The Most Misunderstood and Misquoted Verse in the Bible

Published by DonDavidson on

Romans 8:28 is probably the most misunderstood and misquoted verse in the Bible. Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Too many people read this verse and think that nothing bad should ever happen to Christians. Some people have even lost their faith because something terrible happened in their life. But they are misreading this verse.

First, this verse is a promise only “to those who love God.” So it has no application at all to those who do not love God. And unfortunately, that might include some who consider themselves Christians but who have hate in their heart, because 1 John 4:20 says: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet he hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother and sister whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

But more than that, Romans 8:28 does not promise that bad things will never happen. A look at history proves that. Jesus suffered terribly on the day of his crucifixion. And Paul relates his many difficulties in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27—difficulties which included being beaten, whipped, stoned, and shipwrecked.

So “bad” things will and do happen to Christians, but God is able to bring good out of those sufferings. But whose good? Ours? Others’? God’s? If we truly love God, they are all the same.

Let me give you an example from Paul’s ministry. He wrote his letter to the Philippians from prison (see Philippians 1:7), where he was unjustly confined for the crime of being a Christian. Yet he told the Philippians that his imprisonment was actually a good thing, because “in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed.” (Philippians 1:18) While Paul was imprisoned, some were preaching Christ because they were inspired by his suffering, while others were preaching Christ in an attempt to supplant him—but for Paul, God was causing “all things to work together for good” because, either way, Christ was being preached.

Because of Jesus’ suffering, we have the opportunity to receive God’s mercy and grace, leading to eternal life. Because of Paul’s suffering, the Gospel spread to many parts of the Roman Empire.

If our suffering somehow leads others closer to Christ—either because it opens up an opportunity for us to talk about our faith, or just because they see our example of suffering without losing faith—then God is causing our suffering to work together for good.

In addition, God is able to bring many other types of blessings out of our suffering. For example:

1.      God can use our suffering to make us tougher and more resilient, so we can better handle adversity the next time it strikes.

2.      He can use our suffering to build our faith, by demonstrating that He is always there for us, walking side-by-side with us “through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4)

3.      He often uses our suffering to position us to better understand, and respond to, the needs of others. As much as I might try to empathize and understand what it’s like to be disabled, I will never understand it as well as a paraplegic in a wheelchair. Your life experiences, good or bad, help you understand those who have had similar experiences—and that helps you know what they need and how best to help them.

4.      God can use our suffering to remind us of our need for Him, because we recognize the strength we find in Him when we are at our weakest.

5.      God can also use our suffering to reveal our sin to us. When things are going well, it’s easy to think we are exactly where we ought to be in our walk with God. And then something happens to upset our world, and we react with anger, bitterness, or despair instead of faith. It’s at those times that we recognize how far we fall short of the perfection God desires for us—perhaps it shows us that we are more attached to this world than we realized, or that our sinful pride is still very much a problem for us. Thus, God uses our suffering to humble us, and to show us what we still need to work on.

When we truly love God, we are able to see all of this good that God brings out of adversity. Why? Because we are looking for the good instead of focusing on our suffering.

Finally, we must always remember what Paul says in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

That glory—our eternal salvation—is of course the ultimate good that God is causing all things to work together to accomplish.


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