Last weekend, I read a helpful book by Eric Bargerhuff titled The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God’s Word Is Misunderstood (Bethany House, 2012). Eric takes the reader through 17 often misquoted verses and helps us see their proper meaning and application.
Since some of these misinterpretations are more damaging than others, Eric doesn’t recommend we run to correct people who innocently mis-apply the passages. He does recommend, however, that pastors and teachers take special care to avoid the common mistakes that lead to misuse.
I should note that pastors and scholars don’t always agree on the meaning and application of some of these passages. Personally, I found myself appreciating Eric’s analysis of some of the more rampant misunderstandings that come from these verses without necessarily agreeing with all the particulars of Eric’s interpretation. Still, the book is a helpful tool that resembles F. F. Bruce’s Hard Sayings of Jesus.
Here’s a look at the “most misused verses” Eric writes about in his book:
- “Judge Not” - Matthew 7:1
- “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you” - Jeremiah 29:11-13
- “Where two or three are gathered” - Matthew 18:20
- “Ask for anything in My name” - John 14:13-14
- “All things work together for good” - Romans 8:28
- “If My people who are called by My name” - 2 Chronicles 7:14
- “Jesus as the firstborn of all creation” - Colossians 1:15
- “Money is the root of all evil” - 1 Timothy 6:10
- “No more than you can handle” - 1 Corinthians 10:13
- “Train up a child” - Proverbs 22:6
- “I can do all things through Christ” - Philippians 4:13
- “An eye for an eye” - Exodus 21:23-25
- “Prayer offered in faith” - James 5:15
- “Repent and be baptized” - Acts 2:38
- “Guard your heart” - Proverbs 4:23
- “Where there is no vision” - Proverbs 29:18
- “Lifting up the name of Jesus” - John 12:32
What are some other verses that you see commonly misused? How can we as pastors help people interpret the Bible rightly?