Scripture Context

Do you like challenges in your understanding? What if you viewed the Bible totally wrong for most of your life? While a bit long, this article glances at the history of the Bible and looks at the logical and contextual understanding of specific portions of Scripture.

When we read the Bible we often come to Scripture with presuppositions. Sometimes presuppositions can be good, but more often they are bad. They are bad because we place a twenty-first century American (or whatever country you're from) context into the Scripture. Look at the following six texts and I'll show you what I mean.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Matthew 22:29-30 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

James 1:21 (NKJV) Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Acts 17:11 (NKJV) These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

Ephesians 6:17 (NKJV) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

When Yahshua, Paul, James, and Luke mention Scripture, what do you think about? Typically we think of the Bible as we know it; but what if that is not true?

Let's look at some historical facts. The Tanakh (Old Testament as we know it) was canonized over time.

First was the Torah (first five books also known as Law or Moses in Scripture (Matt 22:40; Matt 5:17; Acts 13:15; Luke 16:29)) which was canonized in 400 BC

The second was the canonization of the Nevi'im (Prophecies of the coming Messiah also known as Prophets or Elijah in Scripture (refer to previous passages)) was in 200 BC.

The third was the canonization of the Ketuvim (any text seen as from God but not a part of the first five books and not apart of prophecy also known as "Writings" to the Jews) was in 100 AD; which was close to the year John the Apostle died (the last of the Apostles).

The first attempt of an assembly of the New Testament was by Marcion of Sinope in 140 AD (Forty years after John the Apostles death) and consisted of Luke and ten letters of Paul. After this time the four Gospels were established and the first 27 book New Testament was established in the third century by Origen of Alexandria.

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Now that we have a bit of history lets logically look at some facts.

The ONLY canonized Scripture during the life of Christ and the Apostles was the Torah (Law / Moses): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; and the Nevi'im (Prophets / Elijah): Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

There were writings that were still considered holy by the Jews, yet were not canonized at the time of Christ and the Apostles: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Chronicles.

This is why we see references to “Law”, “Moses”, “Prophets”, or “Elijah” but we don’t see references to “Writings”. The only “Writing” references are to specific books rather than canonizations.

There were no New Testament writings during the time of Christ and the Apostles did not otherwise leave a defined set of new scriptures; instead, the New Testament developed over time; assembled by letters which were passed between churches and preserved.

As seen in Acts 13:15, Paul taught from the canonization of the Torah and Nevi'im. Yahshua said these two canonizations would not pass away with Him but be fulfilled (establish) by Him (Matt 5:17-18). The fact is, Paul, quotes or paraphrases the Old Testament Scriptures a minimum of 183 times. Interestingly enough, the two books that the church uses to support a theology of dismissing the Old Testament has the most quotes from the Old Testament (Romans 84 times and Hebrews 83 times).

When Paul said, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.", this had absolutely no reference to writings we consider to be New Testament. In Romans 3:2 Paul states that the Jewish people were entrusted with the very words of God. Romans 15:4 gives great clarification of where Paul gained much of his doctrine:

Romans 15:4 (NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Paul was not the only one to use Old Testament Scripture, and refer to those Scriptures:

1 Peter 1:22-25 (NKJV) Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because
"All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever." Now, this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

When you understand the context of the Bible, we then understand that the gospels of the New Testament give us the life and teachings of Yahshua, and are the closest to doctrinal teachings in the New Testament; Acts gives us the history of the church being started and spreading; Revelation is a warning to the church throughout the ending world age, and the rest of the New Testament is 22 letters written to a specific person, churches, or group of people, answering their questions and addressing their issues. All in all, the New Testament is not a doctrinal thesis but rather letters of guiding while using Old Testament to explain doctrinal thesis.

This does not mean we ignore the New Testament. These writings stand strong to guide us how the Old Testament leans into the New. They are our primary source because they point to Christ, but they are not our only source.

To ignore the Old Testament as gone is a grave error yet to try and keep it in whole is also a grave error. One must understand the context of the reason of the letters of the New Testament and determine why something was said. We CANNOT enter our own opinion into the context of a letter. That would be like you reading a letter from my wife to me and entering your own opinion based upon your household.

So, think about this the next time you read the New Testament referring to Scripture, or God's Word. These instances are actually referring to Old Testament writings that were taught and available during the first century, and being used to explain Christ.

God Bless