One of the things I’ve learned in my Hermeneutics class, is to read verses in the context in which they were written. Interpreting the Bible involves much more than reading it, it involves preparation, the acquiring of other tools such as commentaries, dictionaries, Bible atlases, and others.
When we read the Bible verse by verse we might misinterpret what is being said. Reading the Bible includes the process of exegesis, I know I know, it’s a $5500 word.
Exegesis is very much related to reading the Bible in context: we can interpret what we’re reading in the Bible with the Bible itself. Remember, interpreting also requires us to use other tools.
Going back to reading verses in context, we gain new understanding, and new insight into what the Lord is telling us through. There is a possibility that we might misinterpret a verse if we don’t study it in context.
A clear example of this is when studying Philippians 2: 12. If we read that verse all by itself, we will incur in the false belief that if we do not work hard and earn points with God, we will not attain salvation. This is not true if we consider the next verse, which says that it is God which works in us both to will and to do all of his good pleasure.
I have gotten into the habit of not reading just one verse, sometimes I just don’t have the time to read the whole context in which a verse appears. But, provided we have the energy and the time we should always check context.
As far as exegesis is concerned, I will talk about that in another post.