Considering God's Word

Commonly Misinterpreted Verses

   The following verses are commonly misinterpreted either due to lack of understanding of the original scripture (and trying to translate it into a way that is understable or makes sense), or translating them in such a way that fits with the bias, opinion, or held theology of the translator.  As I add more verses, I will try to remember to put them in the order they come in the Bible.

Gen 11:4  "And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad up the face of the whole earth."

    It should have said "with the heavens in the top;" but not making sense to the translators, they rendered it "whose top may reach unto heaven;"  It made sense to them, but didn't convey what was done.  We have since learned that ziggerauts (towers) in those days were made with depictions of the heavens in the top.  These were used for both astrologoical purposes combined with worship, as well as astronomical purposes to study the movements of the actual planets & stars.

Ge 15:5  "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be."

This is a different subject than the promise of many descendants to Abraham in Ge 22:17 "...I will multipy your descendants as the stars of the heaven..." Ge 15:5 is speaking of the message in the original star names that spoke of Christ and his ministry.   The word "tell" meant to recognize this message.  The word "number" was not speaking of counting the stars  (as some translate), but of putting them in numerical order, recognizing which constellation of circle of the 12 signs of the zodiac (mazzaroth, Job 38:32) was the one to begin the story with.  (It is Virgo, the virgin, btw., speaking of the virgir birth of Christ.)  The word "seed" is not plural referring to descents (as the NKJV renders it), but singular referring to Christ, as is plain to see in Gal 3:16 "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."

Psa 37:4  "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."

   This is not speaking of "wanting carnal or materialistic things, delighting in the Lord, and then the Lord giving them to you."  This is speaking of delighting in the Lord, and the Lord giving you godly, spiritual desires.  You see, it is a matter of order.   In the first interpretation the desires come first and are from the old nature.  In the second the desires comes after delighting in the Lord, and they are placed in you by the Lord.

Psa 118:24  "This is the day which the Lord hath made..."

    This verse is regularly used to speak of "today," meaning whatever current day we presently are experiencing, being 4-16-16 as I write this.  But that is not what this verse is speaking of.  This verse is speaking of the time period in which the stone (Jesus, Eph 2:20) which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.  With his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus is the foundation stone of our faith to make us right with God.

SoS 2:1  "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys."

   Modern song writers and other have this verse as speaking of Christ, but the speaker is actually the lover of Solomon.

Jn 4:54  "This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee."

  This is not the second miracle that Jesus did, period, but that he did after coming out of Judaea, where he had done many miracles.  Changing the water into wine was the first miracle, at Cana of Galilee, Jn 2:11.  Now read what he did in Judaea.  Jn 2:23  "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did."  Jn 3:2b tells us what Nicodemus said regarding that time in Judaea as well.  "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him."  John focuses on seven of the miracles Jesus did (eight if you count Jn 6:21 which says "and immediately the ship was at the land...").  Other verses in John that speak of the many miracles Jesus did are Jn 6:2; 7:31; 9:16;11:47; and 12:37.

1Co 13:10  "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."

This word "perfect" in Strong's Concordance, in the list of Greek words is No. 5046, transliterated "tel'-i-os"; from 5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.);   completeness (ment. or mor.):  rendered in KJV "perfect.

    There are more, but basically two common ways of interpreting what that which is "perfect" is speaking of.  (The right way, and the wrong way, of course.)  Some say it is referring to Jesus (who of course is perfect), referring to his second coming to earth in glory.  The word in the Greek speaks of that which is "complete" (or finished, like a cake or painting.)  It seems much more reasonable to me that this is referring to the written scriptures being "complete" rather than to Jesus' second coming.  To make it mean "Jesus' second coming" is stretching it, and more vague if it refers to "Jesus' second coming" than any other reference to his second coming, or to Jesus in any other way.  Referring to "the completion of the Bible" seems so much more acceptable in the light of church history, and church function.

   As we look at the use of the same Greek word in Eph 4:12-14 and 2Ti 3:17 we see it speaking of the maturing of Christians.  Though Luke 2:52 tells us that Jesus went through a physical maturing process as a human, we would be wrong to think that the glorified, Lord Jesus Christ, some two thousand years after being glorified after his resurrection, would have a word used for him that speaks of maturing to completeness.   On the other hand we could speak of the scriptures "maturing to completeness" as one original book/epistle after the other of the New Testament is being written until it is "complete" with the final book of scripture, Revelation, being written.

[See the page on Controversial Subjects on this subject as well.]  

1Co 14:39  "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues."

    In the light of what I have written above on 1Co 13:10, this verse in 1Co 14:39 was well and good for the Corinthians it was written to before the New Testament was completely written; but when it was finished the use of tongues would cease as prophesied in 1Co 13:8 and should be done away as stated in v.10.  2Ti 2:15 should come into play here:  "...rightly dividing the Word of God."

Eph 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

This is a commonly misinterpreted verse by Calvinists.  They would say that "the gift" is faith, and that one could not possibly be saved unless God gave them the faith to be saved.  Faith is not the gift that is spoken of here, though.  Salvation is the gift.  For by grace are ye SAVED through faith; and that SALVATION is not of yourselves; that SALVATION  is the gift of God;  Eph 2:9 doesn't mean to say "Your faith is not of works," but that your SALVATION is not of works.

Phil 1:6  "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"  

    I believe there is only one accurate interpretation for each verse in the Bible, but that one or more other applications of that verse can be used.  Phil 1:6 may fall into that category.  It is a verse that is commonly used to teach that once the Holy Spirit has worked salvation into your life, He will continue to keep you saved and progressing in practical sanctification until Jesus returns to reign on earth.  Though this is a truth, what Phil 1:6 is mainly referring to is that Paul believed that the work of the Holy Spirit to move the Philippians to support Paul financially in the work of the ministry would continue until Jesus returned, which Paul at that time expected to be in his own lifetime.

Phil 2:5  "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

Some use this verse to speak of Christ being in one, the spirit of Christ being in one, the concept of Christ communicating with one because of this.  While it is true that all these things are true for the Christian, this is not a verse to be used to back that up.  They should be backed up with such verses as Jn 14:23; 17:26, and Col 1:27,28.  Phil 2:5 is speaking of what was said in v. 3 (lowliness of mind), the humility of Christ is what is being spoken of in v.5, just as it is in v. 7 and 8.

Rev 3:20  "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me."

    The "application" of this verse has greatly been used to tell those who have just been presented with the gospel that Jesus is spiritually knocking at the door of their heart, waiting for an invitational prayer from them to him inviting him to come into their heart and save them.    I have no problem with the use of this application, but the interpretation of this verse is different.  Jesus is speaking to an entire church (the Laodican church), not an individual.  The church is made up of people that are already saved.  These were saved, but spiritually lukewarm (v.16).  It is not their salvation that is in poor shape, but the way they are living.  Their eternity is not in question, but their effective service for God.  They have a secured relationship that will never change or be lost, but their communion and fellowship with God is not doing well.  Jesus is wanting to restore and develop that fellowship so is nearby knocking, and will draw close to each individual that will open up to him.  James is speaking to Christians when he says "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw night ot you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye double-minded."  Jas 4:8.