A brilliant Bible teacher was fond of saying that ‘a text out of context is a pre-text.’ In other words a sleight of hand designed to promote a biased view. Jesus Christ is a revelation in Himself. He is the revelation of God, of God’s gospel and of ourselves – of who we are and how we have been drawn into God’s fellowship and spirit life. The revelation of Jesus Christ and the teaching of the apostles to unwrap it is complete and final. The gospel of the Kingdom permits no additions, alterations or adjustment on pain of a curse. If we are to understand this gospel in its true meaning and import we need to read it through the frame of the new covenant, which is the Jesus Lens. The new covenant is not listed anywhere. It’s a person. Beyond words it is a state of being that supersedes the letter and places us in the spirit – in the One Spirit in companionship with God.
Any position that retains us in the law and old covenant is not the Kingdom of God. The Bible will not reveal what it means if we read it through the lens of the law. Nor will it yield its treasure if we read it through the law’s fellow traveller – the knowledge of good and evil. It will not furnish us revelation if we use it as a religious manual. But if will be profitable for encouragement and inspiration when it is read in Christ our life.
The frame of reference for correct interpretation of the Bible is firstly Jesus Christ and secondly the new covenant. (The new covenant is Jesus) It helps greatly to understand what the effect of the cross was for our lives. It was more than salvation. The cross means current union with God and joining to His being. The cross means the resurrection of lives and our re-birth as new creation beings. The cross initiates the Kingdom of God. In ‘Clash of the Covenants’ Michael Kapler writes on the importance of frame and context.
“Rarely will we come to the knowledge of the truth from a single Bible verse without the context surrounding it. Chapters and verses were added for reference purposes, but at times we make the error of assuming an entire thought is placed inside of a single verse. It's like reading a headline without getting the full story. The Apostle Paul would sometimes take chapters (not just verses) to illustrate or emphasize a main point. Books such as Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians are great examples, as is the book of Hebrews.
Bible verses are often used by church people as though they were pieces of a jigsaw picture puzzle. You might think the pieces would be required to fit perfectly in order to create the picture, but such is not the case.
It's not difficult to cut and paste verses of Scripture together to fit a particular mindset, assumption, or point of view. Simply pull enough verses out of context, make them appear to be in sync, and you'll be able to create a picture of some kind. Much like those connect-the -dot puzzles we played as children, as long as you can at least make it look like the dots are connected in the right order, you can draw whatever picture you want. People don't always look very closely and are easily misled, leaving them feeling puzzled and confused. Stare at the picture long enough and maybe you'll think you see the face of Jesus hidden in there somewhere.”
False impressions, warped doctrines and veils of misunderstanding arise from verses strung together out of context. Religions have arisen rooted in such jumbles of nonsense. Their inmates glued to distorted gospels and mistaken beliefs – all supported by the notion that they are following the Bible. The question is, ‘Whose Bible?’
There is a kind of death in which we think we are alive and are actually dead. When our truth is the truth we are liberated and ennobled. When what we call the truth is another gospel and a lie we captured in a cunning deceit. Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the I AM and the Christ of God. But we will die by eating a poisoned loaf.
“I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist” 2 John 1.7 NIV.