Interpret our Master’s patient restraint for what it is: salvation. Our good brother Paul, who was given much wisdom in these matters, refers to this in all his letters, and has written you essentially the same thing. Some things Paul writes are difficult to understand. Irresponsible people who don’t know what they are talking about twist them every which way. They do it to the rest of the Scriptures, too, destroying themselves as they do it. (THE MESSAGE)
There are two rather paradoxical statements we can make about the Bible. One is that it is meant to convey the good news of salvation to all and given that God doesn’t mess things up, that message is understandable to all.
The other statement is that the Bible deals with profound truths which were expressed in a language and culture other than our own. And so it is at times very hard to understand and different people interpret it differently.
Our passage today hints at the difficulties we may have grasping the true meaning. It seems even Peter had problems with Paul! There are some complex passages that no-one seems to understand. We can get very dogmatic on things that are genuinely open to varying interpretations. Or as our text suggests, we can twist Scripture to get it to mean what we want it to mean.
The very fact that the Bible is sometimes hard to understand is a comfort to us. When even the experts can’t figure some things out, we can feel some relief in our own puzzlement. In fact, we don’t have to completely understand every part of the Bible to be clear as to its central message of God’s love and mercy for we who need that love and mercy. Our limitations of understanding ought not to blind us to what we can and do understand.
As the American writer Mark Twain said, “It is not the parts of the Bible I can’t understand that bother me. It is the parts I do understand that bother me most.”
Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by