Malachi 2:8…”But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble.” We must not only consult the written word, but desire instruction and advice from our pastors/elders, as God has given them authority in the affairs of our souls (Hebrews 13:17). Seeking churches whose pastors/elders preach the gospel with clarity and consistency is imperative. In this verse, while the term ‘false teacher’ isn’t used explicitly, the idea is implied. The confusion over what’s true is especially prevalent today because contemporary Christians have not been well-trained in understanding how to study/interpret/understand the Bible.
Pastors/elders should teach the scriptures carefully, not taking individual verses out of the context. A text taken out of context becomes a pretext. The word “context” as it is used here simply means to understand what the Bible is saying in comparison to the surrounding passage. One sentence or one phrase outside of a paragraph can have a completely different meaning unless it is read in context of the surrounding ideas. To develop a biblical pretext means to give a pre-conceived notion of what the phrase means. Most of the bad pretexts about the Bible come from reading a verse out of context of the surrounding passages.
Here are 5 examples of commonly misinterpreted verses:
“Touch not my anointed ones…” (1 Chronicles 16:22) (Used by false prophets and charlatans to shield themselves from criticism).
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) (Used by modern prosperity teachers for promising vain temporal blessings to potential converts. Works well in America, but not so well in Sudan.)
“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.” (1 Chronicles 4:10) (See above. Also popular in the prosperity movement.)
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) (Used to ignore church government or as justification by many to start their own church.)
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) (A favorite of non-believers and casual church goers to justify their own wickedness.)