Steve desperately wanted to know God’s will for his life. So he determined that God would guide him to the appropriate passage of scripture. He opened his Bible to a random page, put his finger on a verse and read Matthew 27:4,
“Then Judas went and hanged himself.”
Frustrated, he tried again…flipping over a few more pages, he randomly opened his Bible to Luke 10:37,
“Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.'”
This is obviously problematic for a number of reasons. First, we don’t pretend to think that we would get any sort of consistently accurate, personal message from God in this way. Second, it is reading the text devoid of context. Who would want to go the way of Judas rather than the way of Jesus?
Context is essential to our understanding. Far too many people ignore it far too often. Word studies are an especially dangerous place for ignoring context as are three point sermons.
Context is not just important in studying the Bible, it is also important in discussing the Bible – we have to understand others through the context of their statements.
This takes work, but it will pay huge dividends if we will try. Welcome to October and a discussion on the importance of context for greater understanding!