17 Bible Stories That Are Frequently Misinterpreted

SharePinEmailMany people like to read stories in the Bible in search of comfort or inspiration. Unfortunately, there are some Bible stories that people often get wrong. Here we’ll explore some of those stories to help you gain a better understanding of the lessons you can learn. Adam Was Tempted With an Apple While the apple…

Many people like to read stories in the Bible in search of comfort or inspiration. Unfortunately, there are some Bible stories that people often get wrong. Here we’ll explore some of those stories to help you gain a better understanding of the lessons you can learn.

Adam Was Tempted With an Apple

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While the apple prominently features in artwork, the type of fruit is never specified in the Bible. It is also worth noting that the temptation was not simply eating the fruit, rather the sin was the act of disobeying the clear instructions from God to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge.

In the Garden of Eden, the Forbidden Fruit Was Sex

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Following on from the previous point, many people think that eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden was about sex. The eating of the fruit was about Adam and Eve’s disobedience in an attempt to diminish God’s authority. 

Although eating the fruit did lead to an awareness of their nakedness and shame, the forbidden fruit being linked to sexuality does not align with the story’s themes. 

There Were Two of Every Animal on Noah’s Ark

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As a child, you may have seen the storybook version of Noah’s ark, with a packed boat, housing every animal on earth. The actual story in the Bible proscribes that two of every type of unclean animal and seven of each clean animal were brought on board. This creates an argument for some biological variations in the species after the big flood. 

The Three Wise Men Were There When Jesus Was Born

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Nativity scenes around the world often show the newborn Jesus with shepherds and the three wise men. In the Gospel of Matthew, the wise men brought Jesus gifts, but the timing of their visit is not revealed. This means that they may have brought their gold, frankincense, and myrrh when Jesus was a toddler or small child. 

David Was a Small Shepherd Boy When He Faced Goliath

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The story of David and Goliath often depicts a young, small teen facing off against a giant. But, the actual Bible story describes David as a “rugged” figure who was “goodly to look to” when he was selected to fight Goliath. This suggests that although he was a young man, he was physically fit and could have been a seasoned warrior

Many people are obsessed with the size of David, but his faith in God and the courage he derives from it is the point of the story. 

Jonah Tangled With a Whale

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Often referred to as “Jonah and the Whale,” in this biblical story Jonah was swallowed by a “great fish.” The actual creature is not specified as the real point of the story is Jonah’s reluctance to obey God and his miraculous survival. 

Samson’s Hair Was the Key to His Power

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In many dramatic adaptations, as soon as Samson’s hair is cut, he loses his power. Samson’s Nazarite vow was not just about his hair. It included abstaining from wine and avoiding contact with any dead bodies. Samson received his strength from being faithful to this vow and his covenant with God. In his dealings with Delilah, Samson broke his vow and thus lost God’s protection. 

The Occupation of Mary Magdalene

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This mistake is likely due to the name Mary being common in the Bible. In the Gospel of Luke, a different Mary is “a sinner,” but there is no mention of Mary Magdalene being a prostitute. She is described as being healed of demonic possession and subsequently becoming a devoted follower of Jesus. 

Jesus’ Birthday is December 25th

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There is no specific date for Jesus’ birth in the Bible. December 25th was probably adopted by the early church to coincide with existing winter solstice celebrations. 

Since there were shepherds tending flocks on the night of his birth, Jesus’ birthday was more likely to be in springtime. 

Homosexuality Destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah

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The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is often used to condemn same-sex relationships, but to solely blame homosexuality for the destruction is a misinterpretation. In the Bible, the prophet Ezekiel lists several offenses of corruption that ran deeper than just sexual sin. Gluttony, pride, lack of compassion, and general wickedness are the reasons why society turned away from God and faced destructive consequences. 

The Lions Were Not Hungry Enough to Eat Daniel

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Some cynics believe that Daniel survived in the den of lions simply because they were not hungry, but the Bible states God protected Daniel by shutting the mouths of the lions. The point of the story is to emphasize God’s power, and Daniel survived because he remained true to God even when facing certain death. 

Mary Rode A Donkey on the Way to Bethlehem:

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There have been songs, poems, and children’s storybooks that depict a pregnant Mary riding a donkey on the way to Bethlehem. But, the Bible story goes that Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem and, because they were a poor young couple, they may simply not have had the money to afford animal transportation. 

“God Helps Those Who Help Themselves”

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Although a popular catchphrase, this is not a story in the Bible. There is an emphasis on God’s help and grace being extended to the helpless. 

Wealth and Prosperity are Bad

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Several Bible stories warn about a love of money and the dangers of greed, but this doesn’t mean that wealth and prosperity are bad. There are key figures such as Solomon, Job, and Abraham who had material wealth and are still considered righteous men. 

“Turn the Other Cheek” Means To Accept Abuse

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This teaching is not about being a pacifist, but rather subverting expectations. The context of the story is that a slap is a humiliation and by turning the other cheek, you refuse to give satisfaction to the other person and can prevent an escalation. You can still defend yourself but with dignity. 

It Happens for a Reason

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Although a comforting idea, everything happening for a reason is not supported in Bible stories. The reality of suffering, random events, and even meaningless tragedy is acknowledged in the Bible. Although God can be working through painful circumstances, it is misguided to assume that every single thing in life is divinely orchestrated. 

Judas Was Completely Evil

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While Judas betraying Jesus is a pivotal story in the Bible, it doesn’t mean that he was irrevocably evil. Committing suicide suggests regret and inner conflict about his actions. The story should be a warning about greed and sin hardening the heart rather than condemning Judas for eternity. 

Reading the Bible

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If you’ve believed some of the incorrect details in these Bible stories, it may be time to reread the Bible yourself. You may find that you now have a new perspective and can take away new lessons that can help you in your daily life.

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