Why is the Bible so hard to understand?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Everyone, to varying degrees, struggles in trying to understand the Bible. Even after nearly 2,000 years of church history, there are some Bible verses and passages that leave even the most brillia...

July 01 2013 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Carl Naitram
I have been studying the Bible for over 40 years and for about 25 of those years I found certain passages and topics difficult to reconcile because like so many I brought to my study my conceived ideas and learnt theological positions and interpretations.

It is extremely difficult to do but if you can just read or study the Bible with an open mind...and asking The Holy Spirit to enlighten you then you will see it is not that hard to understand. Now because it is God's Word it is infinite and unfathomable therefore there are always more truths to learn from it and of it. 

Every denominational minded person only interpret the Bible according to their theological position therefore anything that seemingly or directly contradict what they believe they refer to it as a hard or difficult passage of Scripture which sometimes a child who has no theological box to restrict him would see the simple truth as it is written.

I thank God for delivering me from most of my theological boxes and now scripture has become alive and fresh. I am now beginning to see the big picture of scripture that reveal a more majestic, merciful, gracious God, but a God of justice that will judge His people for their unrighteous living that has mainly come about by the wrong doctrines they have been taught. As all will agree wrong doctrine bring forth wrong deeds.

One of the main reasons for much of this misunderstanding of scripture is because we have been told there are two different or opposing theological positions in biblical Christianity...the Calvinist and the Arminian. That is man made and not of the Lord. No one person or even group has a monopoly on understanding or interpreting scripture.

A book that might help you to understand that is THE REIGN OF THE SERVANT KINGS OR FINAL DESTINY BY JOSEPH DILLOW.

There are many other things I am sure the Lord will show me where I am wrong due to my past theological box and I am anxiously awaiting the enlightenment. It is a wonderful liberating feeling even though colleagues and past teachers think I am heretical. 

The scriptures are a lot more simple and easy to understand if we come with childlike teachable minds to it and don't enforce our taught views on it. God loves us and wants us to know the truth He did not make the scriptures difficult to understand we bring the difficulties to it.

Trust you understand my thoughts. God bless you and may the eyes of your understanding be opened to the simple deep truths of God and the Scriptures.

October 24 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Shanna Duck "Let a search be made in the royal archives..." Ezra 5:17 NIV
Brother Houdmann has again given a very good answer to this difficult question; it's one that I've often asked myself. In fact, I'd say that if a Christian seems too glib about his/her ability to understand the Bible, he/she's never really studied it seriously or interacted with a very intelligent skeptic..or even a child with really good questions! 

With basic reading skills and the guidance of the Holy Spirit almost any adult of normal intelligence (and even young children) can understand the New Testament's teachings that lead to salvation:our sin, our need for salvation, Christ's atoning sacrifice, and ultimate rewards/punishments. Even children can understand many of the Old and New Testament stories about the lives of the Old Testament Saints, Jesus, the Apostles and early Christians. So a good part of the Bible IS easy to understand if we can look at the forest, if we know basic hermenutics (this changed my life) and not get lost among the trees. 

The Beauty of the Bible's Complexity Glorifies God & Challenges Us

But in creating the Bible, God also included beauty and complexity to glorify Himself and to challenge and enlighten even the scholar. Only a master stonecutter can see the beauty in an uncut diamond. Similarly, the truly Christian scholar of Hebrew or Greek, for instance, can find shining gems in the scriptures that the rest of us might completely miss. 

God certainly does not intend for us to get bored. As we leave the milk of the Word, we realize that many of the truths in the Bible are presented in dynamic tension: Jesus was Man AND God at the same time; We are saved by faith BUT we were created to do good works; God is incredibly loving BUT He is also just and can display righteous anger, God chose certain people (election) for salvation BUT He also calls people to make a choice. 

I know this may sound like a cop-out, but we simply may not be able to completely understand or internalize some of these dynamic tensions and truths of scripture while we're here on Earth. But, as when we look into space and marvel at God's magnitude, when we look into Scripture, we can marvel at the beauty of God's multifaceted nature. 

The Complexity of the Bible Makes Us Depend on Each Other

I think you also have to admire God's wisdom, too,in making the Bible so that we have to depend on each other, and on Him, when reading it. The scholar quickly realizes that at some point his intelligence fails. On the other hand, the more "spiritual" Christian realizes that the scholar's tools-books, maps, dictionaries- bring to light so much about the Scriptures. 

God May Be Working Out Many Purposes at the Same Time

We type A people often want things straightforward, hashed out, in outline form, but God doesn't always work that way. He multi-tasks and often causes many chain-reactions from one event. Consider this: by coming here, your question is giving other Christians the chance to glorify God by using the skills He has given them AND putting something on the internet to help or encourage others who may be searching. Your question here is a witness opportunity and may lead to someone's salvation. We don't know, but God often seems to work that way. 

There May Still Be Mysteries Yet to Be Revealed.

One final note that may be hard to digest: sometimes there may be truths that God may not want completely revealed yet. God keeps His own counsel, and he keeps some things a mystery until the time is right. I think that eschatology falls under this category, and that's why there's such a conflict there at times. 

In this current age, we simply have to give each other a LOT of grace, be SURE we always state our position and define our terms carefully when discussing different doctrines, separate damnable heresy from just a different interpretation or presupposition, and be willing to live with some ambiguity.

October 25 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Belfastfella Casper Mcconnell Casper the Irish
The bible is written from 3500 years ago up to 1900 years ago yet every concept is consistent in meaning. Look up any word from "shoe" to "rock" and it is used with the same layers of mesning as if all the books were written together by one author! Now try reading Shakespeare, written only 350 years ago by a populist bunch of actors in a place similar to atlantic city... Ordinary working class audiences understood it well yet u nor i can get much of it. Amazing then to realise that the Bible was also written by God into the lives of people over many generations. A message from outside Time and Space written by God to you in 2013. Maybe we could start by asking Him to reveal something personal to you, from reading it with asking that He show you that He really communicates through this living word

October 24 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Isabella earrings Dan Rivers Christian, Husband, Grandfather, Son, AT&T retiree
The Word of God is easy to understand ONCE he opens your mind and heart to it's meaning, as he opened the minds of the disciples so that they would understand the scriptures...

Luk 24:45 NLT - Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures...

In Acts 16:13,14 while Paul spoke to some women the Lord opened Lydia's heart and she accepted and believed what Paul was saying. 

Isn't it's intriguing that of all the women there only Lydia's heart was opened...It's because the Lord determines who will understand...

Mat 13:11 NLT - He replied, "You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not.

That said, I believe that even though one may be a child of God, he may desire to reveal only what and when he feels you should know.

Even with all the revelations made to Paul, even he didn't know it all!
1Cr 13:12 NLT - Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

I thank and praise the Lord for he is in control!

October 25 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Dscf1720 Myron Robertson Seeking God's heart
There is an on-going debate as to whether the Bible is to be interpreted only ultra-literally or if it should be interpreted entirely "spiritually". Until this question is answered it is really quite impossible to really understand scripture. For the most part this discussion is made with very little reference to scripture and a great deal of unfounded personal opinion, but scripture is not silent on this matter.

Numbers 12:6-9 tells us that everything a prophet sees and relays to us is symbol. Deuteronomy 18 corrects our definition of a prophet and prophecy. Prophecy is NOT the foretelling of future events, It is the passing on of God's word by someone who hears God's voice to those who either cannot hear God for themselves or refuse to hear God for themselves as was the case of Israel at Mt. Sinai.

This means everything God says is to be "spiritualized" in some way; but does that mean the literalists are entirely wrong? No, it does not. In Gal 4:24 that the story of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah is allegory. No one, least of all Paul, disavowed the existence of these people. They existed; they lived real lives and experienced real events; but we are to look at those people and events as allegory of spiritual things to use things we can easily see and understand to gain a better understanding of things that are not so easily seen or understood.

Unless we can begin to understand this and find the balance between seeing things both literally as spiritually we will never really understand anything in scripture. 

Even that is only a beginning. Until we reach a point where we become willing to hear God's voice for ourselves we will not actually become able to understand God's word on any level, whether it is the written word in the scriptures or is the word he is constantly speaking in the every day events of the world around us.

January 07 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Add your Answer

All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.

What makes a good answer? ▼

A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.

  1. Adhere to the eBible Statement of Faith.
  2. Your answer should be complete and stand-alone.
  3. Include supporting arguments, and scripture references if possible. Seek to answer the "why".
  4. Adhere to a proper tone and spirit of love and understanding.
  5. For more info see The Complete Guide to eBible
  1. 4000 characters remaining