A Few Bible Verses That Christians Get Wrong

The Bible is the most important book ever written. The one true God chose to reveal Himself to us through the written word. Amazing and humbling!

Yet sometimes we get it wrong. We misunderstand or misapply the truth God has given us. Although there are countless causes, through my experience I’ve seen two primary problems crop up again and again.

Perspective – Too often we read God’s Word with our own purposes and goals in mind. But the Bible is all about God. When we read it with His eternal purposes in mind, we will better grasp the truth of His Word.

Context – The Bible may have unlimited applications, but its meaning never changes. It means the same today as it did when it was written. To understand the original meaning, we must pull back and understand the context – of the passage, of the chapter, of the book.

Here are 10 verses that are often misunderstood due to perspective, context, or both:

  1. Corinthians 10:13

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Many Christians claim this verse as a “promise” that God will never allow them to experience more difficulties than “they can handle.” Yet, the larger passage (1 Corinthians 10:1-13) deals with temptation and our ability to withstand it. God promises He will always provide a way for us to say “no” to temptation. In fact, Paul learned by experience that God will allow us to face circumstances “beyond our ability to endure” so that we will learn to rely on Him (see 2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

  1. Proverbs 22:6

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Misunderstanding Proverbs 22:6 as a promise has led to grief for many parents. The book of Proverbs is wisdom literature, which offers general principles for successful living. A proverb is not a promise. Instead, let us use it as a tool for wise parenting and decision-making, and entrust our children to our faithful God!

  1. Matthew 7:1

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

Is all “judging” wrong? Jesus did condemn a harsh, critical “judging” motivated by a self-righteous, hypocritical attitude. But in the whole of Scripture, God clearly commands Christians to lovingly point out sin and exhort each other to holiness. It is not our place to determine their motives, but it is our responsibility to gently identify behavior God has already judged to be “sin.” The goal is to reconcile that person with God and others and to keep the sin from spreading (Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:5-7, Hebrews 12:15, James 5:19-20).

  1. Psalm 37:4

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

If I find joy in God, will He fill my life with all the things I value and enjoy? Wait – remember context and focus. In this psalm, David contemplated the age-old question of why evil people seem to prosper while the righteous often struggle. David wrote to encourage his readers – and us – to widen our perspective, to live in light of eternity and to set our hope in God’s everlasting purposes. When we commit ourselves (delight) to God’s capable hands, our desire for the righteous to prevail will be realized in His timing.

  1. James 1:2-3

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

We would think that James meant we could find joy in Christ in spite of our trials. That makes more sense! Yet, James really did say – and mean – because of our trials. While God cares very much about our physical circumstances, James knew He uses trials to refine our faith and make us more like Jesus. That is something to rejoice about!

  1. Matthew 18:20

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Considering just this verse, we might believe that Jesus is with us only when we are with other believers. But the context of the larger passage is church discipline. When another believer sins, if he will not listen to one, two or three fellow believers should bring the matter to the church (Matthew 18:15-20).

  1. Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Does God control all the circumstances of our lives to make things turn out great for us? Let’s take a step back to grasp the glorious truth of Romans 8:28. First, this promise is not for all people, just Christians who love and follow Jesus. Second, in the larger context, (Romans 8:18-39), Paul reminds us that although we must temporarily endure earthly suffering, God works through it to continuously work out His greater, eternal plan for us (Romans 8:28-30). The “good” God is working towards is not temporary, earthly “success,” but the eternal purpose of us being “conformed to the likeness” of Jesus (Romans 8:29).

  1. Habakkuk 1:5

“Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

If we read this verse by itself, we might believe God is going to do something wonderful and glorious before our eyes. Well, He definitely did, but probably not what you’d expect. God sent the prophet Habakkuk to pronounce judgment on Judah for turning away from God. The amazing thing God planned was to send the brutal nation of Babylon to conquer His people and carry them into captivity. This verse should stand as a strong reminder that God does discipline His children.

  1. Jeremiah 29:11

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

This verse is definitely a promise. But it’s a promise for a particular people in a particular time. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promised that after Judah’s pre-determined exile in Babylon, He would bring them back to the Promised Land. We often misappropriate promises. And while God does make a lot of promises to all believers, this particular promise isn’t one of them.

  1. Philippians 4:13

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 is probably the most misused verse in the Bible. We pull it out of the surrounding passage and hold it out as God’s obligation to empower our plans and dreams. Yet, Paul was writing about being content no matter his earthly circumstances. He could endure any difficulty or physical need through the strengthening power of Christ. Oh yes, Philippians 4:13 is a great promise indeed! Jesus will give us the strength we need to endure desperate need. His empowering presence will be with us through every difficult circumstance.

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49 thoughts on “A Few Bible Verses That Christians Get Wrong

  1. Good article! Thank you!

    Often what we read in the Bible isn’t to us. However, within the context and the character of God’s promises to Believers, we know it can be for us.

    Jeremiah 29:11, ““‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” is a perfect example.

    God has plans for us that can be different from ours. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21) We also know God is our hope, will not harm us, and has the best future available for us possible.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. (1) I know someone who has a coffee mug that says “I can do all things through a verse taken out of context.” 😂😂

    (2) I think what always sticks out in my mind when it comes to verses taken out of context is 1 Corinthians 13, the whole chapter… especially if you’re reading this verse at a wedding and being all cute and mushy. It isn’t about the wedding kind of love. Chapters 12 and 14 are about spiritual gifts, and Paul is trying to write about the kind of heart of love one should have while using one’s spiritual gifts.

    (3) I have mixed feelings about Jeremiah 29:11. For a long time, that was one of my go-to verses, for all the wrong reasons that you mention here. I was having a rough day when I was a new Christian, and one of my best friends at the time shared that verse with me. Now that I’ve read the rest of Jeremiah 29, I agree with your point that this was a promise to a specific people at a specific time, not something universal to all believers. But I think it also says a lot about God’s universal character. He might not have the same promises for us that he had for the Israelites in exile in Jeremiah’s time, but he has something promised for each of us and we can trust him for that, even though it does not mean that life will alwas be great this side of heaven. (That incident inspired this episode of DLTDGB: https://dontletthedaysgoby.home.blog/2021/02/06/early-may-1996-a-stressful-week/ I made that same point there. I’ve also come to realize, having been a new Christian in my late teens, a lot of my early spiritual mentors were just kids too, and not necessarily the most mature people.)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Because I myself never married, and being at a wedding makes me feel like a failure. I’ve always had a hard time dealing with that. But I’ll go anyway if I’m invited, because the people getting married want to share their special day with me, and it isn’t all about me.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Ohh, okay. People do make too big a deal out of marriage sometimes. In a Church at home , they literally think married people are better which is so annoying for the singles , not to mention segregative . Now that am making twenty in a few days , am probably headed that way 😂😂😂

        Liked by 2 people

      3. 😂😂 when you are young, it’s less about shunning you and unnecessary making you feel like a failure and more about pressuring you in marriage as though that’s what life is all about . I guess even Christians leave the facts that it’s all about God behind .🤷

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Churches have plenty of social activities for kids and young adults, but once you’re over 30 and not married, there is no social group for you, because all the other people your age at church have kids and their lives revolve around their kids. If the church has an adult singles group, it’s all divorced and widowed people in their 50s and 60s with children and grandchildren, and someone in their 30s or 40s who has never been married has nothing in common with them. And all of those verses taken out of context about how great marriage is just make me feel like something is wrong with me…

        God has another plan for my life. And that’s okay. But I really could do without the constant reminders that I’m different.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Now that’s quite a dilemma. I don’t even know what could be done about it. I guess they didn’t make such a fuss in Paul’s day , he seems to go on about how being single is definitely better because all of your time is dedicated to God , and yet, in a letter to Timothy, he seems to just say a Bishop ought to be married. Anyway , isn’t it possible to fit into the options availed, after all the key is always said to be finding a way you can serve others ( servant hood), and noticing yourself less ( humility ) 😂😂

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Humility. Good point. That’s important. But as someone who always struggled with feeling different and being rejected because of it, it isn’t easy. I’m slowly accepting the fact that my life just didn’t work out that way, but it’s still hard sometimes.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Wait a minute, I am still struggling with that too , feeling different. Now that am in second year at campus , I know am not so different and I just seem to think so always , so for me , it’s a battling with Pride Issue. I somehow always find myself, pitying myself for literally no good reason at all. Maybe it also has to do with me accepting who I am. Anyway, I hope some day I don’t have to struggle with feeling different because I always end up battling with shame and guilt when I discover my feelings were a mean and selfish illusion. But seriously when you are the only person in your group who understands C S Lewis books and reads Christian books like they were thrilling Vampire tales , the feeling different bit just feels so real so many times 😂😂

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Same thing happens with 1 Philippians. It may look taken out of context but it’s a verse that says through Christ who strengthens me. That counts for so much , for instance if you are stepping out of God’s will, you can’t say through Christ I will do this . I mean if one wakes up and says through Christ, they ought to be walking with God that day. It’s a verse that just says with God nothing is impossible. Sometimes yes, people do take verses out of context , but you need to look deeper , and more specifically at a person to know if they are missing the point and misinterpreting the scripture.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you, my sister, for following me. I’m new to blogging and your support means so much. You responded to my first blog and I can’t tell you how I felt. I love you content. Your love for truth is evident! May Our Father use you for even greater things! So much love from me to you, Deborah

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I like your assessment, moreso of most of the verses and you are right .But since we are talking about the Bible , well a promise can be one person’s at a time , sometimes God does particularly give it. Also , when you try to draw clear lines between black and white , you could miss the whole point. I mean look at Jeremiah again , you are right , but it’s also true that God alone knows the plans he has for you ,plans to prosper you indeed , and even if you did end up in a lion’s den, they are plans to prosper you except this time round in a Christian Context . The verse is just saying, Trust Me Alone.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. And I love Psalms 37 : 4. I mean there’s no way the desires of your heart could mean something wrong , you can’t delight in the lord then desire wealth or immorality , they go hand in hand . You delight in the Lord and chances are your heart will desire more of Him . But you are right about alot of things , and Iam saying too much already 😂😂😂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. John 5:38-40 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

    These verses are a bit tricky- Jesus is speaking to unbelievers.
    I like that he is our personal authority on the Bible.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hey Christian Tech-Nerd, I hope you are well and enjoying your day so far! I enjoyed this piece and understood your explanations but also felt you were taking away from the strength a believer may receive from each verse you’ve expanded on (apart from Matthew 8:20). Our Almighty God never changes, so what He has done for those in the passed He’ll do for us today, no matter the situation.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Covered some good points. What is more troubling than single verses being taken out of context is that they are too often philosophized into a misconception and have become the doctrines and traditions of men. (Col. 2 :8) Many verses have been taken out of context and used with other verses taken out of context until the scripture of truth (Dan. 10:21) is a variety of denominational misconceptions even to the point of mathematical error.
    “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (Isaiah 28:9-13)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Such a good and insightful writing especially the “You are not suppose to Judge” one. So many say it without realizing it is expected by God for us to judge righteously. Very good read!!! God Bless You.
    Julia

    Liked by 3 people

  10. So refreshing to read! The Bible doesn’t lend itself to manipulation, and it’s difficult to watch so many modern teachers try to force the Word to fit into a personal agenda. Thank you for a clear, concise, and much-needed read!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you, dear Sister, for giving us many examples of Scriptures which Christians misinterpret.

    And thank you, dear Sister, for blessing us with your writings.

    Now I would like to share some of my writings with you, in return.

    If you don’t mind, can I share with you another Blog address, as I believe you may enjoy reading?

    Actually, I pasted my book there which is a book called, “How To Make Your Life Really Count” – it’s a book I wrote as an Apologetic work to be a kind of reconciler between a non-believer and believer. In the book I try to appeal to the rationale of my reader’s mind and spirit – even though they are, not yet, regenerated – I challenge them to test God’s personal love for themselves. It includes four chapters – with the second chapter consisting of my Testimony how I became a Christian. I wanted to recommend it to you as I respect your writings and opinion.

    Would you take a look, Sister?

    Here is the Link:
    https://chrisbriscoe.substack.com/p/life-can-be-tough-at-the-best-of

    Like

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