Taking Scripture Out Of Context

Today we begin a series of blogs on Romans 8:28. The entries will appear every Thursday or Friday.

If you turned on your radio and heard an announcer say, “And the final score was St. Louis 7, Kansas City 3.” what would you think?   7-what? 3-what?  With a score like that it could have been a football game, a baseball game or a hockey game.  Did the game just end? Or was the announcer talking about a game between the two rival teams decades ago? We don’t know. We weren’t given enough information to draw any conclusions about the story other than the outcome.

The score was out of the context to the rest of the story.

For years Paul Harvey hosted a radio program called, The Rest of the Story. On each program he shared some random thoughts, observations and a few facts with his listeners, but they didn’t know what the point of the story was until the conclusion of the show. When Mr. Harvey wrapped up his radio stories, and resolved them so listeners could understand them, he closed the show with these words, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

His was an ingenious radio format. You couldn’t jump in the middle of a broadcast and figure out the story. You had to listen to everything Paul Harvey said from the outset until he wrapped his story up at the end of the show.

Reading and studying the Bible resemble the way Paul Harvey broadcast his renowned radio stories. You can’t just jump into the middle of a Bible verse of passage or chapter and discover what it means. Many of us pride ourselves in our ability to quote scriptures: “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want…” or “Our Father who art in heaven . . .” or “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” and more than 31,000 more like them. I’ve often heard people unskilled in the Bible say things such as, “God works out everything for our good,” and, this always brings a chuckle, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” That one’s not in the Bible, but some folks think it’s the right thing to say sometimes.

As we begin to study Romans 8:28 we need to be mindful of how the verse begins. It begins with the conjunction, “And…” That gives us cause to pause in our study. Any time a passage of Scripture or a verse begins with words such as, “And”, or “But”, or “Therefore” we can immediately recognize that to understand that passage, we need to know what comes before it.  If we don’t understands what precedes it, we might be taking a verse or passage out of context. One can rarely, if ever, grasp the meaning a verse or passage taken out of its context.  We won’t know what it means unless we study the context from which the verse came.

With Paul this might be time-consuming. If we start looking at the verses and passages before Romans 8:28 we see that Paul begins v. 26 with “in the same way”; v. 25 with “But”; v 24 with, “And not only this”; v. 23 with “And not only this”; then there’s a couple of “For’s” that start passages earlier on. All of those words show that Paul had something to say before all these “and’s”, “but’s”, “for’s” and “therefore’s” that’s going to impact the verse we are studying.

So if we’re going to learn from a study of Romans 8:28 we’re going to want to decide what it means; then we’ll want to see how that verse fits in with the verses around it before we can clearly understand our study verse. To see how it fits in, we’ll have to read a ways before it. Before I blog on “we know” following “And” I’m going to get some context for 8:28, I’m going to start reading at chapter 5 (You may join me if you wish.) to get some background. Let’s meet here next week for the second in this series.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.