I don’t understand the bible.

There’s a lot I don’t understand about the bible. Other than the few fairytales I was taught as a child, most of it is a confusing mystery to me.

Yesterday, a commenter suggested Luke 9:26 so I googled it. This is from biblegateway.com:

Luke 9:26 King James Version (KJV)

26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Can anyone explain that to me? I just read the passage to my husband and asked him if they were damning me to hell. My three-year-old daughter overheard my question and repeated it word-for-word. Whoops. I hope that doesn’t stick.

Also, what do the numbers mean? Why does everybody always quote Luke?


  1. Dr Sarah says

    This, like so much in Bible interpretation, is only a guess, but my guess is that ‘Luke’ (or whatever the author was actually called, but sticking with Luke does seem to be simpler) was trying to make a point. If there was a problem with members of Christian communities at the time trying to hide their Christianity, Luke would have wanted to portray Jesus as warning people off that sort of behaviour.

    The numbers mean that this is the 26th verse of the 9th chapter of Luke.

    Do more people quote Luke? I don’t read enough Christian stuff to know. I do gather that Luke, out of the authors of the four accepted gospels, is the one who went for the gentle-Jesus-meek-and-mild portrayal; all very nice and family-friendly and Good Shepherd, not like all that fire and brimstone in other gospels. So that would explain his words being more popular.

    BTW, the KJV is renowned for being a fairly poor translation. It’s a beautiful translation, but not that accurate, so not the best one to go for if you want to get the best possible sense of what was written (which is inevitably difficult anyway what with translation issues and all the stuff we don’t know about changes that were made in the NT in transcription, but the KJV is generally acknowledged to be worse for accuracy).

  2. Bruce says

    What do the numbers mean?
    In short, nothing.
    Nobody has seen anything close to original manuscripts for maybe 1500 years. But the scraps and fragments we have from hundreds of years after these bits of literature were composed show us that, even centuries later, it was not the style to use punctuation. And so the verses were not separated. Translators had to make guesses as to which words were in which sentence and what a verse was. Once somebody made a stab, it has been tradition to follow that. So, while new translations do better jobs of getting the meaning, they’re still using old ideas of collation into verses.
    This often is no problem, as one sentence often equals one verse. But not always. So what is now verse 26 might have been translated as verse 25, or verse 28, or whatever.
    And the grouping of stories into chapters goes in part back to the unknown original author who rewrote Mark using his own spin. This new author kept some of Mark’s original literary organization, in which stories echoed each other in organized ways. But the Luke text changed some of it to make new theological points where he disagreed with Mark.
    By the way, the fact that the author of Luke and Acts includes tales not in Mark shows he didn’t mind making things up.
    Also, he would have said what he had based everything on if he had had a source, such as having talked with some eyewitness. But he didn’t. So all the supposed dialog and quotations are not historic, but were composed fresh in the re-write process. So no quotations are valid.
    So the ones who were more ashamed of the words of Jesus, if any, were folks like Mark and Luke. Don’t be intimidated by things made up here.
    It’s like a drunk in a bar made up a religion and wrote it down on a napkin. Would you trust the drunk more if he also wrote on that napkin not to be ashamed of the words he wrote on his napkin? Nobody trusts anybody MORE for writing such a baseless claim. Those who make baseless claims of trustworthiness are seen as LESS reliable, not more.

  3. Bruce says

    By the way, my comment of 12:53 pm is totally true. Don’t be ashamed of my words, or you will go to heck. 😉

  4. Bruce says

    Another point. The sceptics annotated bible http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/lk/9.html
    points out in the very next verse that Jesus will come back literally within the lifetimes of the people that are there. Which obviously didn’t happen. So why would anyone take Luke’s chapter 9 literally? It’s just a composition.

  5. mikekaye says

    That section begins at v23. I my no-longer-a-believers viewpoint v25 and v26 seem to say the same thing.

    And then there is v27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

    That verse is hard to explain because “The Rapture” is more than a little late for those listening to those words. But read the next section: The Transfiguration might could be them seeing the kingdom of god.

    For understanding works of fiction like Harry Potter one could ask J. K. Rowling and get a definitive answer. For understanding what some call “The Writings of God” one could ask their specific version of god and get answers unlike what others might get

  6. publicola says

    Christians love to quote bible passages that condemn and chastise, yet they always seem to ignore the one where Jesus says, “If a man hear my words and heed them not, I JUDGE HIM NOT, for I come not to bring judgement to the world, but salvation”. That’s a rough quote, but you get the idea. So don’t fret about not understanding the bible–Christians don’t understand it either.

  7. StonedRanger says

    I wouldnt be too vexed about not being able to understand the bible. It would seem to have been purposely written so as to be so open to interpretation that nearly any interpretation can be the ‘correct’ one. If the christians themselves cannot agree on who has the correct interpretation, why worry when you cant figure it out either? (Hint: its all myth and made up stuff)

  8. Bruce says

    Read Mark 6:5-6, where Jesus says: do NOT pray in public.
    What fraction of Christians “understand” that but from the Sermon on the Mount?
    If they “can’t” figure out the plain meaning there, then 99.9% of the Bible has NO meaning.
    Ignore all bible quotes until the quoter explains why Mark 6:5-6 CLEARLY means the opposite of what it says.
    No atheist and no freethinker would object to Christianity if they kept it at home, as Jesus said. Honest Christians might exist — but if you’ve heard one quote or pray in public, he was a hypocrite, according to gentle Jesus.

  9. yannoupoika says

    First off, let me suggest a more modern translation of the Bible, there are many good ones; New International Version Christian Standard Bible. Even better would be a paraphrase of the Bible called “The Message.” You could find all of these on the “Holy Bible” app. They will be much more helpful in your understanding.
    Now, if you are a professing atheist, then the Luke 9:26 comment is very clear. God will judge the world and everyone has to decide what they are going to do with the evidence of who Jesus is. Professions of those who say “there is no God” will have eternal consequences. Life IS a terminal event, we’re all going to die. God will judge the entire world according to His Holy and Perfect Law. The good news of the Gospel is that it is not too late. God knew no one would be able to satisfy the requirement of His Law. The only way the law could be satisfied is if we are perfect. We are not. That’s where Jesus stepped in. He lived a perfect life in order to be the only one to accomplish that. Then, He paid the penalty that we deserved by His death on the cross. He then rose from the dead to proclaim His victory over death. Eternal life with God is a free gift! There is nothing you can do to earn it. Jesus has done everything on our behalf. All we need to do is believe it, accept it.

    Now there is more than enough evidence to prove that what the Bible says is accurate. Fulfilled prophecy, accurate manuscripts (sorry Bruce, your statement in #3 is totally false), archaeology and the most important evidence is changed lives. Rather than go on about this, I will refer you to two web sites: https://kenboa.org/apologetics/how-accurate-is-the-bible/
    and https://www.zachariastrust.org/why-trust-the-bible (copy and paste into your browser). God DOES love you and your daughter. Historically, Jesus did exist, His tomb was empty. There are many non-biblical writers that verify this fact. Most of the others on these blog sites will not have accurate information regarding the Bible. It is possible to have a more than sufficient and accurate understanding of the Bible. I will leave you with looking at Roman !0: 9-10. Also reading the Gospel of John is a good place to start in understanding Jesus. God Bless You!

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