Have you ever wondered what it’s like to get the context of the passage that you’re reading in your Bible? Why is it that most people, and even rooted Christians misinterpret some passages in the Bible?
Studying the context of the Scripture is one of the most important step in the interpretation process of reading the Bible, and believe it or not, most of us still flunk at this (since we do tend to go lazy).
I will give a few practical steps on how to get the Bible’s context effectively. It is important to get the context right for us to be able to grasp and interpret the Bible in a careful manner.
1) Mind the context before the actual passage
Before the current chapter you’re reading, examine and read the chapter before. Research about how the certain book was written, and why it was written. It is also effective to have a background of the Old Testament so we could connect the dots.
2) Research more about the Post Context
Where will the passage lead to, and what passages does it support after that chapter? It is important to know that the different authors of the Bible also has a recurring story, used ideas, and certain themes throughout the books that they have written. Each and every author from the Bible is different, since they have lived different lives and have encountered God differently. The first point of getting the prior context is important in arriving to the conclusion.
3) Understanding the theme of the book
In what way was it written? Is the book poems, songs and prose? Is the book letters of the apostles? Is it leaning forward on narrating the very history of the Bible? Was the book written from a vision from God Himself? Once we understand why the book is written and in what manner, we can now understand why some passages are hard to comprehend, and how we can actually lay it down.
4) Thought-processing the passage
This is the part where we ask the Holy Spirit to give us the right insight after reading the Word. It is tempting to think of interpreting it as if the Bible circles around what we wanted to hear, but instead of centering it on ourselves, we must ask ourselves: How is the Gospel story connected in this passage? Why is the book written like this? What was the writer’s emotion while writing this? For whom was it written? It is also important to write or jot down ideas and thoughts so that we could read and null over what we just learned.
5) Pinpoint the comparison
What comparison? Hidden and even scattered, the books and passages in the bible have subtle comparisons to juice a response from the reader. Sometimes we tend to overlook this and think of it as if the Bible aims to other people. When we read the Word and think that it is meant for other people, we have failed in interpreting it well. The Word has the power through the Holy Spirit to convict us and teach us how to live, and if we are ignorant enough, we miss the very essence of this.
I’m sure there are a lot of other ways how to interpret the Bible effectively, but if you want to have a starter pack on understanding the Word, then this might just be the fit.
Rizia B. Paragas is the Publications Team Leader of True Love Waits Philippines. She is a mental health advocate that loves singing, reading and writing. Her ideal rest day is appreciating God’s masterpiece through hiking and swimming on deep ocean waters.