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Why Contextual Studies?
There is such a need in the world today to understand the Word of God in the context it was originally given. Paul exhorted Timothy to study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15.
Many foundational and doctrinal truths have left the modern day church for the simple reason that men and women have inadvertently misinterpreted the word of God. If scripture is not understood and taught in the context written, then it opens up a world for the enemy to use it to deceive. You can make the bible say anything you want it to say if you isolate one verse from its context. For example:
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Mark 10:9
This verse, if isolated from its context, can take on a different understanding. If you isolate it, you could basically teach that it is a sin for someone to cut a tree down since it was God who made that tree.
As a matter of fact, denominations are built upon wrong understandings of scripture. Man’s opinion and interpretation has caused many people to be led astray.
During the time that Paul mentioned to Timothy to study, all they had was the Old Testament scrolls. Not everyone had access to the scriptures. This is why synagogues were so important during that time. There is some evidence to suggest that Ezra was responsible for synagogues to be constructed. Paul no doubt had spent 3 years in Arabia and Damascus searching these scrolls with a brand new mind and heart. No doubt God revealed unto Paul the mysteries and deep understandings of the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary.
These words used by Paul give us insight into how he was able to preach, teach and exhort with such boldness. All scripture is God-breathed and will not contradict itself. We are taught to compare scripture with scripture so that we arrive at the correct understanding. Satan brought the word of God to Jesus during the temptation in the wilderness. Satan quoted scripture, but it was taken completely out of its context. He used Psalm 91:11-12. Although the verse is true that God will give His angels charge concerning us, this scripture gives no instruction for a man to just jump off of the pinnacle of the temple. The promise is for those who find themselves precariously in this situation unaware. For someone to knowingly and willingly jump or cast themselves down would be attempting to commit suicide and would find themselves tempting God. So Jesus reveals unto satan the error in this by quoting another verse of scripture to correct the wrong understanding, or actually, correct Satan’s deliberate attempt to change the context of the scripture. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:16.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
This verse reveals some amazing things! It declares to us that the understanding of scripture is accomplished by comparing it to other passages of scripture. We can have correct understanding of verses by simply comparing them to other verse of scripture. Our doctrine should be based upon, not only the word of God, but the correct understanding of it.
A workman that is rightly dividing the word of truth should need not to be ashamed. In other words, a man/woman who studies, soon becomes a workman in the word of God. A workman is toiler, figuratively, a teacher: –laborer, worker(-man). Most importantly, a man/woman who will search the scriptures sufficiently as to be able to correctly divide the word of Truth will become a man/woman approved of God. There is no shame in making a stand on scripture when you have studied it and compared scripture with scripture to arrive at the correct understanding. Great boldness can be obtained by this and God expects those who handle the word of God in any capacity to do so rightly as we will give an account in the day of Judgment.
The great doctrines in the word of God can be found again and again! For example, blood sacrifice for sin, justification, faith, eternity, grace, mercy, apostasy, sin, judgment, and the coming of the Lord are all doctrines that are found throughout the pages of scripture.
How shall we study the scriptures?
Is there an improper way? Why do we at times struggle so much with understanding scripture? The answer to this question may be a little simpler than we may think. If we read the word of God with an preconceived idea about doctrine, then we will have a hard time comprehending it and become frustrated in the process, that is, if that preconceived idea is unscriptural.
The proper way to studying the scriptures is with an open mind and in seeking the Lord in prayer. Jesus said to His disciples that the comforter would guide them into all truth. If the Holy Spirit is within you, then you have the author of the Word inside you. When verses of scripture seem to reveal certain characteristics about God, His word or doctrine, then we must not cast them aside, but compare our current understanding based upon other scriptures. Clearly stated scriptures will definitely settle most disputes about others that seem to declare something different.
Hebrew and Greek?
As we already know, the Old Testament scriptures were written in Hebrew, while the New Testament scriptures were written in Greek. There will definitely arise instances where you will have to dive into Hebrew and Greek word studies in order to capture the intention of the scriptures.
Exodus 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
John 1:18 For no man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
How do we reconcile these scriptures? A careful study of the words “saw” in Hebrew and “seen” in Greek settle the conflict that seems to exist between these two scriptures.
God’s word does not contradict itself. God is faithful! His word can be trusted! In the end we must let the word say what it says. Instead of man attempting to change the word, let us allow the word to change us!
I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou has magnified ty word above all thy name. Psalm 138:2
…Let God be true, but every man a liar. Romans 3:4
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