Interpreting the Bible in Context

(audio sermon)

This picture shows how the word ‘tablet’ can be interpreted out of context. This example is amusing but others create wrong beliefs. Bible words and verses must be interpreted in the context of the conversation, the culture, the times, and all of Scripture.

Speakers notes follow –

Interpreting the Bible in Context

Psalm 119. 137-144

Promises tested / Laws right / Statutes trustworthy

Bible reliable?

2000yrs – Tampered? Changed? Original still? Muslims claim its changed

Wicked Bible 1631 reprint of KJ Bible ‘you shalt commit adultery’ – mistakes can creep in

Science of textual criticism – number of copies, time between originals and copies

– Plato (7 / 1200 yrs), Caesar Gallic wars (10 / 1000 yrs), Homer Iliad (643 / 500 yrs) – NT (5366 Greek / 30-325 yrs)

– Earliest fragment: Rylands 130 AD, Earlier Bibles: Codex Vaticanus 325 AD nearly all Bible, Codex Sinaitcus 350 AD all NT & half 0T (on internet) – 300 yrs before Muhammad

List Bible books – a canon/ruler (accurate) – useless if you don’ t know how to interpret it – People can con you – make it say what the want

Peter on Paul – ‘His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures’ (2 Peter 3.16)

‘All that a man has will he give for his skin’ [IBP 28]- context is essential when interpreting

Interpreting in Context – if in doubt check context

Context of Passage / Conversation – as above

Another example – Jesus ‘take life easy, eat , drink and be merry’ (Luke 12.19) – Parable Rich Young Fool

Conversation – Friend butts in hearing one sentence & assumes context

Context of Whole Bible

Do not judge or you too will be judged’ (Matthew 7.1) ‘What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?’ (1Corinthians 5.12)

– judge, don’t be judgemental – or judge as a hypocrite

Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you have received it and it will be yours’ (Mark 11.24) ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures’ (James 4.3) ‘If we ask anything according to his will he hears us (1 John 5.14)

– if you know its his will, believe you have received it

Context of Culture

Head coverings (1 Corinthians 11) ‘The woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head’ – probably a man’s authority / covering

Feet washing – try offering to wash feet in Mombasa (John 13)

Prayer posture – Paul: ‘I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer’ (1Ti 2.8) Jesus: ‘When you stand praying

– must we cover heads, wash feet, pray standing?

Cultures come and go – God’s Word is forever – Bible cultures are not part of God’s Word

Context of Times

Granddad handed this mobile ‘did you break your rear view mirror?’ – in his day phones like fax machines – separate hand sets attached by cord -and a dial with O-9 that clicked

– If Jesus ever said ‘praying to Father is a bit like making a phone call‘ – nobody would understand – he spoke according to the knowledge they had – and the knowledge he had – this includes their knowledge of science

Mustard seed smallest (Mark 4.30) – plants or kingdom (Botany incidental vehicle)

‘The stars in the sky fell to earth as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind’ (Rev 6.12) – cosmology or judgement (cosmology incidental vehicle)

Jesus in jeans – eternal revelation in temporal (essential in incidental) Genesis 1-3 same – essential revelation about relationship with God clothed in ancient science

– God’s Word is timeless – culture, technology, science is not – therefore its not part of God’s Word – its just an ancient vehicle conveying his Word

God’s Book, His Word, is reliable, its accurate, but we must know how to read it.

Read Together – An idea to help us – Bible in One Year app – with Whatsapp Group

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