Bible in Context

Studying the Bible in Context
Using Bible Backgrounds

Preliminary Thoughts:

Backgrounds do not . . .

. . . Save a person or even keep them faithful.
One does NOT have to understand backgrounds in order to be saved or to be faithful.

. . . Make one more spiritual.

Backgrounds do . . .

. . . Help to make the text come to life.

. . . Help to keep the text in the context of the writing.

  • Everything in life has a context.
  • Context of an event or writing does not change.
  • Context is important to understanding the true meaning of the text.

 Asking the right questions to get the biblical background.


  • What does the passage say?
  • What does the rest of Scripture teach about this subject?
  • What is the theme of the book or letter?
  • What spiritual lessons may we learn?
  • What are the original meanings of words?


  • Where did the action take place?
  • Where are the cities?
  • Where are the mountains and the valleys?
  • Where are the regions or countries?
  • Where are the bodies of water?


  • Who are the main characters?
  • Who is speaking or writing?
  • Who is the person writing or speaking to?
  • Who do the pronouns in the text refer to?


  • When did the event take place?
  • When was the book or letter written?


  • How did the text apply to the readers?
  • How does it apply to the modern readers?


  • Why is this text important?

Closing Thoughts

  • An author’s own explanation of his meaning takes precedence over any other interpretation.
  • The interpretation of a text must respect the writer’s purpose.
  • The simplest and most natural interpretation must be preferred.
  • Good interpretation will, in general, move from being very hard to tell what it means to clarity.
  • Any interpretation must be in harmony with grammar, rhetoric, logic and consistency.
  • Good interpretation recognizes the condition of the writing.
  • An event is to be regarded as miraculous only when it may not be consistently interpreted otherwise.
  • Good interpretation requires the discriminating use of cross references, parallel passages and study Bible notes.