One interesting detail is the possible (mis)reading of David’s title The Bible was not written to you as The Bible was not written for you. Now, it seems to me the first (David’s actual title) is true, but at least among even half-educated people risks being a mere truism. (It is something we know, take for granted, and so risk forgetting. May David’s book help remind some…) The second (John’s misreading) is, at least for anyone who has any belief that the Bible is in some sense “inspired” clearly false. If God inspired the Bible then in some sense it was written “for you”!
I’ll return to inspiration in a future post. For now a different, but similar, wording that I have been using for some years seems to me helpful. It involves a third preposition. This is the claim that the Bible is not about you. For it seems to me a major problem with much “Christian” reading of Scripture is the underlying claim that the Bible is about the reader. I think it is this that encourages comfortably rich Western Christians to keep applying Jer 29:11 to each other with liberal abandon, and no care for the context. Equally however honesty should surely compel that this belief force them to wield that verse eleven chapters earlier with the same frequency, but Jer 18:11 would hardly be as “comforting”.
I think it is necessary first to remember that the Bible is not about us. (And this is a pretty wide “us” for I think it includes even the “original” hearers, and even the human actors in the story.) Scripture is about God. We should ask: What is the understanding of God here? Before asking: So how does that understanding apply to us?