Thursday, September 15, 2011

MrsDrPoe: The Importance of Context

Another Theology Thursday is upon us, and as always I invite you to open up your Bibles as we look at a portion of God's word. 

Several weeks ago I heard a parable about a man who attempted to have God speak to him by opening the Bible to random passages of scripture.  He first turned to a passage that said "Judas hanged himself."  Then he turned to one that said, "Go and do likewise," and the final passage he examined read, "What you must do, do quickly."  I was again reminded of this story while reading the account of Jesus' temptation in Matt 4:5-7:

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.  For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you.' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"  Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"

As we discover from the man in the story and from Satan's antics, taking random whole or partial verses from the Bible and piecing them together can cause us to 'see' false commands of God.  Jesus points out in the passage above that the whole of the scriptures must be taken into account when determining the meaning of any one verse; thus, context is crucial!

Think about the Old Testament phrase, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."  Just about everyone is familiar with that phrase, and it is often used in our culture to justify vigilantes.  We can pick out verses in Ex 21:24, Lev 24:20, and Deut 19:21 that contain this phrase, so we can affirm that it is 'scriptural.'  If we further examine the context in Deut 19:15-21 however, we can see that if a man poked out another man's eye, the first man would by law loose an eye...but only AFTER two or three witnesses of the incident had presented their testimony to the priests and judges and they had determined that the witnesses were telling the truth.  Regardless of whether or not we are subject to the OT laws, this verse is so often misused because we fail to examine it in context.

In Mark 1:38 Jesus tells the disciples, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth."  This point- that Jesus came to teach and preach- should dictate our actions.  If we consider ourselves to be followers of Christ, and we are not reading, learning, and examining His teachings, we're fooling ourselves.  But in order to know the truth that He presents in the scriptures, we cannot pick out random verses; instead, we must read the Bible in its entirety...we must read verses in context to gain full understanding of the teaching of Jesus!

No matter our age, walk of life, etc., Christians should be a people who engulf themselves in God's word.  I hope that you see the importance of context and that you will choose to join us in reading your Bible daily today! (annual schedules, 90 day schedules)


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