How to Interpret Gods Word Part 2

There are several kinds of contexts, but they all fall under two categories, the historical context and the literary context. As it sounds, the historical context must the historical surroundings of the statement. It includes the culture, customs, and times of the author and audience. It is very important to remember that the text cannot mean what it never meant to the author and his audience.1 For example, when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:10, “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away,” perfect cannot mean as some suggest the New Testament canon. The audience would have never dreamed of such a thing. They had no concept of a New Testament. The historical context does not allow for this interpretation.

Literary context is the surrounding meaning of the words and passage of the text in question. It is what proceeds and succeeds the text. As in the example above with the word tongues, it is the literary context that determined the word’s meaning.

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To properly analyze the literary context we need to proceed with our next rules.

Ask the “Five Ws and an H” Questions.

The “Five Ws and an H” questions are who, what, when, where, why and how.

wrote the passage? To whom was it written? Who is the main character? Who is the subject of the text?

1 Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), p. 64.

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