"Look at the context"

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Alcott, Jul 25, 2015.

  1. Alcott

    Alcott
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    That is a direct quote from another thread, but I'm sure we've all heard it many times before.

    Have you used that term any time recently-- say, for the current calendar year-- and what was the topic and the scripture reference in question? Has someone else cited a facsimile of "look at the context" and what was that topic and scripture? Was the one you had a difference of opinion or application with a fellow Baptist, another Christian, a cultist, a nonbeliever, or ___?

    The most recent one I remember was when I could still post on the Dallas Morning News site, and the issue was (you might already have guessed) homosexuality. And my enemies there were all kinds-- mostly agnostics and 'liberal Christians,' to whom I cited only NT scripture, so they could not come back with "Do you eat shellfish? Have you ever worn cotton and polyester at the same time?..... " in addition to their claim that sexual orientation was not known until recent historical times, and therefore is not what is condemned, so it's a matter of the 'context' the writers' understanding. My position is that the scriptures are inspired by God, to whom all things are known, so they are as valid as any scripture.

    But the real point here is that the "consider the context" argument is only put forth by those who deny one side or the other of the issue. Many Baptists may say that to Pentecostals about tongues and healing, for example. After all, the Bible does say God "heals all our diseases" [Psalm 41:3], and that believers "will speak with other tongues" [Mark 16:17]. (I presume there is no reason here to go over the arguments we make on these.)

    But "we" do it and "they" do it. So if the context argument does not convince you, don't expect it to convince them either.
     
  2. Jkdbuck76

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    The three-fold rule of Biblical interpretation is "context, context, context." But asking a heathen, let alone a "christian in America" to read more than a single sentence has become cruel and unusual punishment; I'm not even going to go to the next level which would be to ask a person on social media to think rather than to react with emotionalism.

    Sent from my KFTT using Tapatalk
     
  3. JohnDeereFan

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    I don't care if it convinces them or not. I just want them to be honest.
     
  4. Alcott

    Alcott
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    How honest are you? It can be assumed from your statement that you do debate (perhaps argue?) controversial topics, but could you give some recent examples? I am urged to suggest some hypotheticals, but since you clearly indicate you have some examples that happened in fact, please share some.
     
  5. JohnDeereFan

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    I'm honest enough to not purposely quote verses out of context.

    No.
     
  6. Alcott

    Alcott
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    Yes........
     
  7. Reformed

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    Context is king when trying to understand scripture, but so are presuppositions. It can be argued that our presuppositional approach to hermeneutics drives our understanding of context. None of us come to scripture without bias. The liberal Christian may have the presupposition that the Bible contains the Word of God, but is not actually the Word of God. That presupposition will lead to defective questions (who, what, when, where, why etc.), and result in defective conclusions. Of more importance are the presuppositions of those who claim a like faith as ours.
     
  8. JohnDBaptiste

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    There is another context... overall biblical context.

    Taking for example 666 and finding all the occurrences of it in scripture to get a greater understanding of its use in Revelation 13:18.

    It's in only 3 other places in the Bible.

    And you'll find most people taking 666 completely out of biblical context to count it and apply it in so many false ways.

    666 points to the first Temple builder Solomon.

    1 Kings 10:14 (AV)
    14Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,

    And it's twin passage:

    2 Chronicles 9:13 (AV)
    13Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and threescore and six talents of gold;

    Revelation 13:18 (AV)
    18Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

    Count the number of 360-day prophetic years between the destruction of the two Jewish temples and you will arrive at a number extremely close to 666.

    586 BCE + 70 CE = 656 (number of solar years) x 365.25 = 239604 (number of solar days) ÷ 360 days in a prophetic year = 665.56666667.

    The Bible solves this variance in that both temples were destroyed on the same calendar date of the Hebrew year the 9th day of the month Av. So it is counted (according to Revelation 13:18) to 666.

    All these facts and stats are found in the context of the Bible. And tell how the Jewish community will accept Antichrist... False Messiah. He will be Jewish and feign being the path to God:

    Zechariah 8:23 (AV)
    23Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying†, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

    † saying does not necessarily mean they are speaking the truth, the Bible sometimes only makes a record of what is said

    Today's religious Jews are expecting the messiah to be a temple builder. One who declares Peace Peace (Shalom / Sholomoh = Solomon) when there is no peace. This is not saying Solomon will be the Antichrist, but he is a prophetic type of the false messiah who will deceive the Jewish people and in fact the whole world for a time times and half a time.

    Solomon (at David's insistence) built the first temple... against God's will. Or more specifically, Solomon was not the one God was speaking of in:

    2 Samuel 7:12–13 (AV)
    12And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
    13He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.


    but was speaking of Jesus:



    Zechariah 6:12–13 (AV)
    12And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
    13Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne††: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.


    †† A Levite cannot reign and a Jew cannot be priest under the old covenant



    And the temple Jesus builds (on this ROCK meaning himself / in his name "I will build MY Church"):



    1 Corinthians 3:16 (AV)
    16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?



    And nothing is said about Solomon or the temple in:

    Hebrews 8:5 (AV)
    5Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

    True God conceded to deal with Israel through the Temple system (which rarely found Israel in good favor with God from that time on) the same way God conceded to give Israel a king (see 1 Samuel 8 if you doubt God makes concessions). If you notice Jesus himself treated the Temple as the house of his Father in name only... teaching in its courts.
     
    #8 JohnDBaptiste, Jul 27, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2015
  9. JohnDBaptiste

    JohnDBaptiste
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    Another point about super strict context... much of prophecy is mystically pulled out of context by the Holy Spirit†.

    † The Holy Spirit is the Author and interpreter of the Bible since he gave the entire Bible in this manner:

    2 Peter 1:20–21 (AV) 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
    21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.


    Even we Baptists must bow to the interpretation of the Holy Spirit.



    Take the King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, for example. The passage goes into and through the person mentioned to what scholars believe is a prophetic glimpse into the creation and fall of the devil. It says the individual was in Eden. In strictest context, the actual king of Tyre probably never heard of Eden.



    The thing to also remember is that the Bible is an integrated message system created outside time and space. And is revealed anticipating hostile interference.



    Proverbs 25:2 (AV)
    2It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.




    Deuteronomy 29:29 (AV)
    29The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

    Isaiah 28:9–13 (AV)
    9Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
    10For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
    11For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
    12To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
    13But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.


    So we must in light of this:



    1 Thessalonians 5:21 (AV)
    21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.




    1 John 4:1 (AV)
    1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.




    Acts 17:11 (AV)
    11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.




    2 Timothy 3:16–17 (AV)
    16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.




    2 Timothy 2:15 (AV)
    15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
     
  10. Zenas

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    You are so right! All of us interpret scripture through the lens of our own experience, and it's a mold that is really hard to shed.
     
  11. Van

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    "Context" is a generalized term used like fairy dust to bolster an argument. The old, "you have taken it out of context" or you have not considered the context. My times the generalization is used to justify saying the verse does not mean what it says.

    Words have meaning or a range of meanings and context is used to determine which of the possible meanings is most probable. But others go further, and say the word can be redefined to mean something outside of its historical meanings because of "context." This is twaddle.
     
  12. wpe3bql

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    I haven't heard of a skeptic use the following, but he very likely could if he wanted to falsely prove God's existence.

    Twice in Psalms the skeptic can find these words:

    There is no God

    Yes, that's what a skeptic can find both in Psalm 14:1 and 53:1.

    Only problem for the skeptic is that apparently he overlook the immediately preceeding context which states, "The fool hath said in his heart...."

    Point is this: At least in some cases, context certainly is important.
     
  13. OnlyaSinner

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    I once heard a speaker cast doubt on the resurrection ("The disciples pilfered the body.") by quoting only the final eleven words of Mark 16:6, which I've bolded below. Kind of different if one reads the entire verse, or merely the three words immediately prior to those eleven.

    And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

    However, merely stating "Look at the context" while failing to provide it, plus some explanation of how it's important, is not going to be very useful.
     
  14. wpe3bql

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    I believe you'd agree that merely "looking at the context," be it only a few words before or after passage on which a person is studying/teaching/preaching per se, is of limited value.

    Looking at the context is a good starting place, but in addition to that, you also need to look at other things as well, things like:

    1) The original audience to whom the passage was given. Many customs of the Bible Era aren't applicable today [especially those that are based on Western opposed to Middle Eastern/Oriental] ways of thinking. What may have been common to a person in a Middle Eastern/Oriental society some 2,000 or more years ago isn't always common to a 21st century Westerner's way of thinking, & vice versa. Some customs/practices are different than those in the West. They may not be per se sinful, but they're different. Books on manners & customs of Bible times need to be referenced.

    2) What's the main purpose of the book in which the passage is found? All 4 Gospels tend to present the teachings of Jesus in a certain way: Matthew generally presents Him as the real Jewish King. Mark presents Him as God's Servant sent to mankind to illustrate that we need to need to be a serving kind of person, seeking whatever means God's given us to point a lost & dying world to the One Who humbled Himself to become a servant, always seeking to do His Father's will--something which we too need to be doing. Luke presents Him as the ultimate King of all mankind--the One Who one day will rule all the human race with complete, righteous power & authority. John presents Him as the Only Savior sent by His Father to save us.

    All 66 books are HS-inspired & thus infallible, but a book a poetic book isn't going to help a person much if he's studying a passage on prophecy, & vice versa. Other examples of contrasting purposes of Bible books or genres can be mentioned, but I think you catch my drift on this.

    3) There's there's the matter of when a passage was written--similar to #1. You can't take a text on OT ceremonial law & apply it to post-Calvary practices. While some passages might supply a "type" of something post-Calvary, it can't be imposed on post-Calvary practices. Hebrews tells us that once a person's put into God's family, he can go directly to Jesus to present his petitions. We're no longer bound to the dietary restrictions of pre-Calvary Israel. We can eat ham/pork if we want to & not be in violation of the OT ban on such animals--the same goes for lobster & shrimp.

    4) One needs to refer to good, solid orthodox, evangelical commentaries/books to see what theological giants of the past have written about a given passage. Not all of them are always accurate on everything about which they may comment, but at least a person can get some idea of how they interpreted a passage. If you study enough good, reliable commentaries, more than likely you'll detect a consensus of opinion on the passage you're studying. Proverbs says there's strength in numbers. If you see a consensus about a passage's teaching, you're likely to find what the HS wants you to know about that passage.

    5) A knowledge of Biblical Greek & Hebrew can also reveal subtle meanings in a passage that aren't always immediately apparent to a person who's limited to only using English. Corollary to that is to remember that some English words have changed meanings in the past 400+ years. The word gay in the KJV version meant something different back then than it does today.

    These are some things you need to consider beyond merely "looking at the context" of a Bible passage. They aren't all you need to do to get the right interpretation of a Bible passage, but they can help you when studying your Bible to determine what God is telling you from His Word.
     
  15. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    The true rendering of any text will NEVER be contrary to the immediate context. Any rendering that is contrary to the immediate context is eisegesis.

    There can be more than one application to a given text but no true application will every violate/contradict the immediate or overall context.

    There are several examples of historical texts that are used by Biblical writers for future applications and yet the future applications do no contradict anything said within the historical context. For example, the Old Testament prophecies of near events, such as the destruction of Jerusalem or Babylon are worded in such a way for application to far events as the destruction of the world at the end of the age. However, the secondary application does not contradict anything stated in the immediate context. Such is the case of the prophetic wording about the king of Tyre. The text is so worded that it can be properly be applied to more than one thing without contradicting anything stated. The application to Satan is not contrary to the immediate prophetic context.

    In regard to the homosexual claim of "look at the context" that is precisely what they ought to be doing. It is an Old Covenant context where the moral law is being applied literally, ceremonially and in regard to civil law. Mixing seeds, types of clothing has a moral principle underlying it, as does all ceremonial laws and civil laws. It is simply a matter of discerning civil, ceremonial and moral law underneath the Old Covenant applications.

    However, for anyone to deny context is the primary factor in rightly dividing the word of truth can only be the mantra for those attempting to teach or spread false doctrines and looking for a way to do it and look "scholarly" when they are teaching nothing but heresies.
     
    #15 The Biblicist, Aug 5, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2015
  16. Yeshua1

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    Greater danger to avoiding context at times seems to 'reading into the text", as MANY have viewed the verses against homosexuality and women being pastors thru concept of ot be "culturally/situational based!"
     

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