DANGER Will Robinson!

During my freshman year in college, I was reminded of a valuable lesson when studying Scripture.  Everything must be read in context.  Of course, I knew that was important.  But hearing how the professor explained the lesson caused a “lightbulb” to fire in my head.  How many times had I read Scripture out of context?  How many times did I read the Bible while only allowing those things that I liked to rise to the surface?  Answer:  All too often!

I resolved to study harder and smarter.  That must include reading in context what is written.  Why would the gospels have different details included or excluded?  Why does the Apostle Paul write what he does?  What were the original readers intended to “take away”?  All of these questions (the whos, whats, whens, whys, and hows) plus several others must be asked to determine the context.  I can hear my professor years later state emphatically, “Context is king!  What’s the context?  Interpret Scripture with Scripture.  Context is king!”

Recently, I’ve been led to study and (eventually) write on what I consider to be some serious issues.  While studying, I’ve been reminded of the importance of how one interprets Scripture and not to “read into” what’s being studied.  This happens way too often.  Well-meaning people recite a verse, while having no idea of what the context was.  T-shirts are loaded with texts that are often misused or misquoted.  Philippians 4:13 anyone?  If I may, that text has nothing to do with being a body builder.  The context is Paul is in prison.  He believes he will die there.  And he’s okay with that.  But if he doesn’t, he’s satisfied with whatever comes his way.  That’s the context.  That’s important.

There are many other examples.  You can probably think of your own examples.  But here’s a thought: Before reciting a verse to yourself or someone else, know the context.  Understand why the author would write those words and what the original readers were intended to understand.  If you don’t understand the context, it’s a dangerous place to be.



7 Responses to “DANGER Will Robinson!”

  1. In sharing Gods word, there comes responsibly, I have to ask myself, am I

    Selfishly quoting scripture?

    If there is good to be done I must take the self out of selfish before sharing

    gods word.

    I want Gods intentions to take priority over mine. I am thankful to attend a church where we are encouraged to Interpret scripture with scripture, it keeps me digging into who our father is, gives me good examples to walk with and I cant get enough of who, why, what, where, and when.

    • Well said Diane! Leaving our selfish motives at the “door” before faithfully interpreting what God has for us. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you O Lord my God. Have a blessed day!

  2. I totally agree that as a follower of Christ that is one of the many obligations that are important in growing in God’s Word especially in regards to our responsibility of going out and making disciples. And I see where you are going when you say that before we recite a verse we should know the context, yes, but could it be that the one verse you throw out there on a T-shirt or Facebook, will perhaps get someone to open their Bible’s and read that chapter or that entire book… maybe… and maybe not. Could it be possible that sometimes, little bits of scripture thrown out into the void, are like a hug to someone? A little reminder that God is there? Maybe they don’t understand the concept, but maybe it touches them, so much so, that they will perhaps go to church that Sunday…Perhaps be inclined to start talking to God in prayer….And what about songs? Could they too be out of context at times? All that said, I totally agree that as follower’s we should be equipped and ready to speak about that text with real meaty detail if a reader should reach out to us and we should also WANT to know all about it… but for example –

    My sister is a teacher and she wants to have something that reads “Be strong, don’t be discouraged, for your work has a great reward” 2 Chronicles 15:17. She obviously wants her students to do well in school… but the mere fact that it has scripture as being quoted my bring students into asking more about that verse. Now does she know more about that verse in context? Maybe not, but isn’t it good that students are reading that little bit, that might be the small seed that is planted?

    Good stuff! I love your posts!

    • Hello M! Yes. I do think that there are times that verses can be “like a hug to someone.” I believe God works in mysterious ways. Perhaps one might be inclined to read (although I think they read a verse and often forget or don’t know the context). Others might be prompted to attend Church. But if that’s the case, we should go around JUST quoting Scripture. Most people wouldn’t appreciate that or see it as relevant. Something about “beating one over the head with the Bible” comes to mind. And maybe we need to earn the right to be heard.

      Songs can definitely be out of context. Our worship leader will tell you how much I warn about being theologically sound.

      As for 2 Chron 5:7, Asa was a king that detested the idolatry of those around God’s people. Does she have a discussion about idolatry and what that might mean today? She knows her kids better than I. But why not pick a verse in context that speaks of never giving up, perseverance, finishing strong, etc. ? Just my thoughts.

  3. Maria, your post brought up some great points that I really had to think about! You make a important point that scripture can lead folks to church or further. I studied deeper and this is what I came up with.
    When good seed is sown it must be tended,watered. If we plant a partial seed we take a chance it will not grow properly and on the other hand it may grow and flourish.. If we misinterpret scripture and pass it on we also take the chance it may be misused or mistaken. I still go back to the responsibility thing I am inspired by Mat 13 what came to mind was Mat 13:24, Thanks for sharing Maria, you blessed me today!

  4. Diane,
    Good point. And there’s a time when the weeds look much like the wheat. It’s important that we (God’s stewards) prevent as many weeds as we can.

    BTW, I love your art…very talented!

  5. Hope to get back to the art after I get recouped! Thank you

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