Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.
When I was in Bible College one of the classes I took was Hermeneutics. The focus of this class was to teach us how to read the English Bible (Just as a side note the original text of the Bible is in Hebrew, a little Aramaic, and Greek, it wasn’t until 1611 that we received the King James Version of the Bible. It was one of the first English translations.). In Hermeneutics we learned to dissect the text, making sure we were reading it in the proper context. Part of today’s reading (James 5) can be completely construed if proper hermeneutics are not applied.
If not reading the text in context, you could easily take the verse … “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.” … to mean that rich people have misery coming, and that being rich is somehow wrong. However, that is not the case. If you continue reading, with proper hermeneutical procedure, we see that the rich referred to have sought selfish gain. It talks about those who have hoarded wealth, not paid workmen what they dissevered; they have fattened themselves, and condemned and murdered innocent men. The attack against these men is not the wealth they have but the way they have obtained it and the attitude it has created. However, because of verses like the one quoted being taken out of context, many people see wealthy Christians as negative.
My overall purpose with writing today is not to focus on the wealth being discussed, but to discuss the proper way to study scripture. It is imperative that when you read God’s Word you understand the context of the passage. To understand the context means to understand what is going on around a key verse. It also means understanding the people whom the passage was written to. It also means understanding the culture the people who received these words lived in. There is so much more to reading God’s Word then just reading the text. We live 2,000 years after the recipients of these letters lived. We live in a different world and must do our best to understand theirs.
If at any time something you read in God’s word doesn’t make sense, get online, check out some background on the world they lived in. If that isn’t helpful, come talk to Marty or I (or one of your ministers). Part of our Bible College training was to give us the tools to dissect Scripture and understand its context. If you struggle with something, make sure you dig deeper to understand it. Throughout this year, I hope to give you some background and insight, as well as point towards resources that will help.