Monday, May 25, 2009

Context, Context, & Context

Today I was considering a potentially dangerous trend that I see Christians often taking part in. What I am talking about is the dissection of the Word of God in the name of deep biblical study with disregard or negligence to the three most important elements of true biblical study - CONTEXT, CONTEXT, & CONTEXT.

Let me explain what I mean when I say there are three main keys to true biblical study. When I say "Context, Context, and Context," I am saying, first the context and filter of Jesus Christ throughout scripture as a whole, second the context of the entire Biblical text, and third the immediate context of a specific passage must be taken into consideration when studying the Word of God. (see comments for more thoughts on this)
Scripture is a whole, with interwoven themes, plot, and a main point, and should be read as such. You would not watch one line in a movie or read one line in a book and expect to get the main point of a scene, movie, chapter, or book. That would just be silly.
What do YOU think?


  1. Mikael, I can see what you're saying here.

    However, the comment you left on Renee's blog implies that you assume she was taking the verse out of context.
    I know you left a disclaimer that she wasn't in this post, but....

  2. Lawren, thank you for pointing that out. I went back to Renee's site and made sure it was known I was not implying anything like that.

    I am actually encouraged... she is actually reading her BIBLE. That is more than most Christians can boast these days.

  3. Hi Mike,

    I agree that the context is important but I would say that the context of the entire bible and the person of Christ himself trump immediate context and we fail to teach or interpret the bible correctly if we just stay within the immediate context.

    For example, the entire Old Testament scriptures speak of Christ, so we better get used to getting outside the immediate context of a certain book and relate it to Christ, hope in God's salvation, the inability of man to save himself apart from a savior, so on and so forth.

    I believe the the New Testament not only does this, but demands this in our interpretation of the old testament.

    I wouldn't call it spiritualizing (a bad word) but Christ centered interpretation (which Christ himself does and the NT authors do).

    Having said that, I do think the proverb isn't teaching how to keep your barn clean, it is teaching a deeper principle of profit and work. I think about this verse every time I question whether or not is is worth having a get together at our house where I end up cleaning for hours afterward, it could be clean but then there would be no profit.

    To use your trio, I would say that the three most important elements of bible study are, "Jesus, context of entire bible, and immediate context." He is the key that unlocks all scripture and if you don't come to the table with him over-arching all, you are left with a misunderstood meaning that was meant to go much deeper.

  4. Jake...

    I completely agree with you. In my trio statement the elements you spoke of were what I meant but did not say.

    First off, Jesus is the overarching context in which we funnel every written word of scripture. Secondly, as I hope came out, when looking at a passage the biblical context of the whole Bible must always be taken into account (which again puts Jesus at the forefront). Lastly, the immediate context is obviously important as we try to follow the author's train of thought and main point.

    So, Jake, as I said I agree with you completely and wholeheartedly. You said what I was thinking but did not articulate. Thank you for that.

  5. Jake,

    I updated my post.... does this more closely align with what you were saying?