Quoting Bible verses is all the rave in most of our churches today. There is a very popular movement that emphasizes claiming and appropriating the promises of the bible. The more verses you know, the more claims you have a right to. But what if those verses do not really mean what you think they mean? What if your favorite Bible promise, when considered in context, was part of a large set of instructions?
You see, our Bibles were for the most part originally written as prose, songs or letters, all without chapter and verse divisions. According to GotQuestions, The chapter divisions commonly used today were developed by Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury. Langton put the modern chapter divisions into place in around A.D. 1227. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Since the Wycliffe Bible, nearly all Bible translations have followed Langton's chapter divisions. The chapter and verses were added to make it easy for us to make and find references in the Bible. Imagine a preacher talking about the Shepherd's Psalm without the help of chapters and verses. That would be a sight wouldn't it?
With this in mind, we realize that the Bible is not a book of short pithy verses. Every verse is connected to the previous and following verses. So, imagine for one minute there were no verse divisions in the Bible, what would your favorite Bible verse really mean? Now, let us look at some of our favorite Bible verses together applying this 'verseless' rule. Like Greg Koukl admonishes, we are never going to just read a Bible verse.
- Matthew 7: 1 - "Judge not, that you be not judged." Just attempt to correct somebody or express displeasure at a certain attitude or lifestyle; you will quickly notice their displeasure when they throw this verse out at you. The idea is usually that we have no right to judge others because the bible says not to. What happens when we remove the verses and just follow the flow of thought? Matthew 7: 1-7 says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." You see, Jesus is not carrying a huge placard and screaming 'don't judge', instead He is admonishing us to keep in mind that we will be judged the same way we judge others. Therefore, if we want to be judged fairly, we need to make sure we do not judge someone when we have same or bigger issues in our own life. In other words, Jesus' placard is saying 'do not judge hypocritically'. Finally, we see that Jesus seems to be describing giving judgement as something sacred. In fact, He says they are pearls. He further warns us not to give sacred pearls to pigs and dogs. The kind of judgement Jesus is referring to here is reserved for brothers and sisters in the faith. Pagans (dogs and pigs) would always fulfill their job description. There is therefore no need to waste time picking out their dirty towels. It is the speck in our brother's eye and the log in our's Jesus is referring to in this passage. He wants us to help remove our brother's speck, He only wants us to carefully get rid of our own log before we do.