Thursday, May 17, 2012


Sometimes in one's haste to make things easier and more convenient something gets lost along the way.  The meaning of it is missed or at the very least diminished.  So is the case with the division of the Bible into chapters and verses.  While it does make it easier to find a particular chapter and verse, something has been lost because of this division.

I don't know if you are aware of it or not, but the division of the Bible by chapters and verses was man-made. The originals were written in letter form.

Chapters were added to all the books of the Bible in 1227 by Stephen Langton, a professor at the University  of Paris.  Then in 1551 Robert Stephanus, a printer, numbered all the sentences in all the books of the New Testament (Norman Geisler annd William Nix, A General Introduction Of The Bible, 340-341, 451).

In the book "Pagan Christianity", authors Frank Viola and George Barna wrote, "So verses were born in the pages of holy writ in the year 1551.  And since that time God's people have approached the New Testament with scissors and glue, cutting and pasting isolated, disjointed sentences from different letters, lifting them out of their real life setting, lashing them together to build floatable doctrines, and then calling it 'the Word of God.'"  You see, we see chapters and verses when we open our Bibles, as opposed to the whole picture.

As is, man has turned the New Testament into a manual, of sorts, that can be chopped up into fragments to prove nearly any point.  This is done by taking a verse here and a verse there in total disregard for the context these verses were written in and belong to.

No wonder we accept as biblical the office of pastor, the Sunday morning order of worship, sermons, church buildings, religious dress, seminaries and a passive priesthood of believers without giving it a second thought!  We've been conditioned to believe it because we have been taught this way in this jigsaw method of Bible interpretation.
One scholar writes, "If future editions of the New Testament want to aid rather than hinder a reader's understanding of the New Testament, it should be realized that the time is ripe to cause both the verse and chapter divisions to disappear from the text and to be put on the margin in as inconspicuous a place as possible.  Every effort must be made to print the text in a way which make it possible for the units which the author himself had in mind to become apparent" (emphasis mine; von Sod en, Die Schriften des Newen Testamentes, 482).

Most of us have been raised to look at the New Testament under the lense of a microscope cutting out verses we want to use to establish the points we want to make. We need to give up this mentality and approach the Scriptures in a fresh new way.  We need to look at the New Testament as a whole especially the epistles.  We need to look at them from beginning to end in order to have a better understanding of the context.

When we do this, we will learn the story from beginning to end.  We'll no longer take Scripture out of context.  We will see and understand the entire picture and the Bible will come alive to us like never before!  We will have a better grasp on what was being said and why when we look at the context.  Let's be careful to "rightly divide" the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


This blog post is another in a series looking at the practices of churches today and how they line up with the New Testament.  Perhaps this series could be better called, "Kicking Over Sacred Cows". For further reading and research, I recommend the book "Pagan Christianity?" by Frank Viola and George Barna.

I want to thank those of you who are sharing this blog with others.  I so appreciate it.  It's my desire to encourage and challenge believers everywhere to be the church Jesus has called us to be.  Leave the baggage of organize religion and serve Jesus in freedom following the leading of the Spirit as we gather in His name.  Please feel free to continue to post a link to this blog on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or even email it by using the icons below.  Let's see what God will do!

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