the Word of God, if I know he is not a cook out of the woodwork, and if I do not feel a negative notice about it from the Holy Spirit. I don’t know any Apostles personally, perhaps because people like you are of the opinion that there aren’t any Apostles anymore. I listen to teachers and compare it with the Word of God. And I know people who have a calling to Evangelism, I myself engage in this work as well. I wonder if you think people should evangelize or spread the gospel since (you say) this office is done away with.

      As for prophets, if you want their names – Jay Crisman, and Tom Tomkin I know personally. I know of others but I don’t know them personally so I won’t vouch for them yet.

      I find it hard to believe that Satan would heal people to the glory of God and allow fruit of holiness, repentance, and faith to develop as a result of these. If Satan is deceiving people with the “gifts” why are they hearing the Gospel through tongues and accepting Christ as a result of it?
      My point: I agree that people are being globally deceived by demonic demonstrations which lead people in to error and away from Christ (such as Medjigore) but Satan will not divide his own kingdom by counter acting himself with signs and wonders that actually bring people to God through the cross. Especially when the Bible says and shows that these kind of things should happen and bring about certain results.
      Mat 12:26 – “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?

      Let me guess – signs and wonders are not happening in your church or life regularly? Perhaps because you say they should not. I’m not trying to make a personal attack or judgment in saying this but the Word says these things will follow those who believe.

      • >>>I attend a Church that does not quench the Holy Spirit in saying that He is not welcome to do His work….

        Are there other “Churches” on the same block, or in the immediate vicinity? These presumably all “quench the Holy Spirit” etc?

        As I read the scriptures, “Churches” is a “carnal” notion and it is better not to partake of the lord’s supper in a place other than the unified body of XRISTOS.

        Secondly, scripturally speaking, there is no “Holy Spirit” but only God’s own holy breath, per Genesis 2:7. Your authorities won’t let you buy or sell or even participate unless you confess “The Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity” – which, I would think you would admit, is NOT a teaching of scripture. Where, in the scriptures, is this requirement?!

        Your “Churches” therefore are temple to a fake god and a “number of a man” (a human conceived number). There is no “Holy Spirit.” The holy breath of scripture is merely the breath of the one true God – the father… “the God and father of our lord.”

        >>>We accept praying in tongues and do it orderly…

        Are you sure you aren’t just babbling? I mean, in the NT, the Greek word GLOSSA referred to the “tongue” and to a “language.” At pentecost, **people understood what was spoken** because it was in their own “tongues.”

        >>>You didn’t answer my question about the high possibility of Christs coming being mentioned in the scriptures you referred to, and that His finishing of this age will be the end of the Gifts since they won’t be needed anymore in a perfect world (the Millennial Kingdom)…

        I used to think that, but then I saw that Paul gives the expiration date as the completion of the new humanity, which Paul completed in his own lifetime. See Eph 2:13-22.

        >>>But I recognize all 5 church gifts or offices. I submit to my Pastors,

        But there is only one pastor. Jesus is the “good pastor” that replaces all of the exploitative pastors:

        Eze 34:23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.

        The contrast is to the situation in Israel where there were many pastors, and they were exploiting the sheep.

        >>>I would accept a prophecy from a Prophet if the prophecy first lines up with the Word of God, if I know he is not a cook out of the woodwork, and if I do not feel a negative notice about it from the Holy Spirit.

        In other words, they have to be a Trinitarian, and agree that the Emperor has nice clothes.

        >>>I don’t know any Apostles personally, perhaps because people like you are of the opinion that there aren’t any Apostles anymore.

        Paul said he was last, and that even he was “born out of time” in that he met the lord personally after his death and resurrection.

        >>>I listen to teachers and compare it with the Word of God.

        You mean you compare it to “The Doctrine of the Trinity” and the other traditions that you have received.

        >>>And I know people who have a calling to Evangelism, I myself engage in this work as well. I wonder if you think people should evangelize or spread the gospel since (you say) this office is done away with.

        You can “do the work of” an evangelist, but that office of the original eyewitnesses is obsolete.

        >>>As for prophets, if you want their names – Jay Crisman, and Tom Tomkin I know personally. I know of others but I don’t know them personally so I won’t vouch for them yet.

        A “prophet” is, scripturally speaking, God’s “mouthpiece.” They relate speech from God verbatim. They say, “This is what God says, ‘I the lord say to you…'”

        Can you give an example of one of these divine utterances by these guys? Thanks.

        >>>I find it hard to believe that Satan would heal people to the glory of God and allow fruit of holiness, repentance, and faith to develop as a result of these.

        If he gets you to worship a man as if he is God, then he has done his job, yes?

        >>>If Satan is deceiving people with the “gifts” why are they hearing the Gospel through tongues and accepting Christ as a result of it?

        Young’s Literal:

        2Th 2:3 let not any one deceive you in any manner, because–if the falling away may not come first, and the man of sin be revealed–the son of the destruction,
        2Th 2:4 who is opposing and is raising himself up above all called God or worshiped, so that he in the sanctuary of God as God hath sat down, shewing himself off that he is God– the day doth not come .
        2Th 2:5 Do ye not remember that, being yet with you, these things I said to you?
        2Th 2:6 and now, what is keeping down ye have known, for his being revealed in his own time,
        2Th 2:7 for the secret of the lawlessness doth already work, only he who is keeping down now will hinder –till he may be out of the way,
        2Th 2:8 and then shall be revealed the Lawless One, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the manifestation of his presence,
        2Th 2:9 him, whose presence is according to the working of the Adversary, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders,
        2Th 2:10 and in all deceitfulness of the unrighteousness in those perishing, because the love of the truth they did not receive for their being saved,
        2Th 2:11 and because of this shall God send to them a working of delusion, for their believing the lie,
        2Th 2:12 that they may be judged–all who did not believe the truth, but were well pleased in the unrighteousness.

        >>>My point: I agree that people are being globally deceived by demonic demonstrations which lead people in to error and away from Christ (such as Medjigore) but Satan will not divide his own kingdom by counter acting himself with signs and wonders that actually bring people to God through the cross.

        Even if that “God” is a man? Or “a man, his father and a ghost?!”

        >>>Especially when the Bible says and shows that these kind of things should happen and bring about certain results.
        Mat 12:26 – “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?

        But what if Satan’s kingdom is the one established by Constantine?

        >>>Let me guess – signs and wonders are not happening in your church or life regularly? Perhaps because you say they should not. I’m not trying to make a personal attack or judgment in saying this but the Word says these things will follow those who believe.

        This is a textual issue:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_16

  6. The need to interpret the Scriptures based upon it’s context is THE key element to a proper understanding of Scriptures.

    Why do cults, denominations, movements and any false teaching exist? It’s because Scriptures are taken out of context, misunderstood and then proclaimed as truth.

    In many cases, well meaning, sincere people fall into error due to a lack of diligence in keeping everything in context. If we all would keep everything in context, through the gracious workings of the Spirit in our hearts, we would all come to an understanding of actual truth… we all would come to agreement on His Word.

    We all need to be as the Bereans… “they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

    May the Lord continue to bless you.

  7. Pingback: New Wine in Old Wine Skin « Grove Online's Blog

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