The most oppressive Bible verse that never was

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“The Bible says, ‘avoid even the appearance of evil,’” the youth group volunteer chided, her bony finger wagging.

I’d been standing in a hallway with some friends having a harmless conversation about schoolwork, but that mattered not. It appeared that we might be up to no good, and this was sinful enough.

This verse is popular among conservative Christians, but there’s just one not-so-tiny problem: it doesn’t exist. At least, not technically. The youth worker’s phrase appears in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, but only in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. It reads differently in modern translations, but the KJV seems to be unusally popular. If you Google most verses, the number one result is usually the rendering from the New International Version; in this case, the KJV tops the list.

As a child, I never questioned why the phrasing could only be found in one nearly 500-year-old rendering or why the Epistles would command something so utterly irreconcilable with the life and ministry of Jesus. My elders believed it, so I accepted it as gospel truth. Who was I to argue with God’s word?

It was the most oppressive verse I could imagine, promoting a cloistered life that was hermetically sealed off from any people or places or activities that any onlooker might raise a brow over. It created squishy boundaries where nearly everything except going to church was morally suspect. As a result, I drove myself mad by perpetually self-evaluating what other people might be thinking of me. If a restaurant’s dining room was full, I refused to sit at the bar lest someone think I was palling around with riff-raff. I wasn’t to be seen outside a theater hanging with “the wrong crowd,” because, well, there was some saying about birds of a feather that prohibited it. Earrings on a man meant he had questionable sexuality, a bottle of wine on the dinner table meant the diners might be alcoholics, a boy and a girl caught in a room alone together meant they probably just got freaky.

Most scholars now agree that the proper translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 is something like, “avoid every kind of evil.” Or more directly from the Greek, “No matter what form evil takes, abstain from it.” Rather than yoking Christians, the passage liberates them to live in healthier life-rhythms and “hold fast to that which is good” (vv.21-22).

Many well-meaning pastors and parents favored this one mistranslation as they sought to protect their children and/or congregants. Others simply cherry-picked. Mistranslation leads to misapplication, but too few Christians do their homework when it comes to the Bible. Instead, many exhibit a dangerous tendency among many Christians and churches today: ignoring any translations or interpretations except those that support one’s predetermined viewpoint.

Another example of this tendency is seen in 1 Corinthians 6:19:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (NIV)

The problem in this verse is due to a shortcoming in the English language. Unlike Biblical Greek, which can differentiate between the plural and singular forms of “you,” English just gives us the one word and we’re left to guess which is the case here. Unfortunately, some culturally conservative Christians have guessed wrongly. In the Greek, the you is plural and the temple is singular.

“Paul is saying, ‘All of you together are a singular temple for the Holy Spirit,” write E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien in a book I highly recommend, Misreading the Scripture with Western Eyes. “God doesn’t have billions of temples scattered around. Together we make the dwelling for the Spirit.”

Favoring a mistranslation here takes us down the same path as the first one. As Richards and O’Brien note, if you accept the popular mistranslation, the application might be, “I need to quit smoking.” If you do your homework, the application is that faith communities should behave and operate in ways that would please God.

This verse isn’t about policing individual behaviors, but rather about the nature of the Church collectively. Paul is saying, as I’ve heard some put it, “While in the Old Testament, God had a temple for his people; In the New Testament, God has a people for his temple.”

What’s my point? Not that we all need to be experts in Biblical Greek—I’ve probably learned less Greek than some of my readers have forgotten—but we do need to do our due diligence when it comes to the Bible. We need to learn to hold our interpretations loosely, recognizing there’s often more to the text than meets the eye. I suspect there are many more verses like these floating around that are being used by some to bludgeon fellow God-followers.

The more I read the Bible, the more I find it liberates rather than oppresses those who choose to live by it. And the more I follow Jesus, the more I believe He wants us to live liberated rather than oppressed lives. Following Jesus is nothing if not an embrace of freedom (Jn 8:32; Jn 8;36; Gal 5:12; 2 Cor 3:17). Jesus is better than we imagined because he shatters our strivings for sterility with a radical invitation to live free. Free from unhealthy, unjust, sinful patterns, yes. But also free from moralism, free from legalism, and free from condemnation.

Rather than obsess over appearances, let’s focus on leaning into the lives of freedom that are ours for the taking. Too many Christians are languishing in self-made, religious prisons when their cell door has already been opened by Another on the outside.

  • Zachary Ford

    Excellent, Jonathan. Thanks for this.

  • Zachary Ford

    Also, Jesus certainly would not have passed the “appearance of evil test” yet he certainly avoided evil. Why didn’t our youth sponsors remember that? lol

  • Really good post. “Avoiding the appearance of evil” sounds like we have to live our lives all based around what other people think. And it’s impossible because you can’t please everyone.

  • I am so glad you have risen attention to the importance of translation since I myself work for a Non-for-Profit Producing a new translation of the Bible. Although I am not a theologian myself and work on the administrative side I have learned so much about translation since working there!

    Thank you again!

  • one gnat who fears God

    I believe you are looking for 2 Cor. 13:7 which reads *Now I pray to God that you do no evil, NOT that we should appear approved, but that we should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified (NKJV).* -the voice of one gnat who fears God

  • KarenA

    I, very much like you, believed all of those same things. I would never ever sit near a bar or be seen in any questionable place. Not until middle age did a fight a battle within and allow myself to work at a restaurant that had a bar in it. Still I never want to make someone stumble, but I need to be a Godly influence in places you often don’t see the Godly. Still desiring to make a difference in lives daily.

  • Diane

    Avoid evil, which is the simple way. We are not living for people anyway. But, living for God alone.

  • thomasmitchel

    Good morning. The author is incorrect about 1 Corinthians 6:19. Both body (soma) and temple (naos) are singular. The word “your” before body is plural meaning he was talking to all the brothers and sisters in the Corinthian church. More importantly when you look at the context of the verse, he is clearly talking about individual holiness and purity.

  • Richard

    Avoid the appearance of evil, simply means that when evil appears, avoid it! The translation is fine, the interpretation of the old English is the problem.

  • Eric

    A friend and i did a very interesting study on this for instance the greeks have five words for what we would call love.
    another fine example of this idea that you can use to help promote biblical change in your church is Ecclesiastes 7:10 this verse is so different, in meaning and contextual reference, from KJV to any other version of the bible written it’s almost embarrassing.

  • Gary

    Outstanding. Using the some of the very verses you quoted above, the church has for too long submitted its doctrine to its most narrow and spiritually shallow members. Not a very good way to run a rail road and a God forsaken way to live. Thanks for the article.

  • I think that some people are simply oversensitive about what it would mean to avoid the appearance of evil. The things that you mentioned as avoiding evil do have corresponding verses. Of course you do not want to spend time out in public with the “wrong crowd” (Bad company corrupts good morals. 1 Cor 15:33, and others), you don’t want to dress like a homosexual or prostitute (why wear the uniform if you aren’t one?), etc. Having a bottle of wine on the table at a classy restaurant doesn’t necessarily look bad. Walking into a gas station and buy who packages of Bud might look a little suspicious. In the end, we must each do as our conscience guides us, and avoid being a stumbling block to others (see Romans 14).

    The Greek word translated “form” or “appearance” is eidos. The definition, from what I found, is either 1) the external or outward appearance, form figure, shape; or 2) form, kind. The same word is used in Luke 9:29 to describe the appearance of Jesus’ face, 2 Corinthians 5:7 it is translated as the word “sight” in the familiar verse “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (One of the 5 translations I checked said “seeing”, as opposed to sight.) This same word is also translated “form” when describing the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and also when Jesus says that no one has seen the form of God. So I still believe that the verse could mean to avoid looking like you are doing something evil; why would you want to look like that anyway? Just my opinion.

    For those non-linguistic people out there, use for a reference. It is very helpful, and less cumbersome than a large concordance, and many translations are available. I also enjoy Hope that helps!

  • That should say “buy two packages of Bud”. Didn’t catch that one in my proof read. Oops!

  • I agree, in most cases. I think the appearance of evil should be avoided, but you can check the Bible to see what might be considered evil. We are told in several places to avoid that company of corrupt men, and we are told not to get drunk. Nowhere does it say not to drink wine, or eat food cooked with wine, as some try to claim.

    Also, my soapbox, there is nothing in the Bible that tells me I have to wear a skirt to church. lol.

  • Andy

    Having grown up in an ‘NIV church,’ I never heard that I should “avoid the appearance of evil.” What I did hear was that I should remain “above reporach” or “blameless.” These phrasings carry many of the same implications, and I doubt you’s challenge them.

    So why be so quick to discount the underlying idea, simply because you don’t approve of the translation of that *particular* verse? After all, it’s not as if it the same idea doesn’t appear elsewhere in scripture. And there’s clearly value to be gleaned from the idea, so I don’t understand why you describe it as “so utterly irreconcilable with the life and ministry of Jesus.” Jesus did, in fact, remain above reproach and avoid the appearance of evil. For instance, when He was tried before the Sanhedrin they couldn’t find any false evidence to bring against Him, which sounds to me like He had successfully abstained from the appearance of evil.

    In our zeal to free ourself from legalism, let’s not be too quick to disregard verses which don’t fit our preconceived notions. I’m not accusing you of intentionally constructing your own gospel, Jonathon, but your methods strike me as eerily similar to some who do. And please don’t take that as an insult – it’s just my lack of tact showing. 🙂

  • Thomas,

    I have to disagree with you. The overwhelming number of Bible scholars believe that the comments in context about prostitutes refers to temple prostitutes in the community. Paul is setting up a contrast between the pagan communities and those communities who follow Jesus. I appreciate your comment, but I believe you are mistaken.



  • Eowyn,

    The question is not, “What COULD this word mean?” but rather “What DOES this word likely mean?”

    With regard to the word appearance, W. E. Vine says that “Eidos” can signify the external appearance, form, or shape. However, he goes on to say”
    “It has a somewhat different significance in I Thess. 5:22, in the exhortation “Abstain from every form of evil,” i.e., every sort or kind of evil (not “appearance,” as in the KJV). This meaning was common in the papyri, the Greek writings of the closing centuries, B.C., and the New Testament era.”

    As you can see, almost no Biblical scholars and translators take the meaning we find in KJV.



  • I think you are grossly incorrect about the life of Jesus. Actually, he didn’t have a gleaming reputation. He was called, “Friend of sinners” in the gospel of Mark and elsewhere. This was one of the worst possible things you could call a rabbi in ancient honor/shame cultures. Additionally, in two places, Jesus is accused of being a drunkard and glutton because of the way he appeared to be partying too much with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners. He frequently disregarded the law and the the religious establishment with such boldness that reading the Gospels often offends our Pharisee-hearts as much as it did our religious ancestors two millennia ago. In the short time, Jesus touched a leper and a corpse. And he failed to honor the Sabbath—one of the Ten Commandments—without a second’s struggle. Worse still, he talked about a narrow gate into God’s kingdom and told the rule-followers they may not make it through. This was outrageous and scandalous and would have undoubtedly made him the topic of gossip across the regions where he ministered.

    I appreciate your comment, but I think you are grossly mischaracterizing the life and ministry of Jesus and ignoring the overwhelming preponderance of New Testament evidence on this subject.


  • Thanks for a nuanced look at the interpretation of 1 Thess 5:22. In support of your position, I’d point out that in verse 21, Paul urges his readers to “test everything.” The word he used for “test” is related to the one he used in Romans 5:3-4: suffering produces endurance; endurance produces [testing]; [testing] produces hope. Sounds to me like more of a struggle than would be involved in just avoiding the appearance of evil.

    Your comments about Jesus’ life of freedom remind me of a letter to the editor of a church publication I saw a few years ago. A pastor complained that prostitutes were sitting on the steps of his church soliciting passers-by. His solution was to call the cops. I think he squandered an opportunity. If he had talked to them of God’s love, which I think is what Jesus would have done, he might have lit a spark for one of them. In the worst case, they’d just have gotten up and left – which is what he wanted anyway.

    Maybe he was worried about how it would look.

  • Andy

    Nearly all of the incidents you just mentioned were occasions that Jesus was used to correct the religious leaders’ flawed notions of sin.
    -Friend of sinners: Mark 2:17
    -Drunkard: Matthew 11:19
    -Sabbath: Mark 2:27

    As for speaking about the narrow gate, *nowhere* are Christians *ever* commanded to stop speaking the truth because the establishment may find it offensive. Jesus knew full well the outrage that His ministry would provoke, but His mission required just that. To do otherwise would have been sin.

    So I guess this raises a distinction: keeping yourself from the appearance of *actual* sin, and keeping yourself from the appearance of what others *perceive* to be sinful. Which of these are you objecting to?

  • Retro Larry

    Great read! Well said, Jonathan

    “…also free from moralism, free from legalism, and free from condemnation.”

    Excellent quote, and so very true! Thanks for this!

  • Jesse Bruce

    You’re over-analyzing, Jonathon. Collectively we do make up the “Temple” of God. However, individually we are “temples” of God because His Spirit dwells in each of us, as well as collectively. Paul’s main point here was that we are individual members of His body – or His Temple. The issue of “singular” or “plural” is an entirely moot point.

    If a single member is contaminated and therefore compromised, so is the whole. This principal is well laid out in scripture, old and new, from Achan to Ananias & Sapphira.
    You used a poor example by speaking of tobacco use which many would argue would be okay as long as it’s used in moderation. Sexual sin on the other hand is an immediate sin against one’s body – “a temple” AND therefore by extension a sin against the whole body – or “The Temple of God.”

  • Jodey

    Agreed Andy – Christ’s appearance of evil was anything but. I think JM should proceed with caution when stating Jesus “partied too much, frequently disregarded the law, and He failed to honor the Sabbath.” Christ is the epitome of the law keeper, without which we have no atonement.

    Man’s perception can never be considered. It must always stand in contrast to Sola Scriptura.

    Mt 15:9 – “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

    I can’t help but sense a modern shift to legitimize certain “freedoms” that are harmful. Not to go to the legalistic extreme – but alcohol, tobacco, and many other “freedoms” do destroy lives.

    There is a massive push in society to say, “anything anyone older than 40 says is wrong and I know better.”

    There is definitely something to be said for biblical traditions handed down through biblical leadership.

    2 Thess 2:15 – So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

  • @Bryanmatt

    I love that piece of Scripture!! It keep us in check with our actions! Another passage that used to give me trouble was, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and keep himself (meaning ME) unspotted from the world.” James 1:27 I thought how am I supposed to keep people from misinterpreting “spotting” me doing something completely innocent!! Then not to long ago it was on my mind and God spoke to me and let me know that He meant that I shouldn’t be participating in any thing that would put a “spot” so to speak on me since I’ve been washed white in the Blood of Jesus. I’m so thankful for my God loving me so much that He will take the time to explain a simple verse of His Word to undeserving me! Thank You, Lord.

  • I just looked up strongs concordance, and the word translated ‘appearance’ means or is elsewhere translated ‘shape’, ‘fashion’, ‘contenance’, ‘form’.

    My guess is that this is a case where an Olde Englishe worde has taken on a slightly different meaning. Probably, to the 16th century reader, ‘all appearence of X’ meant ‘every way X appears’, and not at all ‘everything that appears to be X’

    There’s a huge difference between avoiding things that appear to be evil (even when they aren’t), and avoiding evil in all its forms. The latter is consistent with the rest of scripture, the former is not.

  • manaen

    We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.

  • Sam

    I feel as though to say “to dress like a homosexual” in and of itself is a little profiling. But I think that Jonathan’s point was more so to state that many people assume. And when people see something, and they assume the worst, it associates the individual partaking in whatever they’re doing with the assumed-about activity. For example, if I were (as a college student) to be performing Christ-centered Music (Hip-Hop) at a house party in an attempt to affect people in a different way and to shine a light (as we are called to do in Matthew 5 and Philippians 2), many people could see that as an act of evil for simply being in that environment. When in reality.. if my heart is right before God and I’m there for the sole purpose of serving Him, then where is there evil in that? Sorry for the mini-rant, and I appreciated your comment as well as the cross-referencing. I just wanted to try and make clear his point if I could. Thanks!

  • Sam

    JM, for both you and for Andy, I think the sides are a little extreme. It’s important to recall all of Matthew 5. The sermon on the Mount is simple yes, but it’s crucial to both the ministry and the life of Jesus. It essentially is setting the foundation for the “New Covenant.” He says time and time again.. “you have heard that it was said.. but I say to you..”

    The way I see it, His time spent with sinners (which was all of his time) was done so to set an example for all to see. He has to remind his disciples that the door is open to all although the path is narrow. He is tempted yes, but does not fall into temptation and commit sin. While potentially (for the sake of healthy conversation/debate) “breaking” the law that was constructed by the Pharisees, I do not believe that He could have broken His own law. I think He simply changed His law; during Jesus’ life we see God’s Law change from a Legal system to a Grace system.

    Jesus in Matthew 5 redefines the “old covenant” to create the new. He does not break it by any means, in fact He clearly states in Matthew 5 that He doesn’t want anyone to think that He had come to abolish the law or the prophets, He didn’t come to abolish them, but to fulfill them! So to say that He “failed to honor the sabbath” I think is a pretty big stretch. Although he may have done so in the eyes of the Pharisees, I think He was setting the New covenant and making clear what it meant to truly honor God-to love God and to love others.

    Andy, I also don’t think that Jonathon was far off at all. He has been very spot-on with a lot of his thinking. I think there have been a few comments that have been over-analyzing his word choice and failed to see the purpose behind it-much like Jefferson Bethke’s “Why I love Jesus but hate religion” poem.

    But hey, maybe I’m wrong, just my take on it. Peace & love.

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  • Ron

    Is it a sin to go to a “questionable place”? No, because as Jonathan has pointed out, Jesus went there, too. But I’m saddened to see some comments here that say, in essence, “We are supposed to live for God, not for people.” This, I fear, is one of the biggest problems with Christianity today, because we are wrongly using our identity as citizens of the Kingdom of God. We’re not saved by God for our own joy and victory over death, we’re saved by God for His purposes. He saves us for service in His kingdom, which is ever-expanding. God desires to use people for great things in the Kingdom, and it might involve going into places where we find people living apart from Him. We also might have leisure or group habits which include going to such places, as well. Are either of these things sinful? No. But we can’t just reject the “appearances” perspective altogether. Your time, your money, your feet… none of it belongs to you if you’re a believer. It’s God’s. That means that He owns your appearance, too. If your behavior had a transcript, it would bear God’s watermark. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that God is fine with us behaving in ways that do not do good work for the Kingdom.

    As much as Jesus spent time with the sinners and inhabited places that were sinful in the eyes of the Jewish leaders, he also commanded us to live radically different lives. We’re supposed to give exceedingly to the poor and go out of our way to serve others, instead of following religious quotas. John writes that we are to be in and not of the world. These commands all indicate a behavioral change — one that Jesus knew would cause a major shift in appearance.

    Let’s consider the fact that Paul identifies himself as a slave and servant, and the implication is that Christians are to adopt this view as well. I’m disappointed that this idea is absent from Jonathan’s article.

    Karen, I too feel the need to be a Godly influence in places that the Godly aren’t often seen. But I know so many people that will use those words as justification for going there and having themselves a good time without thinking of how they are helping the Kingdom. Does this equal imprisonment or oppression? No. I feel no oppression from my decision not to go drinking at the clubs this weekend. The feeling of oppression, I think, is another issue.

    I think we need to consider that shaking off the misinterpretation of this verse shouldn’t change our purpose as Christians to live and serve as citizens of the Kingdom. Free from the moralism and condemnation that exists in a graceless world? For sure. Free from the servant-purpose God has saved us for? God forbid.

  • Jonathan B

    Your Christ-centered music example is somewhat a two-edged sword, however. On the one hand, you might have a positive influence through music. On the other hand, someone might use your presence there as an excuse to go there themselves and partake of the other activities of the party. Or perhaps the people around you will justify their own behavior with the idea that it must be okay if you’re not leaving. Even you yourself might be tempted to get involved in other things going on at the party. And suppose the party got out of hand and the police turned up? How would that affect your reputation? I think that’s a place where you have to ask yourself very carefully whether God has *directed* you to go there, in which case certainly obey Him, or whether you’ve come up with your own idea of how to go and still appear to be doing a good thing. Even a genuine zeal for the kingdom can take you down a path that God hasn’t called.

  • ekam

    28 should be 26 letters. The last group I asked to fill in stool refused, Because they were lazy as to time. Every decision in the Book needs to be explored and reasoned in the truth so there can only be peace at every decision in Life. Never sacrifice that, and never become professional. Your crown is cast only when you leave behind when you cross the cross. In fact it becomes NOT between H and E.

  • ekam

    If you had English at any time by unbabelization via ACTS, then by temporal escape in a problem called beginning or origin you still are stuck with the English problem and by inheritance you still go back to the Bible. Your Body even by psychoneuralchemicals to erase still go back to the moment you know English,
    Original sin, Breath of God Incarnate, Gen 2:7. guilty of Gen 3., nuance of the language by your premise. God is in every word read or said.

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  • Charlotte

    The Bible is all a matter of interpretation. The only tome in the history of mankind that has caused literally thousands of schisms amongst its adherents because they cannot agree with what it actually preaches and advocates. Just look at the huge number of different Christian churches in the USA alone for evidence of this scriptural division. Beats me why God in His omnipotent omniscience couldn’t have presented us with a tome that wee ignorant humans could have ALL properly understood and ALL agreed on the meaning of its contents. What a much better place this little Rock of ours would have been had He engaged His omniscience before presenting us with this book in which you’ll find a reason to justify every human action, good or evil, depending on the individuals interpretation. Peace Be With You.

  • Old Dude

    **The more I read the Bible, the more I find it liberates …. And the more I follow Jesus, the more I believe He wants us to live liberated** .. correctamundo! The volunteer worker was the one oppressing (not the book). Which is why it is better to be an “Acts” Christian. You can read and write, you do not need her to wag fingers at you. So far as inerrancy goes read Bart Ehrman. There was only oral teaching when Jesus completed his work and ascended. Self appointed authorities are the oppressors, the thought police, the witch hunters, the grand inquisitors. None of that was going on in Acts. Think (and believe) what your own common sense tells you.

  • Old Dude

    Bible scholars are only scholars (and not straight A students at that!). ALL of the epistles were written by “advisors.” Jesus did not forget to say something or do something. He often argued with scripture thumping Pharisees. So why can’t the thumpers see that? Why can’t they understand Jesus? (Jesus asked that too .. and often). Read Mark 8.

  • CeeCee

    I look at this as a parent…if I teach my children that being drunk could cause hurt and pain later, even possibly death if you are driving, or regret when you are old for an act while drunk, then why would I drink myself into oblivion in front of my children? What example am I being? The Lord did not say you couldn’t drink wine, but what do your actions say as a Believer to your children and to others? Jesus expects us to use the brains He gave us no matter what translation you use…over indulgence in anything brings the agony of regret and laziness of spirit.

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  • Tim

    You nailed it with this line: ‘Rather than yoking Christians, the passage liberates them … .” Jesus said when the Son sets us free we are free indeed, and Paul reiterated that it is for this freedom in Christ that we are set free.

    Thanks for guiding us along in looking at these lines, Jonathan.


    P.S. Here’s something I just did on making sure we study for ourselves what the Word means, and not just rely on what someone else says they mean:

  • Amanda

    I know I;m a little behind everyone else here, but I just found this article and found it very interesting. I have never not gone to a place because my fellow christians would judge me a sinner for being there. That is not what being an Act Christian is about. I could care less what other “christians” think about me. My concern is reaching those who have not heard the good news. This verse is not about appearing to avoid evil for the sake of the christian. It is about being an example to the unsaved. I can’t do that if the only places I go are filled with the saved. Jesus did not do this and neither will I. My behavior has generally been about reproach, I am a sinner. I can not tell you how may times I have gotten into a health christian debate at a bar on karoke (<– bad spelling here) night. I can't tell you how fun it is to get a deer in the head lights look form a bartender when I order just a coke. My point here is I think what this article is really about is not judging each other based on a quick look at a situation.

  • Amanda

    Oops. Saw some miss types in here after I posted. About reproach is supposed to be above…

  • Anthony

    It is always fascinating to see the limitations of English when compared to Biblical Greek. It’s not just those words either. Check out the word love and see the different uses and implications of each individual use, and the Bible reads very differently.