The English Bible translator, Miles Coverdale, whose version became the basis for the King James Version, listed his own Bible study techniques in the preface to his 1535 translation: It shall greatly help ye to understand the Scripture, If thou mark, Not only what is spoken or written, But of whom, And to whom, With what words, At what time, Where, To what intent, With what circumstances, Considering what goeth before and what followeth.
Considering context was the intent of Miles Coverdales comments, he gave us the first blueprint to properly understanding the bible. Consider everything in relationship to scripture and circumstance, not rejecting, or taking anything on face value. One must be vigilant in ones study, wary of any issuance from any men.
I remember the first time I heard from the pulpit a minister say, “Don’t believe me, blow the dust off your own bible and look it up.” It was an amazing moment in my life because until then, all ministers held a place of great regard, certainly never questioned whether they were telling the truth or not. I soon came to realize anyone can be deceived, especially ministers, we expect them always to have the answer, and many times, they simply don’t.
Context is our best friend when it comes to understanding scripture; there is no better way at getting the real story. Historical, cultural, even plain old common-sense can be used for this purpose. I’ve learned over years if something doesn’t fit, it needs to be investigated. For instance, how can one get three days and three nights going from Friday evening to Sunday morning, you can’t, that’s just one example. Is there an answer, yes there is but it takes putting everything into proper context, not giving in to some made-up answer.
Do you suppose Christ looks at everything in context? You should hope so, what do your friends and neighbors say about you that might be slightly twisted in truth. You see, context is important for everything, not just religion. We never can assume or take someone else’s version of accounts without learning the whole story, put into its proper context.
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