Context helps and is vital for identifing and defining biblical terms, for example the word: scripture. Context can be quite extensive and, in many instances, goes far beyond the simple surface reading of the text. Context, by its nature, affects interpretation and doctrine.
These sections are given in order to provide some examples of context and how they will affect one’s Bible reading. Some examples should be common knowledge, while others may not.
Hints at Jesus and His Context
When Jesus was alive, during his ministry and up through his resurrection/ascension, there were absolutely no New Testament writings.
When Jesus was arguing with the Herodians, Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes, they were arguing about the theological and practical religious application of what Christians call – the Old Testament.
In Jesus’ day there were two Laws.
1. The Written Law, which referred to two things:
a. The Law of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy);
b. And very loosely to all of the Scriptures (Genesis – Malachi)
2. The Oral Law, the tradition of the Pharisees.
Several of Jesus’ debates center on the tension between these Two Laws. One instance of this disagreement is seen in the “washing of the hands” (Matthew 15.1-9; cf. Mark 7.1-13). But it also seems plausible that Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5.1-7.29) when he spoke in five instances of “you have heard that it was said” (Matthew 5.21, 5.27, 5.33, 5.38, 5.43), is challenging and correcting how the Oral Law was interpreting the Written Law.
While it is a popular conviction that Jesus overturned the Law of Moses, the Law of Moses teaches that no one could do this (Deuteronomy 13.1-11), not even the Messiah. Hence, Jesus could not nullify the Old Law and be the Messiah because if he did, he would negate his ability to be the Messiah by transgressing/sinning against Deuteronomy 13. Jesus had to be and has to be sinless, even against Deuteronomy 13. This is one reason why Jesus affirms the “law” (Matthew 5.17-20); and there is an insistance of Jesus telling a Jew to keep the Commandments in order to have eternal life (Matthew 19.16-19).
Hints at the First Century Church and Her Context
The New Testament writers were Jewish, Luke is perhaps the only one who is not truly of Jewish descent.
In the First Century, the OT was not known as the OT, is was called:
(Matthew – Acts)
|Mark 15.28 (KJV);|
(Romans – Revelation)
1 Peter 2.6(KJV);
2 Peter 1.20(KJV).
|the scriptures:||Matthew 21.42,
|the holy scriptures:||Romans 1.2;|
|the scriptures of the prophets:||Matthew 26.56 (KJV);
Romans 16.26 (KJV).
|the writings of the prophets:||Matthew 26.56.|
|the prophetic writings:||Romans 16.26.|
|the oracles of God:||Romans 3.2 (KJV);
Hebrews 5.12 (KJV);
1 Peter 4.11 (KJV).
|the words of God (God’s Word):||Romans 3.2;|
(Matthew – Acts)
(1 Corinthians – Philemon)
|1 Corinthians 9.20-21,
(Hebrews – Revelation)
|the law of Moses:||Luke 2.22;|
|the law of the Lord:|| Luke 2.23-24,
|the law and the prophets:||Matthew 5.17,
|the law, the prophets, and the pslams:||Luke 24.44.|
This means that the First Century Church searched the Scriptures, commonly known by modern Christians as the OT, (Acts 17.11) to understand their faith.
Hints at Paul and His Context
Paul openly used the OT to prove the Good News – 1 Corinthians 15.3-4.
Paul used the OT to prove righteous behavior – 2 Corinthians 10.1-12.
Paul routinely quotes from the OT to support his arguments. The following does not include the multitude of other references that Paul has, these are simply of Paul using a phrase similar to “as it is written”:
Paul took a vow to openly demonstrate that he observed the Law – Acts 21.18-27.
Paul stated his righteousness was not found by adherence to Law, but by faith in Jesus – Philippians 3.9.
Paul was a Pharisee in his approach to the Law (OT) – Philippians 3.4-5.
Paul stated that he delighted in the Law (or God’s Law-NIV) – Romans 7.22.
Paul claims that he is of “the way” but also a believer according to the OT – Acts 24.14.
Paul told Timothy that the Law is to be used properly – 1 Timothy 1.7-11.
But a question that some may have is, “Is either the Jewish or Gentile Christian to offer animal sacrifices?” The Answer is “No.” The Hebrew writer explains why not. If there were no other explanation against offering animal sacrifices, the Temple (God’s only authorized location for animal sacrifice) is not there; even modern day Jews recognize this truth because they do not sacrifice animals.
This article “An Apologia for the Old Testament” is simply showing that all Scripture (Acts 15.21; Romans 15.4; 2 Timothy 3.16-17), not just the NT, is profitable for the church and the disciple. An example of how this works is found in Paul’s First Letter to the Church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 10.1-12).