Careful of “One Verse” Teachings

As a Bible teacher once taught me, you never base a doctrine or teaching on one verse. Example: So often you hear the words of Jesus as a Christian tells you, “Judge not and you won’t be judged.” Jesus did say that. But, you can’t base a whole teaching on judgment on this one verse. Why? Because the fullness of the understanding in the New Testament – and thus early church – teaching on judgment is much fuller and more detailed than this black and white statement.

Paul writes … “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’”

He is saying here that we don’t have a right to judge those who are not believers. You can’t expect them to live like Christians until they become Christians. But, those who are part of the fellowship and declare they are believers can be judged. You can’t and shouldn’t judge their heart because only God knows the heart of a person. But, you can judge their fruit. 

In line with this you cannot take what Jesus says in one place as the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” because it must be received and understood in context. Who was it spoken to? What was the situation? What else did He say in this regard? And so on.

Examples … The same Jesus who said”turn the other cheek” also told His disciples to buy a sword (Luke 22:36). The same Jesus who said He was “gentle” (Matthew 11:29) forcefully chased the money changers out of the temple, using a whip (John 2:15). In Matthew 5:22, Jesus says that calling someone a fool puts you in danger of the fires of hell; in Matthew 23:17, Jesus calls the Pharisees and teachers of the Law “blind fools.” 

We have to read Jesus’ words in context and with the proper weight, in the same way that we understand His “gouge out your eyes rather than lust” comment as a metaphor of sin’s seriousness, not as a directive for someone to actually follow. 

Today there are many who have not taken the time to understand what the Bible is really teaching. They have a surface understanding based on a verse here or there but no real understanding of what the Bible is truly teaching and how we are to apply and live the truth. Thus many believes come across a mile wide and an inch deep. And, they are easily deceived by false teachers and false prophets that Jesus and others warn us about. And, without looking at the full scope of the specific topic we can easily be self-deceived. 

In this day and age when there are so many Bible teachers and preachers on television, on the radio, on the internet, and standing in pulpits we need to be students of the word “rightly dividing the truth” and living the Word on a daily basis. No longer blindly receiving the truth but literally “studying to show oneself approved – a workman of the Word.”