Commonly Misused Verses

#1   2 Timothy 2:15-16   (For the full passage, read 2:14-26)

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

What does it mean to rightly divide the word of truth? It means that interpreting the Bible, understanding the truth of God's Word, must be done correctly. The Bible is a large collection of books that covers a wide variety of topics. It is very easy to take a verse out of context and make it appear to say just about anything. But that's not the proper way to use Scripture. Instead, especially when reading verses that are difficult to understand, we are to use other verses from the Bible to help us understand the difficult verses. Here, we will take a close look at three commonly misused Bible verses.

#2   Matthew 7:1   (For the full passage, read 7:1-5)

"Judge not, that you be not judged."

Many people who hate God love to use this verse, especially when Christians tell them they're sinning. But you can't understand what God is saying in the Bible by just taking one short verse and running with it. You have to look at the context (the surrounding verses), as well as other verses in the Bible that cover the same topic. If you read beyond this verse, the context becomes very clear. Jesus is speaking here and He doesn't tell us not to judge; rather, He is warning against being hypocritical. You are not to judge others while acting like you are perfect or like you are better than others.

#3   John 7:24   (For the full passage, read 7:14-24)

"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

Many people don't realize that Jesus actually commands us to judge others--but to do so properly, judging according to God's commands, and not simply based on our own thoughts or opinions. We are to use God's Word, the Bible, to properly judge whether something is sinful or not. Christians are also told to judge the fruit of others who claim to be Christians, to see whether or not they appear to have evidence of true salvation.

#4   Revelation 3:20   (For the full passage, read 3:14-22)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

This verse is commonly used with regard to salvation, picturing Jesus standing at the door of our hearts, knocking, begging to come in. But that is a gross misrepresentation of Jesus Christ because, if you read this verse in context, that is not what it is about at all. This is a portion of a letter written to a church and is not addressing the salvation of individual people. Misusing this verse makes Jesus appear weak when He is not.

#5   Luke 13:24-25   (For the full passage, read 13:22-30)

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from...' "

We don't open and close the door to Jesus. God Himself opens the door when He chooses to. This is just one passage of Scripture that makes that fact abundantly clear (another good passage to read is John 6:35-44). God opens the door to His children, and once they are in, He closes it. He will not open the door for anyone else. Most importantly, notice who actually does the knocking and begging--not Jesus, but us.

#6   Romans 10:13   (For the full passage, read 10:1-13)

For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

We must read all of Romans chapter 10 to understand the context of this verse. This is actually a quote from Joel 2:32, and both Joel 2 and Romans 10 are about salvation going beyond just the Jews and out to the Gentiles. In the Old Testament, it was mainly Israelites who were saved--but now, the gospel call goes out to everyone. Even Joel 2:32 makes it clear that we call out to the Lord only after He calls His children.

#7   Matthew 7:21   (For the full passage, read 7:13-29)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."

Simply saying "Lord, save me" or praying the sinner's prayer doesn't save anybody. A true Christian will have a sincere desire to serve and obey God's commands that we find in the Bible, not to earn salvation, but in gratitude of the salvation we've been given.