18 Commonly Misunderstood Bible Stories

SharePinEmailBiblical stories are known all around the world, offering us valuable lessons and guidance for our lives. Yet, there are some stories that aren’t what they seem as the passage of time has led people to misunderstand and misinterpret them. This article delves into biblical stories that people frequently get wrong. Here are 18 commonly…

Biblical stories are known all around the world, offering us valuable lessons and guidance for our lives. Yet, there are some stories that aren’t what they seem as the passage of time has led people to misunderstand and misinterpret them.

This article delves into biblical stories that people frequently get wrong. Here are 18 commonly misunderstood Bible stories.

Adam and Eve’s Forbidden Fruit

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The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden contained within the Old testament brings up ideas of temptation and sin. In this narrative, both Adam and Eve are cast out from the garden for eating a forbidden “fruit”. Although it never explicitly mentioned that the fruit was an apple, many of us today believe it to be so.

The Animals in Noah’s Ark and the Flood

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Noah’s Ark chronicles God’s decision to cleanse the earth by inciting a flood to rid them of wickedness and sin to be reinvisioned with Noah’s Ark. However, there is some confusion around the quantity of animals that Noah brought onto the Ark. Because of misinterpretations of the text in Genesis which refer to “two of every kind” (Genesis 6:19-20) and “seven pairs of every kind” (Genesis 7:2-3), readers are confused as to how many animals he actually had on the Ark.

The Whale in Jonah and the Fish

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In this popular biblical story, a “great fish” (Jonah 1:17) is used to describe what swallowed Jonah. However, it never actually reveals that the big fish is a whale, meaning that perhaps people have simply assumed it over time as it could refer to any kind of fish, shark or whale.

The Tower of Babel

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The Tower of Babel explains the origin of different languages and the dispersion of people across the earth. In this story, God intervenes by confusing their language, resulting in the different languages spoken today. However, many people fail to see that this intervention wasn’t a form of punishment. Rather, it was a productive move to broaden our culture and language.

David and Goliath

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Questions are raised regarding the size of David vs Goliath in the Bible. Despite David’s small size, he was able to defeat Goliath who was a giant Philistine warrior. However, it is likely that this story is a metaphor for overcoming adversity and not intended to be taken literally.

Samson and Delilah

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Contrary to popular belief, Salmon’s strength did not lie in his hair. Despite the fact that his hair is a key symbol in the story, what’s more important is his Nazarite vow to God which entailed not cutting his hair; something that many people overlook.

Moses and the Burning Bush

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One day, Moses heard the voice of God coming from a burning bush. When the burning bush in the story of Moses is on fire, it’s important to note that it was not consumed. Where most people focus on the state of the bush, it is more about a lesson on the omnipresence of God.

The Parting of the Red Sea

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The Bible describes the sea parting to permit the escape of Israelites from Pharaoh’s army. This story is often misunderstood as a miraculous event that seems far fetched. However, it also has a deeper meaning, promoting liberation, faith and divine intervention in periods of struggle.

The Ten Commandments

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Moses was given the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, in what would become a critical moment. However, there still remains some questions about how he received them. While many people believe he received them all at once, he actually obtained them in stages.

The Fall of Jericho

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In this story, Joshua is said to have led the Israelites after their 40 years of wandering in the Sinai desert. The Fall of Jericho is commonly misunderstood because people think the Israelites won the battle because of their own strength, but the Bible says it was God’s miraculous intervention that caused the walls to fall.

Daniel in the Lions’ Den

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Daniel in the Lions’ Den is frequently misconstrued in modern society. While many think he went into the den as a form of punishment for defying King Darius’ decree, the reality is very different. Instead, his rivals falsely accused him of praying to God instead of the king. 

The Prodigal Son

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The Prodigal Son story is read by many as a tale of repentance and forgiveness. Yet, many individuals fail to tune into the more complex themes such as sibling rivalry between the brothers. In this way, it also serves as a warning to curb feelings of resentment.

The Good Samaritan

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Readers of the Bible may interpret this story as a straightforward tale about the importance of supporting other people. However, there are also other lessons we can learn from this story such as the value of being merciful and empathetic. The good Samaritan story teaches us that knowledge is not enough as we need the right heart.

Jesus Walking on Water

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Possibly one of the most popular stories in the Bible, this tale of Jesus walking on water may appear on the surface as an isolated miracle. Upon closer inspection, however, it also demonstrates Jesus’ unique relationship with nature as he is able to gain control over it.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

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Despite the Crucifixion appearing as a physical act where Jesus undergoes a process of suffering, it is actually more of a spiritual journey relating to Jewish prophecies and God’s relationship with humans. Many people choose to focus on the pain of Jesus instead of considering the bigger picture.

The Resurrection of Jesus

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Jesus’ resurrection is often read as a divine reinstatement of his life. Yet, it is more complex than people may think as it signifies victory over sin and death. While Jesus is not revived in his human form, it hints to the promise of eternal life. In this way, the resurrection was both physical and spiritual.

The Conversion of Saul

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The Conversion of Saul, a famous painting by Michelangelo, is often misunderstood. People think it shows Saul becoming a Christian, but it actually shows Saul converting from being someone who dislikes  Christians to a follower of Jesus. It also concerns themes such as transformation and healing.

The Battle of Armageddon

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Without historical context, the Battle of Armageddon story can be difficult to understand. Contradicting what most people believe, it is not just about the end of the world, but also alludes to bigger spiritual and moral themes.

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