Twisted Scriptures (Part 2 of 6)

A "Twisted Scripture" is a biblical passage taken out of context and portrayed to mean something that neither its author intended nor it's original audience understood.  

Let us think again about how Christians have twisted scripture by misreading the Christian literature: the Bible.

How is this done?

There are several ways scripture can be twisted. One of the most frequent is "ignoring context." This would include ignoring not only the immediate context but also ignoring the local and remote contexts, or other passages pertinent to the same topic. I recently read an article by a self-taught exegete to was propounding that all Christians return to following the Mosaic Law to be true Christians. He was in effect a "Judaiser." He used many so called "proof texts" but most taken without reference to extended contexts. He choose specific passage and twisted them to his own agenda.

This was his strongest "proof text:"

ESV: Acts Chapter 21 [20] And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law,

But what is the context? Is this a statement of validation or condemnation? The blog author I was reading took it as validation but careful reading of just the immediate context reveals it is a statement of condemnation, just the opposite of that blog author's view. It is a statement by Peter to warn the apostle Paul that he was in danger due to the Mosaic Law zealous Judeans. These Judean Christians of Jerusalem were attempting to practice both the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law) and the New Covenant (salvation by grace through Jesus Christ) at the same time! They desired the assurance of salvation on one hand but they continued the bondage of the Law on the other. Worse, they were willing to perpetrate violence against anyone who attempted to teach them otherwise. It is apparent that Peter never really taught them the greatness of the New Covenant for two reasons. First: Peter was still alive and leading the church in Jerusalem. Second: They were totally justified in their own minds as to the validity of their practice of the both opposing covenants simultaneously. What was their problem?

What feature of the Mosaic Law was at issue? Circumcision! The Judean Christians were convinced that that sign of circumcision was a requirement to be a Christian. Paul taught otherwise. This was well known and accepted among the Jerusalem church leadership but they also knew that the Jerusalem Christians would be violently against such a teaching. Therefore, Peter was warning Paul of the danger he was in to come to Jerusalem where the truth about the grace in Jesus Christ for salvation was rejected in favor of continuing the requirement of circumcision. Acts 21:20 is a condemnation of the Judean Christians, not a validation!

Were the Jerusalem believers wrong to believe Paul taught keeping the Mosaic Law was past and over? No, that is what he taught.

ESV: Galatians Chapter 3 [23] Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. [24] So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. [25] But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,

Was Paul wrong for advocating that the New Covenant of salvation by grace in Christ superseded the Mosaic Law? Not at all. So how are these passages ignored by the Judaisers? Selective reading and ignore the passages which offend their agenda. By this they twist scripture to their own destruction. They either ignore context or just ignore what does not fit their "system of theology."

This is just one example of how ignoring context(s) twists scripture leading to error of comprehending the apostle's doctrine.

Next Post: Twisting Scripture to to set the authority of experience and tradition over the authority of inspired scripture.

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