A proof text out of context

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By John Barnhart

    There’s an old saying: A proof text out of context is a pretext. The idea is that one should always check the context of a Bible verse that someone has quoted to prove a point. Checking the context of a verse means reading the passage that it was pulled from. It also means checking other parts of the Bible that address the same topic, letting Scripture interpret Scripture.
    Last week Rick Howell, in The Liberal Agenda, used a partial quote — Jesus speaking to Peter after Peter drew his sword and sliced off the high priest’s servant’s ear. Mr. Howell didn’t give the reference for his quote, but those who wish to read it in context can find it in Matthew 26:47-56. I don’t know why he didn’t give the reference in his column. Maybe it wasn’t necessary for the point he wanted to prove, or maybe he just doesn’t know it. Mr. Howell used this quote to prove that Liberty University’s decision to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry a firearm on campus is contrary to Jesus’ teachings.
    About the only thing Mr. Howell was correct about is that a sword in the first century would be the equivalent of a gun today. Peter was carrying a concealed weapon as I doubt his sword was in a scabbard that he carried in the open. But, what did Jesus have to say about swords?
    In Luke 22:38, while at the Last Supper, Jesus was talking to his disciples: And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.” (NASB).
    So, if Jesus was opposed to His followers having personal weapons, why did He say that? Maybe Mr. Howell can come up with an answer.
    To understand Jesus’ words to Peter, we ought to look at what else Jesus said to Peter after the ear-slicing incident. The rest of what Jesus said to Peter is as follows: “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” (Matt. 26:53,54 NASB)
    Jesus was pointing out to Peter that He didn’t need His disciples to fight for Him. He had vast resources at His command if He needed defended. In this case, He didn’t need to be defended because what was happening was in fulfillment of the Scriptures, the many Old Testament passages that referred to the Messiah’s suffering and death. Jesus did not call on those 12 legions of angels because His name meant Yahweh’s Salvation and His mission was to save His people from their sins. That, He would do the next day when He was crucified, dying as a propitiation for those sins. See Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17 and I John 2:2.
    I think Jesus said a few other things that wouldn’t support the social agenda that Mr. Howell promotes. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:17,18 NASB)
    The Law and the Prophets are what we call the Old Testament. In Leviticus 18:22, a passage from the Law that Jesus spoke of, it says: You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. (NASB)  The Law that Jesus said that He didn’t come to abolish condemns homosexual behavior as an “abomination.” What do you suppose Jesus thinks of same-sex marriage, something Mr. Howell supports? Matt. 19:4 records how Jesus began His answer to a group of Pharisees who questioned Him about divorce: And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female." (NASB)