A Bible Verse Out of Context is a Pre-text and Misrepresentation

SORTING OUT CONFUSION

We were sent an article by a friend via email.  The topic was the events in the Middle East and End Times.

With so many changes over the entire globe in what seems like a blink of an eye, should we be concerned for what might well be biblical truth unfolding before our very eyes?

AN ARTICLE ON THE INTERNET

We refer you to the original article HERE.  (title: MAHDI TO RETURN BY 2016, FOLLOWED BY JESUS?)

The article includes a street view in Iran with an image of Jesus walking behind the Islamic Mahdi. This may be unsettling to Christians and perhaps even to many Jewish citizens inside and outside of Israel. What is the Mahdi and what impact does this figure have on the news coming tomorrow? The article says the Mahdi comes soon. How can we put this in context with the present events of today?

A VIDEO ON END TIMES

To bring the entire topic into context, the article refers to a video you can obtain on DVD. But in the age of the Internet the video is also on YouTube in sections (1 to 7). The first section is linked here, but you can visit YouTube to access all seven sections if you are interested.

The article noted above also contains a link to a web site promoting Islam. In taking a look there we see a comprehensive presentation on Islam. Interesting as a source, but what might a discerning mind discover there?

DIGGING DEEPER ON HOW SCRIPTURE IS TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT

Many in congregations across the globe, those that make an effort to study the Bible, know that word play and taking Scripture verses out of context leads to misrepresntation. What is worse, few actually go back to the original Greek or Hebrew words to glean the original meaning that sometimes is muddled by translation to another language, including English.

When we went to a section of the web site on Islam that claimed that the Bible has references that reveal the true nature to Christianity, and thus the implication is a faith something less than the beliefs and tenants of Islam, we were curious to see if anything is out of context.

A real study of Scripture comes by reading what comes before and after a verse. That puts meaning in context. Taking a verse alone first risks being a pre-text that leads to prejudice, but worse, if word order is reversed or convoluted, the entire meaning can be shifted.

Let’s look at just one example the Islamic web page cites to apparently represent the true nature to Christianity (the bold and text format are copied from the original page):

6. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

Notice how the wording suggests you need to (actively “does”) hate your family in order to be a Christian! But move the word not to after the word hate (and remove the ‘does’ from ‘does not’) and the whole meaning shifts.  Looking at the original Greek the wording comes like so:

“…And to him crowds many; and turning He said them, If anyone comes to Me and not hates the father of him and the mother, an wife, and the children, and the brothers, and the sisters, besides and even the of himself soul, not he is able of Me disciple to be …”

The word ‘does’ is not in the Greek.

Many English translations state: “If anyone comes to me and hates not his father …”

What is the real intent of the Scripture verse?

The problem is the Islamic web page wants you to believe Christianity is a religion of hate—even to the point of hating your own family in order to follow Jesus.  But the entire context of the Gospel speaks to loving your neighbor, your enemy, even Muslims (!) and understanding that our lives are a time of sojourning on earth to something eternal. And Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, is the way, the truth, and essentially the only door to a relationship with the Father in heaven (John 14:6). Jesus also claims and demonstrates He is God (proof in that only He fulfills the Hebrew Bible’s prophecies, by performing miracles, by teaching in ways that are universally understood through parables, and yes, He came in a man-suit to walk amongst us, to be the ultimate mediator for sin and a way to salvation), which places Him above the status of being a prophet only (which is indeed one of his array of characteristics, but not sole role).

Let’s put the single verse back into context.  The requires reading the broader text all around the one verse. We will defer to someone who has long commented on the biblical text to a wide radio audience … J. Vernon McGee comments on Luke 14:25-27 by saying: “These verses are simply saying that we should put God first. A believer’s devotedness to Jesus Christ should be such that, by comparison, it looks as if everything else is hated. All terms which define affections are comparative.”  (see: “Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee,” 1983)

This point is further affirmed by a following verse 33: “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” And so it is not hate, but to dislike all by comparison to placing all behind us as we join in relationship with Messiah.

As John Lennox puts it: “They must be ready to “hate” -— that is, give second place to and, if need be, let go — all else …” (‘Against the Flow,’ page 150)

Examined in yet another way, as Lennox puts it: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to make up their own minds as to whether they were going to put God first.” (‘Against the Flow,’ page 147) And after putting God above all, even their own lives, they were thrown into a furnace. But unlike burning for martyrdom’s sake, faith brings life not death or a false promise of paradise. The God of Israel and Messiah are all about life, not hate, not death, or persecution … because life is an opportunity to choose Him. Anyone who removes that opportunity from you is not of God.

The real rub with missing the context and meaning of the biblical text is a misrepresentation. If you follow the links on this page you may well go on to study other Bible verses that at first appear to make one point, but upon further study tells us something more consistent with the message in the entire Bible. hatred of family is hardly the message of the text. In fact, the entire Hebrew and Greek body of Scripture are designed to point to Yeshua and His role as the Jewish Messiah. To disagree is to take something out of the context of the entire Bible! The entire text points to the God of Israel and what He will do through the nation Israel. Is that any surprise? Might that take us back to the article, video, and topic of the end time referenced above.

Please think. Discern before jumping to conclusions.

Director, WindowView.org

Harmony Area Thesis at WindowView

Starting Fall 2014, all Window Areas have updated Overview and Thesis pages. For the Harmony Area the following thesis now appears with a detailed explanation:

Thesis: We exist for a relationship with God—should we choose—for both Jew and Gentile, the choice is ours to make. The evidence in the Scriptures is designed specifically to make this one main point.

The overarching theme of the WindowView is “Science and Scripture in Harmony.” This itself is a thesis statement. This theme implies the reality we humans experience is truthful from both a scientific and a scriptural—evidence based—perspective. Two spheres of evidence contribute to our understanding of the present and the future.

Visit the Introduction, Overview, and Thesis pages for the full WindowView!

Director, WindowView.org

Christmas? Hebrew Scripture Identifies Source of Messiah

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” Therefore He shall give them up, Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Then the remnant of His brethren Shall return to the children of Israel. And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the Lord, In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth; … (Micah 5:2-4 NKJV)

And how is this confirmed from writings of old.
Answer this riddle!

Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know? (Proverbs 30:4 NKJV)

One day a third of Israel’s peoples, a remnant, will declare His name to all nations.

Director, WindowView.org

Window Related Links:
Messiah’s timeline
Types and Shadows of Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures
Messiah Links from the Tanach
Yeshua in Susya (video)

Life’s Data as well as Bible Data is Preserved

The WindowView theme of “Science and Scripture in Harmony” comes with some key reminders. We keep pointing to information as evidence. What stands over time tends to be data or information that is foundational and truthful. Depending on how you approach information, one might have to consider all is a product of the initial cause for existence. So, if that cause is from God, what of the reliability of longstanding evidence from science and Scripture?

Here is an example. For all the commotion about evolution, with the implication of ongoing macro-evolution over time (change over time), we have examples of stasis (relative unchanging sameness over time). That is, there are species that have existed millions of years without changing over time. The data in this case are the DNA codes within such organisms. The relatively unchanged form, function, and existence tell us evolution is not necessarily a driver for change. Use of the word evolution in this context imparts a process in action at all times—this makes evolution a driving force. Does that exist?. Some suggest that only micro-evolution is adequately demonstrated. Our point here is simple, science information exists to tell us there is a tendency to stay the same without change unless driven to do so. And when there is change … a return back to an original form can and does occur to demonstrate a tendency toward sameness and not branching evermore to something else. This is not to say apparent branching is not apparent, but then the evidence of transitional steps eludes us. Claims of such evidence is often met with complications. To consider the reasons why brings continued debate.

To all the above we think there is a note of key importance. The body of information that supports life is sufficient without change. The assumption of continual change and randomness is an assumption based on short, not long, time frames. The net message is one of a built in stability of lifeforms to bring life forward over time. The evidence is the “living fossils” that have little to no change.

Further, the vital point to a look at how the DNA codes have supported existence to all life is itself a bit of evidence for the complexity and awesome nature to there being an existence … at all! The testimony from life to those of us alive today is that life is rather incredible and perhaps a key testimony to why we exist … at all! Stasis, over time, provides an opportunity for multiple generations to come to the same testimony before moving on.

So let us consider another form of information and relative stasis over time. Consider a validation of another key source of data and the testimony that evidence provides … us all! From a monthly electronic letter I have lifted a few words … these are written by someone whose profession involves translation of ancient manuscripts:

“As we sometimes do, we talked about the Dead Sea Scrolls, commenting on how these ancient manuscripts have helped our understanding of the Bible. For one thing, the scrolls confirm the antiquity and authenticity of the traditional Hebrew text upon which we base translations; for another, the scrolls help us to determine the best text to follow in places where other important biblical manuscripts differ slightly from each other. In short, the scrolls help us keep translations accurate.”

“The bigger story is that throughout all generations, the Lord has preserved his word. He continues to do so today, even as the Bible is being translated into more languages than ever before.”

Life has sustained DNA translations to provide a basis for our lives to be a witness to the awesome nature of our existence. And as the Bible reminds us, there will be a fullness in time where everyone alive will have the opportunity to see the Bible’s testimony delivered, in respective language, to us all. When that state of fullness is reached, we come to a cosmic turning point with no return to earlier time. At that point some move into a continual relationship with the author of life and others do not … this is the final portal from here to the eternal. Which way will you be going?

Director, WindowView.org