The bible wasn’t originally written with verses and chapters. That may come as a surprise to many; others have already stopped reading because they knew that already. While chapters and verses have helped many remember where specific stories or ideals are in the bible and help keep our sacred text organized at times I think these consecutive numbers do us more harm than good.
I believe there are over thirty thousand verses in the bible. There are hundreds of commentaries on each verse of the bible. These are all great resources to help understand the bible more completely. However, I think sometimes that even these commentaries add to the confusion to what our bible is meant to be. We all will see bumper stickers, church signs, t-shirts, calendars and all kinds of other attire plastered with encouraging or point driven verse. We all know the common verses like Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16 and John 14:6.
You will also notice when someone is trying to prove something theologically that they will make a statement and then list a few verses from all over the bible to prove their statement. Like this that I found on a denominational website:
The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.(2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21)
People will do this all the time in regular conversation. They will make a statement and then say; well it says it in this verse. Preachers will preach from the pulpit taking 30 different verses to make their three point sermon or to prove his statements. We are encouraged to memorize bible verses since the day we could start talking. We got stars for that sort of thing; gold ones. We put verses on our wall to remind us to do something, or be someone. We encourage each other in rough times by quoting verse like all things work together for the good of those who love Him or something like that.
None of these things are wrong in themselves. Nevertheless, they all point to the ethos of the church today and how we read the bible. We’ve think the bible is a bunch of verses meant to benefit us. We’ve taken the bible apart into over thirty thousand different pieces and now we have thirty thousand different bibles that we can just pull out of anything whenever we need to place authority on something.
The bible was never meant to be like this. The bible was written as sixty-six different books all telling one story, all pointing to one person. When we start to pick apart the bible and use it to support our own statements, use it for our own comfort and use it for our own agenda it becomes a device that was created for our own selfishness. The bible is meant to be read as a whole. Every verse and chapter fits wonderfully into the whole, not vice versa.
The Pharisees were the ones that used the bible for their own agenda. They would take it out of context of what God was really trying to say and put burdens on people and refuse to help them. The church has done the same thing. We constantly use the bible to heap rules and standards on people and we miss the point, the message behind the story as a whole. I don’t want to be a Pharisee church; I don’t want to think like they do. We need to desperately try and not miss the point of Scripture like the Pharisees did and read the bible in light of the message instead of trying to read the bible into our own theology.
***added after John’s comment
I just noticed that John posted on my previous blog, and he made reference to a scripture (yes two verses). Read it in context to get the full picture, but it is interesting to see that Jesus points his finger and says that the Scriptures got in the way of the message of Christ and eternal life. Has this happened with us?
John 5:39-40 (New American Standard Bible) 39″You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.