Well, it’s nothing special, but I thought I’d take some time today to simply reiterate a lot of what Greg talked about in his message on Sunday.
If you weren’t able to join us this week at Suncrest, we’re beginning an 8 week series called “TXT: How to Read Your Bible.” Basically, we just want to come together and learn some basic principles for how we should read the Bible. It’s God’s Word to us… the better we can grab a hold of it and the principles in it, then the better we will be able to live the life that God asks us to live as Christ followers.
This week’s message was an intro message that laid a foundation for a lot of the stuff we’ll be hitting in future weeks. But probably the biggest thing to share on here are the five key principles of reading the Bible that we’ll be talking about of the next weeks.
Context: How does this verse or these verses fit into the passage or book as a whole? Like Greg said on Sunday, we’ve all probably read or heard stories of athletes and celebrities being quoted on something by a reporter that sounds bad. Generally, the comeback is always, “That quote was taken out of context.” Same is true with the Bible. It sounds terrible, but over the years, the Bible has been used to support things ranging from slavery to ethnic cleansing. That happens when people use sections of the Bible out of context. Context is that important.
Author’s Intent: What is the author’s purpose in writing? What are they trying to communicate? It sounds obvious, but this is an important thing we often forget. If you wrote words like eggs, milk, flour, and sugar down on a piece of paper and handed them to me intending for them to be recipe ingredients, but I instead thought it was a grocery list, two very different actions would ensue, right? When we misunderstand someone’s intent, misunderstandings generally happen.
Background: How would knowing the culture, history, or geography of this passage clarify what is being said? This can be as simple as knowing where the heck something is going on (like in the stories of Jesus, where authors frequently talk about He and the disciples moving to places like “Galilee,” the “Jordan River,” etc.). Sometimes background is important because it helps us understand a cultural custom that would have been obvious to the original readers that’s not so obvious to us 2,000 years later. Sometimes it’s simply important because it helps us understand current events of the day, and helps us be able to see what is happening in the lives of the original readers.
Key Words: What words are jumping off the page at me? What words seem to be continually repeated in a section or passage? Words that are frequently repeated tend to espouse key themes in a text. For instance, we’re working through the letter of Philippians throughout this series, and we’ll see the word “joy” and “rejoice” scattered a lot throughout. Not surprisingly, this is a huge theme in the letter as a whole, and should be a theme we walk away with some insights and ideas on.
Genre: How does knowing the genre bring clarity to a particular passage? Greg offered a great example with a newspaper on Sunday. If you’re reading a front-page story from the Associated Press, you’re probably expecting to get just facts. If you’re reading the “Letters to the Editor” section or a story written by a columnist, you should probably brace yourself for some opinion and commentary. If you’re reading an advertisement, you’re probably not expecting a lot of overly honest, truthful claims, but more propaganda encouraging you to buy or do something. Same’s true in the Bible. Some books are poetry. You’ll probably want to read those with more of a figurative lens than say a gospel or history, which are more stories and narratives of events being recounted for us to read about over 2,000 years later.
Throughout the entire series, we’ll be working through the book of Philippians in the New Testament. It’s a great book, and I know that I’m looking forward to the insights I’ll be learning over the next few weeks! If you missed on Sunday, crack open your Bible and read Philippians 1:12-30 once each day over the next few days to prep for learning about God’s Word this Sunday!
I’m very excited about what God will be doing in our church over this next season. Hope you are too! Happy reading!