My friends and I were anticipating a contemplative time looking at a collection of artwork about the prodigal son who returned home to a forgiving father (Luke 15). When we arrived at the information table, we noticed the brochures, books, and a sign pointing to the artwork.
Also on the table was a dinner plate with bread, a napkin, and a glass. Each of us privately pondered what the significance of the plate could be. We wondered if it represented communion fellowship between the prodigal son and his father when he returned home. But as we examined it more closely, we realized simultaneously: Someone had left a dirty plate on the display table. And it wasn’t bread, but leftover cookie bars! Our imaginations had been wrong.
We had a good laugh, but then it made me think about how sometimes we imagine more than what’s really there while reading the Bible. Rather than assuming that our speculation is correct, however, we need to be sure our interpretation fits with the whole of Scripture. Peter said that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). As we depend on the Spirit’s instruction, a careful study of the context, and the wisdom of respected Bible teachers, we’ll avoid seeing things in the Word that aren’t really there.
We must correctly hear God’s Word,
Or we will be misled;
We must give careful thought and prayer
To what the Author said. —Hess
A text out of context is often a dangerous pretext.