Occasionally when one of my friends posts something said by a political leader, Facebook inserts a note that the statement is “missing context.” It is a reminder that if you listen to a statement in its broader context you might get a different idea than an isolated sentence suggests. That is quite true. Unfortunately, it sometimes does little to improve political rhetoric.
Context is important in considering any communication, and Bible study is no exception. For years, Philippians 4:13 has been applied to every activity from A to Z. Now, Jeremiah 29:11 is being applied to every individual’s life.
Another example is John 16:13, Jesus’ promise to the apostles that the Spirit would guide them into all truth. Increasingly, that is being extended as a promise to all believers. Ironically, this misapplication has the effect of convincing people that conclusions they reach which are opposite what the Bible says are nonetheless “Spirit-guided” and therefore truth!
“Accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) requires that both our interpretation and application of Bible statements not be “missing context.”