If I be lifted up John 12:32

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32

This verse is frequently taken out of context. In fact, a popular upcoming conference is using the phrase as its main theme – and using it out of context. The theme of the conference is exalting and proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ. While we are supposed to exalt and proclaim Christ, the context of this passage is not saying that. Let’s look at the context and the meaning will be made clear.

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. John 12:32-33

Jesus is clearly talking about being lifted up on the cross to die. Jesus was not telling us to exalt him or to proclaim him in this passage.

So what’s the big deal? What does it matter if this passage is being misused to teach something that the Bible does teach in other places? The people holding the conference that misuses this passage also teach against the modern versions because they say the modern versions are changing what God had said. But taking a verse out of context and using it to teach something it doesn’t say is in fact doing the same thing they claim the modern versions are doing. When Jesus said “if I be lifted up” to describe the type of death he would suffer and then you use that verse to say Jesus told us to exalt him or proclaim him, you are changing what God said. You are no different than the crowd you criticize and condemn.

Taking verses out of context is a very serious problem. Changing what God says by taking a verse out of context is just as serious as changing the very words themselves. We’ve been told that we should separate from those who change God’s word – that those people are false teachers. Shouldn’t we then also separate from those who take verses out of context and have become false teachers?

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