Nothing is sacred about the verses. The Bible was written in paragraphs. The verses were put in by a French printer named Stephanus who was fleeing persecution in Paris to safety in Lyons. It is said that every time the wagon hit a bump Stephanus marked a verse. For example Acts 21 ends with a comma.

Be certain to identify who's speaking to whom. The Bible says, "All that a man has will he give to save his life." God never said that. The devil said that!

Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12: "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." To whom is Paul speaking? Saints? Sinners? Gentiles? the Church? Christians? Non-Christians? How we answer this question makes all the difference in the world in interpreting this passage.

Commands in one culture don't necessarily carry over to another culture. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that women should not have short hair. Is that a command for women today. I think not. This is a cultural issue. Prostitutes in that culture wore short hair for advertising. There is a culturally relevant principle here for any age or culture: abstain from all appearances of evil.

Commands to individuals are not the will of God for us. God told Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. He doesn’t tell us to do that.

Not all the promises in the Bible are for everyone. Some promises are universal: “Whoever believes in Jesus will be saved” (John 3:16). Some are personal: God promised to protect Paul in his journey from Athens. He doesn't promise that to missionaries. God told Hezekiah that he heard his prayer and extended his life for fifteen years. He didn't promise that to you or me! Some promises are conditional: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

The Bible is not a book of divination. We can get into trouble by taking verses out of context and using them to try to find personal messages for guidance and decision making (divination). A man was trying to find God's will. He decided to open his Bible and place his finger on a verse and do whatever it said. He shut eyes. Opened his Bible and placed his finger on a verse and read: "Judas went out and hanged himself." He decided to try again. He shut eyes, placed a finger, opened his eyes and read: “Go and do thou likewise."

I know of a man who tried the same thing. He placed his finger at random in the Bible and landed in the Book of Jonah: “Jonah went down to the sea and got into a boat.” The young man joined the navy

Try to get a blessing out of 1 Chronicles 26:18: “At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar (KJV).

Use your cross references. The best commentaries on Mark are Matthew, Luke and John. The best commentary on Hebrews is Leviticus. The best commentary on Ephesians is Colossians.

After feeding the 5,000, Matthew tells us that Jesus made His disciples get into a boat and leave! Why? Matthew doesn't tell us. But John 6 does. They were trying to make Him King.


The Bible is a piece of literature. Read prose as prose and poetry as poetry. Psalm 60:8: "Moab is my wash pot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe." No one takes this literally. Does this mean that God washes His face and has shoes? No! A good interpretation is, “Just as a slave cares for shoes and washes pots, so will Edom be reduced to menial tasks.

Psalm 91:4: "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” Does God have feathers and wings? No, it is a picture of God’s protection.

When Jesus says, "I am the Door," use your good sense. He's not made out of wood.

The A.B.C. Principles are remarkably simple, easy to use and remember. Let me illustrate the need for the ABC principles with one of my favorite stories.