What is wrong with proof-texting? Skipping Around The Bible

By Norman Midgette

When we talk with others about the Bible we often refer to numerous passages of Scripture from different places in the Bible. This is true whether we are speaking of the Lord’s supper, studying about the church or discussing baptism. The objection sometimes encountered, especially on the subject of baptism, is this: “You just skip all over the Bible for your verses and put them together making them teach what you want.” How do you counter this?

While there are two or three approaches you might take, one of the best is to show where the same thing was done by the apostles in the New Testament. Since it was done by them it is an inspired procedure that is right before God.

In Romans 15:9-12 Paul proved from the Scriptures that it was God’s intention to include the Gentiles in the gospel of Christ. In these four verses of continuous quotes he referred to Psalms 18:49 first, then Deuteronomy 32:43, followed by a quote from Psalms 17:1 and concludes with Isaiah 11:10. These verses are all in context and are used showing the many places in the Old Testament God taught the same thing about His plan for the Gentiles.

Peter used the same divine approach and did the same thing in 1 Peter 2:6-8. In showing God’s plan for Christ as the foundation of the gospel and church, he quoted from three Old Testament verses in rapid succession. He first referred to Isaiah 28:16, then Psalms 118:22 and, in conclusion, Isaiah 8:14.

James did the same in James 2:20-23. In using Abraham as our example of one saved by faith and works, he first referred to an event in Genesis 22, the offering of Isaac. Then in one sentence he combined two widely separated passages recorded over 700 years apart. James stated, “. . and the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” The first part of the sentence is from Genesis 15:6 and the last expression, “. . . and he was called the friend of God,” is found in Isaiah 41:8 and 2 Chronicles 20:7.

All of the verses used by these men are taken in context and are used to teach only what they taught where they are found in the Old Testament. It is a perfectly scriptural procedure to amass many Scriptures from different writers in different ages to prove what you are teaching as long as they are used to teach what they taught in their original context.

When you can “skip around in the Bible” and find numerous Scriptures proving the same point you should rightly be commended not criticized. It just shows you know your Bible and that God has given evidence to prove your point, not once, but several times.

If this is a good and accepted pattern for the apostles in their writings it shows God approves this being done. Keep up the good work.

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 10, p. 303
May 21, 1987