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The Importance of Context

Bible study isn’t just for teachers, you know! And it isn’t just about getting knowlege and getting a doctorate in theology. Is it aboutcoming to know God and his son JesusChrist (John 17:3). Anyone can study God’s word. And must. It is vitally important that we do it. Why must we try to really understand God and His son? Two verses in the Bible help answer this for us:

Hebrews 11:6 – “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Romans 10:17 – “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

The Bible is all about God and Jesus Christ,and without studying it, we will never truly please Him. So you sit down to read and try to understand your Bible and you come across a section that might seem confusing or triggers questions in your mind. What do you do? Well, one of the important things to remember is that the answers to all Bible questions are to be found in the Bible. Remember – it is God’s message from heaven. The second thing to remember is one word: CONTEXT. Reread the pages before and after the section and you’ll be surprised how often you will fi nd the answer nearby. Here is an example of how context can help and where taking a verse out of context can be very dangerous.

Example 1: There is a phrase in the Bible that says, “There is no God.” “What!”, you say, “But I thought the Bible said….!” PROBLEM: the phrase is out of context! It is from Psalm 14:1, where it actually says, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God…” – a slightly different meaning!

Example 2: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12-13) A strange passage if read without its context. Who or what is Lucifer? What does it mean to fall from heaven? Let’s turn to the context. Let’s read from verse 4: “That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon and say, How has the oppressor ceased! The golden city ceased … They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake the kingdoms?” The context gives the answer! It is the King of Babylon, that ancient kingdom that once opressed God’s people, who is called “Lucifer”. In the passage, God is prophesying about judgements to come upon Babylon because they have been lifted up with pride. Though once the “glory of the kingdoms” (3:19), it would be brought low and never be inhabited. A simple section when read in its context. So next time you hear anything about Lucifer, remember – it was the King of Babylon being referred to. But don’t take my word for it, READ THE CONTEXT!

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