Biblical context is important to prevent wrong interpretations of Scripture, faulty theology and confusion. The true meaning of a verse or section of Scripture is gained by considering the verses before and after it or referring to other parts of the Bible for clarification as using a single verse or

Get a balanced wider view

passage of Scripture alone or out of context can lead to error and misunderstanding. Context relates to the circumstances in which something is said, involving who said what, and to whom. Taking a verse out of context means taking a text from its original setting and placing it in an unrelated context. The Bible states, "Judas hanged himself" yet this is not to be coupled with "Go and do likewise" (Mt 27:5; Lk 10:37)! Wisdom must be exercised: although some 'out of context' verses reveal a stand-alone truth, others require a wider consideration of their context and the speaker’s or writer’s intent in order to be properly interpreted by confirming and further explaining enabling its proper application. The Bible does not contradict itself although on some stand-alone verses this may appear to be the case. Paul said, "By grace you are saved, not by works" but also, "Work out your own salvation" (Eph 2:8,9; Phil 2:12). The truth is we are not saved because our good works are sufficient and we don't need any mercy from God or faith in Jesus, yet correspondingly there must be the obedience of faith perfected through works. We must continually gauge how does the interpretation line-up with the surrounding verses and the overall teaching of the Bible. This analysing gives a better perspective to arrive at the correct meaning; not violated by an individual Scripture being used to support a particular viewpoint or doctrine.

True doctrine aligns with the basic fundamental principles when the Word of Truth is handled correctly, along with several supporting verses to avoid interpretative traps that come to a different meaning from what the broader passage warrants (2 Tim 2:15; 2 Pet 1:20). Cult’s often base their beliefs on even a single verse out of context, which can give

Does this agree with the overall teaching of the Bible?

a false meaning. Whenever we read or hear someone using a single verse in isolation, it’s good to bring that verse back into its original fuller passage to see if it still fits with its designated interpretation.

The OT promises were generally given to specific people at specific times, so they have limited application today, although we can learn valuable insights from them as to how we should live and the lifestyle that is acceptable to God. False teaching arises because of incorrect discernment and emphasis that nullifies or contradicts what is actually written and meant.

See also: application, Bible, contextualize, contradiction, cults, discernment, doctrine, false teachers/teaching, interpretation.