Never read a Bible verse

One of the best of Bible reading tips I have heard is “Never read a Bible verse” by Greg Koukl at Stand to Reason.  The main point is to never read just a Bible verse.  Always read a verse in light of the whole passage. 

Here’s an example of why this is important.  A blogger had some really good messages on his site but would also take parts of passages and make broad claims about them.  For example, he insisted that all believers should “speak in new tongues” as noted in Mark 16:17

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

This analysis has a couple problems.  First, it ignores other more specific and reliable teachings about tongues in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14. 

Second, using this logic, we would interpret Mark 16:18 (the next verse) in the same broad fashion:

they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

That would mean we should all be picking up snakes and drinking deadly poison without dying.  I live in a fairly wooded area of Texas, so I have picked up a few snakes in my time.  However, this is always done (A) with a hoe and (B) after they are really, really dead. 

Before you draw a conclusion from a verse, be sure to consider the verses around it.  It will help you understand what God really intends it to mean. 

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