Here are four Bible verses that people often take out of context.
Matthew 5:39 “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Does this mean that anyone can punch on you or slap you anytime they want? No. The context of Matthew 5 is Jesus teaching on the beatitudes, and verse 39 is set within a paragraph that has Jesus speaking about persecution or retaliating against someone who does you harm. This verse doesn’t give anyone permission to be punching bags. But instead of retaliating, Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
It is true that we can do all things through Christ. But what were these “all things” that Paul was talking about? It wasn’t’ speaking things into existence or believing our words would make things happen. What most people think this verse means actually means almost the opposite. Paul had to learn how to be content and says, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:12). It’s not easy, but he knew that he could “do all things through him who strengthens me” and not by his own strength.
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Some claim this verse as their “life verse” and use it to claim that God will make them rich or make them never have any need or want, but that’s not the context. We’ve already read about Paul’s learning how to be content. He wouldn’t have had to learn it if it came naturally, and it doesn’t. This verse comes close to that of Philippians 4:13 and says that God will supply the Philippians’ every need. Not their every greed but their every need. Why? Because the Philippians had been so generous in supplying Paul’s aid that God would make sure their needs were taken care of (Philippians 4:15-18). This is not a carte blanche for anything we want but everything God sees that we’ll need.
Exodus 21:24 “an eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”
This Old Testament law was designed to keep retaliation from happening and escalating into a family feud. Instead, the offended party is to let the Israelite judges make judgments and not take the law into their own hands. Jesus amped this by saying, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:38-39). This was not a “you hit me, I hit you” law but to turn the other cheek and not retaliate in kind or with the same response because, as Jesus says, “What more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same” (Matthew 5:47)?
Anytime a Bible verse is ripped out of the Bible, it is ripped out of its context and easily creates a false pretext. Some churches take one verse and build a church around it. But truthfully, it takes the whole Word of God read in the whole context of the book or chapter to get the whole meaning.