April 7, 2016
The Holy Bible is God’s written word. Men wrote the words, but the Holy Spirit inspired them and we need to diligently study it. God has given us His written word to help us understand Him, not to create confusion. Why is it, then, that many people claim that there are things in the Bible that God doesn’t want us to understand? Really? What things? Writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote “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.” 2 Timothy 3:16. The word “all” means just that…all. Most of the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek, but then Bible translators began to make it easier for everyone to be able to read and understand God’s word. It must be understood that some translation problems arose as this process continued, but the Holy Spirit has preserved the message. It was all written for us to understand.
It’s very important for Christians to study the Bible. In doing so, we should compare our English words (or whatever language you read) to the true meaning of the original language. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. If you’re confused by a certain verse, look at the context by reading verses before and after the verse. That will help. By all means get yourself a good concordance and look into the Hebrew or the Greek to obtain a more precise interpretation of the verse in question. Older translations, like the King James Version, contain words that have changed meaning over the years. One such word found in the Old and New Testaments is “conversation”. Today we think of a conversation as a dialogue between two or more people. In the King James Version it means the way we live. Understanding this difference in meaning can affect the way you understand the verses in which this word appears. There are other English words which have a different meaning than their original intent. Most of us know the English word “love” can mean everything from “I love my car” to “I love God”. In Greek, however, there are many words that are translated into the English word “love”, such as agapē, agapaō, phileō,and philadelphia. Each one has a special definition that makes Scripture take on a deeper meaningif you know which word is used.
Taking the whole counsel of God into consideration is imperative for understanding. We can’t just look at a verse or two and build doctrine on them, yet many people do. When there are differing interpretations of God’s word we must conclude that everyone can’t be correct. The Holy Spirit doesn’t work that way. “For God is not the author of confusion…” 1 Corinthians 14:33a. That’s where study comes in. Have you been caught up in the “name it and claim it” crowd? You can find one or two verses that seem to support this, but when read in context and taken as part of the whole Biblical teaching you will discover that it’s a wrong message. Test all things through Scripture and you won’t be confused. There are some wonderful Bible studies online that can help you to understand more of what God’s word teaches. I try to stay away from denominational studies because they seem to promote a particular denominational teaching rather than what God’s word really says. No, I’m not against denominations in general, but I am for what God says rather than what any one denomination promotes and prefer verse by verse Bible study. For instance, some denominations allow homosexual or women pastors. This is very much opposed to God’s word, but these liberal thinkers can twist Scripture to make it seem as if He has changed His mind. Study for yourself and follow God, not man. God has not changed and we need to conform to God.
Reading and understanding Scripture should give us hope. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4. The Scriptures which are referred to in this verse are Old Testament Scripture. Many people don’t study the Old Testament, but it’s important to understand it. The Old Testament reveals the creation account, contains the Law of Moses, tells of the history of the Jewish people, foretells the Messiah, offers comfort and encouragement through the Psalms, and gives prophecy to open our eyes to the future. God does hold us responsible to understand Scripture. There are numerous prophesies regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but the Jewish leaders refused to understand them. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem and the people hailed Him as their Messiah, He wept over that city. Why? Because He knew that they would ultimately reject Him and because of their blindness destruction would follow. “Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Luke 19:42-44. Jerusalem was destroyed about 40 years later. The Jewish leaders should have studied prophecy and understood it. Today there are many prophecies being fulfilled, but if you don’t understand Scripture you will be blind to what is happening all around you. The Rapture will happen soon, yet many people are confused about that event. Christians should be eagerly waiting for the Rapture, but lack of knowledge of Scripture keeps many blind. It should give us hope to know that Christians will be called Home before God’s wrath comes.
God doesn’t hide things from His people. Well, there may be one exception, but it really isn’t an exception. Jesus taught many lessons using parables. These can be confusing, but Jesus spoke in parables for a reason. These were a means of teaching lessons, but concealing them in stories. To only be understood by those who truly wanted to understand. “And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.” Mark 4:33-34. Many people were confused by the parables, but He did explain them to His disciples. Today we have the Holy Spirit to help us to understand. It’s up to us to pray for understanding and to study. Yes, God wants us to understand. Symbolism is used in the parables and these symbols don’t change their meaning from one parable to another. “Birds of the air” represent Satan and his minions and leavening represents sin. Confusion comes from not understanding the symbolism. Remember, Scripture was written mainly to people who understood Jewish traditions, so it’s also a good idea to learn their ways to better understand parables.
There are many deceived people who will try to convince you of things that aren’t found in the Bible. These are nice people, but they have not studied. Some groups believe that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. That is absolutely not true. This lie is packaged so it sounds plausible and the unstudied Christian can easily be deceived. Jesus is the Creator and Lucifer was created. Another group believes Mary was more than merely human and was a perpetual virgin. Again, these people haven’t studied God’s word and in fact believe many unbiblical ideas taught by their leadership. The truth is found in God’s word. In the Book of Acts we find that Paul and Silas went to the synagogue in Berea and taught about Jesus. These Bereans were commended for listening to what they had to say, but then they searched the Scripture to see if it was true. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11. God wants us to know the truth and He gave us Scripture in order that we have a standard by which to measure all things.
Don’t try to read the Bible as a novel. It does start at the beginning with Genesis and end at the end in Revelation, but the chapters in between aren’t necessarily in chronological order. As you study you will notice that some events are repeated in more than one book. A new Christian or someone who is just beginning serious Bible study may get a bit confused, but with diligence it can be sorted out. The Gospels can sometimes be a source of confusion. Events are repeated and sometimes seem to contradict each other. These are four accounts of the same events told from four different perspectives. Occasionally there will be additional information in one Gospel that doesn’t appear in the others, but that doesn’t change the truth. When studying, don’t let this confuse you. If you asked four people to describe the life of a common friend you will get four different descriptions. Each person will speak from his own perspective and give a little more information to the whole story. So it is with the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each tell the same story, but from their own point of view.
Confusion in Bible study can also be brought about by limiting God. Too often we study God’s word, which is filled with supernatural events, but we try to understand it based on human knowledge. By doing this we put human limits on God. If one part of the Bible is misinterpreted, that will cause confusion in other areas. Do you understand Genesis chapter 6? The language is very clear in stating that the fallen angels mated with human women. Throughout history this was accepted as fact. Then came human ideas and a couple of centuries after Christ walked this earth some mixed up “theologians” decided that God didn’t know what He was talking about and that He really meant that the sons of Seth married the daughters of Cain. There is so much wrong with that made up story and it brings in confusion when studying God’s word. God is a loving God so why would He destroy all of creation because one human married another human? How did all flesh (that includes animals) become corrupted by a man marrying a woman? Noah was perfect in his genes so he and his family were all saved through the flood. Their genes were not corrupted by the fallen angels and his bloodline was pure. If you believe man’s stories, God seems angry and full of murderous intentions instead of the loving God He truly is. The flood had to destroy all corrupted flesh in order for Jesus to be the perfect, uncorrupted sacrifice for our salvation. If you don’t understand what was happening in Noah’s day then you will not understand why God had to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, or what the Israelites were afraid of when they were about to enter the Promise Land, or even much of what is happening today. Confusion comes from man listening to satanic deception, not from God.
God does not delight in any confusion associated with His inerrant Word. Our awesome God gave us His word with the intent that we become fully familiar with it in order that we grow in our relationship with Him. Let God lead your study while you diligently seek the truth.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham
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All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham