Tag Archives: read the Bible

Why Read What Other People Say About the Bible When We Can Read It Ourselves?

To Better Understand the Bible, Use Scripture to Interpret Scripture

Why Read What Other People Say About the Bible When We Can Read It Ourselves?I shared part of my book, Women in the Bible, with some friends at a writers group. They liked what they heard and had questions about how I researched and wrote it. I explained that the Bible was the only resource I used. By design, I didn’t study what other people wrote about the Bible, I simply studied it myself.

That is, I went straight to the source and didn’t use any secondhand information.

When I write about the Bible, this is what I do. I use Scripture to interpret Scripture, instead of relying on someone else to do it for me. This is because I don’t want to filter what the Bible says through the eyes, minds, and theologies of others. I go straight to the Word of God because this is as close as I can get to the ultimate author of this amazing book.

This idea of using the Bible as the only resource confused one of my friends. I tried to explain how I use Scripture to interpret Scripture, but I’m not sure that helped.Here are some examples of how I use Scripture to interpret Scripture. Click To Tweet

Here are some examples of how I use Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Consider the Whole Passage

The Bible is divided into books, chapters, and verses. This makes it easy to share short passages and compare versions. However, this also encourages us to focus on one verse and miss its context. We should never consider a verse or part of a verse in isolation.

Study What Comes Before

Ignoring chapter divisions, paragraph breaks, and inserted subheadings allows us to examine what precedes the passage. Often this gives us the context and a more holistic understanding of how a passage or verse fits in.

Read What Comes After

Likewise, look at what follows the verse or passage. Sometimes the text that comes after it adds clarity, provides an example, or adds emphasis. Yet other times what follows a passage may seem paradoxical. At first a paradox is frustrating, but it’s really an invitation to dig deeper. And that’s when we get to a greater understanding of the passage.

Look at The Entire Book

As we mentioned, the Bible is subdivided into books. Unlike chapter and verse delineations, the books are mostly logical and make sense. We’re wise to examine the trajectory of the book and consider the author’s overall purpose or theme.

Examine Parallel Passages

The Bible contains some repetition. The four biographies of Jesus—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—often present different perspectives of the same event. We’re wising to consider them. Likewise, First and Second Chronicles has parallel texts with First and Second Samuel and First and Second Kings. Also, we can often read about the settings of the prophetic books in the Bible’s historical books, specifically Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The same occurs with Psalms. In the New Testament, many of the letters (also called epistles) find their historical context in the book of Acts.

Build A Biography

Although a lot of people in the Bible are obscure characters, mentioned only once, many others pop up more than one time and surface in multiple books. By combining each mention of a person, we can build a biblical biography of them. This gives us a better understanding of these people and allows us to apply this perspective each time we see their name. I do this often in Women of the Bible.

Do Word Searches

It’s also worthwhile to do word searches in the Bible. This lets us to compare one mention with all the others. Some scholars place additional emphasis on the first time a word occurs. There’s merit to this, too. (But be careful. Consider the first mention of the word married in Genesis 4:19.)

Follow the Arc

The Bible has a narrative arc to it. In a sense, this is the story arc of God’s Word. We should keep this arc in mind as we study the Bible. (More on the biblical story arc in another post.)

By employing these various techniques, I can use Scripture to interpret Scripture. Yes, I occasionally delve into a commentary (I have four) or read a book on a specific biblical topic. Yet in doing so, I never lose sight of the Bible as the ultimate source of understanding. What others tell me about the Bible does have value, but what I learn directly from the Bible—unfiltered by others—has even more.

To get the most from reading the Bible, use Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Do We Need to Know Hebrew and Greek to Study the Bible?

Ministers who flaunt their knowledge of Hebrew and Greek often do more harm than good

As part of their training, many ministers must study Hebrew and Greek. Sometimes when they prepare a sermon, they go back to the Bible’s initial languages so they can study the words in its original tongue: Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New.Do We Need to Know Hebrew and Greek to Study the Bible?

Then they talk about these other languages when they give their sermon. Sometimes this helps but other times it seems they’re just trying to remind us of how smart they are—or at least how smart they think they are. This often turns me off.

Yet other times I wonder if I would understand the Bible better if I could engage its words using Hebrew or Greek. It’s not that I want to learn another language; I have enough struggles with English. Instead this impulse occurs as I grapple with the English version of a particular text. I consult various translations and sometimes find clarity, but other times, confusion persists.

The Limitations When Studying the Bible

After all, when I read the Bible in English, I’m reading it through the theological filter of its translators. There’s no way for them not the color their work through the perspective of their beliefs. Some may call this a bias. I get that.

Yes, most everyone who embarks on a project to translate the Bible from its original languages into English—or any other language—strives for accuracy. Yet even the most sincere and conscientious still introduce the slant of their worldview into their work.

If only I could cut out the middleman and read the Bible in Hebrew and Greek.

Yet to do so, to read the Bible in Hebrew or Greek, would mean relying on others for their explanation of each Hebrew or Greek word. Again, their definitions would suffer from the influence of their perspectives and what they learned from other scholars, who hold their own biases and influences.

The reality is that studying the Bible in its original languages wouldn’t really help resolve my dilemma. It would still require me relying on the viewpoint of others to comprehend the text.

The only way I could gain real value by studying Scripture in Hebrew and Greek would occur if I understood these languages in the day and the culture in which the writing took place. And that’s impossible.

The Key to Studying the Bible

Though my desire to study the Bible in Hebrew and Greek carries an admirable intent, the reality is that I would still face frustrations; I would continue to struggle to understand its nuances. Yet, I have more resources available to help me engage with this holy text then at any time in history. There are scores of translations for me to consider. And for that I’m most grateful. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can study the Bible for ourselves. Click To Tweet

We, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can study the Bible for ourselves. We don’t need a Hebrew or Greek-speaking guru to guide us. All we need is the text, the mind God gave us, and the Holy Spirit. We can pray for supernatural insight and have faith God will direct the outcome.

Having religious experts tell us what the Bible says or what God means is an Old Testament mindset. Jesus changed this when he fulfilled the Old Testament. Through him, we become priests. And he sends us the Holy Spirit to guide us. That’s all we need to study the Bible. If you happen to know a little Hebrew and Greek, great! But if not, no worries.

We should all study the Bible using whatever resources we have and trust God to guide us in our journey.

The Bible is Four Dimensional

Don’t Read the Bible Like Any Other Book Because It Isn’t Like Other Books

The Bible is Four DimensionalWhen we read a book, it’s a linear process. We start at the beginning. Then reading one word at a time, we make our way to the end. Once we reach the last word, the final period, we’re finished. Usually we put the book down and move to another one. If it’s a really good book, we may read it again. Or we may loop back to investigate certain sections to look for something we might have missed or seek clarity from a confusing passage. This applies to both fiction and nonfiction, though in different ways.

Too many people read the Bible like every other book. Starting at the beginning and reading one word at a time, they make their way toward the end. But few ever arrive. They get mired down in how the Bible is put together, because it’s not like any other book.

From a reading experience, a book is one-dimensional. It’s a straight line, with only length, going from start to finish. There is no width or depth, just length.

To read the Bible rightly, we need to get beyond our linear mindset. We need to think of the Bible as also having width and depth. Let’s consider it as three-dimensional and not one-dimensional with only length, which results from stringing words together.

We Must Read the Bible with a Different Perspective

To move beyond one dimension requires we read the Bible differently. Yes, we can still look at one passage or story, read it linearly from start to finish, and enjoy the journey. But there’s more. We can loop back and jump forward. We can consider parallel passages—and the Bible has many. We can use one passage to better understand another.

When we consider the Bible as three-dimensional, we can do word studies, look for reoccurring themes, and use scripture to interpret scripture. When we do so we begin to mine the riches of the Bible, no longer as a one-dimensional, linear book, but as a multi-dimensional experience that takes us to an unlimited number of destinations.

But beyond the three dimensions of space, we need to consider time, which many refer to as the fourth dimension. How is the Bible four dimensional? Jesus was there at the beginning and took part in creation. And he’ll be there at the end. Click To Tweet

Let’s jump to the middle and consider the book of John. With dramatic poetic flair, John tells us that Jesus, the whole point of the Bible, didn’t just show up for the Gospels as a baby in a manger. He was there at the beginning. He took part in creation. And he is there at the end. As we migrate from our present reality to the next, Jesus is there to guide us. The book of Revelations hints at this and the last two chapters confirm it. And a careful reading of the Old Testament sees hints of Jesus sprinkled throughout. Jesus is everywhere, not limited by time or space.

Embrace the Bible as Four Dimensional

It’s hard to grasp the Bible as four dimensional, not being bound by time. However, God—who created us, reveals himself to us in the Bible, and serves as our reason for being—is not bound by time. He exists outside our time-space continuum. For when he created the three-dimensional reality in which we live, he also made time as a fourth dimension in which we move forward. But he is constricted by neither space or time. He lives outside it, while we live in it.

The Bible contains words and ideas and truth which have length and width and depth. The Bible also transcends time. It’s four dimensional. Though I will spend the rest of my life trying to grasp this concept, it’s a reality I except and embrace.

May we all begin to read the Bible in this new way.

Use Technology to Study the Bible

We have many tools available to explore the Word of God

I love to study the Bible. I often talk about reading and exploring scripture. This may conjure up an image of me sitting in a chair with an open copy of the Word of God in my hands. While this is an apt understanding, I seldom read the Bible that way. I often tap technology to facilitate my reading and studying of scripture.

Study the Word of God.

Here are some ideas:

Bible Gateway: I use Bible Gateway most every day as I explore the Word of God. It allows me to read and study the Bible, offering over fifty versions to pick from. I can look things up by chapter and verse or do a search for keywords or phrases. It’s my go-to aid for Bible study.

One option I really like is the “add parallel” feature. This lets me look at a verse in up to five translations at the same time. It shows them in columns and allows me to quickly consider a verse in my five favorite versions of the Bible.

Another nice feature (though I don’t use it) is the ability to listen as a text is read. For some people this is a great way to learn, hearing a passage while reading it.

Bible Hub: Another popular online tool to study the Bible is Bible Hub. It also allows me to look up a verse. Then it displays that verse in twenty-five versions of the Bible. It’s a quick and easy way to compare the text in various translations.

Like Bible Gateway, Bible Hub also offers many other resources to aid in Bible study.

Google Search: Since I have read the Bible in many translations, I can paraphrase a lot of verses, but I can’t quote many with 100 percent accuracy. This is because my mind merges various translations together. Though both Bible Gateway and Bible Hub let me search for a specific phrase, it doesn’t help if I don’t know the exact wording.

Instead I go to the world’s most popular search engine and type in the word Bible followed by the phrase as I remember it. In almost all cases, Google provides me with the correct verse, usually with links to the passage in Bible Gateway and Bible Hub. Plus, there’s bound to be a long list of pages that teach about that passage.

YouVersion: When it comes to smart phones, there are many apps that allow us to read, study, and listen to the Bible. I use YouVersion and downloaded my preferred Bible translation. Now I carry the Bible with me everywhere I go. Many online tools and apps let us read and listen to the Bible. Click To Tweet

Other Options: Of course, there are many online tools and apps to consider. These allow us to read and listen to the Bible, study it, and dig into it using many valuable resources. Just do an online search and you’ll find more solutions than you can ever use.

There’s no ideal way to read and study the Bible. Explore these various options and discover what works best for you. It may be an app, a program, or a website. Or you might just go old school and read the Bible from a printed book.

When it comes to reading and studying the Bible, just do it.

The Bible Unveils Rich Literature to Us

The Bible contains epic stories, profound poetry, and a compelling narrative

In my continuing series of why I love the Bible, here’s reason number 10. The Bible is classic literature, that transcends the ages. The Bible has withstood the onslaught of time and the attacks of its detractors, who have sought to destroy its existence.The Bible is the Word of God, as well as classic literature.

A big portion of the Bible reveals history to us. These grand accounts tell us the story of people, with their faith and their faults propelling them forward. We see great accomplishments in the face of pressure and formidable odds, things that seem beyond our abilities. We also see some epic failures, of people making terrible decisions under questionable motives, mistakes that we would certainly never do ourselves.

These accounts teach us, warn us, and entertain us.

Consider some of the tales that virtually everyone knows, even those who have never picked up a Bible:

  • Adam and Eve, along with the serpent
  • Cain and Abel
  • Noah and the ark
  • Moses and the Ten Commandments
  • Samson and Delilah
  • Father Abraham
  • Lot and his wife at Sodom and Gomorrah
  • Queen Esther and the king
  • David and Goliath
  • Jesus, the star of the show, with his teaching, his followers, and his crucifixion
  • Armageddon, the end of the world

Most everyone knows of these tales and can recite key elements. Movies bring these stories to life, with bold color, amazing special effects, and a grand musical score. These accounts permeate our culture and our awareness.

The Bible also contains wisdom literature, an ancient poetry that teaches us what is true and wise. We read these sections for guidance and encouragement. These principles are also scattered throughout our reality, sometimes as pithy one-liners.

The Bible also contains some forward-looking sections, prophecies of what will come, some of which have since occurred and some of which we still anticipate. These accounts captivate our mind with intrigue and wonder. These other-worldly allusions send our imaginations soaring and fill us with awe. Some people study the Bible as the Word of God, and others read it as literature. Click To Tweet

The Bible contains so much great literature, well worth our time to explore it.

Some people study the Bible as the Word of God, and other people read the Bible as literature. Both approaches have value. Read the Bible. Start today.

Read the Bible in Your Favorite Translation

It doesn’t matter which version of the Bible you read, as long as you read it

People often ask me, “Which version of the Bible should I use?” My answer is quick. They should select a version of the Bible that they will actually read. An unopened Bible means nothing.

In my decades of reading and studying the Bible, I’ve enjoyed seasons where I focused on a particular version. While this gives me a pleasing variety, it makes memorization hard. Though I can paraphrase many verses, which is a compilation of the different translations I’ve read, I can quote few with complete accuracy.Read the Bible.

Here are some of the versions of the Bible I have read at some point in my life. For many of these, I have read the entire Bible in that particular translation.

King James Version (KJV): As a child the only Bible available to me was the King James Version. I struggled to comprehend its words then. I still do now. However, many of the verses that I can quote are from the KJV, no doubt due to learning them in Sunday school is a small child. Yet as soon as other versions became available, I set the KJV aside.

The KJV remains popular for three reasons. First, it’s still used today in some fundamental churches, many of which insist it’s the only version to use. Second, it’s in the public domain, which means it can be freely copied and reproduced without any fear of copyright violation. Virtually all other versions of the Bible are under copyright which restricts how they can be used. Third, is that the KJV is what is commonly quoted when a Bible verse comes up in a movie or TV show. This helps fix the KJV in our mind.

Good News for Modern Man: The first alternative I had to the KJV was Good News for Modern Man. This made the Bible accessible to me in my early teens.

The Living Bible: This was soon followed by The Living Bible, which was the first version I read from cover to cover. Multiple times. I wore out my copy, with it literally falling apart. It was my go to version for several years.

New King James Version (NKJV): For a time I attended a conservative church that entertained the NKJV as an acceptable alternative to the revered KJV. While this removed the old English words from the Bible, it only made it a bit more accessible. I never really connected with this translation.

New International Version (NIV): After a time, I settled on the New International Version of the Bible. It is both accessible and understandable. I have read the entire Bible several times in this version. It’s also the one I usually study from. Many claim the NIV is the most popular version of the Bible (though others insist it’s the KJV).

The Message (MSG): This version of the Bible is perhaps most accessible to me, making the words come alive in a way that’s easy to apply and to convict.

Amplified Bible (AMP): My first exposure to the Amplified Bible left me a bit frustrated, for it used many words to convey its thoughts. But that’s why they call it amplified. I then lacked the patience to consider its verbosity. However, later in life I begin to appreciate its amplified portions for the deeper insight they provided.

New Living Translation (NLT): This is the most understandable of all the versions listed here. But as the easiest to comprehend, it must sometimes sacrifice nuance for simplicity. For someone new to the Bible, I recommend they start with the NLT.

The New Jerusalem Bible and New American Bible (NAB): I’ve explored both these versions of the Bible for access to the books of the Apocrypha, which was removed from the Protestant Bible, including the King James Version, a couple centuries ago. Though these translations allowed me to explore the books of the Apocrypha, I missed the clarity I enjoyed in the NIV, NLT, MSG, or AMP.

Common English Bible (CEB): I’m currently reading God’s Word in the Common English Bible. I selected this version simply because it contains the Apocrypha. I studied all the books of the Apocrypha in this translation and am currently reading through the New Testament. In many cases its slightly rephrased sentences capture my attention and provides insight that I missed up until now. However, other verses provide a different sense of their meaning. But this gives me an opportunity to contemplate those words more carefully.Explore the Bible in all its fullness. Click To Tweet

I have read and studied the Bible in these versions, plus a few more. Additionally, I have read the entire Bible in the Living Bible, NIV, MSG, AMP, and NLT. And I’m presently working my way through the CEB.

I share my summary of these books and my experience reading them to encourage you to explore the Bible in all its fullness. The version you select doesn’t matter. What matters is that you find a translation you can immerse yourself into.

Explore the Bible, and let God reveal himself to you.

The Bible Tells Us Good Things Are Coming: Are You Ready?

The Bible isn’t the point, it’s the God revealed in the Bible

Hebrews chapter 10 opens with a line worthy of contemplation.

It says, that the Law—that is the Old Testament—merely hints at what we have to look forward to, of the good things God has in store for us. The law shouldn’t be our focus. Instead we should give our attention to the real things that the law points to. That would be God (Hebrews 10:1).

Though we are right to reverence the Bible and hold it in high esteem, the Bible isn’t the point. The purpose of the Bible is to direct us to God. He is who we should reverence. He is who we should stand in awe of. He is who we should worship, not the Bible or the words in it.

But the verse doesn’t stop there. It goes on to say that the Law—the Old Testament—isn’t enough. Following its rules is insufficient to perfect us as we try to draw near to God. Though the context of this verse is about the sacrifices offered every year, we can expand this thought to encompass all the rules we read about in the Old Testament.

What we see in the Old Testament isn’t enough to make us right with God. In theory, if we followed every rule perfectly every time, that would be sufficient. But no one can do that. It’s humanly impossible. We falter and fall short.The Bible isn’t a set of rules to bind us. The Bible points to the God who frees us. Click To Tweet

We must keep this in perspective. The Bible isn’t a book of laws we must follow. It’s not a set of rules to bind us. Instead, the Bible points to the God who frees us.

May it be so. May we find freedom through Jesus and shake off the slavery of legalism.

God is the point, not the Bible.

[Read through the New Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Hebrews 10, and today’s post is on Hebrews 10:1.]

Save

The Bible Provides Direction for Our Life

Read the Holy Scriptures as a guidebook more so than a rulebook

The Bible Provides Direction for Our LifeThough some people read the Bible out of a sense of obligation—and granted, sometimes we have seasons where we just need to push through—others read its words to inform their daily living, among other things.

Yet, we must exercise care in how we apply God’s Word to our lives.

Enjoy the Narrative: As we read the Bible, we are best to read it as narrative rather than a book of rules. Granted, the Law of Moses is prominent in four of the Bible’s first five books, yet we don’t follow the Law’s 613 commands anymore. As a narrative we may see the Old Testament Law as a modern-day principle to live set apart from the world and to worship God as holy.

In reading the Bible as narrative we can revel in the story of the historical records, ponder the message of the prophets, contemplate the meaning of the poetry, consider the application of the epistles (letters), and marvel in awe at the end times passages.

Consider the Context: We would be in error to pull the words of the Bible out of their historical setting and apply them literally to our modern-day situation. This is most apparent when considering the instructions in the New Testament’s various letters. Each one was intended for a certain group of people to address specific issues. If we take these targeted instructions and turn them into generalized commands, we misapply the scriptures. Plus, we will find conflict, for what Paul tells one group to do for their certain situation sometimes goes against what he tells another group to do for theirs.

Only when we consider the context of each passage can we rightly discern the truth as it relates to us today. Just because someone in the Bible did something, doesn’t mean we should do likewise. Just because a command is given to one person doesn’t mean it applies to us. Context is crucial.

Embrace the Genres: The Bible is a compilation of works by different authors, writing distinct types of literature. As such, the Bible includes biographies of Jesus, the early history of his church, a collection of letters (which address questions and problems we can only guess at), future-focused allusions, sagas of epic proportions, poetry of wisdom and poetry of prayer, and warnings from the prophets.

Each one carries a different intent, which we need to treat as such as we read. Just as it would be unwise to turn one of David’s prayer laments into a command for action, it would be likewise foolish to take what God said to one person in an history passage and apply it to us today.

For example, when Abraham’s two wives and their two sons have conflict, God ultimately tells Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away (Genesis 21:10-12). But this is merely a history of what happened, not a rule for us to follow when our family members clash.Just because the Bible describes something occurred, doesn’t mean we should do the same. Click To Tweet

Apply the Examples with Care: Scholars make a smart distinction between descriptive passages and proscriptive passages. That is, the portions of the Bible that tell us what happened do not equate with the texts that tell us what to do. Just because the Bible describes something occurred, doesn’t mean we should do the same. Though the Bible tells about spitting on people, pulling out their beards, ostracizing them, and killing them, we shouldn’t.

For example, consider the description of what Nehemiah did to men who disobeyed: “I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair (Nehemiah 13:25, NIV). We would be wrong to assume this is how we should treat people in our churches when they do wrong.

Employ Prayer: We need to read the Bible through the lens of prayer, seeking God’s Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, direct our contemplations, and inspire our conclusions. Without Holy Spirit assistance, the words of the Bible become little more than words and our reading has limited merit.

As we read the Bible, we plant seeds in our mind, but God makes these kernels of truth grow. We see this principle of God as the source of growth in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7.

Though the Bible can provide direction for our lives, we need to be wise in how we apply it.

Save

Save

The Bible Can Provide Direction for Our Lives

We can receive focus for life decisions from the Word of God

The Bible Can Provide Direction for Our LivesThe Bible offers much for us, assuming we bother to tap into its treasure-trove of knowledge. One of the Bible’s uses is to provide direction for our lives.

To realize the Bible’s insight as applicable to our lives, however, we need to read it, study it, and discern it. Looking for quick answers usually doesn’t work out so well.

Be wary of these ill-advised shortcuts and follow the one reliable technique:

Random Verse Selection: You’ve likely heard of a person, desperate for answers, who holds up their Bible and demands, “God speak to me.” Then they open the Word of God to a random page and read the first verse they see.

Sometimes they actually receive an applicable verse that offers comfort, confirmation, or instruction. However, the selected verse often provides confusion or a laughable text, given their situation. This is an especially dangerous method when making critical life decisions.

Asking God to direct us to a random passage and faithfully expecting him to do so is not something we should avoid, but we should exercise great care if we do this. And it should never be a regular practice.

Word Studies: Looking up verses in the Bible that contain a certain word or phrase can provide an incredible amount of insight. I do this often and am amazed to see how words connect throughout the Bible, with one verse illuminating another.

Yet, we need to be careful with word studies. When used wrongly or indiscriminately, this in-depth analysis can lead us to bad theology or unwarranted conclusions.

For example, assume we’re doing a word study on marriage. Some scholars place extra emphasis on a word’s first appearance in the Bible, claiming it should guide our understanding of subsequent appearances.

The first mention of a form of the word marriage in the Bible occurs in Genesis 4:19, as in, “Lamech married two women.” The implication equates marriage with polygamy, hardly a worthy conclusion. Be careful of word studies, especially when the goal is to use the results to make a decision.

Proof Texting: An extension of word studies is proof texting. Proof texting involves taking various verses from different sections of the Bible and linking them together to form a conclusion, often a predetermined one. It uses the Bible to justify an agenda.

The problem when doing this is the likelihood of taking verses out of context to prove a point. This may result in applying a verse literally, when the context is figurative or even rhetorical. It could involve looking at the words of an ancient work and forcing them into a modern context they were never meant to address.

Just as with word studies, the concept behind proof texting can produce valuable results. However, if we don’t exercise extreme care, the more likely outcome is manipulating the Bible to say what we want it to say.The better solution is to follow a regular Bible reading plan. Click To Tweet

An Intentional Study Plan: As an alternative to the three above approaches, the better solution is to follow a regular Bible reading plan. This might involve reading the Bible through in one year. Another option is spending an extended time studying the words in one book of the Bible or the writings of one author, such as Luke, John, or Paul.

As we read and study the Bible, God will speak to us. He will reveal truth. And since we’re following a preconceived plan, we protect ourselves from interjecting our own agenda into what we select to read, which can easily happen when we don’t have a plan and follow our own whims on a haphazard basis.

The Bible can give us valuable direction for making life decisions but only when we read it wisely and don’t try to use it to meet our own agenda.

Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible

Many streams of Christianity include the books of the Apocrypha as part of their canon of scripture

Christians Should Consider the Entire BibleThe book of Revelation ends with a severe threat to anyone who would add to it, that God will afflict that person with the plagues mentioned therein.

Though the warning clearly applies to the book of Revelation—“the words of the prophecy of this scroll”—some people, even preachers who should know better, wrongly apply this omen to the words of the entire Bible instead of just Revelation.

Adding to their error, they proceed to criticize the Roman Catholic Church (as well as other streams of Christianity) for “adding to the Bible.” Shame on these preachers; they don’t know their history. It was Protestants who removed content from the Bible, but this didn’t happen five hundred years ago during the beginning of the Protestant Reformation but more recently: about two centuries ago. Until then the books of the Apocrypha were part of the King James Version, the venerable KJV.

Yes, you may be shocked to know the original King James Version of the Bible (1611) included the Apocrypha. About two hundred years later the books of the Apocrypha were removed from the KJV. (This officially started in 1796 but took until the mid-1800s to effectively occur). This news stunned me and angered me that people had removed part of the Bible, lessening my ability to more fully comprehend God in the process.

Fundamentalists call the four hundred year gap in their Bible, between the Old and New Testaments, “the silent years” because they believe God had nothing to say or do. In reality, the Apocrypha clearly shows God at work during this time, but these fundamentalists don’t know this truth because they’re unwilling to consider what God had to say.

I’ve read and appreciate the seven books, along with additional text for two others, that Catholics have in their Bible and Protestants don’t. I wish I had encountered these amazing words much sooner. The books of the Apocrypha were part of the original KJV Bible. Click To Tweet

I recently received a copy of the text removed from the KJV Bible (Apocrypha, Authorized King James Version). I expected it to include seven books. Instead there were fourteen. Now I’m twice as mad about what was taken away from today’s Protestant Bible and its sixty-six books.

But that’s not all. The canon of the Ethiopia Bible (The Apocrypha: Including Books from the Ethiopic Bible) contains even more. This Bible has eighty-one books in all, fifteen more than the Protestant’s sixty-six. I’m currently reading these books of the greater Bible. This will help me better understand God, just as other parts of the greater church of Jesus are able to do.

(There are also other historical writings, contemporary to the contents of the Bible, but since no stream of Christianity has included them in their canon of scripture, I’m content to follow their lead. Though I’m a bit curious about what these nonbiblical texts have to say, I’ll ignore them and hide only God’s word in my heart, Psalm 119:11.)

The Bible provides the foundation of my faith. As a Christian, part of the universal church of Jesus, I contend we should consider all of the words any part of Christianity includes in their canon of scripture. As I do this, I don’t expect my core theology to change, but I do expect it to expand into a more holistic comprehension of God.

Don’t dismiss the words of the Apocrypha. If you’re a serious student of the Bible, then you need to consider the whole Bible.

Save

Save