Roadblocks to Interpreting The Bible Accurately # 4

The fourth obstacle to an accurate interpretation of the Bible is forgetting that the Bible is literature.

Many, in a bid to spiritualize the Bible, forget to acknowledge that it contains figures of speech.

The Bible is spiritual, but it is a literary work NONETHELESS. This means it contains figurative expressions. The Christian should therefore read his/her Bible knowing figures of speech and literary devices would be found therein.

A major problem arises when we read the Bible too literally. For example, do you know that Jesus taught us to chop off our body parts?

Mark 9:43, 45, 47 (NKJV)

43 If YOUR HAND causes you to sin, CUT IT OFF. It is better for you to enter into life MAIMED, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched.

45 And if YOUR FOOT causes you to sin, CUT IT OFF. It is better for you to enter life LAME, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched.

47 And if YOUR EYE causes you to sin, PLUCK IT OUT. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with ONE EYE, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.

The above stated conclusion (on dismembering ourselves) is the consequence of reading the Bible in a hyper-literal manner.

Now, did Jesus expect that we LITERALLY pluck out/cut off our organs? Definitely not! Jesus’ statements (in Mark 9:43, 45 & 47) contain a figure of speech known as an hyperbole (which is an exaggeration to prove a point).

Jesus is simply saying: “Remove every obstacle from your life that causes you to sin,” not referring to a literal amputation.

Another example is to help further illustrate this point is Luke 14:26. Are you aware that Jesus told you to hate your family?

Luke 14:26 (NKJV)

26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not HATE his FATHER and MOTHER, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.

Here’s an easy way to understand this: the word “hate” in the Hebrew thought could also “to show less devotion to.” It is a manner of speaking (Hebraism), well understood by the Jews (see Mal 1:3).

Simply put, following Jesus means showing Him MORE COMMITMENT than you show to anyone else. That is ALL Jesus seeks to intimate here (Luke 14:26), not to literally hate people.

Thus, the Christian must not become TOO literal with the pages of Scripture, so much so that figures of speech can no longer be readily discerned.

(For a better understanding of figures of speech and their usage in the Bible, you may get the Bible Resource “Figures of Speech Used In the Bible” by Pastor Josh.)


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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