We’ve considered the importance of two “contexts” we must keep in mind when studying a portion of the Bible. Now let’s consider a third “context:” the context each of us bring to the study of the Bible.
If our understanding of Christianity is conditioned by our personal perspective it will color the way we understand some portions of the Bible. If we see everything in a black or white way it will influence how we interpret the Bible. If our approach is purely analytical it too will influence our understanding.
I remember one time teaching on what Paul said in Romans 14 about eating and drinking. If you give God thanks for what you eat or drink, Paul said, whatever you eat or drink is ok. If you can’t give thanks for it, then don’t eat or drink it. Note also, you should not be critical of one who doesn’t agree with you.
Someone came up to me after the message and said, “That’s dangerous.” The implication was that someone might justify gluttony or getting intoxicated. God checks such rationalizations by challenging us not to put a stumbling block before anyone else. This person brought their own context to their understanding of this portion, and so had I.
The only way to put a check on the possibility of reading something wrong into the text is to make sure you are thorough in the other two “contexts” we considered in previous visits. Keeping all three “contexts” in mind will help you interpret the Bible more accurately.