Why Location Matters!

Understanding Scripture Accurately means understanding these 4 types of context. short, practical, helpful!

Realtors say the most important aspect of buying a home is "location, location, location." Buying in a flood plain or near a sink hole changes everything.

Bible scholars also stress location, saying "context is king."

If we quote verses out of "location," we can drown in errors or drop into a sink hole of false teaching. 

Dear Christians, this is not simply an "academic" issue. It affects our day-to-day faith. Please consider studying some of the resources listed below this devotion which help explain these guidelines:

1. Note the written context.

Look at the verse's immediate context, then note the context of the whole passage, the whole chapter, and the whole book. Each of these "locations" offers insights.

2. Determine the genre context.

Is it a narrative, a parable, commands, or instructions? Is it figurative or literal language?

3. Note the historical and chronological context

Does the passage address a specific audience, problem, or event in history? Did it occur under the old or new covenant?

4. Cross reference.

Every verse fits into the complete message of Scripture. One verse will not contradict another. To fully understand a topic, we must learn all that Scripture teaches about it.

If we handle Scripture correctly we have no reason to be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15). We can identify and explain false teachings (1 Peter 3:15).

💙 Beyond 1-minute for those who want more 💙

Understanding Scripture Accurately means understanding these 4 types of context. short, practical, helpful!

It's a new year. Why not make it a year to better understand God's Word? 

False teaching is on the rise, so let me offer some good resources you can study on your own, with a friend, small group, or Sunday school class.  

Subscribers: If you would like permission to run off these linked materials as handouts, please hit "reply" on any Bible Love Note in your email and ask for the guidelines. For those who are not subscribers, why not sign up: How to Subscribe.

1. Written context 

Examining the popular "judge not" error is a good way to study the importance of immediate context. Start with Inaccurate, Illogical, Popular and continue through the collection called Misunderstandings About Judgment.

For overall insights, see Context Adds Clarity and "Pieces Parts" Doesn't Work for Scripture

And study some other examples of verses taken out of immediate context:

A false claim about Christmas trees, using Jeremiah 10 – 6 Ways to Determine if a Scripture is Used Correctly

A verse misused by self-esteem teachers – Proverbs 23:7 Does Not Mean We Become What We Think.

Context of the book

Proverbs are often taken out of context – A Proverbial Mistake

Errors Some Christians Believe: Proverbs 22:6 Promises Godly Children.

A gay revisionist error using context from another book – Comparing Apples and Oranges.

2. Genre context

Scripture uses literary devices, especially in the poetic books such as the Psalms. 

4 Facts: Recognizing Figurative Language in Scripture.

These devotions contain examples:

Clapping trees: Be Prepared.

Does God literally lose His memory: Forgive or Forget?

Cutting off our hand: Did Jesus Really Say That?

Camels and needles: Did Jesus Really Say That?

Swallowing camels: Did Jesus Really Say That?

3. Historical and chronological context

Putting God's acts in historical context:

The Timing of God's Punishments

Missing the Story Line.  

Why Did God Destroy Entire Nations?

Putting dietary, sacrificial, and cleansing laws in context of the Old Covenant: 

Christ's Complete Fulfillment of the Law.

The Law Collection from Bite Size Bible Study.

Example of taking laws out of context: All or Nothing

4. Context of the Bible's overall message 

Mistranslated in the KJV: God Creates Evil? No Way!

Claiming to explain Scripture but actually contradicting it: Digesting Contradictions.

Explaining away the clear and obvious meaning of the Scripture: Denying the Obvious

Using a passage to discredit an important element of the gospel: Denying the Overall Message

It's easy to get confused if we don't Understand Prayer in Context. This devotion has a short Bible study as well: Pieces Parts Bible Study.

Universal salvation is based completely on out-of-context passages. Studying these passages in context can help you explain this false belief to others: 6 Scriptures Used to Promote Universal Salvation

Studying the errors in universal salvation can help you recognize similar errors in other teachings. Bible Love Notes has a collection of articles that can help:  The Heresy of Universal Salvation

See also: Overall insights for handling Scripture correctly

These posts offer good insights about correctly handling Scripture. There is some repetition in these devotions, but repetition is a good way to learn principles:

6 Steps to Expose False Teachings

5 Steps for Accurate Bible Study.

3 Ways to Discern Scriptural Truths.

A Little Bit of Knowledge Can be a Dangerous Thing.

Treating the Bible Like Fiction.

See also: Popular teachers who take verses out of context

We can gain insights from seeing how some people with great influence misuse Scripture.

Joel Osteen: The Popular Teachings of Joel Osteen: Beware

The late Rachel Held Evans: Muddled Views of God, Scripture, and Women.

Sarah Bessey: A Serious "Christian Feminist" Error.

Brian Zhand: Denying the Inerrancy of Scripture.

Prominent ex-vangelicals: Wilderness Wanderers.

Paul Young: Examining the Shack.

Hillsong's Marty Sampson: Trendy Apostasy

Matthew Vines and other gay revisionists: Gay Revisionist Arguments.

Bible Love Notes

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