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Article 79 - Passages Often Distorted
Biblical Passages Often Distorted
Jon Gary Williams
Oftentimes, people in the religious world take various passages of scripture and give them distorted meanings. This practice is not at all uncommon. It may be that some do this innocently, failing to understand a text and honestly misapplying it.
However, many times people distort passages intentionally. Why is this done? It is because they hold peculiar false religious views and find it necessary to manipulate certain passages of scripture to make them fit their views; passages are altered so they will appear to support certain beliefs. Following are forty such instances of distorted passages.
Some hold the view that there is a huge gap between verses one and two of Genesis one. They believe that verse one speaks of an "initial" creation of heaven and earth, then, after an expansive period of time, beginning with verse two, a six-day creation begins. So, heaven and earth were created in verse one and the creation of the six days begins with verse two.
But why is this done? Simply because men believe the earth is millions of years old and they must find space for these years. They claim to believe the Bible, but, they hold to an old-earth philosophy. The idea that the earth is millions (or billions) of years old is absurd and can be scientifically established.
However, from a Biblical standpoint it is clear this view is shown to be false. "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and all that in them is..." (Ex. 20:11; cf. Ex. 31:17). Beyond question the creation of "heaven & earth" (Gen. 1:1) falls within the time frame the six days of creation.
Seventh-Day Adventists teach that the Sabbath day (Saturday, 7th day) is to be kept. However, this cannot be true, for Sabbath keeping was a part of the law Moses which was nailed to cross (Col. 2:14).
Adventists claim that Genesis 2:3 shows the Sabbath was kept from creation. "And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which he had made." Though this verse says that God blessed and sanctified the Sabbath, it does not say when. We must go to other scriptures to discover when this was done.
When was the Sabbath made known? At Mt. Sinai (Neh. 9:13,14) after the Hebrews came out of Egypt (Deut. 4:44,45).
The fact is, Genesis 2:3 is a figure of speech called prolepsis - when something is spoken of as having occurred before it did occur. This is an intentional error in chronology. Note this parallel.
"At age 12 president Lincoln read by candlelight." But this is not saying that Lincoln was president at age 12. Moses wrote Genesis long after the Sabbath was made known, hence, in Genesis 2:3, when speaking of the Sabbath, he used this figure of speech.
This chapter has been used to defend the practice of sprinkling water for baptism. Verses 17-19 speak of purifying things by sprinkling water on them (tents, vessels and people). From this it is assumed there is a pattern here for sprinkling water for baptism.
The absurdity of this reasoning is shown by the fact that, to be consistent, all particulars of this text should be observed. Notice that the water was to be mixed with something - the ashes of a red heifer (vv. 5, 17). So, the question is this: Why not include the ashes of the heifer? Of course, the fundamental error of this doctrine is that men try to use the Old Testament to establish a New Testament practice. But the Old Testament law of Moses was taken away (Col. 2:14).
A teaching permeating the denominational world is the false doctrine of inherited sin - - so called Adamic or Original sin. It teaches that everyone inherits Adam's sin, that is, all children are born guilty of the sin of Adam.
In defense of this view men invariably go to Psalms 51:5, a part David's prayer for forgiveness. The text reads, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." What was David saying? He was not saying he was born guilty of sin.
Look carefully at context, verses 1-5. David was lamenting his miserable, sinful life - - "my sin...my transgression...mine iniquity." He felt so guilty it was as though he was born like this! But he did not mean for this to be taken literally. Rather, for emphasis he used a figure of speech called hyperbole (an intended exaggeration). This text is much like what he wrote seven chapters later, Psalms 58:3. "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies." But babies can't speak!
This doctrine is also shown to be false because of passages that clearly show man is guilty for his own sins, not those others. For example, Ezekiel 18:20, "The soul that sinneth it shall die..." Also, Jesus taught that children were in a safe condition. "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 19:14).
Several religions hold to the "soul sleeper" doctrine - that at death man becomes completely unconscious. The Jehovah's Witnesses are especially known for this. To support this view men distort Ecclesiastes 9:5, "The living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything." The claim is made, "See, the dead are unconscious."
But, as is so often the case, men fail to read the context. Verse 6 plainly states that Solomon is addressing things that are "under the sun," that is, in relation to man's earthly life.
That those who have died are still conscious is clearly shown by a number of scriptures. For example, after the rich man died, he was conscious (Luke 16:23). Likewise, Jesus told the thief that on that very day they would be in paradise (Luke 23:43). Was Jesus saying that he and the thief would be in some kind of unconscious state? Obviously, they were not.
"For I, Jehovah, change not..." This passage has been used to justify several false doctrines. It is not uncommon for men to go to the Old Testament to find support various false beliefs and practices they have injected into New Testament Christianity.
After being shown that the Old Testament was abolished, some, in defense of false teachings which they base on Old Testament scriptures, will say: "But God said he doesn't change, So, since it is in the Old Testament, and since God doesn't change, it must be all right."
Seventh-Day Adventists appeal to this passage in defense of Sabbath keeping. Men do the same thing in defense of using instrumental music in Christian worship. Likewise, the same reasoning is used in defense of using "holy water" and wearing priestly apparel. Just about anything can be supported by this reasoning.
The fact is, though God does not change regarding his nature, he has often changed the way he deals with mankind. The abrogation of the old covenant law of Moses and the bringing in of the new covenant of Christ, is a superb example.
"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." The Catholic church uses this verse to show the church was built on the apostle Peter (the rock), hence, he was the first "Pope." However, this is a seriously, false teaching.
The Greek word for "Peter" is petros, which refers to a small stone. However, the word "rock" is from petra, which refers to a bedrock foundation. Hence, they cannot refer to the same thing. The "rock" was the foundation, the bedrock truth that Jesus was the messiah, the Son of God. It was upon Jesus that the church was built. (See Ephesians 2:20)
Another false doctrine seen in almost all the denominational world is that when Jesus returns there will be signs of his 2nd coming, by which men can predict when this event will occur. They invariably turn to Matthew 24:6,7 thinking they can know, at least approximately, when Jesus will return. This text speaks of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. From this, men at various times have claimed they could know that the coming of Christ is near.
However, in this text Jesus was not addressing his second coming. Rather, he was speaking of something much closer - the judgment coming on Jerusalem at hands of Rome, which occurred in 70 A.D.
Verse 34 clarifies matters. "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, til all these things be fulfilled." So, within the life span of that generation the signs Jesus mentioned would be accomplished. Notice also that they would see the "abomination of desolation" (v. 15). But, in Luke's account this "desolation" would involve Jerusalem being "compassed with armies" (Luke 21:20), clearly referring to the Roman armies in 70 A.D.
Matthew 26:27 - - (Mk. 14:23; Lk. 22:20; I Cor. 11:25, 26)
There are those who believe only one cup should be used in the Lord's supper when partaking of the fruit of the vine. To support this view these texts are distorted.
The problem is this - they take a figurative word and make it physical. When Jesus said, "this cup is the new testament in my blood," he was not talking about the container, but the contents, the fruit if the vine. When he said, "drink of it," he was not saying, "drink the container," but "drink the fruit of the vine." This is a figure of speech called metonymy, wherein the container is put for contents. This is like someone saying, "She serves a good table," meaning she serves good food.
In defense of the doctrine of salvation by faith only, apart from baptism, preachers have used this passage. They refer to the ASV which reads, "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them..." The argument is - first, disciples are made, then later they are baptized.
However, this is just another attempt at distorting a passage. The fact is, baptism is how disciples are made. The rule of grammar here is that when a participle (in this case "baptizing") is used with the imperative (command) mood, the participle explains how the command is carried out. For example, someone says, "Clean the house, vacuuming it." How is the house to be cleaned? The obvious answer: by vacuuming it.
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." What Jesus said here is clear. It is through faith and baptism that people are saved.
However, those who deny necessity of baptism will distort this verse by saying, "But, the last part of the verse does not mention baptism." No, it doesn't, because it doesn't need to. Keep in mind that in the first part of this verse Jesus stipulated what one must do to be saved - believe and be baptized. But in the last part he explained all one needs to do to be damned - simply don't believe. Note this parallel: "If you buy a ticket and get on the train you will travel, but if you do not buy a ticket you will not travel." There is no need mentioning getting on the train.
Fake healers claim they can cure people from various ailments and diseases. But when challenged to show immediate evidence, they can't. In order to explain away this problem they
refer to Mark 16:17 in which Jesus said (KJV), "And these signs [miracles] shall follow them
that believe..." They emphasize the word "follow" and say that the miracles they perform may not occur immediately, but they will "follow them," that is, the completed healings will become known at some later time.
But this is easily shown to be false. The Greek word translated "follow them" is para-kalutheo which means to follow along beside, to accompany. The ASV and other translations make this clear by saying, "And these signs shall accompany them that believe..."
What Jesus said here shows that man will be conscious after death. However, some religions deny this. So, how do they deal with this passage? They simply change the structure of the sentence. The passage reads, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise." This clearly shows that Jesus and the thief would have a knowledge of what would happen after death.
To remove the difficulty seen in this verse, they simply move the comma, reading, "Verily I say unto thee today, shalt thou be with me in paradise." This changes the passage to fit their teaching - that Jesus was telling the thief they would not be together after death, but at a later time, after the resurrection. Obviously, this makes no sense whatever.
John wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In verse 14 the "Word" is shown to be Jesus, the one who was "made flesh." So, Jesus is Deity, a part of the Godhead. But, the Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Jesus is Deity, saying that he is just another created being. So, how do they deal with this passage?
They say that the first word "God" in this verse has an article "o" making it "o theos," but the second word "God" does not have an article making it "theos." Based on this they claim that the first "God" (with the article) refers to Jehovah God, but the second "God" (without the article) refers to a lesser God, Jesus. So, in their translation they spell the second "God" with the lower case g, or "god."
But this argument is exposed by the fact that there are several other passages like this containing the two uses of the word "God" (one with the article and one without), but both refer to Jehovah God. Examples of this are found in John 3:2 and John 13:3.
The Mormon church claims to have apostles. In fact, they claim a succession of apostles. To support this claim they cite such passages as Acts 1:20-22. However, not only does this text fail to give them support, it actually refutes their claim.
To qualify as an apostle of Christ, according to this text, one had to be an eyewitness of his resurrection. Obviously, no one today can qualify. Also, if the apostles of the Mormon church were true apostles, they would possess the power to perform miracles, as did the apostles of Christ (Mark 10:7, 8; II Cor. 12:12). But, they clearly have no such power.
Though this clearly teaches that baptism is "for the remission of sins," some give it a distorted meaning, claiming the word "for" means "because of," that is, people are baptized because their sins have already been remitted.
However, a look at the Greek text reveals the absurdity of this claim. The word translated "for" is eis which means "unto" or "in order to obtain," not, "because of." The word eis always looks forward, never backward. This same sentence structure is found in Matthew 26:28. In that verse, replacing the word "for" with the word "because" shows the folly of such an argument.
In an attempt to teach sprinkling for baptism, men have taken this passage and given it a distorted meaning that the writer of Acts never intended. It has been suggested that when the eunuch wanted to be baptized, he, holding up a jug of water, told Philip, "See, here is water..." This is shown to be absurd, for verse 35 says that "came unto a certain water."
Also, a reading of the next two verses shows that both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water. If sprinkling was the practice, there was no need for both men to go into the water. And another question is essential: How could two grown men get down into a jug of water?
This verse reads, "For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Men have distorted this verse to teach that Cornelius and his family were saved by faith only. This is another example of failing to read on, to get the complete picture.
Notice that moments later Peter said, "Can any man forbid water...and he commanded them to be baptized..." (verses 47, 48) These people were not saved by faith only, rather, they were saved by obeying the gospel through baptism.
In the denominational world it is commonly taught that the church can have an earthly headquarters, a centralized governing body. This text is used to support this teaching, claiming that Jerusalem was, at that time, the location of such a headquarters. But this is not true.
Jerusalem was the beginning point of the church. The apostles were often there and Christians looked to apostles for guidance and teaching, but this did not constitute Jerusalem as a headquarters of the church.
The discussion of Acts 15 had to do with a special problem. Some from the Jerusalem church had gone out teaching a false doctrine - that Gentile converts must keep law of Moses. Since this false teaching came out of Jerusalem, it was essential that the problem be dealt with there.
Notice who took the lead in discussing this problem. It was the "apostle and elders" (vv. 2, 4, 6, 22, 23). Notice also who announced the final decision - James, one of the elders, speaking for the Jerusalem eldership (vv. 13 - 19). This was not the action of a centralized governing body, rather, it was the Jerusalem church dealing with a specific problem that had originated there (vv. 19-29). To use this text to teach a centralized headquarters is completely wrong.
Some say this verse shows that the sin of Adam has been passed on to all mankind. As with Psalms 51:5, this verse is also used to support the doctrine of inherited (or original) sin. It is the belief that sin is passed on from generation to generation and, consequently, all babies are born guilty of Adam's sin.
But does verse 12 actually teach this false doctrine? A careful reading of this passage clearly shows it is not teaching such a crude idea. It is not sin that is passed on, rather, it is death that is passed on - - "so then, death is passed upon all men..."
Romans 8:29, 30
One part of the doctrine of Calvinism is that of Unconditional Special Election, commonly called Predestination. It is taught that before people are born God individually selects those who will be saved. There are no conditions on the part of man. It is entirely God's decision. To promote this view preachers go to this text. But this is not what Paul was teaching.
In the preceding and following passages (28, 31, 32) Paul explains the assurance of man's salvation. "All things work together for good... to them that are called..." "If God be for us, who can be against us?" He was telling them that God made it possible for them to be saved, and that this cannot be questioned. In vv. 29, 30 he explains why they can know their salvation is assured, because God predetermined it.
But, here is the problem. Preachers try to make this mean that God individually selects those who are saved. However, Paul was simply saying there is a group that will be saved - all who are obedient - all who respond to the calling of God - all who obey the gospel.
This doctrine is false it contradicts a number of clear passages. Salvation is for "whosoever" (Jn. 3:15, 16). It is for "all men everywhere" (Acts 17:30). It is for "whosoever will" (Rev. 22:17).
Here are two more things to note.
1) God is not a respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11);
2) This doctrine means that God must also individually select (predetermine) those who will be lost.
"For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Men have used this passage to teach that baptism is not essential. People are told, "Just call of the name of Jesus, that's all you need to do."
But, what does it mean to "call on the name of Lord?" The scriptures give the answer. In Acts 22:16 Saul was told. "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." A lost person is "calling" on the name of the Lord when he obeys the gospel of Christ.
I Corinthians 1:17
Some who deny the necessity of baptism have used this passage to confirm their position. Yet, this demonstrates just another sad distortion of scripture. When Paul said, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel," he was not saying that baptism was unnecessary.
Since some in the Corinthian church were putting emphasis on who baptized them (12, 13), Paul was rebuking them. He told them that in view of their corrupt attitude about baptism, he thanked God that he had baptized only a few of them, and that his primary purpose was not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. After all, who did the baptizing was not important, for anyone could baptize. And the fact that he did baptize some of them shows this was one reason God sent him.
I Corinthians 7:15
Some teach that "not under bondage" in this verse means that if a Christian is deserted by an otherwise faithful non-Christian spouse, the Christian is free to marry again. This is referred to as the "Pauline privilege." But Paul was not say this, it is a distortion of the text and contradicts what he had just said in verses 10 and 11. It also contradicts what Jesus taught in Matthew 19:9.
The key to understanding this verse is the word "bondage." The Greek word here is douloo, which means "to be enslaved." (The Greek sense is - "never were and never can be in such "bondage.") Well, what is this "bondage?" Note: Paul was not discussing a remarriage, men have only injected this idea into the text.
Here is what Paul is dealing with. A non-Christian man (or woman) cannot accept the virtuous lifestyle of the Christian spouse. So, a demand is made, "You must change or I am leaving." Paul is telling the Christian they cannot bow to the harsh dictates of the non-Christian spouse, nor can they force the spouse to stay. He declares, "Let them depart, a brother or sister is not under bondage (enslavement) in such cases: but God hath called us to peace."
The word douloo does not refer to a marriage bond. This same word is found in Acts 7:6, Gal. 4:3 and II Pet. 2:19, which clearly shows the type of bondage meant. If Paul was speaking of the marriage bond, he would have used a different word (deo) that he used twice in this same chapter, which clearly refers to the marriage bond (27, 39).
I Corinthians 9:5
The Catholic church teaches that Peter was the first Pope and, therefore, he was not married. Yet, this verse clearly says that he was married. (Here, Peter's Hebrew name, Cephas, is used.)
So how does the Catholic church deal with this passage? In their Bibles they simply replace the word "wife" with "woman," and claim this refers to what would now be termed a "nun."
I Corinthians 11:27-29
Some read into this text the idea that if one feels he is unworthy, he should not partake of the Lord's supper. But this is a distortion of what Paul was teaching.
The error here is easily explained. The Greek word translated "unworthily" (KJV) is an adverb of manner - - that is, the way something is done. Paul is not referring to one's personal worthiness, but rather to how some were abusing the communion. The ASV accurately says, "in an unworthy manner." And, after all, how would one's worthiness be determined?
I Corinthians 13:10
In this part of I Cor. 13 Paul is dealing with the ending of the age of miracles. He clearly states that miraculous powers would come to an end. "But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part (miraculous powers) shall be done away." What was the "perfect thing?" Those who believe the age of miracles still exist say the "perfect thing" is Jesus, and that when Jesus returns, then the age of miraculous power will end.
However, this is a distortion of the text. Notice that Paul said, "when that which is perfect is come." He did not say, "when he which is perfect." The fact is, the Greek word translated "that" is neuter gender and refers to a thing, not a person. But what thing can be described as "perfect?" It is the word of God - the "perfect law of liberty" (Jam. 1:25).
As the age of miracles, which provided confirmation of the Christian system, came to close, the final will of heaven, God's word, was becoming complete.
I Corinthians 14:2
Some who believe in modern-day tongue speaking distort this text by making it mean they were speaking in some kind of "mysterious (heavenly) tongue." They use this to justify so-called "tongue speaking" in their assemblies. They say, "Man cannot understand these tongues, only God can." But, truth is, their words are incoherent and nothing more than lip stammering.
Note: Paul was not encouraging tongue speaking in their assemblies. Rather, he was discouraging it. Why? Because they were failing to interpret these tongues (vv. 5, 13). The tongues they were speaking were not some unknown, mysterious tongues. Rather, they were distinct languages of different nations (See Acts 2:8,11).
In connection with this here is another distorted text.
I Corinthians 14:22
Some Pentecostal type churches practice so-called ecstatic tongue speaking. They believe they are speaking in some kind of heavenly tongues, and they say this enhances their spiritual growth. But this is not what this passage is teaching.
In this chapter Paul is correcting those who were making a show of their ability to speak in other languages, and explains that speaking in other languages was not for their own benefit, but, rather, for the nonbelieiver. He clearly says that in their assemblies, prophesying (teaching) was important for the believer, whereas speaking in other languages was important for the non-belieiver. These Pentecostal type churches are practicing the exact opposite of what Paul taught.
I Corinthians 15:29
The Mormon church uses this passage to teach that living people can be baptized for dead people. But this is a gross distortion. What is this passage teaching?
Some at Corinth were questioning the resurrection of bodies of the dead (v. 12). In defending the resurrection one of Paul's arguments was, "Why go to the trouble to be baptized (baptize the body) if the body will never be raised?" (See vv. 29-32)
In verse 29 Paul's expression "for the dead" is from ton nekron (possessive case) - that is, speaking of oneself, of one's own body. If he was speaking of being baptized for others, he would have used to nekro (indirect object).
This doctrine is false because it teaches salvation by proxy, which is contrary to the Bible. "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12). It is also false because it advocates the "second chance" theory, whereas, the scriptures teach that after death the next thing waiting is the judgment (Heb. 9:27).
I Corinthians 11:25, 26
Some have used this passage to justify partaking of the Lord's supper at times other than the first day of every week. They make the terms "as oft" and "as often" mean as often as you choose to partake. But Paul was not saying this. Rather, the thought is - "when you partake" or "each time that you do partake."
How often is the communion to be observed? Notice the following sequence of scriptures.
1) There was a regular day of assembling - Heb. 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling..."
2) The assembling was on the first day of the week - I Cor. 16:2 "Upon the first day of the week..." (Note: the Greek has kata, "every" week.)
3) The Lord's supper was in that assembly - I Cor. 11:18 "when ye come together..."
4) An example (precedent) of partaking of the Lord's supper - Acts 20:7 "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread..."
A part of the teaching of Calvinism is the doctrine of "once saved, always saved." This closing part of the verse is used to support such a view, "...ye were sealed with the holy spirit of promise." People are told, "God seals the Christian, therefore, he is safe and cannot be lost."
They fail to understand that the word "seal" simply shows the assurance of God, that he will not fail us. However, they do not appreciate the fact that man can break that seal. There is abundant scriptural evidence of this. (See: I Cor. 9:27; Heb. 2:2,3; Rev. 3:15,16)
Some argue: "Salvation is by grace through faith and not of works. Since baptism is a work, we cannot be saved through baptism." But this is a distortion of the text.
Paul was not speaking of baptism, but of the works of law of Moses. Some boasted that they were keeping that law, and Paul was telling them that keeping the works of that law could not save them. Notice that in verse ten Paul clearly says that Christians are "created to good works." Also, Jesus said that faith, itself, is a work (John 6:28,29).
Some teach that only Jehovah is God and they distort this passage, claiming that Christ and the Holy Spirt cannot be God. Yes, there is only one God (the Father), yet, both Christ and the Holy Spirit are also identified as "God."
In John 1:1 Jesus is called God, "In the beginning was the word...and the word was God." Jesus is said to be in the very image of the Father (Heb. 1:1-3). Also, the Holy Spirit is identified as God (Acts 5:3,4).
Note these additional factors: Baptism is in the name of all three (Matt. 28:19); several times all three are mentioned in unison (II Cor. 13:14; Eph. 2:18; I Pet. 1:2.)
According to this passage, elders are to lead the local congregation? However, in Catholicism the local church is overseen by a priest? So, how is this obvious contradiction solved? In their Bible they simply switch words - the word "elders" is changed to "priests!"
I Peter 3:20
In their defense of teaching that sprinkling is a form of baptism, some have distorted this passage saying that the water raining down on the ark is like people being sprinkled in baptism. However, this does not come close to what Peter was saying.
Peter was not talking about how the water came. Rather, he pointed out that the water was the means of Noah and his family being saved, the ark being lifted above the dangerous water. Besides, the word baptism (baptidzo) means immersion.
I Peter 3:21
On first reading it is obvious Peter was saying that baptism is essential to salvation. How do preachers who deny the necessity of baptism deal with this verse? They say, "Baptism only saves figuratively." But, this is another crude distortion of the scriptures.
Peter did not say that baptism figuratively saves. This is absurd. Rather, he said that baptism is a figure (or likeness) of Noah's salvation by water. Peter emphasizes that baptism is the answer (interrogation, seeking out) of a good conscience. The ASV clarifies this by saying, "the interrogation of a good conscience."
I John 2:22 - Anti-Christ
Another doctrine held by almost all denominations is that at some point yet future to us, there will arise the "anti-Christ" who will disrupt the world and battle with Christ. However, this belief is false for two reasons. First, the scriptures teach that the "anti-Christ" is not one particular being, but many, and was already present, not future (I John 2:18; 4:13; II John 7).
I John 3:9
The phrases, "doth no commit sin" and "cannot sin" are used to teach that the Christian cannot sin and be lost. However, this is a distortion of this passage, for John had already made it clear that Christians can and do sin (I John 1:8-10). The apostle was simply saying that by retaining the "seed" (God's word), the Christian does not seek to practice sin.
Since this passage mentions harps in relation to heaven, men distort it by saying it justifies using instrumental music in Christian worship. However, this verse also mentions the sound of "many waters" and "great thunder." Would making these sounds also be acceptable in Christian worship? That which proves too much, proves nothing at all.
It is widely taught that when Christ returns he will reign on earth for one thousand years. To support such a doctrine, men invariably turn to this text. Though mention is made of one thousand years, their use of this text is another example of distorting the word of God.
First, it is assumption to say the "angel" mentioned here is Christ. It is also assumption that the expression "one thousand years" is literal. If the "thousand years" is literal, to be consistent, one must also say that other words in this text are literal, such as: "key," "bottomless pit," "laid hold on the dragon...and bound him," The highly symbolic nature of Revelation must be taken into account. When this is done, the figurative nature of this text becomes obvious.