18 Reasons the Bible’s Messages Are Misunderstood in Modern Times

SharePinEmailThe Bible has guided billions of people for many centuries. But today, some people misunderstand the teachings of the Bible and forget the cultural differences prevalent at the times the scriptures were written. Here are 18 reasons why the Bible is misunderstood in the 21st century. Missing the Context The Bible was written long ago…

The Bible has guided billions of people for many centuries. But today, some people misunderstand the teachings of the Bible and forget the cultural differences prevalent at the times the scriptures were written. Here are 18 reasons why the Bible is misunderstood in the 21st century.

Missing the Context

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The Bible was written long ago so we must consider its historical context to gain a true interpretation. Events took place in the Near East and in ancient Israel with rituals, sacrifices, and offerings to many Gods occurring. Whilst many would abhor animal sacrifice today, this was common practice at the time.

Leviticus 1:5: “The animal would be slaughtered, and the blood would be sprinkled around the altar by the priests.”

Cultural Differences

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Modern society is vastly different from the society that existed in the Near East 2,000 years ago and beyond. One significant cultural difference is the practice of polygamy which was particularly prevalent amongst the wealthy such as King David. King David had eight wives who we know about, but there were probably more.

2 Samuel 5:13: “And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.”

Less Exposure

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In contrast to previous generations, young Americans today are less exposed to Biblical teachings and are not used to seeing whole passages from the Bible. They might have heard phrases such as “God moves in a mysterious way”, thinking this is a quote from the Bible. But it is a quote from the poet William Cowper in the 18th century.

Translation Errors

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The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, so translating the text into English does bring about some translation errors, printing errors, and holy mistakes. There might be cultural expressions that were common at the time but sound strange to us or there might be copying errors that lead to misinterpretations.

Language Complexity

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Without completing a detailed study, many readers of the Bible may find some parts of the language complex and difficult to understand. This includes the use of poetic imagery and symbolism to portray allegories and spiritual truths.

Literal Interpretations

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Christians adopt a different approach to interpretation when reading the Bible. Some might take a literal approach and truly believe that everything written did physically happen. Other Christians might take a metaphorical approach and believe that some parts of the Bible are symbolic and did not physically occur.

Personal Bias

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Depending on the views of one person, they may interpret Biblical teachings in a certain way. A true understanding of the Bible requires the removal of bias and a factual understanding of the word of God.

Selective Interpretations

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Choosing particular Bible verses to prove a point can lead to misunderstandings and interpreting biblical teaching to meet an agenda. This is particularly true if there is an opposing biblical verse that you have chosen to omit.

Theological Perspectives

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Biblical teachings can be misunderstood depending on the theological perspective you adopt. So, if you have a deep-rooted belief in God, you might interpret teachings in favor of a forgiving, loving God. If you are an atheist, you might interpret the same Bible verse in a disbelieving manner.

Secular Lifestyles

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America is becoming more secular with the number of people following Christianity declining at alarming rates. A secular lifestyle might result in some people misunderstanding the teachings of the Bible, willingly or unwillingly.

Scientific Knowledge

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As scientific knowledge grows, more people might disbelieve the miracles that have occurred in Bible verses. This is particularly true when considering advancements in physics and chemistry. But we should recognize that science and religion can coexist and complement one another and that science will not destroy the true faith.


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Not wanting to believe in God and instead intentionally misinterpreting biblical teachings can be a common occurrence in the 21st century. It’s essential to remember that pride is one of the deadly sins along with greed, lust, gluttony, envy, sloth, and wrath.

Proverbs 11:2: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

1 Peter 5:5: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Media Influence

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Without reading the Bible, some people might watch misinterpretations of biblical stories through watching television or movies. This includes misrepresenting historical and cultural contexts or simply sensationalizing biblical verses. An example of media misrepresentation is in the movie ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ (2014) which includes inaccuracies surrounding the portrayal of Moses.

Changes in Societal Norms

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Differences in societal norms in the 21st century might influence how Bible verses are interpreted, with some readers feeling conflicted or even disgusted. Key examples include the way that women were treated in society at the time biblical verses were written, as well as the acceptance of slavery at the time.


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The Bible is a vast collection of texts, scriptures, and poetry. Some people do not understand this and then misinterpret the genre. They might also highlight confusion surrounding the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament and show mockery towards Biblical teachings.

Poor Teaching

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Many Christians will hear Bible verses from a teacher or another authoritative figure without reading the passage directly themselves. They are relying on an accurate interpretation from the teacher. So, if the teacher misunderstands the passage, they will absorb the same misunderstanding.

Lack of Religious Education

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There is clear separation between the church and the state in America. So, in public schools, religion is not promoted in any form. The responsibility for understanding the Bible comes from the home and the Church which may not always occur. This lack of guidance is linked to reduced exposure to the Bible, particularly in young Americans.

Less Importance

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Many Americans do not value the Bible as they once did, seeing biblical teachings as offering less importance to their lives. This is due to many secular influences and lifestyles that are prevalent across the country as well as the diversity of religions that young people grow up with today. They may view Christianity as unimportant and prefer another religion or no religion at all.

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