6 Ways to Determine if a Scripture is Used Correctly

Jeremiah 10:2-4 is used to make false claims about Christmas trees. This 1-minute devotion uses it to compare honest and dishonest use of Scripture. #ChristmasTrees #Christmas #Bible #BibleLoveNotes

Recently I heard Jeremiah 10:2-4 used to condemn the use of Christmas trees. 

This is such an excellent example of the way Scripture is misused by certain teachers that I felt it was worth explaining.

Even though I'm using this particular passage and teaching, you will find similar misuse of Scripture in teachings that promote prosperity, promise physical healing, or endorse Old Testament legalism.

Typically, these errors are taught by taking verses out of context and giving them meanings they don't have.

So let me respond to this use of Jeremiah 10 using principles that can help us accurately understand any passage.

1. Always look at the historical background:

Jeremiah 10:2-4 is used to make false claims about Christmas trees. This 1-minute devotion uses it to compare honest and dishonest use of Scripture. #ChristmasTrees #Christmas #Bible #BibleLoveNotes
This doesn't mean that historical context negates the principles in the passage, but it does clarify them. This is especially important when discussing Old Testament passages because they contain some laws and principles that were meant for a specific group or a specific time in history.

The historical background of Jeremiah 10: It deals with pagan practices that were currently influencing the nation of Israel. The connection with paganism and the worship of false gods was obvious to the Israelites.

In contrast, modern teachings against Christmas trees associate Christmas trees with pagan practices from the ancient past, pagan religions no longer practiced. In addition, from my study, while these pagan holidays once existed, the claims that Christmas originated as pagan holidays is without credible historic evidence.

2. Always look at the verse context.

It's interesting that this false teaching used Jeremiah 10:2-4, and didn't include verse 5 since verse 5 clarifies the passage.

Jeremiah 10:2-5: This is what the Lord says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. 3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. 5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”

Jeremiah 10:2-4 is used to make false claims about Christmas trees. This 1-minute devotion uses it to compare honest and dishonest use of Scripture. #ChristmasTrees #Christmas #Bible #BibleLoveNotes
If we had any doubts why these people were cutting trees from the forest and adorning them with gold and silver, verse five removes those doubts. It clearly explains that they are making idols from the trees.

3. Read the passage in several translations.

This passage has the same meaning in all good translations.

Sometimes, however, reading a passage in several translations clarifies the meaning. 

One example is Proverbs 23:7 which is widely misused when taken out of context and quoted only in the KJV. See Proverbs 23:7 Does Not Mean We Become What We Think

4. Explain the passage in your own words.

When a teacher quotes a passage and then explains what it means, listeners are mislead by the explanation, not the passage. 

Jeremiah 10:2-5 in my own words: The Lord tells us not do the things that pagan nations are doing and not to be worried by what they claim are signs in the sky. Their practices are worthless. They cut down trees and craft them into idols, adorning them with gold and silver, building them with hammer and nails. They are as lifeless as a scarecrow. They can't speak or move on their own. Don't think they can do you any harm or any good.

People who use this passage as a proof that God hates Christmas trees claim it applies to cutting a tree from the forest to decorate. That is the same as claiming that this passage prohibits us from looking at the sky because pagans see "signs in the sky."

Sadly, many people allow deceptive or misinformed teachers to tell them what Scripture means instead of studying it for themselves.

Jeremiah 10:2-4 is used to make false claims about Christmas trees. This 1-minute devotion uses it to compare honest and dishonest use of Scripture.
5. If you have trouble understanding the meaning, look it up in credible unbiased commentaries.

Even though the meaning of Jeremiah 10:2-5 is straightforward, for purposes of this article, I looked up these verses in nine commentaries and found that every commentary explained that these verses were talking about crafting pagan statues or idols to worship.

For examples: Bible Hub Commentaries on Jeremiah 10:3.

6. Be honest enough to reject a false explanation of Scripture.

This passage has nothing to do with decorating a tree in our home, and teaching people that it does is deceptive. The only way it would apply to a Christmas tree is if we carved Christmas trees into idols or worshiped our trees as idols to other gods. 

However, if you google "Jeremiah 10:2-5 Christmas trees," you will find many people using it the wrong way. Don't be swayed by the number of people who promote an error. Be like the Bereans and make sure their claims are validated in Scripture (Acts 17:11). 

Satan only has ownership of Christmas trees if we give it to him, and I'm not going to do that! These two Bible Love Notes offer ways to add spiritual meaning to our trees: The Christmas Tree and The Christmas Tree Connection.

For other good resources that address Christmas trees and Jeremiah 10:
Does Jeremiah 10 forbid Christmas Trees?
Should we Have a Christmas Tree? 
Do Christmas Trees Have Pagan Roots?   
A 25 minute video by Mike Winger: Stop Twisting Jeremiah 10
Regarding Comments on this post: Whenever I write about Christmas, I get multiple proud, mean-spirited comments from people representing anti-Christmas beliefs. I don't post them all because they are repetitive and most people who leave such comments don't appear to have read the article before commenting. This highlights an important truth: If we are genuinely interesting in honoring God, it will be reflected in how we disagree with others. We will listen to what they say with an open mind. If we still disagree, we will express our view maturely and we will never judge their character or their faith simply because they don't agree with us. If not having a Christmas tree comes from a genuine desire to honor God, then this will be reflected in the gracious way we express our disagreement.


  1. Christmas has everything to do with pagan sun worship and has been around since the beginning. The birth of the "sun" happens every year on Dec 21st and was a 7 day celebration where people/babies were sacrificed to the "sun" god so that the new year would be fertile...so to speak. Jer 10 is telling you NOT to do or participate in that pagan practice which people ignorantly do every year. The bible is easy to read but false teachers make it difficult. I pray Yah opens your eyes to His truth and you remove your false teaching

    1. If you do your homework, you’ll find that those who worshipped the sun god decorated living trees outside with sun god symbols.

      Christians decorate cut trees with neutral or Christian symbols inside their homes. This was never a pagan practice.

      Pagans also decorated with pine branches, but they don’t own all pin branch decorations, nor trees. Early Christians placed wreaths on graves to symbolize eternal life. But that doesn’t mean everyone who hangs a wreath believes in eternal life. God looks at the heart.

      If you cannot celebrate Christmas without thinking of sun god worship, then you shouldn’t celebrate it.

      But Satan doesn’t own days on the calendar, and if you are going to give him ownership of every day used for pagan celebrations, you’ll have to give him the whole calendar year.

      And Satan doesn’t own any décor unless it contains occult symbols.

      And if you are going to give Satan ownership of everything used in pagan religions that doesn’t have specific occult symbolism, then you’ll need to get rid of every cross in your home and you’ll need to quit praying and singing.

      How is calling Christmas pagan any different than being superstitious about Friday the 13th? Satan inspires superstition and he loves when people call Christian celebrations evil. He will pollute everything good if we let him.

      I have carefully researched this issue and I am not going to give Satan ownership of any day or any decoration aside from clear occult symbols. If you violate your conscience by celebrating Christmas, then you shouldn’t do it, but your harsh criticism of me as a “false teacher” is a violation of Romans 14:5-10:

      "One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.... You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

      And God tells me that you are not my judge:
      Colossians 2:16: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

    2. My interpretation is: Do Not cut down a tree; Do Not decorate it with silver and gold; and Do Not worship it...they are all specific Do Nots. There is no cherry picking about it. Just as the 10 Commandments are specific and timeless these instruction the same connotation.

    3. So, you believe the Bible commands us not to cut down trees?
      So forestry is a satanic profession?

      And you believe the Bible commands us not to put anything gold or silver on a tree?
      So someone hanging a gold or silver sign on a tree is disobeying Scripture?

      And you believe that God doesn't want us worshipping trees? Now there's something I can agree with.

      Yes, if you put all three of those things together they are sinful.

      But there is nothing sinful about cutting down trees or decorating them.

      Our faith is about morality not superstition.

      Pagans decorated and worshipped trees, that doesn't make trees idols.

      Satanists pray, but that doesn't make prayer satanic.

      Hindus consider cows sacred, but that doesn't make cows sacred.

      Muslims consider pork a forbidden food, but that doesn't make it wrong for a Christian to eat.

      If you cannot cut down a tree and decorate it without worshipping it, then you certainly shouldn't do it. But if you are going to claim that Christians who cut down trees and decorate them are worshipping trees, then you are slandering your fellow believers.

  2. Do you celebrate Christmas pagan holidays because if you do I can understand why you are justifying in what the scripture is trying to say because not once did you mention the history of Babylon where are most of these holidays originated from you need to you need to do more research my friend

    1. I've done very thorough research.
      And my research included actual historical data. I read many sites that contained warnings about the pagan roots of Christmas and they all contained conflicting and unsubstantiated evidence.

      And you're right. I didn't mention Babylon or the other unsubstantiated claims about origins. But I have linked a number of resources which cover these things more thoroughly.

    2. Very true, in the Bible and history books

  3. Gail, thank you for your research and scriptures. I am a daily reader of the bible love notes and find them very helpful in my walk with our Lord.

    1. I'm so glad you are helped by Bible Love Notes. God bless you!

  4. I’m also thankful for your posts, research, resources and time. I have found biblelovenotes helpful, informative and a blessing over the years and I thank you. God bless sister.

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement. This blesses me to hear.

  5. If you don't want to see, I guess you wont. Christians can not mix with pagan practices and that is what it is, you can not bend the truth like you want. Where does the tree fit in with celebrating Jesus birth? And nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to celebrate His birth, not even His followers celebrated it.

    1. If you wish to find fault with it, you will. If you wish to tie it to pagan rituals you will.

      There are millions of things Christians do that are not done by early Christians. For example, reading devotions online. If you are going to follow that logic, you will need to get rid of your indoor plumbing and car.

  6. God is the one who does the work in our hearts!!!! By His Spirit, in His time, and by our willingness to Him, and prayer by others! God bless!!

  7. Who said Jesus birth was not celebrated, the three men came bearing gifts. What do we call that, isn't celebration. Maybe the word celebration is only taken as music dancing and whatever else you can name but celebration means being joyful and honourful of what God did for the world. Please lets read the Bible, let's learn not to remove anything. That passage if scripture is there for a reason. Christ birth is important to every Chriatian cause we understand why was he born. If it means we celebrate his birth everyday so be it, He is our savior he was born for us sinners.

  8. You can try to defend a lie as much as you want, but it can never become the truth.

    Christmas has not to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and the principles of Jeremiah 10:1-5 are very clear for believers to ruminate on and take heed because of Heaven and Hell...

    Leviticus 10:10 KJV
    And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

    1 Peter 1:15-16 KJV
    But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; [16] Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.


    1. "You can try to defend a lie as much as you want"

      An ungracious, proud way to defend something.

      From the majority of comments I receive from anti-Christmas tree people, it appears that condemning Christmas trees and harshly judging their brothers and sisters in Christ is more important than expressing opinions maturely and graciously.

      All of the commentaries written by trusted Bible scholars (both ancient and modern, coming from multiple denominational backgrounds) do not support your claim about Jeremiah 10.

      Nor does logic support your claim: If cutting down trees and adorning them is sinful, then all wooden furniture is sinful. In fact anything made from a tree that is decorated with hardware is sinful.

      The sinful act described in this Scripture isn't cutting or adorning a piece of wood. It's worshipping something as an idol and that's evil whether it's made of a tree or of plastic.

      If Christians were worshipping their Christmas trees, then you would have reason to be concerned. If they were shaping them into Buddhas or Pentagrams which reflect pagan religions, you would have reason to be concerned.

      But trees are not pagan. They are part of God's creation. Satan doesn't own them. God does. They can be used for good or evil. If having a Christmas tree is an idol for you, then don't have one.

      But Jeremiah does not have anything to do with Christmas trees. It's pagan worship that offends God, not forestry nor adorned wood.