Welcome to the Bible: Chapters and Verses Bring Convenience and Challenges ~ Part 2 ~ Context Matters

Welcome to the Bible: Chapter & Verse Part 2 - Context Matters (www.JeanWilund.com)


God Inspired the Bible. Man Added Chapters and Verses, And a Few Challenges: Loss of Context.

I’m thankful man added chapters and verses to the Bible. I’m also thankful I learned about the challenges that come with them.

Last time we looked at the first of three challenges that come with breaking up the divine text into chapters and verses. (There may be more challenges, but these are the three that stood out to me.)

Today we’ll look at the second of those challenges.

1. The Bible’s chapters and verses are handy man-inspired tools, not God-inspired division.

2. Man-inspired chapters and verses can lead to misunderstanding the God-inspired text through loss of context.

3. Chapters and verses can encourage snacking on Scripture rather than dining.


Loss of Context

Chapters and verses cause us to pause.

Sometimes those man-made pauses indicate a change in thought, time, or events. But not always.

Remember, originally, the first word in each chapter or verse was just the next word in the book or letter. They weren’t written with the mindset that they’d be broken up into chapters or verses.

When studying a passage, we need to look before and after the passage to avoid misunderstandings.

BIBLE STUDY TIP: If a sentence begins with a “look-back word” like “And” or “Therefore,” be sure to look back at what came before it.

BIBLE STUDY TIP: When you see the word “therefore,” ask yourself what the “therefore” is there for?”


Example #1: Colossians 2:21

Forbidden or Free

“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” ~ Colossians 2:21

Colossians 2:21 seems to teach us what we shouldn’t do.

Until we read the verse right before it.

“Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules.” ~ Colossians 2:20

Rather than Paul encouraging physical self-denial, he’s actually preaching freedom from man-made rules—freedom in Christ.


Example #2: Luke 21

The Poor Widow — Commendation or Condemnation?

And He [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4, NASB).

Most teachings I’ve heard on Luke 21:1-4 never mention the context. They don’t even seem to consider chapter 20 or the verses after Luke 21:4.

The focus most often falls on the poor widow’s generous giving, teaching that Jesus is commending the widow and instructing us to give as generously.

But, when we read this passage in context, we can see an alternative meaning.

Luke 20:45-47: And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

Verse 45 begins with the “look-back” word “And,” so we need to keep looking back to get the full meaning.

From the beginning of chapter 20, certain religious leaders attempted to trick Jesus into condemning Himself. They came to Him under the pretense of wanting to understand truth, but Jesus exposed the true motive of their hearts.

Jesus warned His disciples of the leaders’ evil intent and ways, mentioning they “devour widows’ houses.”

It’s right after these warnings that Jesus pointed out the poor widow as she placed her last coins into the temple box. She gave all she had left to survive on.

Jesus commented only on what she gave. Nothing more about her. Nothing about her attitude. Only that she gave all she had left to survive on.

Then He immediately talked about the Temple and warned about being led astray by false teachers and leaders.

And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. ~ Luke 21:5-8


Two Interpretations

Is Luke 21:1-4 a teaching on giving generously or about abuse of the poor by religious leaders?

Is Jesus commending the poor widow or is He condemning the disreputable leaders?

I’ll leave it to the Biblical scholars to debate the correct interpretation of this passage. My point is that when we look at passages in isolation rather than context, it can lead us to see the message of the passage differently.

For more insight check out these links:
Does God Wants Us To Give Everything by Grace To You
Abusing the Poor by Grace to You
Jesus and the Widow’s Offering by Bible.org
Giving, It’s a Good Thing by Calvary Baptist Church
Luke Part 45: Games People Play Part 3 by Matt Chandler
The Widow and Her Two Coins: Praise or Lament? by Boston Bible Geeks


Context Matters

The division of chapters and verses makes studying and memorizing the Bible much easier, but remember to read it in context.

REMEMBER: Man-inspired chapters and verses can lead to misunderstandings. Read Scripture in context, not in isolation.


(For more information check out Don Stewart’s article Why Is the Bible Divided into Chapters and Verses? on www.blueletterbible.com.)

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Enoch Walked With God & Had a Methuselah Moment — You Can, Too! (Part 2)

Enoch walked with God & had a Methuselah Moment (You Can, Too) Part 2 via www.JeanWilund.com

My Methuselah Moment

Ever had a Magic Moment, the kind that the Drifters sing about?

I have. But even better than a Magic Moment is a Methuselah Moment a moment in time when your walk with God changes forever. 

By that I mean, you walk with God. If you walk away from God, that moment would more likely be considered a Gomer Moment. I’ll have to write about that another time.

My first Methuselah Moment came when I first heard the Gospel message. I’d grown up hearing about Jesus. I celebrated His birthday every December and His resurrection every spring. I loved Him because every time we celebrated something for Him, I was the one who got presents.

Finally, in 1973, God drew me to Himself and led me to a summer youth camp where I heard the Gospel for the first time. I embraced it and began walking with God.

My next Methuselah Moment came when I saw The Red Thread — the presence of Jesus and/or His Work woven from eternity past into eternity future. 

The moment I saw a timeline showing Jesus woven through God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation, I was stunned. It was like I’d found the missing piece of Christianity that made Christianity stop seeming so hard. It changed my walk with God. Forever.

I saw God in a new light. Actually, in more light — as if a veil had lifted. I saw His heartbeat — Jesus.

I saw that Christianity isn’t about living a certain way and then going to heaven. It’s about Jesus. Everything from eternity past into eternity future is about Jesus Christ and His amazing love for the Father and the world. It all starts and ends with Jesus.

When I say it’s all about Jesus, don’t think I’m leaving out God or the Holy Spirit. They’re the inseparable three-in-one.

From first to last, it’s all about Christ, who lives to glorify God and is revealed by the Spirit.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
~ Revelation 22:13

Enoch’s Methuselah Moment

We don’t know what God said to Enoch, but I wonder if his Methuselah Moment came when he saw The Red Thread. There’s no written record that he “saw Jesus threaded through God’s plan for the world,” but we know from Jude 14-15 that he prophesized about Jesus’ Second Coming. And we know Enoch’s ancestors and descendants saw The Red Thread, even though the full reality of Jesus’ first coming remained a mystery.

Adam and Eve received the promise that Jesus would come to save the world from sin (Genesis 3:15).

Abel discovered the importance of the right sacrifice, which points to Jesus, the perfect and final sacrifice (Genesis 4:3-7; Hebrews 11:4).

After Enoch, his grandson Noah experienced the joy of being saved due to being counted as righteous through faith (Genesis 7:1; Hebrews 11:7).

Surely, as Enoch walked with God for 300 years, he came to know God’s heartbeat — that God would bring everything into unity under Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10) and give Him first place in everything (Colossians 1:18).

Walk Like Enoch

Enoch had a unique relationship with God in those days, but we have something he didn’t. We have God’s Word in written form — God’s Word, the Bible.

If we dig into God’s Word — and let it dig into us — it will change us.

To walk with God like Enoch, we must walk with the Word.

One of the best ways I’ve found to walk with the Word is The Red Thread Way.

I’ll post about that next, so please check back. 


Share this post and check back for our next look at Enoch’s Walk with God & Methuselah Moment. If you missed Part 1, Click Here.

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Wait. What? — Need Help Understanding the Bible?

Leiann Walther and Strong Hands Enterprises Helps You Understand the Bible via www.JeanWilund.com

“I’ve tried to read the Bible before, but I just don’t understand it.” 

How many times have you heard that? Or said it?

I get it. An IKEA instruction manual can sometimes make more sense than the Bible.

Sometimes. 

But never fear. God has not left us to decipher it by ourselves. Not only does He send His Holy Spirit to guide us in understanding, He’s also gifted many men and women with the ability to teach.

It’s important to note, however, that not every teacher out there has been gifted by God. Some teaching is just plain wrong. (Think Prosperity Gospel–Word of Faith teaching.)

But there are many wonderful teachers as well. Websites and podcasts can be our friends. Your local pastor can be even better. And a solid Bible study teacher is the cherry on top.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite Bible teachers, Leiann Walther. Actually, I’ve already featured her before: 

So You Need to Teach A Bible Study but You Have No Idea How?
“Able to Teach” to the Rescue!

I’m featuring Leiann again because she’s recently updated her website, Strong Hands Enterprises, with even more great resources to help you understand the Bible.   

On Strong Hands Enterprises, Leiann offers

Audio teachings
Handouts
Downloadable studies
Resource suggestions
And much more

Great resources for both us learners and teachers. Check it out:

Strong Hands Enterprises


Leiann Walther with Strong Hands Enterprises via www.JeanWilund.comLeiann Walther is the author of many Bible studies and devotions. 

She received a Bachelors degree in Education & Bible and her Masters in Curriculum & Instruction from Columbia International University. She’s taught the Bible for over 30 years. 

For more information about additional seminars by Leainn Walther and Strong Hands Enterprises, click this link: Strong Hands Enterprises.


 

Help others understand the Bible, too, by sharing this post. Thanks!

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Leiann Walther and Strong Hands Enterprises Helps You Understand the Bible via www.JeanWilund.com




Sick of WHAT, Give me WHO — Reading the Bible for Transformation, Not Information

Reading the Bible seem boring or discouraging? Start looking for the WHO (the Lord), not the WHAT (the rules). I was sick of the WHAT until I found the WHO. Reading the Bible for Transformation, Not Information via www.jeanwilund.com

Sick of What. Give me Who.

I stared at my Bible and thought, I really should read it, but I don’t want to.

Tired of being reminded of all the commands I’d break before bedtime — before breakfast if I’m being honest — I sighed.

How do some Christians live with power and faith that could move mountains — perhaps even literally — and I just live? I know there’s more to this Christian life than existence! What am I missing?

And then a thought struck me.

I bet the answer is in the Bible. Perhaps it’s time to read the whole thing. 

I picked up my Bible and prayed, “Show me Yourself, God, on every page. I’m sick of rules to keep in hopes of becoming a better Christian. I just want to see You, Lord. Amen.”

I wanted transformation, not information — the Who of the Bible, not the What.

I was sick of What. Give me Who. Please!

Reading the Bible for Transformation, Not Information

With a flip of the page to Genesis 1:1, I set out on a journey that changed my life.

Each morning I read my Bible with my new mindset of “Show me Who, not What.”

By Genesis 6, God had surprised me.

Hmmmmm. The Bible is actually fun to read when you’re not feeling guilty about what you have or haven’t done, or trying to figure out what you need to do to avoid sinning like Eve—or worse, like Cain. 

By Exodus 6, God had hooked me.

I’m seeing Your character traits, God, of faithfulness, grace, and love where I’d missed them before. And I’m seeing a lot more intentionality than I’d expected because I’m also seeing Jesus in every story in amazing ways. This is like a treasure hunt. I can’t wait to see where I find Him tomorrow.

By Deuteronomy 6, God had transformed me.

Wait! This passage feels as if You’re reaching down from heaven into my heart and speaking directly to me, God, but how is this possible? This passage is about Israel and the Promised Land, and yet, as I read it, I’m invaded by a peace that’s escaped me before. I’m seeing You, God, in ways I’d never known possible before, and it’s changing me from the inside out. Wow. I love Your Word, Lord.

I’d loved God’s Word before because all Christians do.

Good ones, at least, right?

But now I LOVED God’s Word. I wanted to hug it and kiss it and never let it go because I’d finally found the Who that I’d missed in all the What.

Information doesn’t lead to true spiritual transformation. Only God does.

A.J. Jacobs, an agnostic Jew, sought to live by every law of the Bible for one year. By the end of the year, the Bible hadn’t transformed him. But he’d only sought to know the law, not the God of the law.

Consumed with the What, he’d missed the Who.  

It’s About the Who, Not the What

Reading the Bible seem boring or discouraging? Start looking for the WHO (the Lord), not the WHAT (the rules). I was sick of the WHAT until I found the WHO. Reading the Bible for Transformation, Not Information via www.jeanwilund.comRight from the beginning of my search for the Christian life worth living, I’d stumbled upon the secret to falling in love with the Bible. It’s about the Who, not the What.

If we approach the Bible as a book of words that, if followed, will give us an abundant life, we’ll miss that abundant life and find bondage instead.

We’ll find bondage to rules, guilt, and shame because we’ll never be able to keep those rules as we know we should.

And we’ll find boredom because along with many exciting stories are a ton of lists and letters, not to mention rules about bodily fluids and other stuff you don’t want to read about.

We may wind up giving up reading the Bible completely, which could eventually lead to our abandoning God altogether.

We might not give up our faith and deny Christ, but we’ll turn our back on Him. And if we turn our back on Him long enough, we’ll want to deny Him so we can drive the guilt of ignoring Him far away from us.

Or . . .

We can simply stop focusing on the What in the Bible and in Christianity and embrace the Who instead. And fall in love with both. 

If reading the Bible or being a Christian seems boring or discouraging, start looking for the Who, not the What.

I was sick of the What until I found the Who. Now I love them both!

You will seek Me
and find Me
when you search for Me
with all your heart.

~Jeremiah 29:13

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Best Bible in a Year App — ReadScripture App Makes Reading the Bible in a Year Easy & Fun

Bible Project's ReadScripture App makes reading the Bible in a Year easier and more fun. (www.JeanWilund.com) 

Reading the Bible in a Year has never been easier or more fun.


That’s a big claim, but I can back it up: I’m reading the Bible in a year, and it’s never been easier or more fun.

If that doesn’t convince you, consider this:

BibleProject.com‘s energetic and innovative creators Tim Mackie and Jon Collins set out to make reading through Scripture “engaging, approachable, and transformative.”

They succeeded.

They created a FREE one-year Bible reading plan supplemented with short, clever, and informative videos. These animated videos walk us non-biblical scholars into a clearer understanding of the Bible with its overarching theme of redemption in Christ.

If you’ve followed my blog long at all, you know that seeing Christ as first and last in everything — particularly all of Scripture — is my passion. I call it The Red Thread. (Check out my short video.)

App Features and How It Works:


When you open the ReadScripture app, you’ll find the readings grouped chronologically into 16 different sections.

Across the top of your screen, you’ll see options for Settings and Today.

If you click on Settings, you’ll be able to control notifications, reminders, and your start date. You can even reset your progress.

If you click on Today, the app will take you immediately to that day’s reading depending on your progress.

The app defaults to your daily reading.

To read the day’s selection, click on the Start button, and then take a deep breath. (They tell us to do that.)

“Take a deep breath as you begin to spend time with God.”

I love it. It’s too easy to just jump right in without taking the time to realize the importance of the moment. We should let it soak in that we’re about to spend time with the God of the universe.

Then simply scroll down to read the day’s scripture passages plus a Psalm.

Some days they begin or end the day’s reading with a short, entertaining video.

By the end of a year, you will have read the entire Bible once and Psalms 2 1/2 times.

Videos That Create the “Oh! Now I get it!” Affect


The Bible Project’s videos, which cover a variety of topics, inspire the “Oh! Now I get it” affect.

For instance, ever tried to explain God’s holiness? Not easy, is it?

I’ve come to understand it over time, but I’m not sure I could easily explain it so others could grasp its full meaning.

The Bible Project’s video on God’s Holiness explains it so clearly even a child could understand it. Watch it. You’ll see what I mean.

But I Hate to Read


What if you’re thinking, “But I hate to read?”

ReadScripture App makes reading the Bible in a Year easier and more fun. (www.JeanWilund.com)First, let me say that I can’t relate to you. At all. But, no worries. I have great news. Or rather, I should say Kaitlyn has great news.

My daughter-in-law Kaitlyn has always struggled to read the Bible every day for the simple fact that she, like so many others, hates to read.

Kaitlyn has wanted to want to read it daily. She really has, but, alas, she didn’t, so she didn’t.

Then her Bible study group decided they’d all read through the Bible in a year using this app. She took a deep breath and determined to push through it.

One month later, she’s been transformed.

She no longer only wishes she wanted to read the Bible daily. Because of the ReadScripture app, her want-to has kicked in. Now she gladly reads it every day.

She still “hates to read” but now, when she talks about reading the Bible daily, her eyes light up.

Does she never miss a day of reading now? Of course she does. Life has a way of getting in the way. But, with the ease and fun of the app along with the encouragement of her Bible study group, she can quickly catch up.

In fact, the ladies in her Bible study created a “GroupMe” chat using the GroupMe app. In it, they text each other encouragement from the readings and ask questions. It’s another wonderful use of technology to help us fall more in love with studying the Bible.

I liked the group encouragement idea so much, I joined their GroupMe chat even though I haven’t been able to attend the study yet due to scheduling conflicts.

Isn’t It Too Late to Start Reading Through the Bible in a Year?


Most people start a “Bible in a Year” plan on January 1st, but why be like others?

You can set your own start date in the app. Any day is a great day to start reading through the Bible in a year.

In fact, grab a friend or two — or a Bible study group — and read through the Bible in a year starting today — or tomorrow. Just get started.

It’s never been easier or more fun. 

Read what others have to say about ReadScripture:


  • [ReadScripture] has made reading through the Bible incredibly doable. The resources they’ve made available have led me to see the Gospel as the centerpiece throughout all of Scripture — just like a great Biblical resource should. ~ Emily Williams, Lexington, SC
  • Practically, I thoroughly enjoy it because of the customizable daily reminder which allows me to start my day with the appropriate Psalm and then the appropriate Scripture for the day. ~ Anna Wolf, Lexington, SC
  • I love how it’s all inclusive. Everything is right there in one app. ~ Kaitlyn Wilund, Lexington, SC

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If you’ve been using this app, share why you love it in the comments.

Or maybe you have a different app you want to tell us about as well. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks!