Frequently Misinterpreted Scriptures

Introduction (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

There are many Scriptures that are misinterpreted by Oneness Pentecostals. I have decided to create a list of the most common ones on this page. Some of these Scriptures are misinterpreted by most, if not all, Christians, but most of the Scriptures on this page are misinterpreted mostly by Oneness Pentecostals.

My breakdown of these Scriptures will follow this format: I will give the Scripture, then give the common misinterpretation, and then explain the correct meaning of the Scripture…

2 Samuel 6:14 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

2 Samuel 6:14 KJV

Misinterpretation: This Scripture is often used to tell people that there is something wrong with their spiritual life (usually pride) if they do not dance during worship.

Facts: There is nothing wrong with dancing in worship. As a matter of fact, dancing as a form of worship to the true God has a long, long heritage. It dates at least back to the Israelite exodus from Egypt, when Miriam, the sister of Moses, led some of the women of Israel in dance (Ex. 15:20). However, just because David danced does not mean that people have to dance…

2 Chronicles 7:14 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV

Misinterpretation: Some in the UPC say that the people “called by God’s Name” are Oneness Pentecostals (because they believe in baptism in Jesus’ Name).

Facts: This Scripture was written at least 400-500 years before Christ, and the event that it was recording was the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, which happened almost 1,000 years before Christ! The promise in 2 Chr. 7:14 was to the Jews, not to Oneness Pentecostals, or even to Christians in general. Of course, I do believe that the forgiveness of sins is a Biblical concept, and this Scripture is certainly a beautiful illustration of that! However, it is a mistake to say that this Scripture is talking directly to anyone but the Israelites.

Malachi 3:8-10 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Malachi 3:8-10 KJV

Misinterpretation: This passage is often used by many different Christians to prove the importance of tithing.

Facts: Tithing is one of the most misunderstood subjects in Christianity today, and space does not permit a full discussion of the topic. Suffice it to say that tithing is part of the Mosaic Law, it is not part of the New Testament model of giving. The New Testament model of giving is that every person gives to others as they are able (cf. Heb. 13:16; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6-8), and that they give to the one who teaches the Word (Gal. 6:6). It is safe to say that the New Testament model is that we give willingly, to those who have need, out of all of our excess, not just 10%…

Matthew 28:19 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Matthew 28:19 KJV

Misinterpretation: The UPC points out that this Scripture says to baptize in the Name (singular). They go on to say that the Name is Jesus, and they quote Acts 2:38 as proof (because Peter instructed people to be baptized in the Name of Jesus). Unfortunately, the UPC believes that if a person was baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then their baptism was invalid and they are not truly saved.

Facts: I will not open up a debate on Oneness vs. the Trinity here, or a debate on whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation. Instead, I will say that I really do not think that Jesus is going to send the majority of His followers to hell for obeying Him…

Mark 16:16 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Mark 16:16 KJV

Misinterpretation: The UPC and some other groups often use this Scripture to say that a person must be baptized to be saved.

Facts: The purpose of this discussion is not to talk about whether or not baptism is necessary, but to point out that Mark 16:16 is almost certainly an apocryphal Scripture (meaning that it was probably not part of the original Book of Mark).

Mark 16:17-18 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Mark 16:17-18 KJV
Misinterpretation: This Scripture is often used to support the UPC doctrine that says a person must speak in tongues to be saved.

Facts: First, this is an apocryphal Scripture (see my comments on Mark 16:16). Second, if this Scripture means that all believers will speak in tongues then it also means that all believers will cast out devils, take up serpents, and heal the sick by laying hands on them. Finally, even if this Scripture is not apocryphal, there is nothing in it that says that all believers will do these things. It only lists some signs that will follow believers as a whole, not as individuals…

John 3:16 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

John 3:16 KJV

Misinterpretation: I have heard several UPC preachers say that this Scripture does not say that people will be saved if they believe on Christ, it only says that they should be saved. Many of them then go on to say that a person who truly believes will be baptized in Jesus’ Name and speak in tongues, at which point they will actually be saved. I am ashamed to admit that I once taught this view.

Facts: The context of the Scripture makes it clear that Jesus is saying that those who believe on Him will be saved. To understand this point, let’s look at the verses immediately preceding John 3:16…

Acts 2:37-38 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Acts 2:37-38

Misinterpretation: This is the “flagship” Scripture of the UPC and of all Oneness Pentecostal churches. There are many ways that this Scripture is mistaught by the UPC, but the only error that I will point out here is that many Oneness Pentecostal preachers and saints misquote the Scripture by reciting, “Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved.”

Facts: The careful reader will notice that the words “to be saved” are not found in Acts 2:37. Peter had already told the believers how to be saved in Acts 2:21, when he quoted the prophet Joel and said, “[W]hosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved…”

Acts 4:12 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Acts 4:12 KJV

Misinterpretation: This Scripture is often quoted by Oneness Pentecostals as a proof for the importance of baptism in Jesus’ Name. Their reasoning is that no one will be saved except by the Name of Jesus, so that means that people must be baptized in the Name of Jesus to be saved.

Facts: No true Christian doubts that a person will only be saved by the Name of Jesus. However, Peter was not talking about baptism in Acts 4:12. He was answering the question that the high priest had just asked him, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” (Acts 4:7 KJV)…

Colossians 3:17 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Col. 3:17 KJV

Misinterpretation: This Scripture is used to teach that baptism in the Name of Jesus is necessary. The logic is that we are supposed to do everything in the Name of Jesus, and everything includes baptism. UPC preachers often go on to say that Trinitarian preachers will pray in the Name of Jesus, marry in the Name of Jesus, and do many other things in the Name of Jesus, but that they will not baptize in the Name of Jesus.

Facts: First, this Scripture has nothing to do with baptism. Paul is writing about living a godly life, and he is reminding people that they need to do everything “in the name of the Lord Jesus…”

1 Timothy 3:16 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

1 Tim. 3:16 KJV

Misinterpretation: The UPC uses this Scripture as one of their major proofs for the doctrine of the Oneness of God. They claim that the mystery of the Godhead is revealed in 1 Tim. 3:16, because God was manifest in the flesh (as Jesus), justified in the Spirit (as the Holy Ghost), and received up into glory (where He steps back into His role as the Father).

Facts: This Scripture says that the mystery of godliness is great, not the mystery of the Godhead…

Romans 12:1-2 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Romans 12:1-2

Misinterpretation: Used to promote holiness standards, by saying that we are told to present our bodies “a living sacrifice,” etc…

Facts: “Bodies” is not “clothing.” This Scripture has nothing to do with apparel. Paul is telling people to present themselves–ALL of them, not just the clothes that they wear–to God as a living sacrifice. It’s noble to die for someone, but God already did that for us! Now He wants us to live for Him.

2 Peter 1:20 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

2 Peter 1:20

Misinterpretation: Used to say that there is only one proper interpretation of Scripture, because no “scripture is of any private interpretation.”

Facts: Peter wrote that “no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation”, “not that no scripture is of any private interpretation. Please read on before you accuse me of splitting hairs and trying to get around the Scripture! There is a reason I make that distinction…

James 2:19 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

James 2:19 KJV

Misinterpretation: Used to say 1) that Trinitiarian doctrine is wrong, because there is only one God, and 2) that belief is not sufficient for salvation, because if it were then the devils would be saved.

Facts: Trinitarianism (belief in One Being—God–Who exists in three Persons) is not the same as tritheism (belief in three supreme beings or gods). In other words, Trinitarians read James 2:19 and agree with the UPC–there is only one God…