Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In Context: "Forsake not.." & "I can do all things.." Revisited

There were no chapter or verse separations in the original texts of scripture. The presence of these separations cause us to read a chapter or memorize a verse yet have no understanding of the story and the context.

Many bible studies are based around "reading a chapter" when the next chapter often in the first few verses clarifies what the previous was about. I have come across places in scripture where chapter breaks the context and where verses break the sentence. Many of those places are very popular such as:

Hebrews 10:24-25
"Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

A small portion of this text is used to get people to frequent a church building when the meeting doesn't even involve the "one anothers" mentioned not just in the context but in oft quoted verse itself. "One another" means "each and everyone involved." In a typical church service a few perform in front of many and the many have little to no interaction with anyone. The modern church service bares almost no resemblance to the assembling that is being talked about here in Hebrews. Today there are a few big mouths talking to a multitude of passive ears. Is an impersonal and non-interactive monologue (sermon) the same thing as everyone "encouraging one another"? Obviously not. Yet "forsaking not the assembling" as it is taught has ignored the context and come to be taught as "You must sit in the audience at church every week or you are in sin."

Philippians 4:12-13
"I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Of course "all things" is still "all things" but I find it interesting that contentment, one of humanity's most elusive features, is the context in which Paul says "I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is often taken as a license to follow my own selfish ambition in God's name and chase after "greatness" rather than God enabling me to be content with wherever He has me right now.

Read The First Visits:  In Context: "Forsake not the assembling..", In Context: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

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