I have noticed that some teachers and preachers today just rip passages of the Bible out of proper context in order to support whatever it is that they happen to be teaching. All teachers should understand the context before they quote passages in support of what they are saying. The Bible is a book of scripts from God and His scripts could be misunderstood if they are out of context. Taking scripture out of context is like putting your words in God’s mouth.
Taking scriptures out of context and applying strange interpretations to them has been going on since scriptures were given. Making certain Bible passages allegory and misapplying scripture is how we got Gnosticism, certain Catholic Theologies, some Protestant Theologies, Dominion Theology, Replacement Theology, Liberation Theology, Emergent Theology, Word/Faith Theology, etc. Most heresy is a result of some misapplication of scripture.
In evangelical Bible churches and in Pentecostalism teachers that would never resort to allegory will resort to taking a passage entirely out of its context and applying it to support their message. This is not just going on with fringe teachers. I see scriptures that are ripped out of proper context even published in evangelical Sunday School material and other teachings in the mainstream.
I do not think this is a malicious attempt to deceive on the part of teachers, since what they are teaching can often be supported elsewhere in scripture. So why do teachers use passages that do not support what they are teaching as if it does? One of the main reasons is that it becomes a convenient short cut for them.
Rather than digging up various passages to support what they want to convey they conveniently find one that taken out of context says exactly what they want to communicate. Maybe some think their audiences are so biblical illiterate that they will not know that the passage they just ripped out of context does not actually support what they are teaching. It also could be that the teacher did not consider or could not understand the context themselves. The Bible warns that not all should become teachers for good reason. Teachers of the Bible that do not properly regard context can be guilty of putting words in God’s mouth.
I see quite a bit of abuse with those quoting Old Testament passages where God is talking specifically and obviously to Israel. They want to make everything in the Old Testament some application for Christian living today. I know that most using these passages as some application for the Church do not support Replacement Theology but they often claim scriptures directed at Israel as if they do. The Church is not Israel and many things said specifically to Israel can never apply to Christians.
As an excuse they will then claim that all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Ti 3:16 ). Yes it is, but only if the scripture is applied as God intends. For correct exegesis of the Bible, Christians need to use the grammatical-historical interpretation of scriptures that takes into account the context of the passage.
Much nonsense would not be taught if teachers would just study the full context. If your going to take a verse out of the Bible to prove your point, at least make sure that in context it does prove your point. Even major cults use Bible passages to support their own theology. One can make the Bible say just about anything if your going to proof text verses selectively and narrowly to support your own belief system.
Today whole books are founded on scriptures taken out of proper context. Sound teaching does not come from deceptive selective editing. Some authors are actually putting words in God’s mouth.
The Bible is a book of scripts from God so we need to know who the narrative was directed at and why God said it. Before we apply scripture we should use the grammatical-historical common sense interpretation of scripture that takes into account context, context and context.
Editor note: This is a modified version of my article of Jul 19, 2010. It was posted on my old blog.