Context is Everything

by Pastor Anthony Pranno

During the last two months, we have looked at well-known Bible verses that are commonly taken out of context, used and abused in ways the original authors or speakers never could have imagined. My goal has been to both challenge you and inspire you to “dive deep” beneath the surface and explore the accurate meaning and intention of even the most popular passages. We will cover 11 passages during our series [click here to listen to sermons], but there are so many others that are worthy of this deep dive. Here’s a few that we won’t have time to cover during our sermon series…

•    I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Php 4:13). Does this verse actually promise that followers of Jesus are omnipotent and invincible?

•    Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you (John 15:7). Is it any wonder that many people treat God or Jesus like a genie in a bottle? Everything you could ever want is only one request away. Or is it?

•    All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Used commonly in Gospel presentations as “the bad news,” this verse clearly states that sin is a universal problem. Still, in context, this clause is in the middle of the greatest news anyone has ever heard.

•    Be subject to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1). This one is a hot-button for many depending on who is in political office. What does it really mean to “be subject” to a government who doesn’t always follow godly practices? Are we to blindly follow? Are we free to protest or resist? What does the context tell us?

•    The truth will set you free (John 8:32). When Jesus talks about the truth, he is doing it in the context of a confrontation with the Jews who had put their faith and trust in him. Is his point about “freedom” in general or deliverance from sin and the influence of Satan?

•    Love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Money is always tricky to talk about with Christians. Is it okay to be rich? Is it okay to save for college? Is it okay to buy a few luxurious items? How much money is a follower of Jesus allowed to have, save, spend, or invest? What constitutes “love” of money and not just good stewardship? The context of this passage reveals some amazing answers.

•    No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again (John 3:3). For decades this verse has been discussed and debated. What does it really mean to be born again? To whom was Jesus saying these words and how does this verse connect inextricably to the more well-known John 3:16? Read the whole chapter and the answers are obvious!

There are so many verses that we know well, quote often, even memorize for a rainy day. Let’s make sure we’re asking the right questions about these passages, interpreting them in light of their literary, cultural, linguistic and, of course, biblical context. Remember: The Bible was written a long time ago, to countries half a world away, where they spoke different languages and practiced different customs.

Enjoy!
Pastor Anthony 

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