The Importance Of Context In The Bible

Hello, my friend! I hope you’re doing well. This week I’m moving things away from 1 Peter briefly while I talk about the importance of context. Context is information given to help us understand something fully. In the Bible, it is crucial for you to know the context when reading so that you don’t misinterpret something. Let’s get into it!

A Lesson From Blondies

My mom and I like to make these delicious chocolate chunk blondies for dessert. My mom has made them so many times she’s almost stopped looking at the recipe. This has an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is that she can whip them together quickly. The disadvantage is that she can sometimes forget things.

One day she made some blondies, and everything seemed fine when she put them in the oven. However, when we took them out of the oven they not only looked weird but tasted awful. They had a strange grainy and sugary taste, and looked all spotted and speckled.

We wondered what went wrong, and then realized my mom had forgotten the eggs! The eggs are apparently very important in making sure all the ingredients combine properly, and without them the blondies were disgusting. We ended up throwing the batch out, and we always remember the eggs now!

How Does This Relate To The Bible?

You probably think I’m crazy, wrapping blondies into a Bible lesson. However, not only are the blondies good but if you think about, leaving things out of the Bible can be devastating too. Let me give you an example.

And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.

Ruth 3:11

Taken out of context, you could interpret this verse in many ways. You could say it’s talking to women, to daughters, to any female. You could say that it means God will do whatever a worthy woman asks. But no, this is like leaving the eggs out of the blondies, that’s not what it means, and taking it out of context like that can ruin its true meaning.

But if you put it back into context and read the chapter the verse is in, you’ll realize that the verse is Boaz talking to Ruth. Ruth has served him well and Boaz is repaying her for her work. These words aren’t spoken to everyone reading the Bible right now, but it is a specific book that plays into the larger story of the Bible.

You can also look at the context of the book itself by using a study Bible and reading the first few verses of the book. Sometimes the book has information about what’s happening when the story is taking place. In Ruth, for example, it says:

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, a man of Bethlehem went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.

Ruth 1:1

From just this verse we can learn that this was written when the judges ruled in Israel, that there was a famine, and who the story is about.

I also highly recommend Jen Wilkin’s book Women Of The Word: How To Study The Bible With Both Our Hearts And Our Minds for further studying the Bible in context and not just pulling out random verses. I have an article about the book here.

So just like with blondies and other baked goods, you have to make sure you have all the ingredients before putting it in the oven. You have to make sure you know where and when the story is taking place before pulling a lesson out of it. That’s the importance of context.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for joining me today in this lesson about context! I highly recommend the blondie recipe I mentioned as well as Jen Wilkin’s book. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my email list to receive updates from my blog and my monthly newsletter! You can sign up by going to the home page of my blog. 

Have a blessed day, 

~Caroline 

One thought on “The Importance Of Context In The Bible

  1. Mark Jerde

    I agree that context is important, but we have to use care and discernment too. Peter quotes the Old Testament.

    1 Peter 1:13-16 New King James Version (NKJV)

    13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

    The context he is quoting has to do with insects.

    Leviticus 11:41-45 New King James Version (NKJV)

    41 “‘And every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination. It shall not be eaten. 42 Whatever crawls on its belly, whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet among all creeping things that creep on the earth—these you shall not eat, for they are an abomination. 43 You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them. 44 For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 45 For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.'”

    Like

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