The only addition I'd like to add is that it's important to not base one's beliefs upon just one or two Bible verses but rather to have an understanding and knowledge of the entire New Testament so that specific teachings can be placed in their proper context.An example is this verse that if interpreted literally seems to be an advocacy for violence which certainly is the position of most of our political leaders who are spending billions of dollars to engage in morally bankrupt violence in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Matthew 10:34 (New King James Version)
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
To verify what appears to be sinful behavior,there are several steps to take.First one can search for other New Testament statements on swords.Having done that,you will find this seemingly contradictory statement:
Matthew 26:52 (New King James Version)
But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
To resolve this apparent conflict it will help to look for the first verse in another translation to see if there is another way to interpret the word "sword".This search will bring you to this:
Matthew 10:34(Contemporary English Version)
Don't think that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came to bring trouble, not peace.
Finally to obtain the correct understanding of the Bible,it's important to read related verses before and after the verse you are studying.If you do that,you will obtain the correct interpretation of the controversial verse 34.
Matthew 10:34-37 (Contemporary English Version)
34 Don't think that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came to bring trouble, not peace. 35 I came to turn sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law. 36Your worst enemies will be in your own family. 37If you love your father or mother or even your sons and daughters more than me, you are not fit to be my disciples.