Parables and Paraphrases

Learning the Word of God

One of the reasons for people not reading the Bible is its subject, ‘The Kingdom of God’. This subject is not understood by us, and we are unable to get a clear picture of His Kingdom as our minds are preoccupied with the things of this world. When we do not understand the Word of God, reading the Bible becomes impossible. An Ethiopian Eunuch was struggling to read the scripture as he did not understand the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah. The eunuch was confused, whether the prophet is talking about himself or someone else. The Holy Spirit brought Philip from nowhere to explain the scriptures to the eunuch.

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Acts 8:30-31

Without proper understanding, if reading is difficult, then how will we remember the word. When we memorize the word of God without understanding them, we can only quote them, but we can not relate and apply them to a situation. Only when we understand the concept and keep the Word of God in our minds, the Holy Spirit will remind us of the word that is befitting to our needs. The word of God, learned through our day to day experiences, will generate tremendous results in our lives, especially during our hour of need.

for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Luke 12:12

Parables of Jesus

The creations reveal the existence of the Creator and the way they function projects the knowledge of the sovereign God. Somehow, many do not reach out to this ultimate truth, but they restrict themselves from this understanding by focusing only on the creations.

I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

John 3:12

Jesus wonders how people are going to understand heavenly things when they do not understand even the earthly things. He gives them an apt sense of understanding of the worldly things, and through that, He explains the glorious things that are happening in heaven (John 3:13). Jesus, in His parables, used the events of daily occurrences to explain His Kingdom to people. With the information or the understanding they have in their minds about the worldly things, Jesus shared with them what all He has in the Kingdom of God.

“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

Matthew 13:13

Yet, people are stuck with the objects of this world and whirled within the orbit of their little understanding. The best example of how people misunderstand parables for worldly things is the parable of the talents. Jesus told the person who did not use the one unit of talent; that if he would have deposited it with the bankers, then he would have received some interest. Understanding it in the literal meaning, many think that Jesus is teaching us about money management whereas Jesus insisted on very little work he could have done with the talent given to him.

Paraphrasing

Word of God speaks to us in a multidimensional way, but many translations of the Bible paraphrased the verses and narrowed their dimensions. Hence, we should translate the Word of God in simple terms relating it to our life situation, as Jesus compared the Kingdom of God with the things on the earth in His parables. We should understand it without distorting its meaning with relevance to earthly things and should discern the glorious things that exist in heaven. Everything recorded in the Bible is not written there for giving credit to the characters portrayed as our heroes. It is written for the benefit of our understanding so that we should apply it in our lives.

This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

Romans 4:22-24

While reading John 9, we should fix ourselves in one of the characters narrated over there. There was a blind man, a group of people, the parents of the blind man, and the Pharisees. We have to be in the shoes of any one of these characters while going through the narration. This approach will bring back that incident to the present scenario, and we will be able to discern many things out of it. Also, we have to relate our life situation in the context of the Kingdom of God, to the one recorded in the Bible. This practice will help us understand the Word of God in its real sense, and the Word of God will become active and will start living in us. While we read about Peter, we should fit ourselves in his character, whether in his haste or denial or repentance or commitment. If we do so, we can not stop reading till we get a solution or answer to our problems.

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers.

Psalms 55:12-14

While reading the narration about David’s enemies and backstabbers, we should neither try to assume of whom David was talking about nor speculate about our enemies but should relate the presence of God that prevailed in every life situations of David and should realize the presence of God in our situation too. This exercise will help us understand the grace of God prevailing in our lives, in the same manner, that it had rested on David.

Benefit of Paraphrasing

As brought out earlier, memorizing the Word of God without proper understanding may not help us to apply it to the required situation. Whereas, if we read the Word of God with the technique of paraphrasing, we will be able to understand its concept. We may not be able to recite the verse as it is, but we will be able to apply it aptly during the hour of our need. Later, the Holy Spirit will lead us to read the exact Word of God we had just implied to our situation. Thus, we will not forget the Word of God for our lifetime and we will be able to quote it in the future with clarity and authenticity. Lord, help us to own your words so that it may give a manifold yielding in our lives.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, LORD; teach me your decrees.

Psalms 119:11-12

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