I Peter 4:11 Speak As The Oracles Of God

I Peter 4:11a reads, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God …

Some Christians have the misguided understanding that this verse teaches we must always use the very words of the Bible when we teach its truths. But words from what translation would we be required to use? This view (when taken consistently) would mean we couldn’t use words such as “baptistry” or “airplane” or even “popcorn” since those words are not found in the Bible. Actually if this theory were true, then we could only speak Greek when teaching, since that is the language the New Testament was actually written in.

But that is not what this verse is saying at all. Passages like Nehemiah 8:8 show it is perfectly acceptable to God for us to read from the Bible and give the “sense.” In order to cause the audience to “understand the reading,” it would actually be good to put it in our own words, or better yet into words our audience understands best (proving what we say with Bible quotations – Acts 18:28), instead of trying to couch our teaching in words they don’t understand. Wisdom demands we teach in a way that is understood best by our audience.

For example it is right to quote Mark 16:16 exactly, but it also right to say “Mark 16:16 teaches a person has to be believe and be baptized to be saved.” That is essentially what the verse teaches in our own words.

Then what does I Peter 4:11 mean? It means the same thing as about a hundred other passages in the Bible say – we should teach the truth, not doctrinal error. Similar examples are:

· John 8:32 And ye shall now the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

· Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

· II Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in condemnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

· I Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

· II John verse 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of the Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

I Peter 4:11 has nothing to do with what exact words we use in teaching the gospel; it has everything to do with making sure whatever words we do use convey the truth.

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