Have you ever read a single verse and thought you knew what it meant only to find out later that it actually meant something else? I think we can agree that we have all done this at some point.
This practice is often used either when people haven’t been taught how to approach the Bible or when someone is trying to prove a point. When we interpret scripture with contextual relevance it empowers us to experience the fullness of what it means.
What Happens When Scripture Is Interpreted Out of Context?
- Wrong perceptions of God are formed.
- Unnecessary bondage is created.
- False burdens and standards are formed.
- Lies are spread.
How Do You Read A Verse In Context?
- Ask yourself what is happening within the entire chapter? Sometimes it is also necessary to glance at the chapter before and after.
- What is happening within the narrative of the group of people being spoken to?
- Look closely at the scriptures before and after to determine what is being said in the verse being examined.
Let’s take a look at a commonly used verse:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
2 Cor. 3:17
The usual interpretation of this verse is that when the manifest Presence of the Lord is in a physical place freedom is produced. While the presence of God is the epitome of freedom; that is not what this verse is saying within its context.
“But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory. For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory?”
2 Cor. 3:7-9
When this scripture is interpreted within the context we will find that it was referencing the bondage that exists with viewing God through the veil of the Law.
The liberty that is referenced in this verse is about our ability to see Him face to face and not live under the bondage of perceived distance through the Law (ministry of death).
This verse is speaking about how the legalism that existed in the Law was swallowed up in Christ. In this chapter the Law is referenced at the government of death (3:7). Another exciting truth pointing to this verse is that in Christ there is a greater and exceeding glory that we have received in the New Covenant.
Find your favorite verse and examine the context around it. See if the interpretation changes or remains the same.
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