When reading the Bible the context is very important. Context is what gives shapes to what has been written. Context includes the culture that the Bible passage was written in. When it comes to studying the Bible it is useful to use commentaries and other books to give us a better understanding of the cultural context so we can properly know what is being said. Equally important to the cultural context is the literary context. This is something we can take note of without any special training or extra books because it simply involves taking a passage as a whole and not focusing on a single sentence or idea.
Greg Koukl explains why it is so important for us as we read the Bible to take not of the literary context of the passage we are reading.
Continue reading Never Read a Bible Verse
If there was one bit of wisdom, one rule of thumb, one single skill I could impart, one useful tip I could leave that would serve you well the rest of your life, what would it be? What is the single most important practical skill I've ever learned as a Christian?
Here it is: Never read a Bible verse. That's right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph at least.
My Radio Trick
When I'm on the radio, I use this simple rule to help me answer the majority of Bible questions I'm asked, even when I'm totally unfamiliar with the verse. It's an amazingly effective technique you can use, too.
I read the paragraph, not just the verse. I take stock of the relevant material above and below. Since the context frames the verse and gives it specific meaning, I let it tell me what's going on.
This works because of a basic rule of all communication: Meaning always flows from the top down, from the larger units to the smaller units, not the other way around. The key to the meaning of any verse comes from the paragraph, not just from the individual words.
The numbers in front of the sentences give the illusion the verses stand alone in their meaning. They were not in the originals, though. Numbers were added hundreds of years later. Chapter and verse breaks sometimes pop up in unfortunate places, separating relevant material that should be grouped together.