In bible study there’s such a thing as Contextual Analysis.
The word context comes from the Latin contextus or contexere, meaning “to weave together.” Therefore, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and even larger works, such as chapters and books, can be part of a whole just as a fabric is composed of individual threads woven together.
When studying a text ensure you keep it within its context else you lose out on what is being communicated.
The primary purpose of considering context, then, is to derive the correct meaning and intent of the author. By relying on isolated passages without giving due consideration to their context, misunderstandings and misinterpretations will result. Using a passage of scripture irrespective of its context for the purpose of proving a preconceived idea is called proof-texting.
You see, beyond the Hebrew and Greek originals, the true meaning of a text can ONLY be known in the light of the context in which it is used.
How do you read in context?
Always read the full passage, pretext, text, post text.
There are levels of context.
Consider the immediate setting of the word, phrase, sentence or passage. Check the flow of thoughts before within and after the text under consideration.
CHAPTER OR BOOK CONTENT.
Consider the broader context of a chapter within its own book. Sometimes usage of words must be in accordance to the usage in that book.
Consider the context within the gospel as a whole. Any meaning you derive from a text that stands alone, different or contradicting the wholeness of the gospel in Christ which is the message of the Bible, can’t be correct. It has to be put in context of the gospel.
To help accomplish this, it’s great to read in books and paragraphs rather than in chapters and verses, just how it was originally written.
Words can actually take up an entirely new meaning when used in a different context, hence this rule must be strictly adhered to. Thankfully, the rule is actually so simple anyone could see it. We use it ever so often in our daily conversations.
For instance, if someone told me that my serving God is foolishness and I say ‘Yes, I am foolish and I love my foolishness’ and I keep going ‘friends I am glad am foolish’.
What is foolishness in the context in which I used it?
No need to search for dictionary meaning of foolishness.
Foolishness in this context means ‘serving God’. Simple!
Are you following?
Let me give you a Bible example.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
What is ‘all things’ in context here?
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
So Paul is simply saying ‘I can handle all situations I find myself, whether abundance or lack, through Christ who strengthens me.’
This is how to read in context.
He was not saying he could do anything at all he wished, like take someone else’s wife or lift a 4-storey building.
That’ll be taking what he said out of its setting, out of context.
Hope you get?