The Five Most Out-of-Context Verses (and a bonus one):

5. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”- often quoted about winning sports games. Context: Learning how to live independent of what we want. Paul is talking about going hungry and having nothing, as well as abounding. He says, “I’ve learned the secret of contentment regardless of circumstances. And this is it…I can do all things…”

4. “If God be for us, who can be against us”- Romans 8. It’s not about facing down circumstances and beating enemies. It’s about not being separated from God’s love even when we are persecuted and hurt and in need.

3. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him”- 1 Cor. 2:9. The VERY NEXT verse says “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”

2. “Avoid the appearance of evil”- 1 Thess. 5:22. Used to justify religious rules of men. Problem- It’s a KJV mistranslation. That’s right, the KJV has some mistranslations. Some problems. Ironic Context: being careful to avoid and reject evil teaching. Adding religious rules of men is a form of evil teaching…

1. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”- Jeremiah 29:11. Problem- God is talking to his people in captivity in Babylon. And JUST ONE VERSE PREVIOUS to this the Prophet says it will 70 YEARS before these plans of prospering and “hope and a future” will take place. In other words, the people who heard it will pretty much be dead. It’s a promise to a people group about God’s Covenant of Land, not an individual about his marriage or her job.

Point: God’s Word can never mean what it never meant. We honor it by understanding it in context instead of making it say what we want it to say. And then living it in our daily lives.

Bonus Out-of-Context Verse:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…”- 1 Cor. 6. Used to justify enforcing legalistic definitions of eating and exercise, as well as weight issues. Problem: the context COMPLETELY CONTRADICTS that: “Flee from sexual immorality. ALL OTHER SINS A PERSON COMMITS ARE OUTSIDE THE BODY, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” So eating bacon doesn’t defile your body. By the way, the other time the body is used as a temple in scripture is plural (the church together, 1 Cor. 3:10-17) and deals with teachers who would destroy the church body by what they build.

Why does any of this matter? What if I spend tons of time trying to please God (or feeling condemned) in an area God never asked of me? Jesus wants more for us than the rules of religion and the traditions of men. You are free in Christ. Don’t use your freedom to serve the flesh. But don’t add rules Jesus never gave us. And don’t claim promises that aren’t from God, lest you find yourself blaming God for not delivering what he never promised.