The Danger in Saying, “This is what this Bible verse means to me.”

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

It is dangerous to say, “This is what this verse means to me,” mainly because the Scripture says what it means and means what it says and is not up for private interpretation.

Subjective vs Objective Truth

It is dangerous to say, “This is what this verse means to me,” mainly because the Scripture says what it means and means what it says and is not up for interpretation. There are truths that are subjective and truths that are objective. Subjective truth or knowledge can be and often has been wrong, but objective truth (2 + 2 = 4) cannot be wrong. Subjective truth makes the best guess possible based upon the best evidence they have, but later on, it turns out wrong, so subjective truth is subject to error. That’s why every few years schools receive new science textbooks. In time, the old ones become outdated as many of their “scientific facts” turn out to be wrong.

Subject to Error

One good example of subjective truth is the fallacy that at one time, early in human history, much of the world believed that the earth was flat. They had thought that what you can see with your own eyes must be true, or if we observe it, it must be true. Little did they know that from outer space, the earth is not flat but a sphere. The Egyptians and some of the early Greeks knew this, but much of the world didn’t until much later and why many feared to sail too far in the oceans, fearing they’d fall of the edge of the earth. What they believed was not objective truth (or actual truth), but subjective truth, meaning it is subject to error. We can be thankful that the truth found in Scripture is objective truth and cannot be wrong because it’s Author (God) is perfect in every way. In fact, Jesus Himself is the Truth (John 14:6).

The Helper

Subjective truth (what this verse means to me) is a slippery slope to traverse because we can slide away from the truth of God’s Word. When we start to interpret what this verse means, we are taking the place of the Holy Spirit Who helps us understand the Word of God (John 15:26), mainly because the Scripture says what it means and means what it says and is not up for interpretation. There is only one meaning to Scripture, so we shouldn’t be saying, “This is what this verse means to me.” It means only one thing and so let Scripture interpret Scripture. The Bible speaks for itself, or rather, God speaks for Himself through the Bible and it is what He means, not what we think it means. There is danger is thinking it means one thing to one person and one thing to another. Where there is difficulty in understanding a verse, we can use cross references to see what other Bible verses say about this subject in the hopes that we might better understand the verse we didn’t understand. It’s okay to say, “I am not sure” or “I don’t really know exactly what God was saying.” That’s better than trying to force our own thinking into what the Bible verse says. Where the Bible is silent, so must we be silent.

No Private Interpretations Allowed!

The Bible is clear that it is not up to us to interpret Scripture. For one thing, we can let Scripture interpret Scripture, but also the Holy Spirit opens our understanding about the things of God. The Apostle Peter said “that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20), and clearly, “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21). If you don’t believe me, go up to someone who you know is not saved and ask them a question about the Bible, like, “What does the atonement mean at Calvary?” The unsaved person will probably give you a blank look and say, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

We know that “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). God’s truth is not humanly discerned or learned by academic study or through spiritual insight. It is only by God’s Spirit that we can know God’s Word. The point is; don’t try to figure it out…or give an answer you’re not sure of…or guess (and risk being wrong and misleading people). There is great danger from God Himself if you or I teach or mislead people as teachers of God’s Word will be held to a  higher standard (James 3:1).


I have heard it so many times; “Here’s what that verse means to me.” What we should ask is, “What does this verse mean to me? What is God telling me in this verse? What truth is there in the verse or verses?” Now, as a last but not least important point; if you are not saved my friend, you are in real danger of the judgement of God. In fact, you are in immediate danger because you are only one breath, one heartbeat…one accident away from eternity. Then, it will be too late to repent. This is why today is the best day to believe (2 Cor 6:2). Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. If Jesus Christ came today, will you hear these fatal words (Matt 7:21-23)? I pray not. This is all the more reason why I plead with you right now…as you read this, repent today and put your trust in Savior. If you do not, you will surely face God’s judgment after death (Heb 9:27) or possibly at Jesus Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), whichever event comes first.

Here is some related reading for you: How to Interpret the Bible

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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