Any correct interpretation and application of Bible passages starts with observing the context. In today’s media saturated world, comments made by influential people are regularly taken out of context to mean something that was never intended. To see something in context, you must get an overview of what you are observing, seeing, or hearing.
When understanding Bible context, look for 4, overarching keys to determine Scripture context.
- Start with the big picture (all of scripture and God’s overarching purpose to save all of mankind)
- Then, look at the letter or book (setting, theme, author, occasion for writing, etc.).
- Next, see the verses before and after the passage you are studying.
- Finally, make observations about what you read in the passage.
From the keys mentioned above, here’s what we discover in the context of Galatians 1:10-24: Paul sees the gospel being taken out of context away from its intended message among early Galatians (1:6-7), so then he feels compelled to share his testimony. Paul just finished defending the one true gospel (Gal 1:6-9). The testimony he shares comes from the story written about in Acts 9. Paul is emphatic that only Christ can save him, just as Jesus had shared over and over again in the Gospels.
Now, you get to practice discovering context. Read Acts 9:1-30. Discover more about the context of Paul’s salvation story. See how your salvation story relates to Paul.