Chapter 9 START CHAPTER 9

"Interpreting the Bible"

All scripture is given by inspiration of God...(II Timothy 3:16)

For the prophesy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (II Peter 1:21)

The original scriptures were written by men as inspired by God. Since the scriptures were inspired by God, there were absolutely no errors or contradictions in them. Likewise, all scriptures taken together as a whole were true! The scriptures were perfect and needed no "interpretation" for those who could read the languages in which they were written. In fact, man is warned against making his own private interpretation of the scriptures:

Knowing this first, that no prophesy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (II Peter 1:20)

However, none of the various versions of the Bible we read today in the English language are the inspired words of God! When I first had that thought, lightning did not strike me, nor did the earth swallow me up. It is a true statement! Only the original scriptures are the inspired words of God! Any "scriptures" you read today are translations of the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic language scriptures. Our Bibles of today reflect the originals only to the degree of accuracy of the translators. If the Bibles we read in English or other non-original languages were also inspired by God, they would not contain errors and contradictions.

In fact, we know our Bibles were not inspired by God presisely because of the contradictions and errors! Anything inspired by God is perfect! A few English language Bible contradictions are as follows:

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him... (Luke 23:39)

And they that were crucified with him reviled him. (Mark 15:32)

Apparent contradiction:   One reviled Him versus both reviled Him.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son... (John 3:16)

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord ... (Job 1:6)

Apparent contradiction:   God has only one Son versus God has more than one son.

And no man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. (John 3:13)

And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. (II Kings 2:11)

Apparent contradiction:   No human except Jesus has ever gone to heaven versus Elijah went to heaven.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep... (Genesis 1:1-2)

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

Apparent contradiction:   God created the earth without form, void, and dark versus everything
                                        that God created was good.

Some errors are simply errors in translation. One example is as follows:

Thou shall not kill.     (Exodus 20:13)

But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: (Deuteronomy 20:16)

These are two commandments which God gave to His chosen people. The first we recognize as one of the Ten Commandments. After apparently commanding the Children of Israel to not kill, God shortly afterwards commands them to kill all living creatures which inhabit the land He will give them for an inheritance. This is one of several translation errors in the King James Version of the Bible. The correct translation of Exodus 20:13 is:

Thou shalt not murder.     (Exodus 20:13)

All killing is not murder. For example, killing in war or self-defense is not murder. Therefore, when translated correctly, these two verses do not contradict each other. Many a Christian has obtained conscientious objector status and escaped military service based on this erroneous translation in the King James Bible as "Thou shalt not kill."

Some errors in today's Bibles cannot simply be explained as translation errors. That's because the exact same word in the original scriptures is translated differently based on its usage! These errors are more sinister as they indicate the translators' efforts to impose their personal beliefs on the scriptures as inspired by God. The scriptures labeled these errors as "private interpretations" and warn against them:

Knowing this first, that no prophesy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (II Peter 1:20)

The most obvious example of this type of error is use of the word "soul" by translators of the King James Version of the Bible. In the Old Testament, the scriptures inspired by God used the Hebrew word "nephesh" when referring to both man and other animals.

In their effort to improve on the inspired words of God, translators decided to translate this one word into multiple words, thus distinguishing between man and animals by assigning immortality to man. If God used one word, should not the translators use that same one word? Do they know more that God? They obviously believed this to be the case. They knew that man is born as an immortal spirit living within a physical body. How did they know this? Satan informed them and all men of this "fact" when he planted the seed that, "Ye shall not surely die."

Therefore, men improved on omnipotent God's scriptures by imposing their beliefs on scriptures which were already perfect! Thus, animals become "living creatures" while man becomes a "soul" with its eternal life connotations, although in the original scriptures the same word was used by God to apply to both man and the other animals! The Bible goes on to state:

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 3:19)

This presents an obvious contradiction in the Bible. If man is immortal due to birth, then he certainly has preeminence above other mortal beasts! If two words were required to differentiate between man and the other animals, God would have used two words!

The word "interpretation" has a dual meaning in today's Christianity. One is the obvious meaning synonymous with translation. Since God inspired the original scriptures, the only true "interpretation" required was that of translation into other languages.

The second Christian use of the word interpretation consists of redefining the meaning of the already translated scripture to justify one's preconceived beliefs. This definition is most often used as a defense against those few who believe what the Bible states, and not what most clergy teach. They are quickly accused of interpreting the Bible to meet their needs. In actuality, this is what the entrenched churches have been guilty of for nearly two thousand years.

This second meaning of the word "interpretation" remains in widespread use throughout today's mainstream Christian denominations. It has to be once the initial lie is believed in Genesis. That is, most Christians believe that they possess a soul which lives forever, and point to Genesis 2:7 as proof:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

The Hebrew word translated here as "living soul" is the same word used to describe the other animals which were created. That Hebrew word is nephesh. Nephesh is correctly translated as "a living, breathing being" (See chapter 14 entitled Poor Word Choice).

Once the immortal soul myth is accepted as truth, many other verses must then be "interpreted" to protect the original myth. For example:

...the soul that sinneth, it shall die.   (Ezekiel 18:4)

Since the soul is immortal, the above verse cannot be true. Die cannot mean die. Therefore, it is misinterpreted by theologians to mean something other than God's original meaning. One of the more popular interpretations is that it means "eternal separation from God." Anytime someone begins a sentence with, "That means...," beware of a private interpretation. The above verse means exactly what it states! The soul or person that sins, shall perish.

Verses which do not support the immortality myth must be interpreted to mean something totally different, thus protecting the original misinterpretation. So Christians who believe the immortal soul myth are guilty of the same offense of which they accuse other people who understand the Bible.

What caused the original misinterpretation in the first place? Man is born with a predisposition to believe in his own immortality because he fears death and does not understand his own creation. Satan planted this idea of immortality by telling man, "Ye shall not surely die."

If you express a desire to read or study the Bible on your own, you might receive a warning that "the Bible can be interpreted any number of ways." Is this true? Consider the simple sentence "One is one." Some might "interpret" that to mean, "One is two." Others might claim it really means "One is three," or "One is ninety-nine." There is thus an infinite number of ways to "interpret" this sentence since there are infinite numbers. However, only one of these interpretations is the correct "interpretation." That is, "One is one." Likewise, the scriptures require no "interpretation." They mean what they state!

Consider the sentence, "One is four divided by four," or "One is the square root of nine minus two." These are equivalent to the statement "One is one." Therefore, there are an infinite number of equivalent ways to state that "One is one." However, the simplest and most accurate way to state the sentence remains, "One is one." Theologians often use this latter technique to justify their existence. That is, the more complicated the explanation, the more they are needed for their interpretation. One wrong interpretation must be propagated throughout the Bible to protect the original error!

In addition, the entire Bible must be read and considered as a whole. One should not pick and choose some scriptures while rejecting others to prove a doctrine is appropriate. This is exactly what occurs in most church Bible study groups which are designed to teach preconceived church beliefs.

For example, the crucifixion story is related in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These four books are known collectively as the Gospels, which means "good news." Regarding the two thieves who were crucified along with Jesus, the only Biblical account you probably ever heard in a church study class or in a sermon is the following account from Luke:

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:39-43)

Luke 23 verse 43 is used by theologians to "prove" Christians go immediately to heaven the very instant they die:

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

Churches stop there since that verse states exactly what they would have you believe. It supports the immortal soul myth. That is, if the thief will be with Jesus in paradise that very day, then there is some characteristic of the thief which lives after the death of his body. They believe this to be his eternal soul. However, there are four accounts of the crucifixion in the Bible. As originally written by men under the inspiration of God, all four accounts were true with each other and the other scriptures! Let's examine the other three accounts and see what they say regarding the two thieves in the King James translation of the scriptures:

The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. (Matthew 27:44)

And they that were crucified with him reviled him. (Mark 15:32)

Where they crucified him, and two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. (John 19:18)

Matthew and Mark state that the two thieves reviled and mocked Jesus like others who were present! The account in John simply notes that two others were crucified with Jesus, one on either side. All of these verses could be true. It is possible that both thieves reviled Jesus, then at a later time one changed his mind. However, why would such a significant event reported by Luke not even be given mention in Matthew, Mark, and John? Now, consider the following verse:

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. (John 3:13)

Is this not perfectly clear? Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of man (Mary and Joseph), who came down from heaven, is the only man who has ascended up to heaven, and is there now. How can this be otherwise "interpreted?" Therefore, the thief is not in heaven! But if the thief and other Christians do not go to heaven when they die, what happens to them?

For we which have believed do enter into rest ... (Hebrews 4:3)

"We which have believed," refers to Christians. Therefore, Christians enter into rest. If one of the two thieves believed in Jesus when he died, he entered into rest according to Hebrews 4:3. What is this rest? In many instances, when Jesus "raised someone from the dead," he claimed that they were asleep. For example:

Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn... (Mark 5:39-40)

So the thief who accepted Jesus as his Savior is presently sleeping in his grave. He will be awakened to everlasting life upon Jesus' return:

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life... (Daniel 12:2)

In addition, Jesus did not go to "paradise" immediately after he died on the cross, so He was not in paradise with the thief that same day. He arose from the grave three days later, and ascended shortly thereafter to heaven in the presence of His disciples:

And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. (Luke 24:51)

All of these verses cannot be true as written in the King James Bible. The one which stands out from all the others is Luke 23 verse 43 when Jesus spoke to one of the two thieves:

Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

Elsewhere in the Bible, no one except Jesus has ascended into heaven, Christians who die are asleep in Christ, Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and He will bring it back with Him when He returns. At that time, dead Christians will be resurrected from their graves as spirits and meet him in the air. All of this is in plain English without any "interpretation" required.

The King James translators of the Bible into English obviously believed the immortal soul myth that they would not surely die. This is indicated by their translation of the Hebrew word "nephesh" differently depending on whether it referred to man or other animals. The New Testament was written in the Greek language, which did not contain commas. Given the translators innate human tendencies to believe they have a "soul" which lives for eternity, they would naturally punctuate Luke 23:43 as it is presented in the King James Bible today to perpetuate their belief. However, it cannot be a logically true statement with the remainder of the Bible. On the other hand, by simply moving the inserted comma and transposing two words, that verse can become a true statement in context with all the other verses. That is:

Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with me in paradise.

                                                  Versus

Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

That is, today I am telling you that you will be with me in paradise. If the thief believed in Jesus, and Jesus died for his sins that day before the thief, then the thief died believing in Jesus; in which case he will be born again from his grave as a spirit upon Jesus' return and meet him in the air. So sometime in the future the thief will be with Jesus in paradise, and Jesus informed the thief of that future event the day of His crucifixion. Notice that the thief understood they were speaking of a future event:

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (Luke 23:42)

The thief's statement obviously describes an event which will occur in the future, not that day! When thou comest in the future, remember me! God's kingdom will come to earth and God's will shall be done on earth in the form of Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. We are instructed to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven." When this occurs, the thief wants Jesus to remember him at that time. Many might consider this a "private interpretation," which the scriptures warn against. I consider it a correction of a translation error. There are similar situations in the King James book of Genesis:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep... (Genesis 1:1-2)

This implies that God created the earth without form, void, and dark which would be incorrect, as God never created anything that was not good. Other translations clarify verse two by indicating the earth had become without form and void after God originally created it. For example, the New International Version® renders the same verses as follows:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty; darkness was over the surface of the deep... (Genesis 1:1-2)


Some suggestions about reading the Bible

1 -- The scriptures are "sealed up" until the end times. Even the twelve apostles did not understand the scriptures until Jesus opened their understanding shortly before ascending into heaven:

Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, (Luke 24:45)

Why then should we expect today's theologians to understand them? Although the scriptures are sealed up from our understanding, God left a gaping hole in His security system! Consider what Jesus stated regarding prayer:

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)

Therefore, each time before you begin reading the Bible, you should first pray asking God to open your understanding of the scriptures, believing He will do so!

2 -- Do not let others scare you away from reading the Bible. You do not have to read the Bible under the influence of a study group, or minister. You are not ignorant!

3 -- Read the Bible from the first page to the last as you would read any book. Some passages will be difficult to read. Others are so interesting will not be able to set your Bible down until you have completely read them.

4 -- It would be ideal if you could read the Bible without any preconceived beliefs. Then you could believe the Bible without any conflicts. However, this is virtually impossible since man is born with innate beliefs, and most of us are bombarded with the myths since early childhood. The first time I read the Bible from the first page to the last page, I stated the church's most basic belief and attempted to verify it through the Bible. That belief was:

Man is born with an immortal soul which lives forever.

This basic church theology did not survive the first three chapters of Genesis!


END CHAPTER 9
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