Quick Links Quick Links

What Does That Bible Verse Really Mean?

by Jason Ridgeway

Jason Ridgeway   How many times have you read someone’s post on social media about a verse in the Bible?  The posts sounds wonderful and so very thought provoking.  But is what you are reading truly what the Bible verse meant to convey?  Or did the well meaning person just take that favorite verse out of context?  The posts or internet articles that your friends share sound so beautiful and many times are given to us in times of true despair.  But as of late, I have read many posts from those that have not fully understood the passage.
Before we get into one of the most abused verses in the Bible, we must all come to the same conclusion: The Bible is the final authority from God.  We all must be willing to submit to it and it alone.  Paul wrote, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV).  We cannot deny one verse and lift up another part just to prove what we believe.  The real issue is this; Don’t go into the Bible with a preconceived belief system and try to prove what you think is true.  Go into the Bible with the understanding that it is God’s Word and that I will let it guide my thoughts.
It was hard to choose just one verse in the Bible that is abused by the masses so this will not be the only article on the topic.  The first passage that I would like to address is Ephesians 2:8-9.  This has been so twisted by those in the denominational world and for so long that even those in the church have started to accept the error of interpretation.  God breathed out these words to Paul, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9 ESV).
So what is the problem?  The masses on social media and countless websites try to assert that this passage means that “works” is talking about baptism.  This is very interesting because the word baptism is not in this passage.  But what are the “works” that Paul is discussing?  Well if we stop at the end of verse 9 we can put anything that we want into the passage to fit our belief system.  But let’s read on further in the passage to get the true understanding of Paul’s message to the church at Ephesus.
     “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands – remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,” (Eph. 2:11-15 ESV).
What is the “law of commandments?”  This is the law of Moses, the ten commandments.  This is the “works” that Paul says you are not saved by.  Remember that the Jews converted to Christ continued to pressure the Gentiles into certain laws or works of the old system.  One of those laws being circumcision.  This was the same conflict going on in the churches of Galatia.  “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.  I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.  You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace”   (Galatians 5:1-4 ESV).  The work of circumcision could not save any of the Gentiles nor could doing any other work of the old law.  Trying to be justified by the old law would cause the Christian to fall from the grace of God.
Another verse in the letter to the Galatians, really opens up the meaning behind the question, “what are the works.”  “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified (Galatians 2:16 ESV emphasis jer).  Paul really helps us understand what he was talking about to Christians in Ephesus.  Paul encourages the Gentiles to have faith.  But not a faith working in the works of the old law but that of an obedient faith in Jesus Christ.
Let us all continue to minister the message of God’s Word correctly.

-Jason Ridgeway lives  in Ironton, OH and preaches for the 10th & Vine Church of Christ


Leave a Reply

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4