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Big Mistake: Bad Breaks


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We have been conditioned to see chapters, paragraphs, and sentences as breaking points. A sentence stands alone but connects to a paragraph. The paragraph is one individual part of a chapter which naturally separates breaks within the book. While these connect, they also contain their own ideas and subject matter. Naturally, we apply these principles to Scripture by taking a verse and believing it stands alone within a passage and the passage stands alone with other passages to make a chapter and the chapters stand independent of the rest of the book. This is a big mistake because verses, passages (in some Bibles these are broken up with descriptive headlines), and chapters were all arbitrarily given by non-inspired people years after those inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote them.

Years after the Bible was compiled it was deemed good to create a system to index Scripture for ease of locating. So, they took each book and broke it into chapters and verses. Some publishers also added headlines (i.e. ‘The Last Supper’ or ‘Peter Walks on Water’) in between passages. These were very ideal for locating certain Scripture but unfortunately, in many cases, these breaks were put in very odd and horrible places and that has led many to miss the bigger context needed to properly understand and interpret the Bible.

We need to learn to decondition ourselves away from using these breaks to isolate Scripture and apply the detective mindset we discussed in the last writing. As a good detective, look for key connectors that help us understand, that even though we see a man added break, we need to put chapters, passages, or verses together with others. Let me give you a few things to look for.

1) Words that convey that the idea from the previous break continues after the break.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Rom 8:1

The presence of the word ‘therefore’ tells me that this is a continuation from something which would be from chapter 7. In fact, when you read Romans, you will find a common thread throughout the book but in particular, chapters 5-8 go together and to best understand chapter 8 you need to take into account the preceding few chapters as though they were one continuous chapter.

2) Language that conveys a continual time and setting. Think of a play where it is one scene or a scene that naturally connects to the previous scene.

But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here. John 14:31

The fact that John took the time to record Jesus speaking of going elsewhere should get our attention and lead us to wonder why. The reason here is simply that Jesus isn’t done with what He is saying but will continue it as they leave. John 13 contains the upper room ‘scene’ which is when Jesus celebrated Passover, washed the Disciples feet, had the Last Supper, and began to prepare them for what was coming. It is important to get this context as John continues this powerful teaching of Jesus as they go to the next ‘scene,’ the garden. John 14-16 is one continuous teaching of Jesus that needs to be read as such for proper context and understanding. One leading misunderstanding of this section is found here:

And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: John 16:8

This is taken as the Holy Spirit convicts EVERYONE, including Believers but when we understand John 14-16 is one continuous teaching, we can quickly dispel this poor interpretation because of what Jesus says earlier:

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19

Jesus clearly states the Disciples (Believers) are not of this world, so Jesus wasn’t speaking of the Spirit convicting everyone of sin but of unbelievers only.

3) Clues within passages that make it clear they link with something before it. A great example of this is found in John 10:

Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” John 10:21

Why would this be included when Jesus had just given the famous teaching on being the ‘good shepherd?’ If we go back to chapter 9, we see why:

When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 7 And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing. John 9:6-7

The man mentions the blind man because chapter 9 and 10 are all one scene which is important because the ‘good shepherd’ teaching is a direct attack on the religious leaders who were misleading the sheep (Israel). We can find some wonderful truths about the Messiah that you won’t see if you lose this valuable context. The thieves and robbers of chapter 10 are the religious leaders. They are the culprits in chapter 10 and Jesus is declaring that He is coming to wrestle the sheep away from them. The greatest treasure is that Jesus is the door (the way) to God, not the Law as the religious leaders were teaching. These two chapters paint a picture of the danger of false teachers and today this is evident as most of the religious leaders are teaching the Gospel of Religion (all about our works after Salvation) rather than the Gospel of Grace (all about His works period).

Learn to mentally break the tendency to let verse numbers and chapter breaks interfere with proper context. So much can be gained if we take the time to look carefully, scan the chapters before and after for clues that link to the chapter we are studying, and become good detectives. When we eliminate breaks that shouldn’t be there, we will open the door to the treasure room of truth.

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