You cannot extract a Biblical verse, link it with another verse in another part of scripture, and use those texts to project your belief, and be right.
Every text belongs to a context.
For example, I could say, “I’ve done nothing wrong. I wasn’t even there when the the money was stolen. I was on vacation.”
Imagine is this statement was broken down into verses, and verse one said, I’ve done nothing wrong.
If you were to extract those words to make the claim that I am referring to my whole life, you would be quoting my words out of context. I wasn’t talking about my entire life. I would have been referring to a single incident where money would have been stolen.
Yet this is exactly how so many have been conditioned to approach scripture. It is for this reason that people don’t know scripture, and many get entrapped by foolish and harmful teachings of men.
If you want to get the most out of scripture, study the context. Here are 3 helpful tips for you:
1. Seek to understand what the verse means within the flow of thought the writer is communicating. This is the immediate context.
2. Seek to understand what the rest of scripture has to say about the same topic.
3. Seek to understand how the truth communicated in the text fits with the whole counsel of scripture.
Now here is an example: If I am studying the wrath of God, I want to know why the wrath of God is mentioned in the text (why God is wrathful in the text) and to whom God’s wrath is directed in the text, etc.
Secondly, my understanding of the wrath of God in this text must harmonize with what other texts have to say about the wrath of God. If it doesn’t I am misunderstanding the text.
Thirdly, how does my understanding of God’s wrath harmonize with the other attributes of God reveled in scripture.
If I follow this practice, I will have good theology about the wrath of God.
I will know the following:
(1) The whole counsel of scripture doesn’t teach me that God is an angry wrathful being. God is loving, merciful, and kind, and he expects me to be loving, merciful, and kind. Vengeance belongs to him. God alone can be wrathful and righteous at the same time. The wrath of man does not demonstrate the righteousness of God. Therefore. I cannot use any text regarding God’s wrath as a crutch to display my personal hate. This is what the Westboro Baptist Church has done, and why their actions are ungodly, and do not represent the gospel of Christ.
If you don’t know who they are, google their name.
(2) Though God is loving, some things do make him angry.
(3) The things that incur God’s wrath are things that are wicked and evil in his sight, such as idolatry, rape, etc. Yet, all these things are forgivable by God if a person repents. Though people provoke God’s wrath with evil things such as violating other people, God is very merciful and often gives them space to repent before judging them.
God is the righteous judge and knows exactly what he is doing in his dealing with all people.
Remember these three principles of interpretation, mentioned below, and you will be on your way to go healthy, Bible study habits.
(1) Context – What is the author talking about?
(2) Topic – What does the balance of scripture teach about the same topic?
(3) The whole counsel of scripture – How does it harmonize with all other truths revealed in scripture?