How to Read the Bible in Context (Pt1)

Whenever the Bible is read today it has to be read in its correct context, or we can be conned by the text (con – text, get it?). The Word is life; the Word is truth; the Name of the Word is Jesus. 

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (NKJV)

When people quote Bible verses out of context, it is almost as though they are writing their own version of the Bible, creating their own God! Today seeminglycondemning verses are thrown out of context at believers of the grace message, or to keep entire church congregations “under control”. Although those who do this won’t admit it, they are actually operating in partnership with the devil, attempting to bring God’s children under the fear and control of man (the pastor / preacher). 

It’s easy to spot this phenomenon in a church: Since such preachers constantly desire to be in control, they will very seldom or almost never make room for the Holy Spirit to move unhindered in their services. There will always be a set program to follow and the whole thing will be precisely orchestrated from start to finish. These leaders have their grip firmly clenched around the neck of the church, but a time is approaching where God will say to these modern day Pharaohs: “Let my people go!”

Bible verses are also used out of context to formulate excuses and doctrines for our lack of power and to legitimize the absence of signs and wonders in our lives and ministries. The truth is that we should never water the Bible down to our own level of experience, but rather live to see the supernatural realm of heaven break into our own lives! 

Rom 3:4 Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. (NKJV)

Truth is measured by the standard of the Word of God and not by man’s experience! The supernatural signs and wonders and the miracles of God were not just meant for the times of the Bible, they are for today as well – the Word is just as powerful today as it ever was! 

Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (NKJV)

Getting the Covenants Right

When reading any Bible verse, we have to know under which covenant it falls. To recap (from the article series entitled “Three Covenants”), there were largely three important periods in the Bible:

First Period: From the Garden of Eden up to Mount Sinai where the law was given. During this period which lasted several thousand years, people were not under the law and God bestowed unconditional love and kindness on them apart from their works.

Second Period: From Mount Sinai up to the cross. Just because certain Bible books fall after the blank page that the Bible Society put in our Bible, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are in the New Covenant. When reading the four gospels as well as certain scriptures further in the New Testament, it has to be established if the text refers to the Old Covenant Law or to New Covenant grace. Jesus spoke predominantly about the kingdom of heaven, but most of the time He spoke to crowds of people that were still under the mindset of the Old Covenant Law that God had given to Moses and Israel. Jesus had to counter their religious thinking, sometimes using very harsh words. On the contrary we mostly see Him extending compassion and grace whenever He addressed sinners who humbled themselves.

Third Period: From the cross onwards, what we know as the New Covenant. In the New Covenant God does not deal with us as believers based on our level of obedience, but on the basis of Jesus’ obedience on our behalf. God loves us and blesses us regardless of our performance.

In our Part 2 of this series we will look at three examples of often misquoted scriptures, and a few simple tests we can conduct to determine whether a scripture forms part of the Old or New Covenant.