Who is Being Addressed?

Not only should we ask who is doing the speaking in any given biblical passage, we should also take note of who is being addressed. If we don’t, we might misinterpret something as applicable to us that isn’t. Or we might interpret something that is applicable to us as not being applicable.

For example, some claim a promise found in Psalm 37:4, believing it applies to them:

He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

But does that promise apply to everyone who reads or knows it? No, if we read the context, we find that it only applies only to certain people who meet five conditions:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:3-4).

So we see how important it is that we take note of who is being addressed.

Here is another example:

Peter began to say to Him [Jesus], “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:28-30).

It is quite popular in some circles to claim the “hundred-fold return” when one gives money to support someone who is preaching the gospel. But does this promise apply to such people? No, it is addressed to people who actually leave their families, farms, or homes to preach the gospel, as did Peter, who asked Jesus what His and the other disciples’ reward would be.

Interestingly, those who always preach about the hundred-fold return seem to always focus on the houses and farms, and never the children and persecutions that are also promised! Jesus, of course, was not promising that those who leave their homes will receive ownership of one-hundred homes in return. He was promising that when they leave their families and homes, the members of their new spiritual families will open up their homes for lodging. True disciples don’t care about ownership because they don’t own anything themselves—they are only stewards of that which is God’s.