Earlier this week I was reminded how two believers can read the same passage of Scripture and yet each offer a different interpretation of what they’d read. While I realize there are many interpretations and versions of the Bible, I’ve noticed that the main difference between versions is word choice: each version arrives at the same conclusion but just takes a different route to get there.
But if the content is roughly the same between versions of the Bible, why do believers walk away with different meanings of a verse or passage? I believe there are several reasons:
Lack of dependence on the Holy Spirit: The apostle Paul clearly teaches that we are to rely on the Holy Spirit, whose work is to illuminate, reveal, and guide us into all truths (1 Corinthians 2).
Immaturity: Failure to mature as Christians leads to misunderstandings and confusion. Paul addresses this subject in 1 Corinthians 3:2-3.
Pride: Failure to humble ourselves, to listen to the Holy Spirit, and to accept biblical truths is often due to pride, which affects all areas of a Christian’s walk (Proverbs 11:2, 16:18).
Ignorance of the whole context: Some believers pull out certain verses of Scripture to use for their own advantage, to avoid confrontation, or to shift blame away from themselves. Christians should examine the verse’s complete context to better understand what the author is trying to convey.
Ignoring historical background: When trying to gain a better understanding of Scripture, we must have some awareness of the language, life, and society of the times, and of the circumstances in which the book was written.
Lack of training: Peter warns of ignorant people who misinterpret Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). Only by constantly studying and immersing ourselves in God’s word will we be able to properly understand the meaning of Scripture.
These are just a few reasons for varying interpretations of Scripture. But if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, if we can humble ourselves and remove our prideful attitudes, and if we agree to constantly be immersed in God’s word, then clarity and understanding will coincide with our growth as Christians.
Remember, it’s up to us to keep pursuing the understanding of Scripture and couple it with pure, righteous living.
Donna Hughey is an award winning Christian author and columnist. She lives in Crescent City.