Fifth Key: Consider All the Scriptures on the Subject
Another vital key to understanding Scripture is taking the time to look up the related verses on a subject before coming to a conclusion. The apostle Paul set an admirable example in this regard when he taught certain truths about Jesus by referring to many passages in the Bible of his day, the Hebrew scriptures.
"So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening" (Acts 28:23). To prove his point, Paul carefully expounded the scriptures that dealt with Christ as the Messiah.
To properly understand a subject, all related scriptures must be taken into account. This is the principle of "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:13). The spiritual nature of the Bible is described in Ephesians 6:17 as "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Various verses on the same subject can clarify biblical doctrines.
Many times, when one verse appears to contradict another, it is really only complementing the other, with each verse telling part of the story. For instance, in Luke 14:26 Jesus states, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
This reference to hating one's family might sound strange coming from Jesus, who said on another occasion: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:43-44).
Jesus plainly taught we should not hate anyone. How, then, can these two scriptures be explained?
We reconcile them by examining another discussion of the same subject. In Matthew 10:37 we read: "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." Here we find that it is not "hating" that Christ meant, but "loving less." As some scholars point out, Jesus did use the word meaning "hate," but this was apparently a figure of speech properly understood by His audience as meaning "loving less," as Matthew made clear in his account.
When we compare both passages, the contradiction disappears. We see that we can easily take one statement out of context and come up with an erroneous interpretation of it.
By using this fifth key—carefully compiling the related passages before determining what is meant on a particular subject—we can avoid confusion and error. The Bible does not contradict itself; its writers complement each other.
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