We do not have to take Bible verses literally always
by Paulraj P 8/23/2012 / Bible Studies
While studying the scriptures, before interpreting a verse, we must give due consideration to the context, cultural habits, historic and social background during Biblical times. Examples: Slavery is never condemned in the Old and New Testaments. I will be jailed if I keep a slave now. Dog is never endorsed as a good animal in the whole Bible. But those who keep dogs at home know what it is to have the best friend to any human. I can go on giving examples. When we read about women speaking in the church and 'obeying' husbands, the cultural and social background during Biblical period must be applied.
Mathew 5: 29 and 30 says
"29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. "
If you do not apply reasoning and God given wisdom here and insist on obeying this implicitly, the best way to identify Christians in public places will be looking for people who don't have eyes and right hands. The Church will be full of people without eyes and right hands.
Exodus 23:13 says, "Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips” Are we not allowed to say names like Ashtaroth and Baal which are repeatedly mentioned in the Bible? Are we not allowed to call people with Greek deities’ names Apollo and Diana? We don’t have to take the above commandment literally. This simply means that we should steer clear of idolatry. The apostles did not change the name of the first gentile convert Cornelius or that of the first European convert Lydia.
Bible has examples of praying by kneeling down, hands lifted up and praying in closed rooms. It has no reference endorsing closing of eyes during praying. But we close our eyes for concentration and to avoid distractions, thus we use God given wisdom.
At times, we try to prove our points on controversial issues by quoting suitable scattered verses from the Scriptures. No, always look for what the Bible as a whole talk on that issue, by studying different Bible Versions.
Apply common sense and use your knowledge of language and grammar to differentiate between literal and figurative statements in the Scripture.