The Read-It-Like-It-Is Quiz

Yesterday I shared how as a teen I pulled verses from God’s Word about my crooked legs without looking at their context. I encouraged you to begin the hard work of searching for the author’s actual meaning by digging into the surrounding verses.

Today I want to give you a chance to practice with three verses. Read their context, and then choose which option (“a” or “b”) the author meant. (I know this is hard work, but the more we practice, the easier it gets.) And this is important!

Ready, set, read it like it is!

  1. “She has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins” (Isa. 40:2b).

    Does this mean she’s received:

    a) Bad from the LORD
    b) Good from the LORD

    Read the context below, and then record your answer in the comments section:

    “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins” (Isa. 40:1–2).

  2. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov. 4:23).

    Does this mean:

    a) Guard your emotions by not getting too close to a guy
    b) Guard yourself from all forms of evil

    Read the context below, and then record your answer in the comments section:

    “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Prov. 4:20–27).

  3. “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).

    Does this mean:

    a) God will bless you with a happy, easy life
    b) God would bring the nation of Judah out of captivity in 70 years

    Read the context below, and then record your answer in the comments section:

    “This is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile'” (Jer. 29:8–14).

Answer Key

  1. The correct answer is “b.” God’s people had committed all sorts of sins against Him, but He was still wooing her back to Him. This verse doesn’t mean that God punished Israel doubly for her sins, but that God had made a way for her sins to be paid for in full. He had already planned to send Jesus into the world for this very reason.
  2. The correct answer is “b.” The context is clear—this isn’t a verse specifically about relationships. This is an urgent plea from a father to his son to live carefully and to fight sin wholeheartedly.
  3. The correct answer is “b.” In context, this is a specific promise to a specific nation, the nation of Judah. In seventy years, God would free His people from slavery to the Babylonians. God never promises us an easy life here and now, but He does promise forgiveness of sins, a restored relationship with God, and so much more to those who put their full trust in Him.

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York. You can catch all her writing on

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  • I’mTrying

    I don’t completely agree with you on number 3. Sure God doesn’t promise us an easy life (I never really thought that verse meant that), and sure it was meant for Judah. BUT I thought all the promises in the Bible were on offer for everybody? In that case wouldn’t Psalms only be applicable to like David? If God loves all His children then technically the promise He made to one should be avaible to the other… not like thee promise that Sara would have a child and exact things like that. I still believe that God has plans fot each of His children, whether or not they are in Judah, and He wants the best for us. Ultimately God’s will is for everyboody to be saved, right? which = future, hope and not evil plans. Just my thoughts! 🙂

    • AGB

      Jeremiah 29:11 was originally planned for Judah – but Judah was suffering also as we are sometimes . . . God’s saying to Judah He still has plans for them. To apply it today while still being in context would say that even in our suffering and hurt God has a plan. It may not be easy but He does have plans to give us a hope.

      • Paula Hendricks

        Nice work, AGB!

    • Paula Hendricks

      Dear I’m Trying,

      It can be confusing, can’t it! I’m so glad you’re using your head–great question!

      I found this post helpful. Check it out when you can:

      • Riley H.

        I had the same question as I’m Trying, and I just want to say that this article was really helpful! I’m challenged by your article and by this one to read more in context.

        • Paula Hendricks

          I’m so glad, Riley.

    • Таня

      I agree with you 100%

  • gloria4_gloria

    Number 3 was a tricky one for me, but then i understood that, God HAS already blessed us with a good life, it may not be easy, but it just takes us to walk in that plan of a future and a hope that God has for us.

    • Paula Hendricks

      And the best is yet to come, Gloria! Living life with Him forever.

      • gloria4_gloria

        i am sooo excited!!

  • AGB

    I did it with my mom and thanks to her we got them all right together. 🙂

    • Paula Hendricks

      Love it, AGB!

  • Are guys allowed to comment here? (I don’t want to cross any boundaries that I shouldn’t)

    • a

      In my opinion you are. I just think you should be appropriate. 😛

    • Paula Hendricks

      Sure, Trent!

      • Thank you, Mrs. Hendricks,
        I just wanted to say real quick that this article really showed me how important it is to read in context, instead of just “pick and choose” what fits our purposes. That would be my best guess why there are so many denominations across the world: because so many people don’t read/teach in context. When we try to shape the Bible to fit what we believe instead of shaping what we believe to fit the Bible, that’s when it gets dangerous (and scary).

        Thanks for letting me throw my two cents in there. I’ll leave y’all to your site. 🙂
        God bless and have a Joyful January!
        – Trent Blake

        • Paula Hendricks

          So glad to hear it, Trent!

  • Brooklyn Mikinzie

    This post shows just how easy it is to take a bible verse and warp it into what we want it to be. Thank you!
    I was able to put this into practice this morning. The study I was doing asked me to identify two bible characters from a certain passage, but I couldnt figure out who they were. It took me looking 20 verses back to understand that they were tentmakers! (all of this is from Acts 18)
    I thought of this while doing my study because of the wise words I read yesterday. Thank you. 🙂

    • Paula Hendricks

      Wahoo! Way to go, Brooklyn!

  • Taryn

    I got them all right although it took me a while and it took me looking it up in a really nifty guide called “the Bare Bones bible handbook for teens” It helped me a lot.

    • Paula Hendricks

      Way to go, Taryn!

  • Heidi

    I got them all right, this is helpful

    • Paula Hendricks

      Good job, Heidi!