This is a phrase I have heard used - but does it have a Biblical basis?
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"The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things" is a popular phrase that seeks to avoid the extreme of over-complicating words and passages in scripture. However, it falls into the other pitfall of glossing over the depth of scripture and could even distort it. (This phrase is similar to another popular phrase, "If the scripture makes plain sense, seek no other sense lest it result in nonsense" https://ebible.com/questions/17556-is-if-the-scripture-makes-plain-sense-seek-no-other-sense-a-good-bible-hermeneutic-to-use-in-study) Scripture treats the revelation of Christ as a 'mystery' now revealed (I Tim 3:16) "Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past," Rom 16:25 Note that the mystery was hidden, not plain, in the past. There are countless prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament. Estimates vary from 350-400 on up of how many prophecies He fulfilled, and there are parallels throughout the Old Testament to the point that some see 'Christ on every page.' Yet most of these prophecies only made sense once Christ actually fulfilled them. The prophets themselves rarely understood them. (See also I Pet 1:10-12) Most of the nation of Israel at the time Christ was alive rejected Christ as the Messiah, yet they had the scriptures. "..nor does His word abide in you, because you do not believe the One He sent. You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.…" Jn 5:39 "...If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent...." Matt 12:7 The Pharisee's true problem was their rebellious hearts, but scripture wasn't so plain that everyone could give a cursory read of Isaiah and come to a plain understanding of what to look for in the coming Christ. That's why Jesus had to explain the scriptures and prophecies to the men from Emmaus in Lk 24:25-27 - because they were not plain. Jesus also taught in parables to *deliberately* make His meaning less plain at times. "He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'" If even Jesus deliberately obscured teachings on the Kingdom of God by using parables, can it be claimed that the 'main things' are always plain? Even the gospel message is not perfectly plain to the world: "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe....Jews demand signs and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles..." I Cor 1:21-23 Here the gospel message is presented as 'absurdity' - not as something perfectly plain to anyone who reads it. And for believers, consider all the many denominations and various competing theories of eschatology and other matters. Not everything is so plain in scripture as to make it easy for everyone to agree on everything. "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand." Heb 5:11 "He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." II Pet 3:16 Which leads to the most important factor this phrase misses out on: the Holy Spirit! It is the Spirit which teaches us and makes plain the meaning of scripture. (I Jn 2:7, Jn 16:13) Understanding scripture also takes discernment and study. (II Tim 2:15, Acts 17:11, Heb 5:14)
We often hear the phrase “the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things”. The Bible is God’s Word and there are many Cults and Christian groups that claim they have the correct interpretation of scripture. They read into scripture their interpretation based on subjective, preconceived and non-analytical reading of the text known as “eisegesis” meaning to “lead into” scripture a personal interpretation. Single verses of scripture are pulled out and used to convey “their” interpretation, not what is being presented by God in His Word. An example would be taken from (Matthew 7:1-5) in regards to judging. The passage is used to promote the idea that we should never judge. So, the words “do not judge” is the number “one” phrase used by the Word of Faith Movement and Non-believers. Why? Because they do not want their heretical teachings or views to be judged. The verses in Matthew do not suggest that we should never judge, but “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”. To say not to judge in one’s interpretation would contradict other scripture as, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, (rebuke), and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:2-4) THERE IS NO WAY TO REBUKE SOMEONE WITHOUT FIRST “JUDGING”. We should be concerned with an explanation of the text based on a careful objective analysis better known as “exegesis”. We look at scripture realizing that we should stay within context of what is being presented; words have meaning and we cannot distort their meaning to suit our prejudices; scripture cannot contradict other scripture or we are faced with one of the two being a “Lie”. In regards to interpretation a person must stay within context of the passage (main thing and plain thing) and do not traipse all over scripture to interpret what is being clearly said in the text as if God and his servant pening the scripture are not able to clearly convey the message within the text. The Bible is not a confusing document, we need as best, that can be had, the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God’s Word. Instead of elevating ourselves in opinions and prejudices simply look at scripture in context and remember “the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things”.
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