How Many Verse Are in the Bible?
Zero. That is, chapter and verse divisions were not introduced into English translations of the New Testament until 1557. In 1560, these divisions were introduced into English translations of the entire Bible.1
“…verse divisions are not part of the original documents, but were added much later. When we speak of the Holy Spirit’s inspiring the Scriptures, we are talking about the text itself, not about the reference numbers.”2
I say that to say, the Bible is not a compilation of one-liners. Why should we pluck various segments from various sentences from various paragraphs from various books and ignore their original context? In a recent Facebook Post i wrote:
Don’t you hate when people intentionally twist your words?
Or when you people take what you say the wrong way?
Whether it offends or leads someone on, isn’t it frustrating when you mean one thing and someone thinks it means something completely different?
If so, regardless of our worldview, may we keep this in mind whenever we try to interpret the words written in the Bible.
Skeptics and believers alike can fall into the temptation of interpreting the words of Scripture “verses” — often out of context– to confirm our preconceived biases.
It can be easier to disbelieve in a Straw Man caricature of God, or believe in a misconception of God that suits our desires, rather than to diligently strive to understand what the biblical authors actually meant to say.
I suspect they hated when people twisted their words, too.
I think I may begin a series of the “verses” most frequently taken out of context (e.g., Jer 29:11, Php 4:13, Ex 14:14, 2 Ch 7:14, Psalm 118:24, Jn 8:32, Is 54:17, etc.) one day.
Image from: http://youthmin.org/downloads/straight-outta-context/
- Michael Joseph Brown, What They Don’t Tell You: A Survivor’s Guide to Biblical Studies, (Louisville: John Knox Westminster Press, 2000), 125.
- Emphasis added. Duvall, J. Scott; Hays, J. Daniel. Grasping God’s Word (Enhanced Edition): A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (p. 155). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.