“But Chloe doesn’t like green beans…”
“Chloe Green bought some beans.”
“Joan Rivers spills the beans about celebrities including Tom Green and Chloe Kardashian.”
“Chloe Intense—a new perfume with notes of rose, amber, pink pepper, and tonka beans”
Finally on page 8, I found my devotional, “Chloe and the Green Beans.”
I never dreamed that those words—“Chloe,” “green,” and “beans”-- had been put together in so many different ways. Some of those are from blogs, some articles, and some ads. Do you think the “Chloe” in all those snippets referred to the same Chloe? Of course not. And then I thought, that is exactly how some people try to study the Bible—they google it, in method if nothing else. They see a word in one passage and then simply look for it in another, assuming it means the same thing, regardless of the fact that different authors are writing about different topics to different audiences many, sometimes hundreds of years, apart.
They see the words “the coming of the Lord” and “judgment” and decide that, even though one is in Isaiah and one is in Matthew and one is in Peter, they must all be talking about the same “coming of the Lord”—which they inevitably view as the final Day of Judgment. They see similar language in the book of Revelation and decide the same thing, regardless of John saying, “These things must shortly come to pass.”
They also completely ignore to whom the words were originally written and what they meant in the context of the time and circumstances. For example, when you said the phrase, “the promise” to a Jew, you would create a far different understanding than you would to a Gentile. Jews who heard or read “the promise” would see it in their minds in all caps on a flashing neon sign. They had been looking for “THE PROMISE” for thousands of years. Remember that when you read passages like Acts 2:39, which was originally spoken to a Jewish audience.
Things also become skewed when you forget that the Bible was not written in English. Just because the same English word is used in two different places, does not mean it was the same Hebrew or Greek word. Just as English has many words for “bread” that limit its meaning (biscuit, loaf, bagel, scone, muffin, etc), those people had different words for things that might have been translated into one English word. Did you know that in the Bible there were several Hebrew or Greek words used for queen? One meant “a daughter of royalty.” Another meant “queen-mother.” Still another simply meant “the king’s wife.” A really strange one meant “the moon.” Yet they are all translated “queen” in our language. That one is not too important, but there are other words that make a much larger difference in your understanding of the scriptures, and that is why you must learn how to use a concordance, either on a computer program or a real book.
What started out as simple curiosity that afternoon at the computer reminded me of some important things about Bible study. Be careful with the word of God. It isn’t a comic book, so it takes some thought. It isn’t a thriller, so you sometimes have to make yourself plow through it. It isn’t a romance, so you may find things in it you didn’t really want to find, like the fact that you need to change your life. In the end, though, it’s worth every minute of study you put into it.
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God… For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor 4:2,5,6.