18 Bible Verses That Are Often Misunderstood

Written By Babatunde Sanni

The Bible, in its vastness, can be confusing to people sometimes, especially considering our cultural and linguistic differences. We’ve compiled 18 verses that are common victims of misinterpretation and what they truly mean.

“Money is the Root of All Evil” (1 Timothy 6:10)

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Many read this verse and say the Bible considers having money evil. But, in actuality, 1 Timothy 6:10 says that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” As explained by BibleRef, it implies that it’s the greed and misplaced priorities from the pursuit of money that push one to sin, not money itself. This is a warning against taking the pursuit of wealth as our idol.

“Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child” (Proverbs 13:24)

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Proverbs 13:24 is usually taken as a biblical authorization to impose harsh physical punishment on children, when, taken in context, it never does this. As read from Bible Gateway, Proverbs 13:24 refers to the “rod” as only gentle, corrective guidance in training up children, and anything but this is us “hating” them.

“An Eye for an Eye” (Exodus 21:24)

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Ordinarily, many people understand this verse as an endorsement of revenge without considering the right context. Reading further into Exodus 21:25, we see that the Bible uses it to set limits on our actions and promote justice towards people under us (in this case, slaves). It prevents excessive retribution and encourages us to act fairly towards others.

“The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth” (Matthew 5:5)

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Misunderstood as promoting passivity, this verse actually highlights the virtues of humility and gentleness. Meekness in the biblical sense involves strength under control and a trusting submission to God’s will, rather than weakness or timidity.

“Where Two or Three Are Gathered” (Matthew 18:20)

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Many interpret this verse to mean that God’s presence is only possible at a group gathering. However, the context relates to church discipline and agreement in prayer. It assures believers of Christ’s presence and support when they come together to seek God’s will in unity.

“Train Up a Child” (Proverbs 22:6)

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Interpreted as a guarantee of a child’s faithfulness, this verse actually underscores the importance of early education and moral guidance. It suggests that proper upbringing sets a strong foundation, though it does not negate individual choice and the potential for personal deviation.

“The Peace That Passes Understanding” (Philippians 4:7)

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Often seen as a promise of constant tranquility, this verse speaks of a profound inner peace amidst life’s challenges. It emphasizes that trusting in God’s sovereignty and maintaining a prayerful attitude can provide comfort and stability, even in difficult circumstances.

“Be Still and Know That I Am God” (Psalm 46:10)

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Commonly used to encourage quiet reflection, this verse originally called for the cessation of striving and recognition of God’s supremacy during turbulent times. It invites believers to trust in God’s power and sovereignty, finding peace in His control over all situations.

“Faith Without Works is Dead” (James 2:26)

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James 2:26 is sometimes misunderstood as contradicting the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. In reality, reading the full verse from Bible.com, it complements the doctrine by emphasizing that genuine faith naturally produces good works. It teaches that true faith manifests in actions, reflecting a transformed life and sincere devotion.

“Ask, and It Shall Be Given” (Matthew 7:7)

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Misinterpreted as a blank check for any request, this verse actually emphasizes persistence in prayer and alignment with God’s will. It encourages believers to seek God’s guidance and provision, trusting that He knows what is best for their lives and will provide according to this.

“Be Fruitful and Multiply” (Genesis 1:28)

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Some interpret this command as solely about procreation. But in context, it was part of God’s blessing to humanity, encompassing stewardship and the responsible filling of the earth. It emphasizes human partnership in God’s creation, extending beyond mere reproduction to caring for the world.

“Turn the Other Cheek” (Matthew 5:39)

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Matthew 5:39 is misunderstood as advocating passivity in the face of injustice. Instead, it teaches retaliation through the demonstration of love and forgiveness, even towards aggressors. The principle encourages breaking the cycle of violence and responding to wrongs with grace and humility.

“The Last Shall Be First” (Matthew 20:16)

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Seen as a promise of reversal of fortunes, this verse illustrates the values of God’s kingdom, where humility and service are exalted. It contrasts worldly ambition with spiritual greatness, emphasizing that true honor comes from serving others selflessly, not from seeking personal advancement.

“Wives, Submit to Your Husbands” (Ephesians 5:22)

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This verse is often taken out of context to justify dominance. Reading into Ephesians 5:25, UMich shows that the surrounding verses emphasize mutual submission and love within marriage, modeling the relationship between Christ and the church. It calls for a partnership characterized by respect, love, and sacrificial care from both parties.

“All Things Work Together for Good” (Romans 8:28)

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Frequently quoted to suggest that everything will turn out positively, this verse assures that God’s purposes will prevail, even through hardship. It emphasizes God’s sovereignty and the ultimate good for those who love Him, which is often beyond immediate understanding or circumstances.

“A Woman’s Place is in the Home” (Titus 2:5)

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Misinterpreted as restricting women’s roles, this verse actually advises older women to mentor younger women in managing household responsibilities. It reflects cultural contexts of the time while highlighting the value of domestic stewardship rather than imposing rigid gender roles.

“You Are Gods” (Psalm 82:6)

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This verse is sometimes used to suggest human divinity. But in context, it addresses unjust leaders, reminding them of their mortality and accountability to God. It underscores the responsibility and eventual mortal fate faced by those in positions of authority, rather than elevating their human status.

“He Will Not Let You Be Tempted” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

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While many interpret this to mean that true believers will never be tempted by more than they can handle, it’s actually a promise that God will give us as an escape from temptation. It assures us that no matter how tempting and overwhelming a sin is to us, there is always a way out—and this is by following Jesus’s teachings.

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