Following the Rules: Number Two

Rule #2- Five Rules For Bible Interpretation

“Take Scripture in Context”

In many cases, errors in interpreting prophecy would be avoided if we knew the passage’s context. Context may mean more than the sentence before and after, the paragraph in which it is included, or even the chapter and book. The entire context, may be Old Testament references as well as New.

If I grew up in the big city and all I knew was the corner grocery, I could be talked into believing chocolate milk came from brown cows. How would I know if I did not know a dairy from a diary? The same goes for the country boy who visits a “large metropolis” and easily gets “swindled.” Everything has a context. This is especially true with Scripture. A so-called Bible expert can dupe us if we ignore the context. Charlatans will fire Scripture at us but test it like the Bereans (Acts 17:11).

Perhaps you have been taught something about prophecy which proved untrue. I believed that in the last days many would claim they were Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:4-5). Had I read the chapter first, I doubt I would have swallowed that story. The deception Jesus warns us about will come from clever, “Counterfeit Christians,” not sick minds in need of help.

Another example that relates to Christ’s return uses the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:36“No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” 

Taken without context, this verse is offered as evidence Jesus will come at an unknown time or at any moment. Is that not what the text means? We wouldn’t argue anything different, unless we had understood the context of Matthew 24:36. It is curious that we seldom hear the chapter and verse mentioned along with the quote. The reason may be that the one who uses this verse to support an “any moment rapture of the church,” does not want us to know. If we saw it was Matthew 24 we might examine “No one knows the day or the hour…”  in its context as part of the Olivet Discourse. It’s what the “any moment rapture promoters” are not telling us. If they did, it would discredit their argument.

By pulling Matthew 24:36 out of context, it is easier to fool others. What is the opposite of imminent? It is that Jesus’ coming must be preceded by specific signs that have not yet occurred.

In Matthew 24:3-15, note what the disciples asked Jesus, then see his response. The context for No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven… are the signs –lots of them. There will be wars and rumors of wars… nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places… these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn away from the faith… etc.

Does Matthew 24’s context support an imminent return of Christ? No! What does 24:36 teach about Jesus’ return? We will examine that in some depth when we look at Rule #4. (Don’t worry. We won’t skip Rule #3.)