One of the more commonly shared experiences of Protestant converts to the Catholic Church is the discovery of verses “we never saw.” Even after years of studying, preaching, and teaching the Bible, sometimes from cover to cover, all of a sudden a verse “we never saw” appears as if by magic and becomes an “Aha!” mind-opening, life- altering messenger of spiritual “doom”! Sometimes it’s just recognizing an alternate, clearer meaning of a familiar verse, but often, as with some of the verses mentioned below, it literally seems as if some Catholic had snuck in during the night and somehow put that verse there in the text!

The list of these surprise verses is endless, depending especially on a convert’s former religious tradition, but the following are a few key verses that turned my heart toward home.

1. Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Ever since my adult re-awakening (read “born-again experience”) at age 21, this Proverb has been my “life verse.” It rang true as a guide for all aspects of my life and ministry, but then during my nine years as a Presbyterian minister, I became desperately frustrated by the confusion of Protestantism. I loved Jesus and believed that the Word of God was the one trustworthy, infallible rule of faith. But so did lots of the non- Presbyterian ministers and laymen I knew: Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Congregationalists, etc., etc., etc . . . The problem was that we all came up with different conclusions, sometimes radically different, from the same verses. How does one “trust in the Lord with all your heart”? How can you make sure your not “leaning on your own understanding”? We all had different opinions and lists of requirements. A verse I had always trusted suddenly became nebulous, immeasurable, and unreachable.

2. 1 Timothy 3: 14-15

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

Scott Hahn pulled this one on me. “So, Marc, what is the pillar and foundation of truth?” I answered, “The Bible, of course.” “Oh yeah? But what does the Bible say?” “What do you mean?” When he told me to look up this verse, I suspected nothing. I had taught and preached through First Timothy many times. But when I read this verse, it was as if it had suddenly appeared from nowhere, and my jaw dropped. The Church!? Not the Bible? This alone sent my mind and essentially my whole life reeling; the question of which Church was one I was not ready to broach.

3. 2 Timothy 3:14-17

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Verses 16-17 were the texts I and others had always turned to buttress our belief in sola Scriptura, so to this I quickly turned my attention. Among many things, three important things became very clear, for the first time: (1) when Paul used the term “scripture” in this verse, he could only have meant what we call the Old Testament. The New Testament canon would not be established for another 300 years! (2) “All” scripture does not mean “only” scripture nor specifically what we have in our modern bibles. And (3), the emphasis in the context of this verse (vereses 14-15) is the trustworthiness of the oral tradition Timothy had received from his mother and others—not sola Scriptura!

4. 2 Thessalonians 2:15

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

This was another “too-hot-to-handle” verse Scott threw in my lap. The traditions (Dare I say, traditions) that these early Christian were to hold fast to were not just the written letters and Gospels that would eventually make up the New Testament, but the oral tradition. And even more significant, the context of Paul’s letters indicates that his normal, preferred way of passing along “what he had received” was orally; his written letters were an accidental, sometimes unplanned add-on, dealing with immediate problems—leaving unsaid so much of what they had learned through oral teaching.

5. Matthew 16:13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare’a Philip’pi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

There is so much to discuss in this verse, so much I never saw. I always knew that Catholics used this to argue Petrine authority but I wasn’t convinced. To the naively ignorant, the English words “Peter” and “rock” are so different that it’s obvious that Jesus was referring to the faith Simon Peter received as a gift from the Father. For the more informed seminary educated Bible students, like myself, I knew that behind the English was the Greek, where one discovered that Peter is the translation of petros, meaning little pebble, and rock is the translation of petra, large boulder. Again an obvious disconnect, so so for years I believed and taught specifically against Petrine authority. Then, through the reading of Karl Keating’s wonderful book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, I realized the implications of something I knew all along: behind the Greek was the Aramaic which Jesus originally spoke, in which the word for Peter and rock are identical—kepha. Once I saw that Jesus had said essentially “You are kepha and on this kepha I will build my Church,” I knew I was in trouble.

6. Revelation 14:13

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

For years, as a Calvinist preacher, I recited this verse in every funeral graveside service. I believed and taught sola fide and discounting any place for works in the process of our salvation. But then, after my last funeral service as a minister, a family member of the deceased cornered me. He asked, with a tremble in his voice, “What did you mean that Bill’s deeds follow him?” I don’t remember my response, but this was the first time I became aware of what I had been saying. This began a long study on what the New Testament and then the Early Church Fathers taught about the mysterious but necessary synergistic connection between our faith and our works.

7. Romans 10:14-15

But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?

I had always used these verses to defend the central importance of preaching and why I, therefore, had given up my engineering career for seminary and the great privilege of becoming a preacher of the Gospel! And I was never bothered by the last phrase about the need of being “sent,” because I could point to my ordination where a cackle of local ministers, elders, deacons, and laymen laid their hands on my sweaty head to send me forth in the Name of Jesus. But then, first through my reading of the history and writings of the Early Church Fathers and second through my re-reading of the scriptural context of Paul’s letters, I realized that Paul emphasized the necessity of being “sent” because the occasion of his letters was to combat the negative, heretical influences of self-appointed false teachers. I had never thought of myself as a false teacher, but by what authority did those people send me forth? Who sent them? In this I realized the importance of Apostolic [those who have been sent] succession.

8. John 15:4 and 6:56

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. The book of the Bible I most preached on was the Gospel of John and my most preached on section John 15, the analogy of the vine and the branches. I bombarded my congregations with the need to “abide” or “remain” in Christ. But what does this mean? I always had an answer, but when I saw “for the first time” the only verse where Jesus himself defines clearly what we must do to abide in Him, I was floored. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” This led me to study a boatload of verses in John 6 “I had never seen before,” and in the end, when it came accepting Jesus at His word on the Eucharist, I had only one answer: “Where else can we go? Only you have the words of life.”

9. Colossians 1:24

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.

I don’t know if I purposely avoided this or just blindly missed it, but for the first 40- years of my life I never saw this verse. And to be honest, when I finally saw it, I still didn’t know what to do with it. Nothing in my Lutheran, Congregationalist, or Presbyterian backgrounds helped me understand how I or anyone could rejoice in suffering, and especially why anything was needed to complete the suffering of Christ: nothing was lacking! Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection were sufficient and complete! To say anything less was to attack the omnipotent completeness of God’s sovereign grace. But then again, this was the apostle Paul speaking in inerrant, infallible Scripture. And we were to imitate him as he imitated Jesus. It took a reading of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on the meaning of suffering to open my eyes to the beautiful mystery of redemptive suffering.

10. Luke 1:46-49

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

Finally the hardest hurdle for so many Protestant converts to get over: our Blessed Mother Mary. For most of my life, the only place Mary came into the picture was at Christmas—and dare I say, as a statue! But I never referred to her as “blessed.” Yet Scripture says all generations will call her blessed. Why wasn’t I? This led me to see other verses for the first time, including John 17 where from the cross Jesus giave his mother into the keeping of John, rather than any supposed siblings, and by grace I began, in imitation of my Lord and Savior and eternal brother Jesus, to recognize her, too, as my loving Mother.

  • Teresa Grodi

    Wonderful article!!! I am endlessly thankful to all the converts to the Catholic faith who share their “verses that I never saw”. I’ve especially liked learning about them on your Deep in Scripture page! Thank you for posting this!

  • Jm

    Great verses- anybody have any others to share?

    • Daniel Rakowski

      Yes, I have another one:

      Matthew 18:15-17 – “If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”

      “Tell the church” – which one? No matter what answer I desire, I can find a “church” to give it to me. *The* church has authority – not churchES. There can only be one, and it’s not just a spiritual union of all true believers, which is what I believed as an evangelical.

    • RA SS

      Church= Ephesius 1:22; Ephesius 3:10; Ephesius 4:11; Ephesius 5:25-27
      Recognize the real Jesus in Holy Eucharist Luke 24:30 read from 13 to 35 Emmaus disciples.
      Intercession and also hell= Luke 16:19-31 a dead rich man, in hell, interceding for his brothers; asking, begging, to Abraham for help.
      Perpetual virginity of blessed Mary: Ezek. 44:2
      Mary mother of God: Luke 1:39-45 read vers. 43
      Enmity between snake offspring and Woman offspring: Genesis 3:15We all are offspring of Blessed virgin Mary: Rev. 12:17

    • RA SS

      Jesus compare Himself with bronze snake, may also mean that Hi ask us to do the Crucifix John 3:14

      • Dominga Carpio

        Crucifix is biblical. Jesus our savior died nailed on the cross. simple and clear. So I have a crucifix in my house to remind me of what Jesus said,”No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” John 15: 13-14.

  • Anonymous

    Great reference Teresa – Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Great Reference Teresa – Thanks!

  • Oscar Lopez G

    Beuatiful, thank you for posting.

  • Teresa Grodi

    What really changed my understanding of Matthew 16: 16-18 was reading Isaiah 22: 20-24: “20 “In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. 21 I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 23 I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father. 24 All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots–all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.”

    This is the verse in which the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of David is chosen. This verse describes his power and office. He is not the KING, but he is second in command and given the keys of the Kingdom. I would be hard pressed to believe that the Jewish disciples, knowing Scripture by heart from their youth, would EVER think that Jesus was making reference to Peter’s faith, rather than Peter himself. In Isaiah, they even say that the Prime Minister of the Kingdom will “be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah”….Viva il Papa! ;-)

    • Matthew Tan Kim Huat

      O! Blessed Nite of the Lord God, Abba Father Almighty! Perhaps, you may want to reinforce yr thought with Matthew 18:18 and revelation 3:7 on the doctrinal empowerment of the Davidic keys of opening and shutting teachings.

  • Edward A. Hara

    Romans 2: 5 – 10. What do you mean that works have nothing to do with our salvation??? According to these verses, along with Matthew 25: 26-43 and John 5: 28-29, the Sacred Scriptures teach that at the Last Judgment, Jesus will examine us to see if our works merit Heaven. How many times did I read these verses and not see them, expecting that my “faith alone” would be sufficient for the Lord to say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.”

  • Iamcenturion

    Thanks for this article.  I had the same aha moments when I became an Orthodox Christian.  All of the sudden, the Bible made a whole lot more sense! 

    Another verse that popped out was Acts 8:30-31 in which the Ethiopian eunuch asks for an explanation of scripture.  There is was in black and white – an example against self-interpretation.  

  • RA SS

    Jesus compare Himself with bronze snake, may also mean that Hi ask us to do the Crucifix John 3:14
    Church= Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 4:11; Ephesians 5:25-27
    Recognize the real Jesus in Holy Eucharist Luke 24:30 read from 13 to 35 Emmaus disciples.
    Intercession and also hell= Luke 16:19-31 a dead rich man, in hell, interceding for his brothers; asking, begging, to Abraham for help.
    Perpetual virginity of blessed Mary: Ezek. 44:2
    Mary mother of God: Luke 1:39-45 read verse. 43
    Enmity between snake offspring and Woman offspring: Genesis 3:15We all are offspring of Blessed virgin Mary: Rev. 12:17

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  • Sherry Harvey

    I am a convert to the church for 11 years now, but always learning and your article certainly has shown me scripture in a different light. Thank you for writing this. Honestly, I joined the church because it was just in my heart to do it. Though having been an evangelical for many many years, it was not scripture that brought me there, but rather an aching in my heart to be home and since I was a small child, I had this yearning to be here. It was saying the rosary that clinched the deal — I was made aware of the presence of our Mother while praying it; the room I was praying in suddenly filled with the essence of the same exact incense used during Holy Hour, even though I had no incense in my home. So my conversion went on for years, and Mary brought me in. Scripture continously confirms I was right to come. I look forward to more writings like this one.

    • Mark Dunmire

      Sherry, this is a wonderful response! I’ve found that the Rosary has so much more power than it is accredited. The Blessed Mother is a fantastic intercessor for our souls and is a prime example of how we should act as Christians. One of a few that were “full of grace” or without sin.

  • Lagniappe

    Please consider St Peter’s second epistle, last chapter, verses 14-18. These are very illuminating in view of your clear bias toward understanding the above texts — your theological and exegetical have some content, but not context, However, the final verdict cannot possibly be the Roman Catholic Church — for, as we see it today and for the past millennial, did not exist as the be all/end all. I have selected the Douay Version to be fair for the vss still resonate with what I believe you (not personally but corporately) do quite often (apply as per Peter’s warning – vs 16-17). Vs 18 is the proper response.

    How strange to know (or within the last years or so, find these verses as a new revelation (really illumination) and make all the Catholic doctrine/dogma/bulls, and encyclicals profitable to the followers of Peter’s barque.
    Wherefore, dearly beloved, waiting for these things, be diligent
    that you may be found before him unspotted and blameless in peace
    And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation; as also our
    most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written
    to you
    As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in
    which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and
    unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own
    You therefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed,
    lest being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own
    But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour
    Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and unto the day of eternity.

    The sage words of St. Peter in his Second Epistle – 3:14-18:

  • Lori Sanders Romes

    my aha moment came when I read in Corinthians about people being sick or dying from taking Communion unworthily…if its a symbol how can it make people sick or die? The other one was the two men walking on the road to Emmaus and it said in Luke…”He was known to them in the breaking of bread”….they didn’t recognize Him until then….then Communion was more than just bread.

  • raymond langdon

    I am a life long Catholic and believe it not , I have naver met a Protestant whom know their Bible. I have discused the Faith with prechers and the laty if they can be called such.