Do you like to receive letters?
Sure! When you do, how do you read them? Start to finish? I read from the “Dear Adam” all the way to the “Yours truly.” It wouldn’t make sense, if I wanted to understand what the writer meant, to read a couple sentences from the end, then some from the beginning and then a few from the middle. Because I desire to know the writers intention, I read start to finish.
The same truth would apply to reading a book. We read start to finish to grasp the intended point of the author. We must understand the context and cannot take sentences out of order if we want to understand the true meaning.
The very same truth applies to studying the Bible. Yet, so many take a verse or two here and there and teach on them, hopping around, finding verses to support their own ideas. Taken out of context, we can make the Bible say almost anything we want it to.
A Bible verse, to be understood correctly, must always be interpreted in the context of the book it comes from, and in the context of the Bible as a whole.
Most of us have some particular Bible verses that we like. But, are we 100% that we know what they mean in context?
False teachers can most times give verse and chapter for the points they are making. But are the verses in context or taken out of context?
Example. If someone wants to try and convince you that religious works are required for salvation they can quote this verse:
Philippians 2:12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
They will say, “see it there, Paul says to work out your own salvation.” “See works are required for salvation.
But if we simply read on one verse we read…
Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
See now it says that it is God who works in you to do his will and to want to do his will.
If we take 2:12 out of context we can make it seem like works are required for salvation.
But if that is true, it would make many many other verses untrue and the Bible would have contradictions. We know, however, that God does not contradict Himself. See Ephesians 2:8-9.
The Bible must be taught in the context of the book and in the Bible as a whole.
Like they say in real estate, the three most important things to consider when buying a house are, location, location, location.
In studying the Bible you can say that the three most important things to consider are, context, context, context.
Paul commended the Bereans because they searched the scriptures for themselves to see if what he was telling them was true.
You and I must always do the same.
Always learn and understand the context if you want to know Gods true intention of a verse.
If you would like to learn more about studying the Bible, Calvary Chapel Mason City offers a 9 week course that you can take at home, at your pace called, Bible Study Methods.
Pastor Adam Tyler is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel – Mason City. Adam and his wife Erin live in Ventura, IA and have a heart for introducing people to Jesus and helping them to follow Him.