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Interpretation: Context


One of the most important rules of hermenuetics (the interpretation of Scripture) is that the scripture must be interpreted in light of its context. Many problems with beliefs of the cults is that they take Scripture out of its context. Following are some examples.

Out of Context: Colossians 2:21 if not quoted with 2:20 is out of context! It can be used to define a system of legalism that is not Biblical.

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations; [21] “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, [Col 2:20-21 NKJV]

Collapsing Contexts: Two or more verses which have little or nothing to do with each other are put together as if one were a commentary on the other(s). Example: the Mormons associate Jeremiah 1:5 with John 1:2, John 1:14 and thus imply that both verses talk about the premortal existence of all human beings. Jeremiah 1:5, however, speaks of God’s foreknowledge of Jeremiah (not his premortal existence) and John 1:2 refers to the pre-existence of God the Son and not to human beings in general.

They also combine with: John 1:2,14; 8:56-58; 16:27-30; 17:3-5; Acts 17:26-29; Heb. 5:8;

Letterism: Letterism is the taking of the literal reading beyond its context. The literal method of interpretation understands based upon the customary usage of language, i.e., it understands that both figurative and non-figurative language is used.

The letterist would imply that God has wings from Psalm 91:4. John 4:10-11;7:38 speaks of Jesus as living water. In John 6:48, Jesus says that, “I am the bread of life.” In Matthew 16:18 and 1 Peter 2:7 Jesus is referred to as the Rock. Clearly, Jesus is not a chicken, nor water, nor bread, nor cement. These are figurative words. But the concepts behind them are true. He protects us as a mother bird would protect its little ones. He is the Sustainer (water and bread). The Church is built upon Jesus (the cornerstone) and we can stand firm on this Rock for all that He has promised us.

See post entitled “All Not Everyone.”

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