Seeing the amount of misinterpreted bible verses, I can’t help but share a few wisdom that will help you not falling victim of wrong interpretation of the bible like the young man in the video did.
1. Don’t take everything literally.
As much as the bible is plain and direct, simple enough for the plain minds to understand, like any other literature, figurative expressions are used sometimes to communicate what the author intended, a good instance can be found in Matthew 5:30 when Jesus said
And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Jesus did not imply literal amputation of your body member, but a forceful separation from anything and anyone that make you fall into sin, in your instance, the hand can be your laptop, movies, a friend, a group…anything.
So when interpreting the bible, know when the author is merely using figures of speech like metaphor and the likes, and this will prevent you from calling your dad dung like the guy in the video.
2. Read in context.
Reading the bible in context means not isolating a verse or a statement and drawing a conclusion solely based on that portion of the book, but rather looking at that verse in light of the entire book and the bible as a whole.
Think of it like reading a letter from a friend, you don’t start from the middle of the letter, or just read a paragraph and draw your conclusion. No, you read the entire letter to understand what is being communicated.
Though this might seem as a more laborious way of studying the bible, as you will have to read from the beginning to the end of that book or chapter before drawing out a meaning, but it will save you from a lot of error.
3. Check Multiple translations.
The reason we have tons of bible translation is to aid studying and understanding of the bible. When you don’t seem to understand a text literally, before you come to a conclusion, check how other translations interpreted that verse.
Let’s see how checking one or two other translations could have saved that naive believer in the video.
MSG – Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ
GW – It’s far more than that! I consider everything else worthless because I’m much better off knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. It’s because of him that I think of everything as worthless. I threw it all away in order to gain Christ
There is no way he could have seen these translations and still conclude that his father, academics and relationship are dung.
4. Is your interpretation consistent all through the bible?
The bible cannot contradict itself. If your understand and interpretation of a portion of the bible posses a contradiction to another portion of the bible, it is wise to study further and be sure the interpretation holds true throughout the bible.
We know how much value the bible placed on different aspects of life, family, work, relationship, wife/husband…
5. Don’t study the bible in isolation
As much as we must esteem our personal relationship with God above every other thing, we must also hold the place of fellowship and sharpening one another up in the faith, have friends you study the bible together, or at least that you share your bible study with, that way, you can always keep each other in check.
6. Do no innovate
7. The Old Testament is in the New Testament Revealed
8. Make Christ The Center
I’ll rest my case on these 8 points, yeah I know there are lots more, but I believe these are basic and can keep you away from error when interpreting the bible.