Did you hear about the guy who was looking for God’s will? He opened his Bible, and it fell to the verse, “Judas hanged himself.” Then he closed his Bible, prayed, opened it again, and the pages fell to the verse which says, “Go and do thou likewise.”

Now I’m sure you’ve heard this story before, but the principle bears repeating. What this man missed was the context of each of these verses. It is very easy to grab hold of a verse and come up with the wrong interpretation, because we didn’t understand its context.

What is context? Simply put, it is understanding to whom the verse is speaking and its historical purpose. For instance, the many dietary laws written in the Old Testament no longer apply today. We aren’t required to separate our cotton and our wool. We’re no longer required to bring a lamb to the altar on the Sabbath. Now, we could take any one of the guidelines for living found in these verses and think it applies today.

That’s why Bible study is so important to our Christian walk. We must resist the temptation to take one verse and run with it. This is how many well-meaning believers fall unwittingly into unbiblical doctrines and heresy.

Sometimes, you may not know what a particular verse or passage means — that’s when you can ask your pastor or someone you know who has Bible knowledge.

By truly understanding the context of Scripture, it will not only further increase your Bible knowledge, but it will also keep you from forming wrong conclusions about God’s Word.

The key to avoiding misinterpretation is to compare Scripture with Scripture so as to glean the entire truth from the whole Word of God.  — Unknown Author

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder