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How Some Ministers Misused Bible Verses to Prove Their Point

misused bible verses

We have instant access to online information and resources in today's modern world.

If I want to learn about the Roman Empire in the first century, I can quickly pull out my phone and click.

Regarding the Bible, I’m glad people are beginning to recognize how easy it is to view the original language behind our English translations.

Believers are beginning to see the powerful impact of looking at a word in Greek and how the definition might change their perspective about a verse.

You can do this with ease. Pull out your phone, look at a verse, bring up the Greek verse, click the word, and the definition will pop up.

The modern church has done this by exposing the truth of the word “repentance.” These days, everyone seems to be saying that “repentance” actually involves a change of mind.

Why? Because that’s what the Greek word means! It is life-changing to know that repentance is more about shifting your mindset!

However, the original Greek words and their definitions can be twisted, resulting in misused Bible verses.

How We Have Misused Bible Verses

Greek words have a semantic range, meaning they can have multiple uses.

When you click a word to see it in Greek online, the resource will show you all its possible meanings.

Some believers misuse Greek words by examining all the possible meanings and then simply picking the one they like best, that sounds true, or that fits their preconceived beliefs.

In other words, just because a word means something in a different verse does not mean this is how it’s used in the verse you’re looking at.

A lot of ministers do this. They’ll present a verse, single out one word, and imply that this English word is probably not the best translation because the Greek could mean this or that.

Sure, it makes them sound like educated ministers who have “looked into” the Greek.

And sometimes they’re correct (as in the case of “repentance”).

But before you accept their conclusion about a Greek word that they’ve arrived at by using their phone to take a quick peek at the Greek and selecting the definition they like best, consider this:

  1. The translators of our English Bibles have worked hard to produce this version, and they have done more study than this minister. The translators knew about that possible meaning. They knew it before that minister did. They considered it. But they’ve chosen to use this particular meaning that the minister is challenging. They must have good, scholarly reasons for doing so.

  1. Possible” doesn’t mean “probable.” It’s not good Bible Study to select the meaning of a word that fits your sermon or the one you like best. The goal is to get the correct meaning of scripture intended by the writer, not to use a possible meaning to get an alternative view.

Here’s an example.

Pleroo and Fulfilling the Law of Moses - Matthew 5:17

A few weeks ago, I posted an article about Jesus’ statements in Matthew 5:17:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

The article centered around the meaning of “fulfill.” What exactly did Jesus mean when he said he came to “fulfill” the law?

It’s actually a controversial scripture because some people feel that the Law of Moses (at least some individual laws they think they can keep) is still kind of in effect.

They think, “God wants us to keep some of these laws because they’re good, so why would Jesus say that he came to “fulfill” it if that means that he “ended” it?”

I stated that “fulfill” (Greek - pleroo) does indeed mean that Christ ended the law. “Fulfill” means “to complete.”

The New Testament teaches that Christ was the end of the law. Through his life, sacrifice, and obedience, he completed it so that we don’t have to obey its rules to be righteous before God.

However, many still believe that some of the Mosaic law needs to be observed, and therefore, when Jesus said that he “fulfilled” the law, this must mean something else.

One way they reach this conclusion is by using what we just discussed—a possible Greek definition for the word “fulfill” that changes its whole meaning.

A popular ministry online, 119 Ministries, does this in their teaching.

They say that “the Greek word PLEROO means to fully preach. This means that Yeshua said He came to FULLY PREACH the Law of God.”

Their conclusion is this: Jesus said he came to “fully preach” the law. Therefore, we should still obey some of the Law of Moses.

Is this true? Let’s take a look.

A Closer Look at Pleroo

Again, the Greek word is pleroo. 119 Ministries says that the word can go either two ways:

119 Ministries Pleroo

However, this first representation of the word is incorrect. There are more than two ways to translate it:

Possible meanings of pleroo

Each one of those words or phrases under “NASB Translation” is how the NASB Bible translates pleroo in all the verses that it is used in.

The numbers in parenthesis next to the words or phrases are how many times it’s translated that way.

The three ways pleroo is mostly translated are “fulfill” (20), “fulfilled” (20), and “filled” (16).

You can also see that “fully preached” is only used once for pleroo, and that’s in Romans. 15:19.

So, it is misleading to imply that “fulfill” and “fully preach” are our only choices.

“Complete,” “completed,” and “completing” are used more often than “fully preach” for pleroo, so wouldn’t those be more likely? 119 Ministries seems to ignore that fact conveniently.

Keep it simple. Jesus fulfilled the law, as in, he “completed” it, as the concordance definition says.

There seem to be three main reasons why 119 Ministries translates pleroo as “fully preach” in Matthew 5:17:

  1. They seem to be heavily influenced by “Messianic Christianity,” a branch of Christianity that upholds many aspects of the Old Covenant. Messianic Christianity celebrates Jewish festivals, follows many Mosaic Laws, and things like that.

  1. They translate the next verse, Matthew 5:18, literally. Jesus said that the law would not pass away until “heaven and earth” passed away. However, I’ve already explained this metaphorical Jewish statement in full detail in this video:

  1. Jesus also says in Matthew 5:19 that whoever forsakes the commandments will be called the least in the kingdom. Again, 119 Ministries doesn’t understand the shift in covenants. The New Covenant (when the law would become obsolete) would not come until after Jesus died. So, of course, Jesus will tell them to keep the commandments—they were still under the law! Everything needs to be kept in context.

119 Ministries is taking one possible meaning of pleroo and using it in Matthew 5:17, which does not fit the context and erroneously changes the whole meaning.

And I suspect one reason they’re doing this is to fit their preconceived beliefs revolving around Messianic Christianity.

No Bible (I repeat: NO Bible) translates Matthew 5:17 as “fully preach.” All scholars know that “fulfill” is the best translation.

Again, holding up a picture of a lexicon and implying that “fully preach” is the best definition is misleading. No lexicon is going to tell you that!

119 Ministries does this because a lexicon will tell you that “fully preach” is a possible meaning of pleroo. However, the authors of Lexicons would also say that “fully preach” for Matthew 5:17 is absurd (the part 119 Ministries is not telling you).

Here are three things we can learn:

  1. Be aware of how ministers use the Greek.

  2. The primary, plain definition of pleroo is “to make full” or “fulfill.”

  3. Pleroo does not mean “fully preach” but “fulfill” in Matthew 5:17.

  4. A possible meaning of a Greek word is not always the correct meaning.

  5. Let’s not be biased in how we interpret scriptures.

Let me know what you think in the comments!




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