I love how scripture supports and explains itself. These connected scriptures give us additional clarity. It is a certain path to greater understanding and practice when used with discernment. It also has the potential to create disastrous results when connections are made for self-seeking reasons. Therefore, we do need to be careful about how we connect scripture.
There’s a fun game where a variety of passages of scripture are written on small pieces of paper, folded, and placed into a bowl. Everyone takes turns drawing two pieces of paper, and reading them as though they were intended to go together. The results can be silly, poignant, or very sad. Carefully selected passages make the game more fun. One reason the game is so funny is that we realize there are many who attempt to justify their own theological fancies by forcing passages to connect that should not be connected in addition to using spurious interpretations of these passages.
Such misuse doesn’t mean we should avoid seeing how the Lord has crafted scripture so that various passages give us multiple comments on many topics. As we read scripture, let’s keep our eyes open for these powerfully informative connections. I have found from my own experience, that such connections positively impact my ability to follow Jesus as his disciples. Let’s consider one example.
I was reading Matthew 5 the other morning when two additional passages seemed connected, and I found that thinking about them together enriched my understanding. I won’t begin with the Matthew verse though.
Ephesians 2:10 is one of the passages that jumped into my brain as I read Matthew 5. In this verse the apostle Paul says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” I love that the Lord invites us into his own continual work. The reference to “walking in them” teaches us that each step of life is a moment to work with the Lord.
The passage in Matthew that started this particular connection for me was Matthew 5:14-16, especially verse 16, where Jesus says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” One of the ways we shine our light is through the good that we do. Notice that when we do good works, we do so to shine light on the Lord. We know this is true because one of the reasons we do good, Jesus says, is so others will glorify the Father. A number of examples from the book of Acts spring to mind where we see the earliest Christians do something amazing, and then they immediately point to the Lord.
This is the point when another passage from Matthew entered my train of thought. As we practice good works we must protect ourselves from becoming the focus, as well as work at maintaining pure motives. The additional passage is Matthew 6:1-4, where Jesus warns us of doing good for the sake of being seen. Where is my light shining, on me or on the Lord?
We can bring out more nuances of teaching from these three passages, and we can easily add many more passages. For example, we could include practical examples from the book of Acts, or references to how the Lord gives gifts and works through us, and more, but I don’t want to complicate my example. I simply want to point out the amazing value of paying attention to the natural connections the Lord gives us throughout scripture.
- Let’s read with our eyes, hearts, and minds open. Multiple connections may become apparent as you read scripture. If they do, then please feel free to chase that rabbit.
- As you consider the various passages that may enhance each other, always double check yourself to verify you are not forcing something on scripture. Don’t use this process to ride your favorite hobby horse. This approach is about broadening and deepening our understanding.
- Share your thoughts with others, like an accountability partner or your life group. They will help validate, or clarify what you are learning.
I love studying scripture by following connections since it deepens my understanding of important themes through scripture, particularly themes like this one that enhance my growth to maturity in Jesus.
Please join me!